It’s the End of a Year

December 31st, 2011  |  Published in Uncategorized

I didn’t really stop to think about it until the last few weeks, but this has really been a hell of a year, for me personally and for the world in general. A lot of things were really different on January 1, 2011, and a lot of things didn’t go at all as I expected. So pardon me if I get a little *verklempt*. A year ago…

Mubarak and Ben Ali and Gaddafi were in power, and nobody believed that the protests then underway in Tunisia were going to lead anywhere.

The Wisconsin anti-Walker protests and Occupy Wall Street were unimaginable, nobody was talking about inequality, and political debate revolved around congressional obstructionism and deficit fearmongering.

I didn’t know what the rest of my graduate education was going to look like or whether I was going to have funding; now I’m just back from 3 months in Luxembourg thanks to the support of the [Fondation National de la Recherche Luxembourg](http://fnr.lu/).

[*Jacobin*](http://www.jacobinmag.com) was just a quixotic little magazine project that my friend Bhaskar started and that I agreed to write for; now I’m a co-editor, we’ve seen faster growth than I could possibly imagine, and the latest issue has better content, better design, and better attention from people I respect than I ever hoped for.

And this blog was just a place for me to vent my thoughts and practice my writing, with no particular expectation that anybody would read it (except [John](http://www.twitter.com/#!/jboy), of course). Thanks to everyone who’s read and commented here—I get more from you than from most anonymous academic peer reviewers.

In keeping with what appears to be a new Internet tradition, these were the five most-read posts on this site (this doesn’t include traffic to my cross-posts at the *Jacobin* blog, which would probably change the rankings):

[The Partisan and the Political](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/10/the-partisan-and-the-political/). One link from Talking Points Memo was all it took to get 11,000 people reading this one in a day. It was an argument I’d been meaning to write down for years, but I guess I’m glad I waited.

[Anti-Star Trek](http://www.peterfrase.com/2010/12/anti-star-trek-a-theory-of-posterity/). The gift that keeps on giving. This post wasn’t even written in 2011, but nobody read it until it got launched into the blogosphere in July. My vision of a rentier dystopia led to countless posts on artificial scarcity, as well as what I think is my most complex and original contribution to *Jacobin* thus far.

[Cheap Labor and the Great Stagnation](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/07/cheap-labor-and-the-great-stagnation/). This is the great thing about the Internet. I raise a critique of blog-star Tyler Cowen’s book, and the next thing you know Cowen himself is linking to it. This was one of those that I thought almost too obvious to bother writing down, but I guess it really needed to be said.

[Capitalism Without Capitalists](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/03/capitalism-without-capitalists/) One of the first posts of mine that ever got attention from a noteworthy blogger, laying out a sort of tricky argument that I still go back to now and then.

[The Basic Income and the Helicopter Drop](http://www.peterfrase.com/2011/09/the-basic-income-and-the-helicopter-drop/). In this one I got to bang the drum for the Basic Income *and* pretend I understand the finer points of Federal Reserve monetary policy. And I don’t think I even made too much of an ass of myself!

This year, my ideas and arguments have spread to a wider audience than I ever expected, and I’ve encountered lots of interesting people along the way. If you had told me that Charles Stross would tweet a link to my essay, and that one of my faulty arguments would get corrected by Cosma Shalizi, *dayenu*. But in addition:

– [Bhaskar Sunkara](http://www.twitter.com/#!/el_bhask), [Seth Ackerman](http://www.twitter.com/#!/SethAckerman), Mike Beggs, and the whole Jacobin crew are awesome and helped create something I’m really proud of.
– [Mike Konczal](http://rortybomb.wordpress.com) gave me way more exposure than I deserve, and he’s that rare liberal who takes Marxists seriously. And I even got to make friends with him IRL!
– [Aaron Bady](http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com) is another guy who gave me undue props, and he impresses me by thinking way harder about the role and responsibility of small, non-institutional bloggers than I ever did.
– [Henry Farrell](http://henryfarrell.net/) has been a thoughtful interlocutor and a consistent promoter of Peter Frase/*Jacobin* content.
– [Rob Horning](http://www.popmatters.com/pm/blogs/marginal-utility/) is always fun to argue with, even if he’ll never be able to abide my relentlessly optimistic techno-futurism.
– [Matt Yglesias](http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox.html), whatever my disagreements with him, deserves credit for being the first person to link to both “Capitalism Without Capitalists” and “Anti-Star Trek”, starting me on the path to whatever small amount of Internet attention I now enjoy.
– On a similar note, I’m grateful to [Reihan Salam](http://www.nationalreview.com/agenda) if only because now I can say that my ideas were denounced by the website of the *National Review*. It’s kind of like in college when all I wanted was to be personally denounced by the right-wing campus paper.

I could go on like this forever, so apologies to all those I’ve omitted.

Back when I didn’t have readers, I didn’t worry too much about letting the blog lapse for weeks or months when I didn’t feel the urge to write. Now I feel a little more pressure to produce, but the discipline of posting regularly is good for me…so I’ll be back for more in 2012. Resolutions include: more statistical graphics, more engagement with female writers, and more veiled references to unspeakably nerdy topics.

It’s the end of a fucked up year, there’s another one coming: