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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Emptywheel Twitterverse
emptywheel @scareduck Yeah. But its harder to hide bulky fun stuff in them. Suspect it's most useful for counterproliferation.
emptywheel Realization: One advantage of so little shipping being done under US flag is that NSA can spy on almost all cargo ships. #ThinkLikeBobLitt
emptywheel There's a "doth protest too much" aspect to much of what NSA added to their IG Report bt March and June 2009.
bmaz Did Baltimore cops personally tune up #FreddieGray or, as @Will_Bunch suggests take him on a "necked ride" http://t.co/wMDO7GZ34z or both?
emptywheel Reading these IG Reports I'm wondering if @barryeisler could bring back Addington character to kill in ghoulish fashion again in new book?
emptywheel @tomgara Sure, but with that advance you got a watch you need to charge.
emptywheel @JohnWonderlich Lots of that goes on it turns out.
emptywheel @KenRoth And somehow OPR never released the investigation of the latter creative lawyering.
emptywheel @matthew_d_green Saw a summary of it.
emptywheel @JonathanCohn "Oh, sure. KSM tells us non-existent black Muslims in MT are gonna start forest fires. But waterboarding so must be true"
emptywheel @JonathanCohn And worst part is that Intel whiz Alfreda Bikowsky BELIEVED that for like 3 months, apparently not asking that VERY basic Q
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