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Read Havel. Resist the evil. Resist Putin. As much as you can

A few quotes from Václav Havel’s “Politics and Conscience” (February 1984):

“The slogan “Better Red than dead” does not irritate me as an expression of surrender to the Soviet Union, but it terrifies me as an expression of the renunciation by Western people of any claim to a meaningful life and of their acceptance of impersonal power as such.”

“We must make values and imperatives the starting point of all our acts, of all our personally attested, openly contemplated, and ideologically uncensored lived experience. We must trust the voice of our conscience more than that of all abstract speculations and not invent responsibilities other than the one to which the voice calls us. We must not be ashamed that we are capable of love, friendship, solidarity, sympathy, and tolerance, but just the opposite: we must set these fundamental dimensions of our humanity free from their “private” exile and accept them as the only genuine starting point of meaningful human community. We must be guided by our own reason and serve the truth under all circumstances as our own essential experience.”

“The vanguard of impersonal power, which drags the world along its irrational path, .. is composed of the totalitarian regimes of our time. (..) I am convinced that we can face them best by studying them .., learning from them, and resisting them by being radically different, with a difference born of a continuous struggle against the evil which they may embody most clearly, but which dwells everywhere and so even within each of us.”

“The most dangerous is the fundamental negation of this evil in the very structure of contemporary humanity: a return of humans to themselves and to their responsibility for the world.”

“The best resistance to totalitarianism is simply to drive it out of our own souls, our own circumstances, our own land, to drive it out of contemporary humankind. The best help to all who suffer under totalitarian regimes is to confront the evil, which a totalitarian system constitutes, from which it draws its strength and on which its “vanguard” is nourished. If there is no such vanguard, no extremist sprout from which it can grow, the system will have nothing to stand on.”

“A reaffirmed human responsibility is the most natural barrier to all irresponsibility. If, for instance, the spiritual and technological potential of the advanced world is spread truly responsibly, not solely under the pressure of a selfish interest in profits, we can prevent its irresponsible transformation into weapons of destruction.”

2 thoughts on “Read Havel. Resist the evil. Resist Putin. As much as you can”

  1. Original article was much much longer, wasn't it? Worth reading, though.I was a child when Havel wrote that piece. I am an adult now and have a child of my own. I can't say that I am braver or more corageous to withstand evil and fight. Just – maybe a bit smarter.In terms of resistance to totalitarianism and forming so called vanguard – I saw what happened to few brave souls(then- adults) who spoke out against socialism and \”bright future\” – they just were mentally annihilated. Just few brave souls, not masses acted out. We are able to think what we like, be brave in our kitchen conversations (then) or on the internet (now) – but who will act out and stay mentally intact at the same time, like Havel did?

  2. It is very long. This is why I exerpted a couple of ideas for my blog, just couldn't resist. When saying resist the evil, I wasn't actually thinking of being brave, fight, guerilla, or even dissent. I was thinking of us, you, me, anyone being clever, staying alive, immune to the word of hatred, word of evil, the weapon Putin is using against the values. What he has done to his own country, to the tens of millions of Russians loyal to his television, to his word of evil, is increadible; the scope of this tragedy is really very difficult to embrace. Try to look at those same words Havel wrote thirty years ago from this point of view and they will reveal its brilliantly conteparaneous edge.

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