The strong and slow boring of hard boards

inletting-img_41193It seems the inevitable and tragic fate of leftist political activists that, at one point in time in our lives or another, I think many of us seem feel like our activities amount to little more than pushing against the ocean.  To borrow another metaphor, German sociologist Max Weber once noted that politics was the “strong and slow boring of hard boards.”

The knowledge that the long-term progress of political culture in the West  has continued to push toward leftist ideals and the knowledge that this blog in particular was at one time influential enough to merit threats of legal action from a multinational polling firm, has not been enough for me personally to escape this bitter philosophy of defeatism.

I attribute, in part, my more than three-month furlough from Paulitics to this inevitable (but hopefully temporary) condition.  The other factor that I think has played a role in the lack of creative output and new content here is one that I hope to write about in the future.  However, sufficed to say that I have discovered that a long-term political diet consisting exclusively of the capitalist media, even the so-called ‘progressive’ capitalist media of Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow and Google News, can be positively poisonous to activist tendencies.

In my three month experiment, I found that it’s not just that the content of the capitalist media news is highly distorted as suggested by Chomsky’s Propaganda Model.  Rather, I found that the most important news is obviously censored, but that, over and above the Propaganda Model, what little news is permitted to reach air is presented in a way that encourages mere passive ridicule rather than a call to arms and the need for concerted and conscientious political movements of protest.

I don’t know how I would demonstrate this empirically as Chomsky has done, but it is something that I am beginning to think about.

On a personal note (as if this whole post wasn’t already a personal note): I would be very curious to hear from other individuals whether they agree with my assessment or whether they have experienced anything similar and, if so, what helped get them through it.

Anyway, this is my long way of saying that I am back to blogging for the time being.

6 Responses to “The strong and slow boring of hard boards”


  1. 1 marcel 15 April, 2009 at 11:28 pm

    Wow. Nice post, Paul.

    Sometimes being right is not enough. You need results to back it up!

    Well, there’s been some pretty long dark ages in history, perhaps we are 900 years away from some kind of social enlightenment, when it finally does come, it will be because of the efforts of inspired people like you.

    Don’t give up. We nned you.

  2. 2 Dan Ulrick 18 April, 2009 at 9:58 am

    Dear Sir,

    New to the internet, I searched a great many blogs before yours, all of which pale in comparison. Never have I encontered views which so closely resemble my own, and can truly empathize on the subject of political depression. If I had words of wisdom on how to combat it, they would be here offered. Coming from a complete stranger,my considered opinion may limited significance. Nevertheless, I would extend my thanks and congratulations for your masterful work.

  3. 3 joe 19 April, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Since we talked about this the other night, I’ve given this topic some thought. Perhaps, the success of political activists is not possible to be measured by a great width and breadth of accomplishments (though we can certainly point to a few). If we define activism as belief in an opposing view, or unpopular view – whichever – maybe success can be measured by how long we endure the hardships of carrying those ideas and beliefs with us. If the forces of those in power seek only to remove those thoughts from our heads, holding onto them is like saying fuck-you, politely.

  4. 4 marcel 19 April, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    Partial victory if your still enslaved to their system of exploitation.

  5. 5 Ken Furber 20 April, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    Hey Paul:
    Hang in their buddy. The expressions of your beliefs may not result in a revolutionary change in our society but they’re extremely valuable. We need the lefties among us to have a place they feel reflects their beliefs. Let’s face it there’s lots of opportunities for the extreme right to spew their sentiment. Not that it likely means much in the scheme of things, but I’ve enjoyed your posts and the reaction to them. Keep up the good work. And if you ever feel tired or start to lose your fire, do me a favor, google Small Dead Animals and that shot of right-wing drivel should bring you back to your senses.
    Nice to see you back
    Ken

  6. 6 Cexgriergewak 23 April, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I’m the only one in this world. Can please someone join me in this life? Or maybe death…


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