The DIAL, as its title indicates, will endeavor to occupy a station on which the light may fall; which is open to the rising sun; and from which it may correctly report the progress of the hour and the day.[1]

ATTN: Freethinking & Libertarian Poets

Introducing, The Dial: A Magazine for Poetry, Philosophy, and Religion.  This is a journal for poetry and reflection, catering to the freedom-loving individualists of the world.  We are united in principle, though not in opinion.  And in the pages of this journal, you will find the best that has been thought and said in the liberty movement in the hopes of bolstering a culture of liberty worldwide.

Submissions guidelines can be found here.  Longer submissions may be submitted to  We do accept multiple submissions, and what we publish is covered by a Creative Commons 2.5 license.

The Dial: Dalliances with False Surmise (Volume I), January 2017

Now available (click on img above for free digital pdf or purchase here)

Podcasts of this edition are available on the last Friday of each month on The Culture & Anarchy Podcast, which is available in iTunes, SoundCloud, GooglePlay, Stitcher, etc.


Why The Dial?

The spirit of libertarianism is always forward-thinking.  It is not a longing for something past; never a quest for the return to something that once was, but has since corrupted into a state of disrepair with the passage of time.

The Progressive mindset is a panicked animal flight from history in the pursuit of a mechanical utopia, clutching blindly at levers in the absence of principles while measuring progress by the ticking of the clock.  The Progressive becomes trapped by that selfsame ticking, which counts down to the destruction of dreams that were reared upon self-destructive phantasies, lorded over by consequence.

The conservative mindset is petrified by a longing for a utopian past that never was quite rooted in sacred principle, for a bowdlerized history that never knew how to confront the uncertainty that the future brings.  The conservative wishes to wind the clock backwards to a history that is fixed, because it is dead, in the retreat from tomorrow; and she furiously polishes her family’s brass watch to remove the corruption of Time’s tarnish.  She never notes that the watch has stopped ticking for all of her polishing, and that she has become trapped in a routine without promise of reward in something new; something unknown; something illuminating.

Most people fall into the darkness of despair and urgency, by turns, because they do not have the courage of principle.  They grope blindly through consequence while heedless of responsibility.  The Progressive and Conservative tendencies always circle back to an entrenched conservatism; for the Progressive must aggressively conserve some portion of his gains against the consequences of his recklessness, which result in waste and wantonness.  The conservative grasps for the ghosts of past principles, pounding the heave-less breast of a corpse as if principles were something to be recovered from a grave, rather than lived in the present

“Conservatism,” Ralph Waldo Emerson pronounced in 1841, speaking before a meeting of Freemasons, “always has the worst of the argument, is always apologizing, pleading a necessity, pleading that to change would be to deteriorate; it must saddle itself with the mountainous load of violence and vice of society, must deny the possibility of good, deny ideas, and suspect and stone the prophet.”[2]

The spirit of liberty, on the other hand, has nothing for which it need apologize, for it has not saddled itself with misery.  The culture of liberty seeks to break the bonds of inherited oppressions and to learn from the consequences resulting from the herd’s schizophrenic panics without apologizing for them.

In 1841, Massachusetts was papered over by The Christian Examiner and The North American Review.  The North American Review was a miscellaneous journal filled with antiquities and curiosities, being dedicated primarily to book reviews.  Its content was generally rooted in academic interests of the Harvard and Yale divines.  The journal’s editors were dedicated to building culture in America; however, it was a culture with the distinctive British accent that was already fading fast from America’s coastal tongues.  It was a journal patterned upon what had floated across the Atlantic as literary flotsam jettisoned from a dying empire.  The journal ran from 1815 until 1940; but it has since been revived by The University of Northern Iowa.

Time has not enhanced its appeal.

I had to laugh, in spite of myself, when recently clicking on a link to the review (here), which directed me to the campus website.  The first image that the website loads assures us that we are in the presence of “A More Inclusive Campus” that is—thank the gods—“A Safe Zone Ally.”

The more things change, the more they stay tucked safely within the inclusiveness of the herd, sheltered from challenge, feeling, iron, rust, hardship, and principle.

“Conservatism makes no poetry, breathes no prayer,” Emerson continued, “has no invention; it is all memory.  Reform has no gratitude, no prudence, no husbandry.”

The libertarian is not concerned with this retreat into establishment and narcissism.

The Christian Examiner, on the other hand, was a vehicle of religious nonconformity in 1824, catering to the Unitarian and latitudinarian intellectuals of Massachusetts.  At the time, the state of Massachusetts still maintained an established church by means of a theodemocratic majority.  Citizens were ordered to attend church, under penalty of law, and taxes were raised by the state and allotted to the theodemocratic majority within a given locality.

Almost by default, this system created a Congregationalist (Puritan) establishment throughout the state, equipped with public funding and compulsory attendance mandates.  Hence, there was something almost apologetic in The Christian Examiner’s mission statement, as if it feared to court controversy lest the political powers turn their attention to those troublesome Unitarians stirring up resentment with the established church system, since opposition to the system was opposition to the most revered golden calf, Democracy itself, as well as to established religion.

It was in The Christian Disciple, the forbear to the Examiner, that in November 1822 Ralph Waldo Emerson published his first essay, deliciously (we might so call it in retrospect, given the theodemocratic wealth redistribution in his home state) entitled: “Thoughts On the Religion of the Middle Ages.”

By 1832, Emerson was preparing to shatter the mould in his private journals, even before he shattered his church by leaving it:

I have sometimes thought that in order to be a good minister it was necessary to leave the ministry.  The profession is antiquated.  In an altered age, we worship the dead forms of our forefathers.  Were not a Socratic paganism better than an effete superannuated Christianity?


Does not every shade of thought have its own tone so that wooden voices denote wooden minds?


Whatever there is of Authority in religion is that which the mind does not animate […]

6 July.  Here among the mountains the pinions of thought should be strong and one should see the errors of men from a calmer height of love & wisdom.  What is the message that is given me to communicate next Sunday?  Religion in the mind is not credulity & in the practice is not form.  It is a life.  It is the order & soundness of a man.  It is not something else to be got [,] to be added [,] but is a new life of those faculties you have.  It is to do right.  It is to love, it is to serve, it is to think, it is to be humble,[3]

In 1840, he was already organizing a new coterie of intellectuals, libertarians, and abolitionists who were not interested in the old academic exercises, in Christian apologetics, or in stale conformity with the herd mentality.  Time, for him, was no longer a mechanical game of desperate reform or conservative idolatry.

“The light,” he wrote of emerging transcendental ideas, rooted in the libertarian spirit, “is always identical in its composition, but it falls on a great variety of objects, and by so falling is first revealed to us, not in its own form, for it is formless, but in theirs.”[4]

The spirit of American individualism was awakening and shedding new light upon the cracks that had long been spreading through the spiritual and intellectual foundations of Boston.  It was illuminating a world peopled by statues; and as the light progressed, it showed not only how much further liberty, thought, and markets had moved, but that it could move beyond the shadows of what was known.

And in 1841, Emerson’s labors brought forth a new journal, The Dial: A Magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion.  The magazine, revered and reviled, challenged the centralizing dogmas of the academic age with a scattershot intellectualism aimed at universal principles of liberty:

It aims at the discussion of principles, rather than at the promotion of measures; and while it will not fail to examine the ideas which impel the leading movements of the present day, it will maintain an independent position with regard to them.

The pages of this Journal will be filled by contributors, who possess little in common but the love of intellectual freedom, and the hope of social progress; who are united by sympathy of spirit, not by agreement in speculation; whose faith is in Divine Providence, rather than in human prescription; whose hearts are more in the future than in the past; and who trust the living soul rather than the dead letter.  It will endeavor to promote the constant evolution of truth, not the petrifaction of opinion.[5]

Today, I am celebrating the rebirth of the movement that challenged the stale intellectual environment of the academy, and I bring you the rebirth of The Dial: A Magazine for Poetry, Philosophy, and ReligionThe Dial is an electronic and print journal of poetry designed to provide the culture of liberty with nothing more than a piece of etched stone, by which we may measure the progress of the light in a landscape where dead monoliths project shadows across every field.  We do not worship stones or prophets; but we walk amongst the mere sculptures of men and women, now petrified by opinion.  Our goal is to show them life, once again, and a future towards which to strive without fear of what today lies in shadow.

I am calling all libertarian poets, in America and throughout the world, free and unfree, in the pursuit of a culture of liberty worthy of individuals looking to stride forward into the world, warmed by the light that freedom brings, confident in purpose, and forward-thinking in spirit.  We are not looking for poetry about liberty, per se, but we strive to bring you the best by those who are likewise bringing animation to a world sculpted in the round.

And so with diligent hands and good intent we set down our Dial on the earth.  We wish it may resemble that instrument in its celebrated happiness, that of measuring no hours but those of sunshine.  Let it be one cheerful rational voice amidst the din of mourners and polemics.  Or to abide by our chosen image, let it be such a Dial, not as the dead face of a clock, hardly even such as the Gnomon in a garden, but rather such a Dial as is the Garden itself, in whose leaves and flowers and fruits the suddenly awakened sleeper is instantly apprised not what part of dead time, but what state of life and growth is now arrived and arriving.[6]


[1] Emerson, Ralph Waldo. “The Editors to the Reader.”  The Dial: A Magazine for Literature, Philosophy, and Religion.  Vol. 1.  Boston: Weeks, Jordan, and Company, 121 Washington Street, 1841.  Google Books.

[2] Emerson, Ralph Waldo.  “The Conservative.” 1841. In Essays & Poems.  Eds. Joel Porte, Harold Bloom, and Paul Kane.  New York: The Library of America, 1996. 175.  Print.

[3] Emerson, Ralph Waldo.  The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Vol. 4.  Ed. Ferguson, Alfred R.  Cambridge: The Belknap Press of Harvard UP, 1964.  27.  Print.

[4] Emerson.  “The Transcendentalist.” 1842. In Essays & Poems.

[5] From the prospectus printed on the back cover of print editions of The Dial.

[6]The Dial, 1841, p. 4.