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The Discourse

The Journey Continues

What Discourse Blog did in 2020, what we're hoping to do in 2021, and why we would love your support.

Les Chatfield/Flickr

Most of life, really, is forgettable, unless you are one of those people with the super memories, and for the purposes of this blog, I’ll assume you aren’t. We spend vast quantities of our existence doing things that will never be important enough to remember. One foot in front of the other, an hour passes, a day passes, a week passes, a month passes, a year passes, and most of it, in the end, becomes haze, ephemera. We don’t usually walk around with the certainty that what we are experiencing will be useful to recall, that we will think about it and remember where we were when it happened and grant it that rare privilege of a fixed point in our minds, a thing that is lodged in our heads for as long as our brain will allow—something, in other words, that mattered.

2020 mattered—more than you or I or anyone else has probably wanted a year to matter. It has been an earth-shattering, dislocating, constant nightmare of a year, and if we are not all necessarily forever changed by it, none of us has been exempted from its machinations. There are always big things happening in the world, but not many of them reach in and grab a hold of every single person on the planet and pin them to the wall. But 2020 was different, especially here in the United States. The pandemic, the Black Lives Matter protests, the election—any one of these things would have made 2020 a banner year. Throw them all together and your head can barely contain it all. It has felt, at times, virtually impossible to figure out what to say about what we have all been through.

That is why I have felt so grateful for Discourse Blog.

In a year that has torn all logic and expectation to pieces, that has seemed to defy all precepts of time and space, that has plunged so, so, so many people into the bleakest depths, this site has been a port in a horrendous storm for the eight of us. I think we have a very healthy handle on our level of importance, but even so, we hope that Discourse Blog has meant a little something to you too.

When 2020 began, we were eight recently laid off bloggers with varying levels of PTSD and the aching feeling that big things were happening in the world and we were missing the chance to figure them out together, to help each other live through them on the page. Then the pandemic struck. All of a sudden, it was not just about wishing we could cover the Bernie Sanders campaign like we might have done at our old job. It was about everything collapsing underneath us—and about the eight of us sensing that maybe we had something to say about it, and that trying to say it as a collective would be a kind of balm.

We started on March 23—less than two weeks after the day that, everyone now agrees, the Before Times crashed to a juddering halt. Since then, we have tried to make sense of it all as best we could.

We wrote about how the pandemic had stripped us of any feeling of normalcy, and what we were doing to cope. We wrote about the systemic rot that COVID had both deepened and laid bare, and the movements that were springing up in response. We wrote about the capitalist death cult’s tireless quest to throw everyone in America to the wolves, and the organizers fighting back on the ground. We wrote about how people who needed basic help were constantly betrayed, and the mutual aid activists who were showing what real, morally grounded support systems looked like.

When George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s murders sparked a nationwide uprising, we wrote about the overwhelming beauty of the energy that comes from resistance, and the brutality that comes when the white supremacist state tries to cut that resistance down, and the system moves in to reassert itself.

We wrote about the hollow, cynical, venal, soul-crushing Democrats. We wrote about the fascist, amoral, blood-soaked Republicans. We wrote about how our systems need to be destroyed. We wrote about living in a failed state. We wrote about useless liberals and terrifying far-right fanatics. We laughed at Donald Trump, repeatedly. We laughed at Rudy Giuliani. We told the truth about Joe Biden. We demanded more from the people in power.

We did a five-hour-long Election Night stream.

We wrote about the endless, serial failings of our media. We wrote about how lots of people should fuck off. We wrote about history and television and online insanity and tech dystopia. We wrote about Terrace House and TikTok and cats and dogs. We wrote about the moon. We wrote about Fall Out Boy.

We wrote about our hearts. We wrote about wildfires. We wrote about the stories we tell ourselves.

We said “man, what the hell?” to hundreds of things.

We mourned the dead.

We did all of that—all of those stories I mentioned and so many others that I didn’t—while working other jobs at the same time. We did it while trying to figure out how to run a small, independent, collectively-owned business. We did it with no bosses.

It has been relentless and challenging and exhausting (my god, exhausting). We have morphed and launched and relaunched. We started as a dinky little blog and now we have our own gorgeous website. We are making this up as we go along. But it has been so, so, so worth it. It’s the most thrilling, audacious, electrifying thing, and it has saved us during a year of absolute dreadfulness.

We have put everything into Discourse Blog, but it has only become something because of you, our readers. You supported us at a level we couldn’t ever have contemplated. You hyped us up and hung out with us and had our backs over and over again. You have made this into an actual community. It is hard to express the level of gratitude we have.

If you have supported us monetarily, we can’t thank you enough. If you haven’t yet and think you could, take a look at some of the stories I’ve linked to above. If you think they’re worth something—if they have moved you, or stirred your outrage, or made you laugh, or made you think—please consider subscribing. You will be helping us immeasurably and ensuring that we can keep this wild, wonderful dream of a venture going long into the future.

2020 is coming to an end. We will eventually be out of all of this. The world will change in ways we can’t contemplate, just as it did this year. We don’t know what lies ahead. All that we know is that we want to keep telling the story of whatever happens, and that we want to do that on Discourse Blog. We hope you will join us.