Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Freedom!


"Truth and love must prevail over lies and hatred." -- Vaclav Havel

Matt Welch's piece in Reason Magazine on his visit to the Czech Republic to celebrate the life of Vaclav Havel is a beautiful tribute the man, and also provides a caution against believing that electing a philosopher king will solve everything.  There is no salvation in politics, even when a beloved hero of the people takes the reins.

Havel spent 5 years in jail as a dissident against the state dictatorship and led his country through the Velvet Revolution, a playwright turned president breaking down tyranny's barricades and wedding his nation to Western Europe. As president, he remained a champion of freedom and moral clarity, but could never gain the whip hand over the new republic's rumbustious politicians.
"Many ridiculed Havel for his words about truth and love," Schwarzenberg said. "Yet it is the essence of the human struggle. And we must never give up that struggle....Only love makes us listen to the truth of others."
The Bureaucratic-Industrial Complex is Crushing Us

There's some wisdom there.  Even the OWS crowd is onto something, if in a one-eyed, twisted way.  As they scream for the death of bankers and corporations and demand free college and a minimum wage for doing nothing, they fail to realize that it is government that has enfeebled and impoverished us.  

Government told us to stop working so hard, don't worry, it's not your fault...  It's a nice sentiment, to remove a burden from the downtrodden (albeit with other people's money), but government also ended up snuffing self-sufficiency and rewarding failure and ignorance as it shouldered its way in to every last corner of our lives.  

Meanwhile the Government-Corporate Complex continued building great bureaucratic bulwarks against competition, protected by concertina wire tangles of laws and regulations preventing the little guy or gal from challenging Walmart and Microsoft, or from even selling food on a street corner.  And forget about manufacturing; too fraught with legal liability.  Better to take your investment cash to China, or Vegas.

Our politicians are not listening to us, and the bureaucratic class is out of control.  We want our lives back.

Truth without Love...
Truth without love is like facts without context, like music without passion, like a sermon without faith. That is to say, it is finally not truth at all. Parsing words to gain momentary self-advantage at the expense of deeper understanding spreads a kind of moral rot, one that inhibits development and blunts joy.
Havel found kinship with and inspiration from crazed rockers who insisted on living according to their own code despite an all-smothering state, which is how Magor probably intended the phrase that Havel would take and run with. Here, ultimately, is where truth fuses with love–love for music, for life, for Prague, for getting your drink on, and for taking advantage of every cracked-open door to bloody well do something with your life.
Can we all resolve, in this upcoming year, to evaluate the sausage coming out of Washington, DC not by our partisan lights, but based upon whether it advances or destroys personal liberty?  Don't try looking for love there.  You will not find it.

Instead, look for politicians like this...



36 comments:

dmarks said...

Havel was a heroic man who stood up against the outrage of socialism.

The socialists spit on his grave

Always On Watch said...

People are now so used to the concertina wires that they don't recognize them for what they are.

In my view, it is an indictment of a society that "needs" and accepts laws that control nearly every aspect of our lives.

Ducky's here said...

No, so long as "personal liberty" is defined as the Libertarian hell hole I could hardly be said to have love for my neighbor if I supported that.

I will continue to advocate a government that is a buffer against the Libertarian impulse.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: Do you feel safer knowing the United States is now a combat zone where the military can indefinitely detain American citizens?

Ducky's here said...

Well Siverfiddle, I think you can assume I don't. I also don't feel safer wih the police being militarized.

As I mentioned on AOW's blog the right was nowhere to be heard during COINTELPRO and the outrages of the 60's and 70's. Hell, we found out the phone had been tapped at the Boston Catholic Worker's House. I guess they were interested in the commie's market order for the soup kitchen.

The right wing is a little late to this party and you have to take some responsibility for behaving badly and passing the Patriot(LMAO) Act which fathered the latest outrage.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky: And you who worship at the altar of the state must bear you share of the blame as well.

bunkerville said...

Just for interest, it turns out there is a smoking gun of Obama insisting that the ability of detaining Americans be included in the Defense Authorization bill. There is a You tube of a clip of Levin discussing it on the Senate Floor. We are well on our way.

Ducky's here said...

What we might need most to bear responsibility for is an apparent inability to distill each others ideas and work in the common ground.

A little of Havel's faith in each other.

Speaking of Havel, there is a film that came out of the Prague Spring,"Private Century". It's a collection of home movies. It's an absolutely brilliant presentation of the Czech experience through the last century. If you have a Netflix account I believe it's still in print.
The entire New Wave Czech output from their New Wave demonstrates a unique attitude toward their oppression. There's a faith in the future.

You don't find it in the Polish, Russian or Hungarian cinema of the time.

dmarks said...

Ducky the antisemite said:

"No, so long as "personal liberty" is defined as the Libertarian hell hole I could hardly be said to have love for my neighbor if I supported that."

Under libertarianism, you love your neighbor. Under socialism, you love the government for saying that it loves your neighbor, but it is really clever socialists who love only their own power.

Ducky, be serious here. You speak of libertarian hell holes. Name one!

And compare how hellish they were compared to the places run by Pol Pot, Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Castro, Milosevic, the leaders in Ethiopia who ordered the famine, Ho Chi Minh.... all socialist hellholes.

Ducky also said: "I will continue to advocate a government that is a buffer against the Libertarian impulse."

You want the wrong thing entirely. What we need are protect liberties as a buffer against the rapacious rule of the ruling elites.

Ducky's here said...

Hey dmarks, here's some love --- go fuck yourself you short bus douche nozzle.

Ducky's here said...

See whenever folks like dmarks get going they paint this utopian picture of Libertarianism even though it has been a consistent failure.

What's worse, when you find countries like Somalia, Afghanistan, Haiti etc. that have experienced a failure of the state it degenerates to a belief in bad religion or racial inferiority. And we go bomb or invade, whatever makes the right feel safe.

But there is NO EXAMPLE IN RECORDED HISTORY or a successful true Libertarian state. It is in fact anarchy and in anarchy whomever has the guns and money will not be dispensing brotherly love.

You are going to find a few more examples of successful liberal states than Libertarian and when you realize that we can possibly have a discussion.

Meanwhile, carry on with the name calling.

dmarks said...

Ducky said: "Hey dmarks, here's some love --- go fuck yourself you short bus douche nozzle."

Once a bigot, always a bigot. As you showed with your antisemitic crap earlier. Glad you took time from painting swastikas on walls to leave some meaningless comments.

"What's worse, when you find countries like Somalia, Afghanistan, Haiti"

Neither of which is nothing but libertarian. Afghanistan, in fact, was an average country before the socialists invaded it and destroyed it. Somalia is one of a kind. Haiti has always had strong government.

"See whenever folks like dmarks get going they paint this utopian picture"

Libertarianism is not so much a utopia as the alternative, socialism, is proven to by dystopic in a big way. With many examples.

"But there is NO EXAMPLE IN RECORDED HISTORY or a successful true Libertarian state."

Still it is a good idea and worth trying. In contrast to soclalism which is record-breaking catastrophe just about every time it is tried.

"Meanwhile, carry on with the name calling."

You do a pretty good job yourself. If you consider 2nd grade playground taunts and bashing people who are "different" or Jewish to be good, that is.

Silverfiddle said...

Ducky is tilting at anarcho-capitalism, which no one here is advocating or has ever advocated.

Strawman. Start over.

beamish said...

Good post on Vaclav Havel, but I have to snipe at the prescription to "look for politicians like Rand Paul."

Jersey McJones said...

Well, Silver, your post is kinda all over the place, so it shouldn't surprise you to see some confusion of just what your espousing here. What would you have for the little guy to compete against the Walmarts and Microsofts of the world? Are you suggesting we should be more like China or some Third World state when it comes to the workplace safety, labor laws, product safety? And what do you mean when you suggest the government has coddled and spoiled us? How? We have the most laizzez faire government in the developed world. What are you talking about?

JMJ

98ZJUSMC said...

No.

Libertarians are not looking for Utopia. Libertarians want to be left alone to, succeed or fail, on their own. They would rather leave Utopian cravings for the Socialist Left. That way, they can take the blame for constantly falling short and the mass murder along the way.

Give me just enough Government so that I don't even know it exists.

Such anger, these Leftists.

What would you have for the little guy to compete against the Walmarts and Microsofts of the world?

This may come as a shock to you, but they were once one store concerns or back room outlets, too. I don't recall Johnny Capitalistseed traipsing across the landscape spreading Windows.


We have the most laizzez faire government in the developed world.

..and that isn't saying much. Hardly qualifies for the term.

Silverfiddle said...

Beamish: I love PJ ORourke, but his analogy is specious.

Government hires lawyer to guarantee the accused's right to one. If there is a right to health care, doctors won't be dragged from their homes as Paul suggests, but government would have to hire or otherwise incentivize them.

The larger point is, whenever government declares a positive right, they must press others into service to service that right.

Free speech is a negative right. You can talk all day long, but no one is forced to listen to you.

That is the difference.

Silverfiddle said...

Jersey, I can't help it if your either-or/black and white mind cannot entertain subtleties.

People used to work their way through college; now it all grants and student loans, for one example. I'm sure if you think hard enough you can come up with some examples of your own.

If you love the tangle of barriers the state-corporate conspiracy has set up, then rock on with your bad self...

dmarks said...

Jersey said: "Are you suggesting we should be more like China or some Third World state when it comes to the workplace safety, labor laws, product safety? "

The US is already quite anti-worker when it comes to labor laws. Most union members, for example, are only in unions against their will and interest. They are forced to join.

--------------

As for Rand Paul find it too hard to admire someone who is so ignorant of major public policy issues that he can't even pronounce social security.

Leticia said...

If only we could find more politicians like Rand Paul we wouldn't be in such a mess as we are in now.

Tired of all the BS out of Washington and their insatiable greed for money and power.

dmarks said...

But really. Look at it. Is it really pronounced So Security?

beamish said...

Silverfiddle,

I don't think P.J. O'Rourke gives libertarianism-as-philosophy a fair hearing there, but he absolutely nailed Rand Paul as a dumbass.

Ducky's here said...

@Silverfiddle --- Ducky is tilting at anarcho-capitalism, which no one here is advocating or has ever advocated.

Strawman. Start over.

------------

You have voiced an affinity to Murray Rothbart on occasion. Can't get much more anarcho-Libertarian at that.

Liberals believe government should intervene in economic and social affairs. That's the fundamental nature of liberalism. Now do the the right wingers here have a like belief? Yes, I think so.

So where do we tart. Maybe we try to figure out how to get the money out of the system and tell nutballs like Rush Limbaugh to stuff it when he starts on this meme that buying elections is a freedom of speech issue.

Where would you start?

Or you can do it the dmarks way and throw in with a system that has always proven a failure. That sounds profitable.

Silverfiddle said...

I have cited Rothbard on money and some economic issues. I have never cited his works on political philosophy.

It is analogous to believing that Marx had some excellent observations on society. I give him props as a sociologist, but his economics has been discredited and it is clear the man was not an economist.

Where do we start? How about with the constitution?

Z said...

I'm quite sure I've never witnessed a politician of less humor than Rand Paul...not that humor is so important, but that man is DRY.

SF, how do you feel about Gitmo?
I'm very divided on all of this detainee provision stuff; I do want possible terrorists put away before a dirty bomb in Cleveland; we might not have time to get a trial. what then?
Or Rand says "Dangerously vague"...The 'battle field' he mentions could be South Miami...there really are no 'battle fields' per se anymore. Our enemy is hiding, no uniforms, no country....just a HIDEOUS threat.
Now what?
Liberty's as important as anything else in America; but a country of flattened cities or cities killed by toxins don't care about liberty. I hate to be melodramatic, but.......
Do I want Obama saying who can be detained and who can't? NO.
Man, this is a tough situation. And I hate America being the one swatting at flies while the flies gain strength without having to live by any laws, no senate hearings to take their leaders to task, etc......
ugh.

Finntann said...

Ducky, you say libertarianism is "a system that has always proven a failure"

Please point to an example of a libertarian state, failed or otherwise... and don't give me that Afghanistan/Somalia crap, they are examples of anarchy, not libertarianism.

Cheers!

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, let me give you a little history lesson:

"Prior to World War II, only a small proportion of Americans attended college—in 1937, it was only 15% of 18- to 20-year—olds-and most of them came directly out of high school and directly from our wealthier classes. But the G.I. Bill permanently changed our conception of who could benefit from higher education. In the years that followed its enactment, enrollments increased enormously as the veterans and then their children, the baby boomers, went to college in unprecedented numbers. The half century after the G.I. Bill saw the expansion of community colleges; the development of the modern American research university and of comprehensive state colleges; and the beginning of national, state, and institutional investments in financial aid for students in private as well as public institutions. The era was defined by increased college opportunities for men and women of all ages, incomes, and ethnicities. Enrollment surged from 1.5 million in 1940 to almost 2.7 million in 1950 to more than 17 million students today."

http://www.highereducation.org/reports/hunt_tierney/hunt.shtml

So, exactly what past are you recalling when these mythical kids all paid their way through college?

JMJ

dmarks said...

Ducky said: "So where do we tart. Maybe we try to figure out how to get the money out of the system and tell nutballs like Rush Limbaugh to stuff it when he starts on this meme that buying elections is a freedom of speech issue."

Sorry, you are wrong about the last part, and you are siding with the phony logic of those who see cutting off money (as for advertising) as a means to bring about outright censorship.

And no one, not even Rush Limbaugh, is arguing in favor of buying elections.

The part of "Citizens United" that ended the censorship is a triumph for free speech and democracy. The right of the people to criticize those in power should not be curtailed.m

Silverfiddle said...

Everybody didn't go to school on the GI Bill, Jersey. Just veterans, and it is a just remuneration for them, but it is a small piece of the overall pie.

And don't get me started on higher education. Government money (grants and loans for everybody studying anything) has distorted the market. Big Ed has inflated his prices 4X faster than the rest of the market, and Americans have incurred of a trillion in student loan debt.

Without the injection of government money, I doubt that would have happened.

Silverfiddle said...

Z: That bill is government telling us that despite the tens of billions we give them to fund the alphabet soup agencies that are supposed to be keeping us safe, it is not enough.

We fund domestic security an intelligence, yet they need to unleash the military in the United States, against American citizens?

They are intellectually shot. They are out of ideas.

Jersey McJones said...

"Everybody didn't go to school on the GI Bill, Jersey. Just veterans..."

Just veterans???

8 MILLION GI's??? Just???

Then there was the insurance and mortgage backing and business backing. The GI Bill lifted the entire society, in generational perpetuity, in the most significant way since our revolution for independence from the British.

It created the impetus for the Greatest Generation to instill in the Baby Boomers, and Gen-X'ers and Y'ers (as best they could) a desire to improve their lives and get a higher education and enjoy upward mobility.

The government did that. Our constitutional government did that. It raised taxes and spent them on the necessary improvement of the nation.

Yes we have problems with higher education, and we should work to fix them. But to disregard the GI Bill is to be completely blind to the most important societal advancement of any people in history. We went to moon, man. We advanced more than any other nation in history. The GI Bill did that.

And the vestiges of the GI are still actively and importantly on the books today.

Our entire higher ed lending system is based on that bill. The trouble is the costs are rising because the complexity of needed and valuable learning is expanding, and we are cannibalizing this needed and profitable learning by profiteering educational lending.

Conservative ideology has nothing to do with this. This is not liberal or conservative. This is all a plain observation of indisputable fact. You simply can not disregard the GI Bill and then claim to be a serious thinker about the United States of America. And you can not deny that it was excellent government taxing and spending in action. Now that we've on this new sea, don't just float along with the tide, or sail along with the winds, keep a good course when you know one.

Better metaphor - don't throw the baby out with the bath water.

JMJ

Silverfiddle said...

The government did that. Our constitutional government did that. It raised taxes and spent them on the necessary improvement of the nation.

And now we're broke and stupid, churning out people with useless degrees while we have to import scientists and engineers.


But to disregard the GI Bill is to be completely blind to the most important societal advancement of any people in history.

Why do you keep blabbering on about the GI bill? It is a drop in the bucket compared to the trillions flushed down the toilet in the name of the war on poverty (guess what? Poverty won!)

This post is about government intrusion into our lives.

Jersey McJones said...

Silver, are you serious? Intrusion? It seems to me this post is really about ignoring what good our American Constitutional government can do and has done, on a massive national scale right in front of your face.

The GI Bill a "drop in the bucket..."???

Wow. Man. Disappointing...

I thought you knew more about your country.

Have you ever studied any part of the modern American post-WWII economy?

JMJ

Anonymous said...

Is there a George Washington, a Vlaclav Havel or a Lech Waleska among us today who might someday lead us out of the Wilderness in which we are lost?

Alas! There seem to be only Lenins, Trotsky's, Fidel Castros, Che Guevaras, Juan Perons and Hitler clones out there.

~ FreeThinke

Silverfiddle said...

Indeed, FreeThinke. And goosesteppers like Jersey are too fearful to read something and contemplate a deeper meaning.

They are supposed to be liberal? Vaclav Havel was the champion of liberals!

But all Jersey can yammer on about is government programs and how they (not the American People, but government!) made this country great.

You've gone off on a horrible tangent Jersey. I celebrate the life of a great liberal, and you sing operatic praises to the state...

Hugh Farnham said...

I was walking around the cobblestones of Winceslas Square in Prague a decade ago, enjoying memories of living there several years before - after the fall of the Soviet Union. I went into a book store along the way and a book caught my attention: Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy in Six Acts. I couldn't put it down, to the chagrin of my (then) Czech girlfriend.

Something about this man struck a powerful chord in me. Perhaps it was his impish behavior lampooning Soviet officers during his mandatory time in the CSSR army; or his cloak and dagger plays, held to spellbound (and illegal) audiences. His spirit to never give into tyranny. To live in the truth - and then proclaim it.

Czech tradition held that St. Winceslaus (Vaclav) would return some day to save his country during a time of great difficulty and oppression. Perhaps this was fulfilled.

May God rest your soul, Vaclav Havel.