Václav Havel

Václav Havel: From the Prague Spring to the Velvet Revolution to the Year of the Protestor

We’re an empire now. And when we act, we create our own reality. –Senior Bush Advisor to Ron Suskind

 

It can be said, therefore, that ideology, as that instrument of internal communication which assures the power structure of inner cohesion is, in the post-totalitarian system, something that transcends the physical aspects of power, something that dominates it to a considerable degree, and therefore, tends to assure its continuity as well. It is one of the pillars of the system’s external stability. This pillar, however, is built on a very unstable foundation. It is built on lies. It works only as long as people are willing to live within the lie. –Václav Havel, “Power of the Powerless

In his essay, Power of the Powerless, Václav Havel described how citizens of “post-totalitarian” societies perform certain rituals–his central example was a green grocer putting the sign, “Workers of the World, Unite!” in his shop window every morning, but he saw the “dictatorship of consumption” to work similarly–to signify their adherence to the ideology on which power in the system rests. The system relies on (and rewards, with access to a comfortable livelihood) the universal performance of such rituals to sustain the ideology that gives the raw power behind the system some legitimacy. He argued that if people began to live within the truth–stopped putting up the sign every morning and paid the consequences in terms of lost benefits–it might expose the lie behind the myths people told themselves about their society.

But the moment someone breaks through in one place, when one person cries out, “the emperor is naked!”–when a single person breaks the rules of the game, thus exposing it as a game–everything suddenly appears in another light and the whole crust seems then to be made of a tissue on the point of tearing and disintegrating uncontrollably.

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JimWhiteGNV Congrats to the Hulchers of Argyle TX on induction of One Hot Chip (Jackson) into ApHC Hall of Fame. We miss him! https://t.co/McC9JlAQMK
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emptywheel @DanielLarison I thought it was just a comment on his age. Evergreen, bc the last two they've used for Hillary were probably obscene.
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emptywheel Mogul?!?! That's the best USSS could do for Trump's codename? It's not even in code. https://t.co/H8YvC3zs69
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emptywheel RT @samueloakford: Saudi Arabia told the UN and aid agencies to leave areas where the Houthis are operating in #Yemen: https://t.co/Rf0LPDz
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emptywheel @Spkr2Managers Since someone fr PD's office already repping someone fr Malheur his will be a CJA. Portland's bar will be busy @maxoregonian
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bmaz @EricMartin24 But, while I respect and will vote for either in general, I am at this point, a Sanders fan, so take w/that grain of salt.
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emptywheel @nolarobert FWIW, if he is unable to pay, support him getting one, but remember initial complaint w/govt also abt freeloading. @PoliticalBee
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bmaz @EricMartin24 Don't think he pushed it though. And think the Clinton attack on sanders civil rights record that precipitated this is stupid.
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bmaz @EricMartin24 Yes. As in all things Senatorial, it is complicated, but yes. That is not positive for him, ultimately, either.
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bmaz @TayNez81 Overall, that is, I hope, a good thing. But, caveat, we all have our angles; some w/better facts, some not. It is what it is.
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