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Drilling through Hard Boards

I'm sure I will have much more to post on from this masterful essay in political thought, but for now, I thought I would share the stunning conclusion of Weber's "The Profession and Vocation of Politics" (a lecture delivered in Germany in 1919):

"What lies immediately ahead of us is not the flowering of summer but a polar night of icy darkness and hardness, no matter which group wins the outward victory now.  For, where there is nothing, not only has the Kaiser lost his rights but so too has the proletarian.  When this night slowly begins to recede, which of those people will still be alive whose early summer seems now to have flowered so profusely?  And what will have become of you all inwardly?  Embitterment or philistinism, sheer, dull acceptance of the world and of your job--or the third, and not the least common possibility, a mystical flight from the world on the part of those with the gift for it or--a frequent and pernicious variant--on the part of those who force themselves into such an attitude because it is fashionable....
Politics means slow, strong drilling through hard boards, with a combination of passion and a sense of judgement.  It is of course entirely correct, and a fact confirmed by all historical experience, that what is possible would never have been achieved if, in this world, people had not repeatedly reached for the impossible.  But the person who can do this must be a leader; not only that, he must, in a very simple sense of the word, be a hero.  And even those who are neither of these things must, even now, put on the armour of that steadfastness of heart which can withstand even the defeat of all hopes, for otherwise they will not even be capable of achieving what is possible today.  Only someone who is certain that he will not be broken when the world, seen from his point of view, is too stupid or too base for what he wants to offer it, and who is certain that he will be able to say 'Nevertheless' in spite of everything--only someone lke this has a 'vocation' for politics."


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