Blog or Not?

A statistically improbable polymath's views on politics and culture.

Sunday, May 11, 2003
"There--my blessing with thee,
And these few precepts in thy memory
Look thou character. Give thy thoughts no tongue,
Nor any unproportioned thought his act.
Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel,
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatched, unfledged courage. Beware
Of entrance to a quarrel; but being in,
Bear't that th' opposèd may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice;
Take each man's censure ,but reserve thy judgment.
Costly thy habit as thy purse can buy,
But not expressed in fancy; rich, not gaudy,
For the apparel oft proclaims the man,
And they in France of the best rank and station
Are of a most select and generous chief in that.
Neither a borrower nor a lender be,
For loan oft loses both itself and friend,
And borrowing dulleth edge of husbandry.
This above all, to thine own self be true,
And it must follow as the night the day
That thou cannot then be false to any man"
--Hamlet, I.3.56-79

For the past few years I've been irritated at the way that some liberal activists act. Most of them, as well as almost all liberals, are courteous, polite, and wish to engage in discourse with their opponents instead of completely alienating them. Then there are the ones who get all the press. I am not talking about those who stopped traffic on Lake Shore Drive (I feel it was a creative act of civil disobedience, but then again I didn't have to get anywhere using Lake Shore Drive that day), but rather our good friends ANSWER and their fore--"foreparents" would imply a nuclear family, hence "foreguardians"--foreguardians ACT UP, SDS, and others. These organizations--at least not ACT UP and SDS--didn't start out as ultra-radical. But their alienating tactics eventually caused them to become that favorite insult of the sixties, irrelevant.

It's debatable whether or not radical groups are ultimately helpful or harmful to their causes. Of course, what one generation defines as "radical" the generation ten years younger will dismiss as "conciliatory". But I have a feeling that most liberal activists want to be perceived right now by their peers as sane, rational people instead of that weird guy who hasn't bathed for weeks and shows up at every anti-war march stoned out of his mind.

Therefore, at the grand age of 18 years and ten months and full of youthful arrogance*, I shall attempt to create a guide to activism using Polonious's advice to Laertes in Hamlet. Yes, I realize that Polonious was an idiot. But it makes a nice framework.

*At least I'm being honest about it. Everyone at age 18 thinks they can save the world. Please poke holes in my arguments.

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