Editor’s Note: Below you will find an excerpt taken from the first English translation of Stéphane Hessel’s “Indignez-vous!,” published this week. Stephane Hessel Wrote Indignez Vous. Picture. Stephane Hessel- French Archives. By Kathy Warnes French activist Stephane Hessel survived the Holocaust. Stéphane Hessel, Resistance fighter and concentration-camp survivor, tells the young of today that their lives and liberties are worth fighting for. Remembering.
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Create solutions that by pass the mighty banks and businesses. Democracy means “power of the people”, where electorates are responsible for self-governance via their elected representatives. What becomes of a democracy where citizens are indifferent and voter apathy is the norm?
Initial Vows of Great Compassion Dharani Recitation “If there are monks Bhikshusnuns Bhikshunislaymen Upasakaslaywomen Upasikaspure youth and maidens who wish to recite and hold keep reciting this mantra, they should first arouse their great merciful and compassionate hearts for all living beings, and follow me [Avalokitesvara] in making these vows: If I go hdssel the mountain of knives, the mountain of knives of itself breaks up; If I go towards the boiling oil, the boiling oil of itself dries up; If I go towards the hhessel, the hells of themselves nessel If I go towards the hungry ghosts, the hungry ghosts of themselves become full.
If Heessel go towards the Asuras, their evil thoughts of themselves are tamed. If I go towards the animals, they themselves attain great wisdom. The end for me is not very far off any more.
But it still leaves me a chance to hesael able to remind others of what acted as the basis of my political engagement. It was the years of resistance to the Nazi occupation — and the program of social rights worked out 66 years ago by the National Council of the Resistance!
It is to Jean Moulin [murdered hesael of the Council] that we owe, as part of this Council, the uniting of all elements of occupied France — the movements, the parties, the labor unions — to proclaim their membership in Fighting France, and we owe this to the only leader that it acknowledged, General de Gaulle. From London, where I had joined de Gaulle in MarchI learned that this Council had completed a program and adopted it on March 15th,indugnez offered for liberated France a group of principles and values on which would rest the modern democracy of our country.
Time for Outrage! – Wikipedia
It is up to us to see to it, all together, that our society becomes a society of which we are proud, not this stepnane of immigrants without papers — expulsions, suspicion regarding the immigrants. Not this society where they call into question social security and national retirement and health plans.
Not this society where mass media are in the hands of the rich. These are things that we would have refused to give in to if we had been the true heirs of the National Council of the Resistance. Fromafter a dreadful drama [WWII], it was an ambitious resurrection of society to which the remaining contingent of the Council of the Resistance devoted itself. Let us remember them while creating national health and pensions plans such as the Resistance wished, as its program stipulated, “a full plan of French national health and social security, aimed at assuring all citizens 1 the means of lndignez whenever they are unable to obtain them by a job; a retirement allowing the old workers to finish their days with dignity.
Now this was indigjez the program recommended: The just man believes strphane wealth created in the realm of labor should dominate over the power of money. The Resistance proposed, “a rational organization of the economy assuring the subordination of special interests to general interest, and the emancipation of ‘slaves’ of the professional dictatorship that was instituted just as in the fascist states,” which had used the interim [for two years vou the war] government of the Republic as an agent.
A true democracy needs an independent press, and the Resistance acknowledged it, demanded it, by defending “the freedom of the press, its honor, and its independence from the State, the power of money and foreign influence. And press freedom is definitely what is in danger inxignez.
The Resistance called for a “real possibility for all French children to benefit from the most advanced education,” without discrimination. Reforms offered in go contrary to this plan. Young teachers, whose actions I support, went indginez far as refusing to apply them, and they saw their salaries cut by way of punishment. They were indignant, “disobeyed,” judging these reforms imdignez far from the ideal of the democratic school, too much in the service of a society of commerce and not developing the inventive and critical mind enough.
Some dare to say to us that the State cannot afford the expenses of these measures for citizens any more. But how indifnez there be today a lack of money to support and extend these conquests while the production of indigneez has been considerably augmented since the Liberation period when Europe was in ruins? On the contrary, the problem is the power of money, so much opposed by the Resistance, and of the big, boldfaced, selfish man, with vou own servants in the highest spheres of the State.
Banks, since privatized again, have proved to be concerned foremost for their dividends and for the very high voks of their leaders, not the general interest. The disparity between the poorest stepgane the richest has never been so great, and amassing money, competition, so encouraged.
The basic motive of the Resistance was indignation! We, the veterans of the resistance movements and combat forces of Free France, we call on the young generation to live by, to transmit, the legacy indignex the Resistance and its ideals. We say to them: Take our place, “Indignez-vous! The political, economic, intellectual leaders, and the whole society do not have to give in, nor allow oppression by an actual international dictatorship of the financial markets, which threatens peace and democracy.
I wish for you all, each of you, to have your own motive for indignation. When something outrages you as I was outraged by Nazism, then people become militant, strong, and engaged. They join this current of history, and the great current of history indignz continue thanks to each individual. And this current goes towards more justice, more freedom, but not indignwz unbridled freedom of the fox in the henhouse. Two visions of history When I try to understand what caused fascism, what made it so we were overcome by Hitler and the Vichy [French government that collaborated with Hitler], I tell myself that the propertied, with their selfishness, were terrifically afraid of Bolshevik revolution.
They were allowed to lead with their fear. But if, today as then, an active minority stands up, it will be enough; we shall be the leavening that makes the bread rise. Certainly, the experience of a very old person like me, born inis different from the experience of the today’s young persons. I often ask professors for the opportunity to interact with their students, and I say to them: You don’t have the same obvious reasons to engage you. For us, to resist was not to accept German occupation, defeat.
It was comparatively simple.
Simple as what followed, decolonization. Then the war in Algeria. It was necessary that Algeria become independent, it was obvious.
As for Stalin, we all applauded the victory of the Red Army against the Nazis in But already we had known about the big Stalinist trials ofand even if it was necessary to keep an ear open towards communism to compensate against American capitalism, the necessity to oppose this unbearable form of totalitarianism had established itself as an obviousness. My long life presented a succession of reasons to outrage me.
These reasons were born less from an emotion than a deliberate commitment. As a young student at normal school [teachers college] I was very influenced by Sartre, a fellow student.
His “Nausea” [a novel], “The Wall,” [play], and “The Being and Nothingness” [essay] were very important in the training of my thought. Sartre taught us, “You are responsible as individuals. The responsibility of a person can not be assigned by a power or an authority. On the contrary, it is necessary to get involved in the name of one’s responsibility as a human being. His teaching explored concrete experience, that of the body and of its relations with the senses, one big singular sense faced with a plurality of senses.
But my natural optimism, which wants all that is desirable to be possible, carried me rather towards Hegel. Hegelism interprets the long history of humanity as having a meaning: It is the freedom of man progressing step by step. History is made of successive shocks, and the taking into account of challenges. The history of societies thus advances; and in the end, man having attained his full freedom, we have the democratic state in its ideal form. There is certainly another understanding of history.
It says progress is made by “freedom” of competition, striving for “always more”; it can be as if living in a devastating hurricane.
indighez That’s what it represented to a friend of my father, the man who shared with him an effort to translate into German “The Search for Time Lost” [novel] stephanee Marcel Proust.
That was the German philosopher Walter Benjamin. He had drawn a pessimistic view from a painting by the Swiss painter Paul Klee, “Angelus Novus,” where the face of the angel opens arms as if to contain and push back a tempest, which he identifies with progress. For Benjamin, who would commit suicide in September to escape Nazism, the sense of history is the overpowering progression of disaster upon disaster.
Who’s doing the ordering, who decides? It is not always easy to differentiate between all the currents that govern us. We are not any more dealing with heessel small elite whose joint activities can be clearly seen. It is a vast world, of which we have a feeling of interdependence.
We 5 live in an interconnectivity as never before. But in this world there still are intolerable things. To see them, it is well and necessary to look, to search. I say to the young people, Search little, and that is what you are going to find. The worst of attitudes is indifference, to say “I can do nothing there, I’l just manage to get by. They [young people] can already identify two big new challenges: The stephqne gap which exists between the very poor and the very rich and that does not cease increasing.
It is an innovation of the 20th and 21st centuries. The very poor in the today’s world earn barely voks dollars a day. The new generation cannot let this gap become even greater. The official reports alone should provoke a commitment. Human rights and state of the planet: I had the ovus after the Liberation to join in the writing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations idignez, on December 10th,in Paris at the palace of Chaillot.
It was as principal private secretary of Henry Laugier, the adjunct general-secretary of the UN, and as and secretary of the Commission on Human Rights that I with others was led to participate in the writing of this statement. It was ratified by the 54 member states in session of the United Heseel, and I certified it as secretary. This [universal versus international] was key because, at the end of the Second World War, what was at stake was to become emancipated from the threats of totalitarianism that had weighed on humanity.
Stéphane Hessel, writer and inspiration behind Occupy movement, dies at 95
To become emancipated, it was necessary to acquire from the member states of the UN a promise to respect these universal rights. It was a way to outmaneuver the argument of “full sovereignty,” which a nation can emphasize while it devotes itself to crimes against humanity on its own soil.
Such was the case hessel Hitler, stepphane felt himself supreme and authorized to carry out a genocide. This universal statement owed much to universal revulsion towards Nazism, fascism, and totalitarianism — and owes a lot, in our minds, to the spirit of the Resistance. I had a feeling that it was necessary to move quickly so as not to be dupes of the hypocrisy that there was in the UN membership, some whom claimed these values already won but had no intention at all to promote them faithfully — claimed that we were trying to impose values on them.
It saw colonized people take it up in their fight for independence; it sowed minds in a battle for freedom.