The Personalist Project

The world has lost one of its great moral heroes and deep thinkers. May he rest in peace, and find in eternity what he most sought on earth: Life in the Truth.

It will be easy to find news stories about Havel's remarkable legacy in the coming days. Here I just want to draw attention to the following passage from his essay, "Politics and Conscience." It is a good one to have in mind during the year ahead.

It is becoming evident...that a single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, ready to pay a high price, has...greater power...than do thousands of anonymous voters... It is becoming evident that truth and morality can provide a new starting point for politics and can, even today, have an undeniable political power... It is becoming evident that wholly personal categories like good and evil still have their unambiguous content and, under certain circumstances, are capable of shaking the seemingly unshakeable power with all its army of soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats. It is becoming evident that politics by no means need remain the affair of professionals and that one simple electrician with his heart in the right place, honouring something that transcends him and free of fear, can influence the history of his nation.

Yes, 'anti-political politics' is possible. Politics 'from below'. Politics of man, not of the apparatus. Politics growing from the heart, not from a thesis.

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Comments (1)

Gregory Borse

#1, Dec 20, 2011 9:00pm

The difference between 'politics' in the modern nation-state and in the ancient, tribal, world is that for the chronologically latter, politics has been divorced from family.  In the former, family/politics/tribe are one and the same.  Each has its advantages.  Each has its dangers.  The next phase of history, in embracing a new valuing of the individual can see a new way--but it will have to be chosen.

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