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Belmont Club

Into the Memory Hole

March 30th, 2010 - 5:44 pm

[The deleted Belmont Club entry has been restored. The article is back on Wikipedia. The undeletion is a vindication of the Wiki philosophy that "all bugs are shallow to many eyes" and a testament of the ability of an active online community to resist its elimination from an index. Both are the different aspects of the same thing. It is the feedback power of the Internet that makes so different from the old media. A single author may be marked for deletion, but the same cannot be done to hundreds or thousands of commenters without creating a "disturbance in the Force". The return of the entry was entirely due to the Belmont Club readers and of course, to Wikipedia itself. With that, this thread will closed. What follows is for the record only.]

The Belmont Club’s entry in Wikipedia has been deleted by an editor named Nihiltres on the grounds that its entry “reads like and is an advertisement for a blog/web page. I do not see how it belongs in an encyclopedia. It is neither newsworthy or notable”. That entry read as follows.

Belmont Club is a weblog that has been in existence since late April 2003. The site focuses on current affairs and public policy, often placing an emphasis on military action and foreign policy issues. The Belmont Club welcomes and supports comments by its readers. The site’s founder and primary contributor is Richard Fernandez, who runs the site under the pseudonym Wretchard the Cat and Wretchard. Fernandez also maintains a website at Wretchard.com. Fernandez is of Filipino background and has Australian citizenship. Fernandez’ interest in history began at Harvard, from where he graduated with a Masters in Public Policy. Since its founding, the Belmont Club site has generated more than eight million hits as of September 2005.

Wretchard is the name of an imaginary cat, in the words of Fernandez, “the symbol of that entire race of stoic, yet somewhat foolish creatures.” [1] Belmont is the name of a suburb Fernandez roomed in while at Cambridge, Massachusetts.
As of 2006, he is a contributor to PJ Media.

• First location of Belmont Club
• Second location of Belmont Club
• Current location of Belmont Club
• Wretchard.com

Was it like an ad? Judge for yourself. The editor who deleted it describes himself in the following way.

I am Nihiltres (pronounced /nɪˈhɪlˌtɹɛs/, ni-HIL-tres), a Wikipedian. I am an administrator, and have been since a nomination in May 2007. I do a fair amount of work as an administrator, primarily deleting pages tagged for speedy deletion or proposed deletion. Aside from my administrative help, I do a bunch of work with templates, cleanup, and occasionally writing articles…

I am a science student living in Pointe Claire, on the island of Montreal. As I am a student, it’s possible to guess at my age: I would discourage people from doing so, because I wish to be ageless on Wikipedia, being judged instead on the quality of my contributions and the cogency of arguments which I put forth.

It should generally be assumed that people are inherently biased—as such, I reason that it would be appropriate to disclose these biases. In terms of political standpoint, I tend to be reasonably liberal: according to the political compass test, I scored as −4.92 on an economic scale of left versus right, and −5.25 on a social scale of libertarianism versus authoritarianism. In terms of spirituality, I am nominally a Protestant, though I abandoned those beliefs a number of years ago and now am largely agnostic, with some Buddhist leanings. I therefore follow the Five Precepts and some other tenets of Buddhism, but am otherwise agnostic. Although I am generally accepting of people’s religious beliefs, I personally greatly dislike dogma, especially those which can be categorized as pseudoscience, although I acknowledge that any argument involving an omnipotent being is necessarily inductive in nature.

The political compass test is itself a fascinating tool, but not as fascinating as the ability of a Wikipedia editor make a very substantial body of information disappear. There are currently about 1,180 posts of about 1,000 words in the current incarnation of the Belmont Club not to mention its previous versions. More importantly, readers have contributed over 94,000 comments in the current incarnation of the blog, many of them full length essays. The Belmont Club has millions upon millions of hits. ABC New’s The Note reported a survey listing it as the 80th most influential political blog in the blogosphere.

And it’s gone from Wikipedia. All 94,000 comments. The link to RWE, Life of the Mind, Pascal, Buddy Larsen, Leo Linbeck. Gone. Just like that. Deleted by “a science student living in Pointe Claire” who discourages people from inquiring into his age and whose work consists of “primarily deleting pages tagged for speedy deletion or proposed deletion”. Let me propose another article for deletion. George Orwell’s entry on the Memory Hole.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

It should be merged with a fuller extract from the Chapter on Room 101 which talked about the Book. The one that was credited to Goldstein but which O’Brien largely wrote. The Book explained much of the history of the 1984 world but it left out one thing. Why did the Party cling to power? O’Brien would let Winston Smith in on the last secret.

‘The rule of the Party is for ever. Make that the starting-point of your thoughts.’ … You understand well enough HOW the Party maintains itself in power. Now tell me WHY we cling to power. What is our motive? Why should we want power? Go on, speak,’ he added as Winston remained silent. …

‘Now I will tell you the answer to my question. It is this. The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power. Not wealth or luxury or long life or happiness: only power, pure power. What pure power means you will understand presently. We are different from all the oligarchies of the past, in that we know what we are doing. All the others, even those who resembled ourselves, were cowards and hypocrites. The German Nazis and the Russian Communists came very close to us in their methods, but they never had the courage to recognize their own motives. They pretended, perhaps they even believed, that they had seized power unwillingly and for a limited time, and that just round the corner there lay a paradise where human beings would be free and equal. We are not like that. We know that no one ever seizes power with the intention of relinquishing it. Power is not a means, it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me? … We make the laws of nature.’ …

‘But you do not! You are not even masters of this planet. What about Eurasia and Eastasia? You have not conquered them yet.’ ‘Unimportant. We shall conquer them when it suits us. And if we did not, what difference would it make? We can shut them out of existence. Oceania is the world.’ ‘But the world itself is only a speck of dust. And man is tiny–helpless! How long has he been in existence? For millions of years the earth was uninhabited.’ ‘Nonsense. The earth is as old as we are, no older. How could it be older? Nothing exists except through human consciousness.’

‘But the rocks are full of the bones of extinct animals–mammoths and mastodons and enormous reptiles which lived here long before man was ever heard of.’ ‘Have you ever seen those bones, Winston? Of course not. Nineteenth-century biologists invented them. Before man there was nothing. After man, if he could come to an end, there would be nothing. Outside man there is nothing.’

Power means the power to delete. Power means the power to form the narrative. He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future. We of the Belmont Club are not here. But we understand.


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