Vaclav Havel, "The Power of the Powerless"

Here is a brief excerpt from "The Power of the Powerless", written in 1978, during the time when the grip of the Soviet Union seemed unbreakable:
By breaking the rules of the game, he has disrupted the game as such. He has exposed it as a mere game. He has shattered the world of appearances, the fundamental pillar of the system. He has upset the power structure by tearing apart what holds it together. He has demonstrated that living a lie is living a lie. He has broken through the exalted facade of the system and exposed the real, base foundations of power. He has said that the emperor is naked. And because the emperor is in fact naked, something extremely dangerous has happened: by his action, the greengrocer has addressed the world. He has enabled everyone to peer behind the curtain. He has shown everyone that it is possible to live within the truth. Living within the lie can constitute the system only if it is universal. The principle must embrace and permeate everything. There are no terms whatsoever on which it can co-exist with living within the truth, and therefore everyone who steps out of line denies it in principle and threatens it in its entirety. . . .

The original and most important sphere of activity, one that predetermines all the others, is simply an attempt to create and support the independent life of society as an articulated expression of living within the truth. In other words, serving truth consistently, purposefully, and articulately, and organizing this service. This is only natural, after all: if living within the truth is an elementary starting point for every attempt made by people to oppose the alienating pressure of the system, if it is the only meaningful basis of any independent act of political import, and if, ultimately, it is also the most intrinsic existential source of the "dissident" attitude, then it is difficult to imagine that even manifest "dissent" could have any other basis than the service of truth, the truthful life, and the attempt to make room for the genuine aims of life.
The name for this blog, "Reformation 500," was intended to highlight both the Reformation as it occurred then, and the Reformation as I believe it must occur now.

Havel's writing is significant in that it aligns with some of the political reading that I've been doing (which I hope to publish here as time moves along). "The sovereignty of God is not only an essential tenet of the Christian faith in particular (and theism in general), but it is also immensely practical for our confidence that God fights our battles for us; evil can never have the last word. At the Cross, we are told, our debt was not only canceled, but 'having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross' (Colossians 2:15). (Pg 18, "Where in the World is the Church?" (c) 1995, 2002 Michael S. Horton, Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co.)

I'll have much more of this later, Lord willing.

No comments: