Steven Den Beste, RIP

by Jim Geraghty

Steven Den Beste, one of the early stars of the blogosphere, has passed away. His name may not be instantly recognized by the readers of 2016 because he stopped blogging regularly about politics in 2004, turning his attention towards animated films and shows. Every once in a while, Den Beste would pop up on Hot Air. In recent years, he had health problems and suffered a stroke.

His “USS Clueless” blog is gone, the servers storing the data are shut down. You can find some through the Wayback Machine; I found this 2002 assessment of the war on terror, and how it is largely driven by the fact the culture of the Islamist communities is failing so thoroughly compared to the West:

The nations and the peoples within the zone of our enemy’s culture are complete failures. Their economies are disasters. They make no contribution to the advance of science or engineering. They make no contribution to art or culture. They have no important diplomatic power. They are not respected. Most of their people are impoverished and miserable and filled with resentment, and those who are not impoverished are living a lie.

They hate us. They hate us because our culture is everything theirs is not. Our culture is vibrant and fecund; our economies are successful. Our achievements are magnificent. Our engineering and science are advancing at breathtaking speed. Our people are fat and happy (relatively speaking). We are influential, we are powerful, we are wealthy. “We” are the western democracies, but in particular “we” are the United States, which is the most successful of the western democracies by a long margin. America is the most successful nation in the history of the world, economically and technologically and militarily and even culturally.

I also found this 2004 piece on the joy of America’s gradual change:

Too many young people don’t recognize the virtue of the American perpetual revolution: the fact that it is slow but certain. There have been many revolutionary ideas which have been proposed which were utter crap whose adoption could have destroyed the system. The system as created can move, and can change radically, but it is particularly good at selecting good and useful changes while rejecting the bad ones, which is why it has only had to repeal a misguided Constitutional amendment once.

The system can change, and has changed, and will continue to change, but only when that change is broadly acknowledged as being a good thing. Those who advocate change must convince everyone else that it is a good thing, and sometimes that takes decades. It can even take centuries. But if change were too easy, there would be too great a chance of foolish or destructive change that could lead to destruction of the system and termination of the many benefits it already gives us despite the continued presence of deep flaws.

A software engineer by trade, exhibiting a precise logic in his thinking, Den Beste was acerbic, sharp and often charmingly irascible. I recall him writing at length about people who wrote in to correct him when they were actually wrong, and he would e-mail me with passive-aggressive appreciation when I would link to him but misspell his name.

I missed his  playful cantankerousness when he had merely stopped blogging. He’s missed even more now.

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