Friday, 28 August 2020

Havel's Greengrocer And Conformist Individuals

My new video Vaclav Havel and his essay ''The Power of the Powerless''.....

''Let us now imagine that one day something in our greengrocer
snaps and he stops putting up the slogans merely to ingratiate
himself. He stops voting in elections he knows are a farce. He
begins to say what he really thinks at political meetings. And he
even finds the strength in himself to express solidarity with those
whom his conscience commands him to support. In this revolt the
greengrocer steps out of living within the lie. He rejects the ritual
and breaks the rules of the game. He discovers once more his
suppressed identity and dignity. He gives his freedom a concrete
significance. His revolt is an attempt to live within the truth.
The bill is not long in coming. He will be relieved of his post as
manager of the shop and transferred to the warehouse. His pay
will be reduced. His hopes for a holiday in Bulgaria will evaporate.
His childrens access to higher education will be threatened. His
superiors will harass him and his fellow workers will wonder about
him. Most of those who apply these sanctions, however, will not
do so from any authentic inner conviction but simply under pressure from conditions, the same conditions that once pressured the
greengrocer to display the official slogans. They will persecute the
greengrocer either because it is expected of them, or to demonstrate their loyalty, or simply as part of the general panorama, to which belongs an awareness that this is how situations of this sort
are dealt with, that this, in fact, is how things are always done,
particularly if one is not to become suspect oneself. The executors, therefore, behave essentially like everyone else, to a greater
or lesser degree: as components of the post-totalitarian system, as
agents of its automatism, as petty instruments of the social autototality.
Thus the power structure, through the agency of those who
carry out the sanctions, those anonymous components of the system, will spew the greengrocer from its mouth.''

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