Tuesday, December 07, 2004
There are those who oppose any government that claims to be always right and on the other hand there are those who keep silent because they fear acquiring a reputation for cowardice or lack of patriotism. In the fourth century, Demosthenes addressed the crowd by stating” "Do not consider those who urge you to take the field to be for this reason brave, nor those who undertake to oppose them to be for this reason cowards”. Obviously, he was striking out against the atmosphere of intimidation that the rhetoric of andreia could induce.
Sydney might be left in the dark. TransGrid has some difficulty in tracking project costs from project inception to completion, undertaking and providing adequate economic project justifications, and reviewing project costs after approval Picnic Point consumers face higher bills
Eye on Politics & Law Lords: Liverpool Kiss of Death and Sartor's Waterloo?
Bob Carr is ultra-sensitive about his reputation, particularly his reputation for integrity, and any perceived blemish on that reputation is fiercely resisted, which makes the Orange Grove affair and redevelopment of Redfern two particularly tricky issues for the Carr Government.
December’s supposed to be the start of the political silly season in New South Wales. In fact this is the last week of Parliamentary sittings, with the social highlight of the year, the Press Gallery Christmas Party, scheduled for tomorrow evening.
But the Carr Government is staring down the barrel of a series of events that may well determine its fate, and its future leader...
• Some times, it's just not your time in history
• · When the Czech secret police (StB) came to arrest me one night in 1981 and as they were leading me away in handcuffs, I quoted to my son the words of Jan Patocka: "Our people have once more become aware that there are things for which it is worthwhile to suffer, that the things for which we might have to suffer are those which make life worthwhile." During a house search, the wife of the Protestant pastor Jan Simsa tried to hide a personal letter from the philosopher Jan Patocka by putting it into the top of her blouse. When the secret police agent carrying out the search went to reach for the letter, her husband, the pastor, slapped him in the face. For that he was sent to jail for a year. Only people close to him and a few hundred dissidents knew the real reason for his sentence. We admired him for it. The Power of the Powerless
[Heroic deeds are not appropriate to everyday life," leading dissident and writer Ludvik Vaculik wrote at the time; "heroism is acceptable in exceptional situations, but these must not last too long”
Havel opposed those who expressed such antiheroic views in secret or semipublic debate and indirectly repeated the opinions he had published--openly--in the autumn of 1968, shortly after the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. "On account of what will happen tomorrow we ought not forget what will happen in twenty years time."
Many people are devoid of convictions, ideals, or opinions or fear failure; they prefer to withdraw into themselves and not be an actor, or an active subject of history. So even when they do not agree with that which is occurring around them they simply accept the role of being objects of history. They defend this position on the grounds of "achieving what is possible," saving lives and enabling the majority to survive. And as Havel had already written in November 1968, "I always realize that no lives were saved, that the moral consistency of the nation was dislocated for a long time, being racked by the reproach that it had failed to assert its will and stick by it to the end."
As early as 1989, the Swiss philosopher and political scientist Hans Magnus Ensenzberger wrote that nowadays the intellectual cannot simply criticize and go against the stream, because the significance of deeds and decisions, as well as the flow of information, actions, and their interpretation, are changing all the time.
"Flexibility is gradually being elevated into a cardinal social virtue." Those who think that the only way to confront "the system" is through frontal attack, whether conservatives or revolutionaries, are deluding themselves; this stance makes sense only if one believes one knows the meaning of history. Events and deeds constantly change their context. It is virtually impossible to go on holding the same opinion indefinitely. The subject has the right and duty to adopt a different evaluatory stance when viewed against his or her knowledge of other facts and circumstances. The question as to whether one should swim with the current or against it seems outmoded to Enzensberger because it can only be asked at the cost of major oversimplification. More natural, in his eyes, is to "windsurf through the sea of opinions," going now with the wind, now against it. If an active individual is not simply to conform, the anti-establishment nonconformity--what the Czech vulgarly describe as "pissing into the wind'--is not enough. Nonconformity can be a fashionable and even narcissistic stance if one fails to match one's deeds to one's conscience or internalized convictions. In my view, one can only speak in terms of courage if someone's proclaimed stance is not mere gratification of his or her ego, but instead is aimed at preserving and upholding supra-individual values and solidarity with the community at large. But this takes me away from postmodernism again.]
• · · In a number of cases Stasi collaborators began or even maintained an unshakable trust in communism or in the individuals who tried to bring them into the Stasi. What is the relationship between resistance and civil courage?