Archive for the 'Organized Labor' Category

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART V C…

October 25th, 2014

The whole power structure (and we have already discussed its physical articulation) could not exist at all if there were not a certain metaphysical order binding all its components together, interconnecting them and subordinating them to a uniform method of accountability, supplying the combined operation of all these components with rules of the game, that […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART V B…

October 24th, 2014

If ideology was originally a bridge between the system and the individual as an individual, then the moment he steps on to this bridge it becomes at the same time a bridge between the system and the individual as a component of the system. That is, if ideology originally facilitated (by acting outwardly) the constitution […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART V A…

October 23rd, 2014

WE HAVE seen that the real meaning of the greengrocer’s slogan has nothing to do with what the text of the slogan actually says. Even so, this real meaning is quite clear and generally comprehensible because the code is so familiar: the greengrocer declares his loyalty (and he can do no other if his declaration […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART IV C…

October 22nd, 2014

The post-totalitarian system touches people at every step, but it does so with its ideological gloves on. This is why life in the system is so thoroughly permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART IV B…

October 21st, 2014

Ideology, in creating a bridge of excuses between the system and the individual, spans the abyss between the aims of the system and the aims of life. It pretends that the requirements of the system derive from the requirements of life. It is a world of appearances trying to pass for reality. From The Power […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART IV A…

October 20th, 2014

BETWEEN the aims of the post-totalitarian system and the aims of life there is a yawning abyss: while life, in its essence, moves toward plurality, diversity, independent self-constitution, and self organization, in short, toward the fulfillment of its own freedom, the post-totalitarian system demands conformity, uniformity, and discipline. While life ever strives to create new […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART III C…

October 19th, 2014

The smaller a dictatorship and the less stratified by modernization the society under it, the more directly the will of the dictator can be exercised. In other words, the dictator can employ more or less naked discipline, avoiding the complex processes of relating to the world and of self-justification which ideology involves. But the more […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: IIIB…

October 18th, 2014

Ideology is a specious way of relating to the world. It offers human beings the illusion of an identity, of dignity, and of morality while making it easier for them to part with them. As the repository of something suprapersonal and objective, it enables people to deceive their conscience and conceal their true position and […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART III B…

October 17th, 2014

Let us take note: if the greengrocer had been instructed to display the slogan “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient,” he would not be nearly as indifferent to its semantics, even though the statement would reflect the truth. The greengrocer would be embarrassed and ashamed to put such an unequivocal statement of his own […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART III A…

October 16th, 2014

THE MANAGER of a fruit-and-vegetable shop places in his window, among the onions and carrots, the slogan: “Workers of the world, unite!” Why does he do it? What is he trying to communicate to the world? Is he genuinely enthusiastic about the idea of unity among the workers of the world? Is his enthusiasm so […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II G…

October 15th, 2014

The profound difference between our system—in terms of the nature of power—and what we traditionally understand by dictatorship, a difference I hope is clear even from this quite superficial comparison, has caused me to search for some term appropriate for our system, purely for the purposes of this essay. If I refer to it henceforth […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II F…

October 14th, 2014

Finally, if an atmosphere of revolutionary excitement, heroism, dedication, and boisterous violence on all sides characterizes classical dictatorships, then the last traces of such an atmosphere have vanished from the Soviet bloc. For some time now this bloc has ceased to be a kind of enclave, isolated from the rest of the developed world and […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II E…

October 13th, 2014

Fourth, the technique of exercising power in traditional dictatorships contains a necessary element of improvisation. The mechanisms for wielding power are for the most part not established firmly, and there is considerable room for accident and for the arbitrary and unregulated application of power. Socially, psychologically, and physically, conditions still exist for the expression of […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II D …

October 12th, 2014

One legacy of that original “correct” understanding is a third peculiarity that makes our systems different from other modern dictatorships: it commands an incomparably more precise, logically structured, generally comprehensible and, in essence, extremely flexible ideology that, in its elaborateness and completeness, is almost a secularized religion. It of fears a ready answer to any […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: II C…

October 11th, 2014

In the second place, if a feature of classical dictatorships is their lack of historical roots (frequently they appear to be no more than historical freaks, the fortuitous consequence of fortuitous social processes or of human and mob tendencies), the same cannot be said so facilely about our system. For even though our dictatorship has […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II B…

October 10th, 2014

Even this very superficial overview should make it clear that the system in which we live has very little in common with a classical dictatorship. In the first place, our system is not limited in a local, geographical sense; rather, it holds sway over a huge power bloc controlled by one of the two superpowers. […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART II A…

October 9th, 2014

OUR SYSTEM is most frequently characterized as a dictatorship or, more precisely, as the dictatorship of a political bureaucracy over a society which has undergone economic and social leveling. I am afraid that the term “dictatorship,” regardless of how intelligible it may otherwise be, tends to obscure rather than clarify the real nature of power […]

HAVEL ON THE POWERLESS: PART I…

October 8th, 2014

A SPECTER is haunting Eastern Europe: the specter of what in the West is called “dissent.” This specter has not appeared out of thin air. It is a natural and inevitable consequence of the present historical phase of the system it is haunting. It was born at a time when this system, for a thousand […]

WHY WE SHOULDN’T BUY FROM AMAZON…

February 23rd, 2014

I’ve devoted a great deal of time over the past few years to railing against Walmart, but in many ways Amazon is a greater problem because we never actually see the workers. PZ Myers over at Pharyngula links to a story at Salon this morning about the ongoing inhumane practices at Jeff Bezos’ company. I […]

HAVE HAD A PENSION…? MUST READ…!

September 27th, 2013

Politicians run for office, promising to deliver law and order, safe and clean streets, and good schools. Then they get elected, and instead of paying for the cops, garbagemen, teachers and firefighters they only just 10 minutes ago promised voters, they intercept taxpayer money allocated for those workers and blow it on other stuff. It’s […]

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