Saturday, March 15, 2014

The newspeak of our world

When a French leftist student told me with a sincere glow in his eyes that the Gulag was a tax paid for the ideals of socialism and that Solzhenitsyn is just a personally embittered man, he cast me into a deep gloom. Is Europe really incapable of learning from its own history? Can't that dear lad ever understand that even the most promising project of 'general well-being' convicts itself of inhumanity the moment it demands a single involuntary death -- that is, one which is not a conscious sacrifice of a life to its meaning? [...] Did the newspeak of our world so penetrate natural human speech that two people can no longer communicate even such a basic experience? [...]
It seems to me that all of us, East and West, face one fundamental task from which all else should follow. That task is one of resisting vigilantly, thoughtfully and attentively, but at the same time with total dedication, at every step and everywhere, the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal and inhuman power --  the power of ideologies, systems, apparat, bureaucracy, artificial languages and political slogans.

Václav Havel, Politics & Conscience 
Prague, February 1984