“Anthony Trollope wrote in one of his parliamentary novels, “The best carriage horses are those which can most steadily hold back against the coach as it trundles down the hill.” ”
“I’m amazed that you joined the party, Captain,” said Loukas between his teeth. “In the party one obeys without questions.”
“I refuse to free others unless I myself am free,” Drakos replied dryly, his lips twisting with bitterness. “Our duty is to bring justice first and then freedom. That’s what I did in every village I entered; I cannot remain silent when I see injustice. The first thing I do is to bring order and justice.”
“The true communist does not falter when he sees injustice; he accepts it if that injustice helps our cause; everything is for the cause – everything for victory!”
“That’s going to be our downfall!” Drakos shot back, infuriated. “That’s going to be our downfall. So the end justifies the means, does it? We should go ahead with injustice to reach justice, eh? We should go on with slavery to reach freedom? I hate to say this, but that attitude is going to destroy the cause. It hasn’t been very long since I began to realize that if the means we use to reach our goal are dishonest, our cause becomes dishonest. Because the cause is not a piece of fruit that hangs ripe and ready at the end of the road for us to pick; no, no, never! The cause is a fruit that ripens with each deed, that takes the dignity or the vulgarity of each of our deeds. The path we take will give the shape and flavor and taste to the fruit, and fill it with either honey or poison. If we stay on the road we’ve taken, we’re going to the devil and so will the party…”
Excerpt from The Fratricides by Nikos Kazantzakis
The Fratricides recounts the tragic violence that swallowed the Greek countryside in the civil war of the late 1940s. Castello, a village in Epirus is not spared all the death and destruction which culminated during the Holy Week. Kazantazakis also wrote, among others, The Last Temptation of Christ and Zorba the Greek. He narrowly lost the Nobel Prize for Literature by one vote to Albert Camus in 1957. (With thanks to After the Dinner Party for the book review and photo of the Communist guerrillas during the Greek Civil War.)
“Government is a broker in pillage, and every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.”
-H. L. Mencken
“All men have equal rights, but not to equal things.”
“Communism and fascism or nazism, although poles apart in their intellectual content, are similar in this, that both have emotional appeal to the type of personality that takes pleasure in being submerged in a mass movement and submitting to superior authority.”
James A. C. Brown
To the above ‘isms”, Reflejos adds socialism, the first stage in the transition from capitalism to communism, marked by imperfect realizations of collectivist principles.
“I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature; and that power, whether vested in many or a few, is ever grasping, and, like the grave, cries, “Give, give!” The great fish swallow up the small; and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which human nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances.”
— Abigail Adams, Letter to John Adams - November 27, 1775
“Meanwhile, I am hunkered down in Washington — waiting for the next plane to anywhere and wondering what in the name of sweet Jesus ever brought me here in the first place. This is not what us journalists call a “happy beat.”
At first I thought it was me, that I was missing all the action because I wasn’t plugged in. But then I began reading the press wizards who are plugged in, and it didn’t take long to figure out that most of them were just filling space because the contracts said they had to write a certain amount of words every week.
At that point I tried talking to some of the people that even the wizards said were “right on top of things.” But they all seemed very depressed; not only about the ’72 election, but about the whole, long-range of politics and democracy in America.
Hunter S. Thompson, ”Fear and Loathing in New Hampshire”, 1972
If we are going to interfere in the lives of others, a little due diligence is a minimum requirement.
I highly recommend Teju Cole’s thoughtful essay in the Atlantic on constellational thinking, white saviors, and the lives of others.
Committee in charge of deciding which clothes could be sold to Soviet women, Moscow, Soviet Union - September 1947
Photo by Robert Capa
“The Inhuman Reign of the Lie”
MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian courts jailed one of the organizers of opposition protests for 10 days, fined another and gave the husband of a third a five-year prison term for fraud on Thursday in rulings the opposition said were a warning signal from Vladimir Putin.
And when the war broke out, its real horrors, its real dangers, its menace of real death were a blessing compared with the inhuman reign of the lie, and they brought relief because they broke the spell of the dead letter.
Boris Pasternak (1890 - 1960)
“In highly simplified terms, it could be said that the post-totalitarian system has been built on foundations laid by the historical encounter between dictatorship and the consumer society. Is it not true that the far-reaching adaptability to living a lie and the effortless spread of social autototality have some connection with the general unwillingness of consumption-oriented people to sacrifice some material certainties for the sake of their own spiritual and moral integrity? With their willingness to surrender higher values when faced with the trivializing temptations of modern civilization? With their vulnerability to the attraction of mass indifference? And in the end, is not the grayness and the emptiness of life in the post-totalitarian system only an inflated caricature of modern life in general? And do we not in fact stand (although in the external measures of civilization, we are far behind) as a kind of warning to the West, revealing to it its own latent tendencies?”
Václav Havel, from “The Power of the Powerless”
“The Power of the Powerless”, was one of six essays written prior to 1978 by Václav Havel, shortly before his arrest and imprisonment. He later became president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia. In February 2003, Václav Havel stepped down as president of the Czech Republic, having served two terms in office. In 2007, he published his memoir To the Castle and Back, reviewed here at City Journal by Daniel Mahoney.