3 Months of Unchained + How You Can Support...
From the beginning, I didn’t like the overall www thing, regarding it as a retrograde step for humanity, and Western civilisation in particular. I feel differently now.
John Waters Unchained has been going for nearly three months now and it’s been quite the revelation. Having for years set my face against any fixed Internet presence, I have in the past three months began to glimpse the possibilities as well as the pitfalls of being online in some shape or form. From the beginning, I didn’t like the overall www thing, regarding it as a retrograde step for humanity, and Western civilisation in particular. And, while recognising the merits of many elements — in particular the longform interviews that emerged largely via YouTube — I felt it was never going to rise above the ranks of alternativism.
I feel differently now. For one thing, having become more and more visible on other people’s platforms — Gemma O’Doherty, Dave Cullen, Richie Allen, etc. — I have begun to see signs of something converging. Coincidentally, or otherwise, the past ten months have demonstrated that the legacy ‘mockingbird’ media are no longer fit for purpose and on their last legs. That means that there’s now a vacancy where one could not say it existed heretofore.
When I was driven out of my job as a journalist six years ago by fascists passing off as activists, I decided to go back to being a real writer. Journalism was already becoming a shameful profession, and I had no desire to be identified with it. Unbeknownst to themselves, journalists had dropped the antepenultimate and penultimate letters of their job-description, replacing the first ‘s’ and the ‘t’ with ‘a’ and ‘r’ respectively. So I went back to writing books and stories and songs and sketching out my first play for more than two decades (still in the works). I’ve been writing the occasional magazine essay, for First Things , The Spectator (https://spectator.us/book-and-art/human-after-all-morrissey-social-distancing/https://spectator.us/book-and-art/talking-us-robert-de-niro-trump/ ) and other outlets, but I found these platforms more and more constricting and, to be frank, generally too rigid in their house styles and tonality.
I experienced a slow-burning realisation: that the Internet, which so often seemed an instrument of unmediated decivilisation, might after all be capable of offering itself as an antidote to the incipient totalitarianism I could increasingly identify amidst the cultural and political tendencies bearing down upon us. I also sensed a growing audience of people out there, sickened by the mainstream media, who would appreciate the ability to read some journalism of the old school, unfiltered, unedited, unplugged, unchained. Substack was suggested to me as a suitable platform. Quare name, I thought, but great sthuff! (If you don’t get that one, don’t worry about it: it means you’re still young!) I dipped my toe in and became hooked.
I fairly quickly came to see Substack as offering a capacity to restore the old values of discourse and openness that, generally speaking, characterised the years I spent working for Hot Press, Magill, The Irish Times and quite a few other onetime publications of relative integrity and veracity. That’s what I’ve been trying to do — in a way, to go back to the kind of thing online that I was doing in print after I started out more than three decades ago, in the magazines of the then emerging Dublin counterculture.
Mainstream journalists don’t realise it yet, but the Covid cult will be the end of their stint as custodians of the Fourth Estate. Not only have they ceased finally in 2020 to uphold democratic values — they have made themselves available to the tyrant orchestrators of the new health fascism in misleading and terrorising the populations of the former Free World. Had the mockingbird media not continued to occupy the sacred plinth reserved for the Fourth Estate, pretending still to carry out their functions in that sacred calling, the Covid cult would have been banished in a week.
It seems to me now that, of pure and dire necessity, our civilisation will very soon require to reconstruct for itself, out of the journalistic equivalent of five loaves and two fishes, a new Forth Estate. This needs to happen much faster than currently seems either safe or possible, but must be achieved if we are to save our civilisation from terminal disaster.
That’s why I have decided to devote more of my time to building this platform, and making it one of the priority things I do in the coming period.
I’ll continue to write and publish books. If I can’t find a publisher — not an unreal concern in these increasingly tyrannical times — I may have to do the once unthinkable and self-publish. I’ve already started work on a new book about the Time of Covid, which I’m beginning to see as Part II of Give Us Back the Bad Roads — an even more sombre letter to my father, perhaps titled I Hope You’re Sitting Down.
I also hope to stage a play in the coming year or soon thereafter. Of all the writing work I’ve ever done, my stint as a playwright, back in the 1990s, was by far the most rewarding and enjoyable.
I shall continue my involvement with the amazing Gemma O’Doherty and ACI, taking the battle to the doors of the tyrants and doing what we can to wake the neighbours. I see Unchained as the platform where I bring much of this rather diverse work burden together. It is an essential part of my work now.
I have been very kindly asked by some readers how they might support my work. My plan is that the substantive content on here will remain free at the point-of-use. My economic situation is by no means self-sufficient, however, so I am also going to provide people with a mechanism whereby, if they feel so moved, they can make a monthly donation by way of supporting me in continuing with this varied and hopefully variegated work. You can do that by clicking the Subscribe button below. But everybody is invited to read, watch, share —without any sense of obligation. If you can manage a regular donation, that’s great. If not, you are equally welcome.
By way of an experiment in opening up to a more interactive model, I’ll be offering subscribers access to one additional article each Friday, a kind of Diary of My Week — detailing what I’ve been working on, any progress we’ve been making in fighting the Combine, any articles/books/movies that have caught my attention etc. People who have read my recent books will know that I have an abiding dread and repugnance of online comment threads, going back to my days with the Irish Times. But in deference to the interactive age, I will also provide for a discussion underneath this Diary in which subscribers can talk with each other and hopefully find like-minded individuals to discuss this very odd world we are struggling to live in. As we move along, I hope tentatively to overcome my own suspicion of online forums and maybe occasionally join in!
Aside from this experiment, my intention is to maintain Unchained as a free platform, with the rest of the material available to all. The archived articles are all available to view here.
I feel we are on the cusp of a new era. I have known for a long time that the legacy media were destroying themselves, and threatening to bring our civilisation down with them. Up until now, I have seen no prospect of an alternative emerging. Now, I do — not just Substack, of course, but all the other forums emerging as well, as Big Tech and the mockingbirds shoot themselves in the feet every morning and continue in the same mode for the rest of the day. I feel a little like I felt on that May morning almost 37 years ago, when I drove to Dublin from the West, looking forward to participating in the great battles of Irish life and culture with Hot Press. Now, half a lifetime later, I set out once more — still free at heart, still scanning the horizon, not broken, not bowed, and still Unchained.