Tuesday, June 20, 2006



Few things I've read inspired me as much as Václav Havel's The Power of the Powerless. It is a brilliant and beautiful essay that speaks to what it is to be human. Read it and learn something about truth, dignity and responsibility - words worth reflecting on.

I must be the only person in the world to have become a socialist (rather than abandoned socialism) partly in response to reading Havel. I think the fact that I found it so relevant to me, in my society and culture, my social and culture milieu, confirmed what Havel says towards the end of the essay:

The post-totalitarian system is only one aspect - a particularly drastic aspect and thus all the more revealing of its real origins - of this general inability of modern humanity to be the master of its own situation. The automatism of the posttotalitarian system is merely an extreme version of the global automatism of technological civilization. The human failure that it mirrors is only one variant of the general failure of modern humanity.

This planetary challenge to the position of human beings in the world is, of course, also taking place in the Western world, the only difference being the social and political forms it takes - Heidegger refers expressly to a crisis of democracy. There is no real evidence that Western democracy, that is, democracy of the traditional parliamentary type, can offer solutions that are any more profound.

All this by way of saying there'll be nothing here for the next few days. Read Havel in the meantime, and re-read my stuff from this recent DC comeback. Take notes, cos I'll be checking up when I get back.

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