Is This “The End” For Socio-Political Blogs?
Posted by intellisg on August 17, 2007
You all know what Dodo birds are don’t you? The Dodo aka Raphus cucullatus was a flightless bird which once lived a placid existence on the island somewhere in West Indies. The dodo has gone the way of the dinosaur since the mid-to-late 17th century. It is commonly used as the archetype of describing lousy thoughtware that leads to inexorable extinction. The phrase “it’s history like the dodo” means undoubtedly and unquestionably dead beyond all possibility of recall. The stuff of gone with the wind, kaput, habis, finito etc. The verb phrase “to go the way of the dodo” means you’ve just bought yourself a one way ticket to the end of the road.
Recently, I came across a Dodo statement, don’t ask me where I read it, but it’s probably very near a place where the road runs out and after that a cliff follows. The statement goes like this:
“I share a common view with Alex Au (aka Yawning Bread) that there is an over optimistic view that the internet is the answer to the tipping point for political change in Singapore. In reality, it does not work for a few reasons. First of all, there is no direct translation of activity from social political blogs to the real world. Most of us (including myself) are armchair critics. If Martyn See’s video is that effective, the political parties involved should all be helping those poor people out there. Has there been any action taken to help those poor people? Has anyone alerted the authorities that we need to help those people? It is the lack of action that convinces me that the social political blogs in Singapore do not have an influence in the off-line world.”
Do you really want to know why I believe this statement deserves the Dodo award of the year?
Let’s examine the innards of this rant: it posits a few things, but the crux of it centers on this issue: “what does socio-political blogging actually accomplish?” Allow me to paraphrase: “Why do you write about socio-political happenings?” Well according to the author blogging about the socio-political scene doesn’t amount to a hill of beans! Why? Because it doesn’t produce any tangible results i.e the valence between thought or will and action that’s able to save either planet or people is lacking.
Let’s just stand back for a while and look at this statement for a bit longer. Maybe I was too quick off the mark popping it full of holes? Is it really true to say, just because most socio-political bloggers do very little except talk and talk and talk, they really accomplish nothing? It really depends what you define as “nothing.” On a general take, I would agree very reluctantly with that statement. Having said that, it hardly lends one molecule of currency to the author’s proposition: talking produces absolutely nothing.
On the contrary, the statement,
“It is the lack of action that convinces me that the social political blogs in Singapore do not have an influence in the off-line world.”
Suggest for there to be anything remotely measurable and tangible words have to be steeled with affirmative action.
How true is this notion, that talking without acting amounts to **** all?
A cursory take may even suggest, talking alone and it doesn’t matter whether it is socio-political discourse or how to bake a cake produces no enduring value except an explosion of commentary and opinion – all of which simply adds up to unmitigated diatribe to a explicit utility value of zero.
Here’s the kicker and it’s a hard one let me just warn you, enough to send it from here to the moon! Nothing can be further from the truth.
Firstly, talking remains the only process whereby schools of thoughts and states of minds can be continually imported and exported. It’s our most reliable tool set that allows us to make sense of the known world by stacking facts along the wall to see how they measure up to our assumptions.
Great advances don’t come from nothing, not even the simple act of tying shoelaces! They have a chronological trail that emerges directly from mashing ideas to derive at the known truth – that can only be accomplished by talking. Ideas do not fall from the sky; they come from people who talk. People who talk with other people hammer out concepts, they clarify their respective positions and throw out stuff into the light to regularly produce software, products and services. In fact, if you think real long and hard about it, every new thing that has ever given us pleasure, excitement and stimulation, be it a novel or the tweaks that makes our computers hum slightly faster, is the result of just talking and very little else.
That’s my first tungsten carbide nail into the coffin – there it goes, “thump!”
So if you think talking is just the homily sugary stuff of hello Kitty and Precious moments. Or worst still, you dismiss it as an irrelevant act that amounts to the sum of zero, you might as well gut out the missing link that even explains the chronology of how monkeys to successfully evolve into man – it creates a blank space in the narrative, and we all know what happens when a discussion gets bracketed, it’s creates the right conditions for radicals to step it to fill in the blanks with their self-serving narratives. That’s how suicide bombers are regularly recruited, their puppet masters just fills in the blanks and off they go!
That’s the second nail that goes into the coffin – “Thump!”
Granted talking alone doesn’t produce any tangibles, it can’t for example stop a North Korean war head from blasting off somewhere in the straits of Japan, but the criticism that it amounts to ‘nothing’ suggest there’s even sense of finality. That criticism is unfair; talking if you think real hard about it is simply a manifestation of forming, shaping and sharpening ideas – concepts, schools of thoughts and states of minds which all form part and parcel of the act of “talking” in the socio-political context even if they have little immediate practical influence to move a table in the living room one millimeter – does not necessarily suggest it doesn’t posses latent value that is able to solicit real and meaningful change. It would be just as absurd to dismiss the ‘irrelevant’ act of talking as dispensable to how it may one day add up to solicit social and political change as it would have been to dismiss Einstein’s project for splitting the atom when he was just messing around with marbles during the time he whiled away his time as a patent office clerk. Or to brush off Kant’s project for perpetual peace as irrelevant to the world of megalomaniac Napoleon – both great treatise developed in an environment which were diametrically opposed to such notions, but given the play of time, fate and destiny, they translated into profound developments that even changed the course of human history.
So to say something is irrelevant just because one doesn’t see that immediate results is to discount the whole idea of possibility in relation to time, space and opportunity as it plays out in the sea of time.
That’s the third nail in the coffin – “thump!”
Bloggers and blogging provide real value through the act of talking, they continually coax, tease and juxtapose ideas and concepts to continually perpetuate and clarify the known world. To even suggest it all amounts to zero may remain a palpable truth, but to even believe even this simple act doesn’t have a claim or harbor the imperative to being promoted as the catalyst for change is to go down a very slippery road. As to suggest it is so dispensable that it’s even replaceable for another means of instilling coherency in reason and logic – and this of course raises the question: why then should dictatorial regimes be so afraid of those who do nothing except talk and talk and talk only to do every little else except that? Why are intellectuals the bane of every regime that tries to suppress the truth so as to keep up all the appearances of the great lie?
For me talking in a socio-political context doesn’t really have to do anything least of all even anything resembling affirmative action, simply because we no longer live in an age where Byzantine beach landings and D-Day great parachutes jumps form the backdrop of winning over our foes, rather much of the war transpires in something as fragile as our grey cells – yes, it’s a battle of the minds – what emerges directly from this geo-political reality is the belief that unifies most socio-political bloggers even if they don’t consciously realize it (I don’t believe most of them have given this area much thought and I consider this a grave omission): that talking isn’t supposed to change anything. Rather if it is to have an imperative at all, it serves only to preserve something intrinsically valuable if society is grow coherently and holistically – the compact between the writer and the reader who are both capable of critical and if possible lateral thought to seek out the broader truth.
That’s why when one says, talking is “useless” and “doesn’t have the capacity to solicit change” it’s nothing short of placing the cart before the horse by assuming just because talking CAN have agency, it MUST have agency and there in the palm of your hands lies the flaw in logic and this is where we will lower the coffin and simply end it all with the words dust to dust – game over!
Blog on! From where I am standing there are no dead ends – the road is where you walk.
(This has been brought to you by your friend Brotherhood Controller, Aurora / Written by Darkness & Vollariane / Sociology / Politics / Strategic Studies – ES 9908211E – The Brotherhood Press 2007)
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