The Power of the Powerless

Václav Havel
1,022 views - Jun 10, 2015

Václav Havel: The Power of the Powerless To the memory of Jan Patocka "The Power of the Powerless" (October 1978) was originally written ("quickly," Havel said later) as a discussion piece for a projected joint Polish Czechoslovak volume of essays on the subject of freedom and power. All the participants were to receive Havel's essay, and then respond to it in writing. Twenty participants were chosen on both sides, but only the Czechoslovak side was completed. Meanwhile, in May 1979, some of the Czechoslovak contributors who were also members of VONS (the Committee to Defend the Unjustly Prosecuted), including Havel, were arrested, and it was decided to go ahead and "publish" the Czechoslovak contributions separately. Havel's essay has had a profound impact on Eastern Europe. Here is what Zbygniew Bujak, a Solidarity activist, told me: "This essay reached us in the Ursus factory in 1979 at a point when we felt we were at the end of the road. Inspired by KOR [the Polish Workers' Defense Committee], we had been speaking on the shop floor, talking to people, participating in public meetings, trying to speak the truth about the factory, the country, and politics. There came a moment when people thought we were crazy. Why were we doing this? Why were we taking such risks? Not seeing any immediate and tangible results, we began to doubt the purposefulness of what we were doing. Shouldn’t we be coming up with other methods, other ways? "Then came the essay by Havel. Reading it gave us the theoretical underpinnings for our activity. It maintained our spirits; we did not give up, and a year later-in August ig8o-it became clear that the party apparatus and the factory management were afraid of us. We mattered. And the rank and file saw us as leaders of the movement. When I look at the victories of Solidarity, and of Charter 77, I see in them an astonishing fulfillment of the prophecies and knowledge contained in Havel's essay." Translated by Paul Wilson, "The Power of the Powerless" has appeared several times in English, foremost in The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe, edited by John Keane, with an Introduction by Steven Lukes (London: Hutchinson, 1985). That volume includes a selection of nine other essays from the original Czech and Slovak collection.

The Root Is Man

Dwight Macdonald
214 views - Jun 3, 2015

It took Macdonald two years to write “The Root Is Man.” The scope of the essay intimidated him. He also had other demands on his time such as writing, editing, proofreading and publishing politics. Politics never had more than 5,000 subscribers. They were the first to read one of the most remarkable American intellectual journals of the twentieth century. Although this is not the place for a full evaluation of politics, one can get a sense of its uniqueness by listing some of its writers: Simone Weil, Albert Camus, Victor Serge, Georges Bataille, Jean-Paul Satre, Karl Jaspers, George Woodcock, Mary McCarthy, John Berryman, Robert Duncan, Paul Mattick, Bruno Bettleheim, George Padmore, Meyer Shapiro, Simone de Beauvoir, Paul Goodman, James Agee, Marshall McLuhan, Richard Hofstadter, Irving Howe, Nicola Chiaromonte, Lionel Abel, Andrea Caffi and C. Wright Mills. There were four remarkable women in the politics circle. Most important was Nancy Macdonald who managed the journal’s business affairs while at the same time running various relief efforts to aid veterans of the Spanish Civil War and victims of Nazism. (The breakup of the Macdonalds’ marriage in 1949 would be a major factor in the decision to stop publishing politics.) Another organizer of politics, Mary McCarthy, was one of Macdonald’s closest allies in the libertarian left. (It was McCarthy who translated Simone Weil’s famous essay on Homer’s Iliad.) Hannah Arendt (while not writing for politics) became one of Macdonald’s most important co-conspirators. In the late 1960’s, Arendt would write the introduction to a reprint edition of the complete set of politics. Yet the most powerful intellectual influence on the journal was Simone Weil, whose critique of violence and essay on Homer had been brought to Macdonald’s attention by Nicola Chiaromonte, a Spanish civil war vet, anti-Fascist exile, and one of Macdonald’s closest friends. Through Chiaromonte, the thought of Simone Weil was first introduces to America in the pages of politics. Politics also covered such issues as the suppression of the Greek insurrection, the anti-French insurgency in Indochina, America’s refusal to aid the starving people of Europe, the question of the Soviet Union, the American civil rights struggle, the need for equal treatment of homosexuals, the ideas of Wilhelm Reich, attacks on mass culture as studies on Max Weber, de Tocqueville, Utopian Socialists like Charles Fourier and anarchists such as Proudhon and Godwin. One could order from politics Anton Ciliga’s The Russian Enigma (which has a major impact on Macdonald), Alexander Berkman’s The ABC of Anarchism, Camillo Berneri’s Peter Kropotkin’s Federal Ideas, Jomo Kenyatta’s Kenya, Land of Conflicts, Leo Tolstoy’s The Slavery of our Times, George Woodcock’s New Life to the Land, Raymond Michelet’s African Empires and Civilizations, Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism and Rosa Luxemburg’s Letters from Prison. Politics spoke to radicals who rejected both Stalin and Trotsky but who were equally intransigent in opposing capitalism. Politics was part of a larger anti-totalitarian anarchist, pacifist and independent Marxist milieu that existed in the late 1940’s before the pressures of the Cold War rigidified political discourse for years to come. Other anarchist journals like Resistance and Retort in America and George Woodcock’s Now in England echoed many of politics’ themes, as did two classic books of that time: Animal Farm and 1984, by politics fellow traveller George Orwell. Forums in New York around ideas politics discussed drew significant audiences. many of politics’ most active supporters were leftwing conscientious objectors influenced by Ghandi’s massive civil disobedience movement in India. It was out of this ferment that “The Root Is Man” emerged, the most famous essay in a series of critical pieces which appeared under the banner “New Roads in Politics.” This essay caused an immediate storm. One lengthy rebuttal by Irving Howe (then a Workers Party member who worked for Macdonald in the politics office) called “The Thirteenth Disciple” asked: Where is one to begin in a reply to Macdonald? His forty page article is a grab-bag of modern confusionism; a pinch of Proudhon; a whiff of pacifism; a nod to existentialism; a bow to Wilhelm Reich, founder of the “psychology of the orgasm”; a few scrappings from the anarchists; a touch of philosophical idealism and a large debt to that illustrious thinker, Paul Goodman. Years later, in A Margin of Hope, Howe had eased up a bit; The Root Is Man...(is) in many ways the most poignant and authentic expression of the plight of those few intellectuals — Nicola Chiaromonte, Paul Goodman, Macdonald — who wished to disassociate themselves from the post-war turn to Realpolitik but could not find ways of transforming sentiments of rectitude and visions of utopia into a workable politics. Yet reading “The Root Is Man” today is no mere exercise in nostalgia. Macdonald raised issues that, almost 50 years later, have become even more critical. Macdonald’s assault on the scientific model of thinking echoed Frankfurt School critiques of instrumental reason. Macdonald, however, located Marxism itself in the general crisis of Enlightenment thought. For that alone, “The Root Is Man” is extraordinary. Other crucial issues raised by Macdonald included the question of active resistance to unfettered growth and the need for economic decentralization coupled with political democracy. He also took up the question of reification, citing George Lukács (not a household name is 1946) to argue that, in the concept of alienation, Marxism made its most powerful critique of the human condition under capital. The issue of reification and the damaging effect of mass culture that so concerned Macdonald would appear again in the mid-60’s Situationist polemic against the “society of the spectacle” whose roots in dissident Western Marxism can be found in “The Root Is Man” and politics in general. Above all, Macdonald was most concerned with the way we organize our daily political action. His insight into how mass socialist and communist parties reproduce the same deadening effect on the individual as other forms of bourgeois organization rings true today: What is not so generally understood is that the traditional progressive approach, taking history as the starting-point and thinking in terms of mass political parties, bases itself on this same alienation of man which it thinks it is combating. It puts the individual in the same powerless, alienated role vis-à-vis the party or trade union as the manipulators of the modern State do, except that the slogans are different.... The brutal fact is that the man in the street everywhere is quite simply bored with socialism, as expounded by the Socialist, Stalinist, and Trotskyist epigones of Marx... Above all, he feels that there is no interest in it for him, as an individual human being — that he is as powerless and manipulated vis-à-vis his socialist mass-organization as he is towards his capitalist employers and their social and legal institutions. As soon as “The Root Is Man” was published it came under immediate fire for denying the viability of class struggle. the other major criticism of “The Root Is Man” was its stress on absolute values transcending history. In fact, only two years after publication of his essay, Macdonald abandoned one of the absolutes he had endorsed (radical pacifism) in the wake of what he saw as Stalin’s threat to the West during the Berlin Crisis. Along with the 1948 Berlin Crisis and the assassination of Gandhi that same year, the general threat of a new world war deeply depressed Macdonald and contributed to his marital breakup. Attempts by the politics network to organize groups in Europe and communes here also failed. Politics finally ceased publication in 1949. Macdonald’s fierce anti-communist and sense of doom as the radical movement fell apart led him into the ranks of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a group supported by many leading anti-Stalinist left-intellectuals. Years later Macdonald would discover the CIA’s role in funding the CCF and its journals like Encounter.(See Appendix D for a further discussion of Macdonald and the CCF.) While Macdonald throughout the 1950’s attacked McCarthyism, he focused more and more on the need to make a living both as a staff writer for The new Yorker and freelance journalist. Yet even during the dog days of the Eisenhower-Nixon era, Macdonald continued to give radical talks on campuses. One of his favorite themes was the relevance of anarchy. While Macdonald no longer considered the abolition of private property necessary, his take on anarchism (in Memoirs of a Revolutionist) is still striking: It was odd that anarchism took no root in the thirties, considering (1) the American temperament, lawless and individualistic, (2) the American anarchist tradition, from Benjamin Tucker to the Wobblies, and (3) that anarchism gave a better answer to the real modern problem, the encroachment of the State, than did Marxism, which was revolutionary only about bourgeois private property (not a real issue anymore) and was thoroughly reactionary on the question of the State. But (3) also explains Marxism’s popularity (though it doesn’t justify it): while the centralized State is the chief danger now to freedom, it is also necessary to the operation of a mass society based on large-scale industry. Thus Marxism is “practical,” since it fits into the status quo — as in Soviet Russia — while anarchism is “impractical” because it threatens it. The revolutionary alternative to the status quo today is not collectivized property administered by a “workers’ state” whatever that means, but some kind of anarchist decentralization that will break up mass society into small communities where individuals can live together as variegated human beings instead of as impersonal units in the mass sum....Marxism glorifies “the masses” and endorses the State. Anarchism leads back to the individual and the community, which is “impractical” but necessary — that is to say, it is revolutionary. In the mid-1950’s the thaw in Russia after Stalin’s death and the Twentieth Party Congress slowly rejuvenated Macdonald. Although he always remained a strong anti-communist, Macdonald no longer saw the USSR as a more advanced version of Hitler’s Germany. In 1960, Macdonald became active as a civil libertarian in the cases of Morton Sobell (a supposed member of the supposed Rosenberg spy ring) and Junius Scales, another Communist sent to prison under the Smith Act. Macdonald also became an early member of the New Left and spoke at the closing session of the first national convention of SDS in 1960. Meanwhile “The Root Is Man” was rediscovered by a new generation of activists. Macdonald’s critical support of student radicals culminated in his speaking at the “Counter Commencement” held at Columbia during the 1968 strike. Macdonald’s activism also led him to participate in a picket line outside the Waldorf-Astoria to protest the war in Vietnam. The year was 1963, a time when most Americans could not find Vietnam on a map. Later, in 1967, Macdonald played an important role (with Robert Lowell and Norman Mailer) in the first big peace march on the Pentagon. Macdonald’s radicalism was in striking contrast not just to National Review editor James Burnham but to Workers Party leader Max Shachtman who by this time had become a major behind-the-scenes advisor to the AFL-CIO on both domestic and foreign policy. At various demos, Macdonald would sometimes bump into young SWP activists who delighted in reminding the old factionalist that his current views were not so dissimilar to theirs. “Even a broken watch occasionally tells the right time,” Macdonald would grumble in response. Dwight Macdonald died in 1982. Nietzsche defined nihilism as a situation where “everything is permitted,” and today we might add “for the right price.” Our time has also spawned a series of Jihads against the New World Order. There is now a frantic search for absolutes, foundational principles, a search which inspires religious fundamentalists of the Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Moslem variety as well as those who kill for an inscribed ethnic or national identity to build their racial Utopias. Contrasted to them are the efficient, orderly, passionless, non-smoking, technologically advanced killing machines of the West. In just such a world it is long past time to rediscover individualist-centered radical thought from America’s rich tradition as well as thinkers as different as Fourier, Stirner, Kropotkin and Nietzsche. While the insights of Marxism must continue to inform our actions, we must also be aware of its glaring weaknesses. It is again time to take seriously the brilliant battle-cry that concludes Oscar Wilde’s The Soul of Man Under Socialism: “The new Individualism is the new Hellenism.” Quoting Wilde is especially appropriate in concluding a discussion of “The Root Is Man” because Macdonald’s essay is also an attempt to reclaim the spirit of art itself, its values and legislative rights, and to explore the link between the aesthetic and moral sphere. Macdonald captures the necessity for a world that imagination, a renewed capacity to envision the world that makes the very idea of revolt meaningful. Although T.S. Elliot was a tremendous admirer of politics, Macdonald does not believe that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the world: he does insist that if the oppressed are ever to rule themselves we must reignite the utopian spark that mass society relentlessly seeks to subvert, co-opt or destroy. Of course the terminally hip will scorn any analysis that takes seriously such Philosophy 101 questions as “How Do We Live Today?” that so tortured Macdonald. But for me, “flighty Dwighty” Macdonald still speaks and no more brilliantly than in “The Root Is Man,” one of the great lost classics of American radicalism.

Democracy in America

Alexis De Tocqueville
147 views - May 31, 2015

In Democracy in America, published in 1835, Tocqueville wrote of the New World and its burgeoning democratic order. Observing from the perspective of a detached social scientist, Tocqueville wrote of his travels through America in the early 19th century when the market revolution, Western expansion, and Jacksonian democracy were radically transforming the fabric of American life.[3] One purpose of writing Democracy in America, according to Joshua Kaplan, was to help the people of France get a better understanding of their position between a fading aristocratic order and an emerging democratic order, and to help them sort out the confusion.[3] Tocqueville saw democracy as an equation that balanced liberty and equality, concern for the individual as well as for the community. Tocqueville was an ardent supporter of liberty. He wrote "I have a passionate love for liberty, law, and respect for rights”, he wrote. “I am neither of the revolutionary party nor of the conservative...Liberty is my foremost passion.” He wrote of "Political Consequences of the Social State of the Anglo-Americans" by saying "But one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality, which impels the weak to want to bring the strong down to their level, and which reduces men to preferring equality in servitude to inequality in freedom".[11] His view on government reflects his belief in liberty and the need for individuals to be able to act freely while respecting others' rights. Of centralized government, he wrote that it "excels in preventing, not doing."[12] He continues to comment on equality by saying "Furthermore, when citizens are all almost equal, it becomes difficult for them to defend their independence against the aggressions of power. As none of them is strong enough to fight alone with advantage, the only guarantee of liberty is for everyone to combine forces. But such a combination is not always in evidence."[13] The above is often misquoted as a slavery quote due to previous translations of the French text. The most recent translation from Arthur Goldhammer in 2004 translates the meaning to be as stated above. Examples of misquoted sources are numerous on the internet;[14] the text does not contain the words "Americans were so enamored by equality" anywhere. Tocqueville explicitly cites inequality as being incentive for poor to become rich, and notes that it is not often that two generations within a family maintain success, and that it is inheritance laws that split and eventually break apart someone's estate that cause a constant cycle of churn between the poor and rich, thereby over generations making the poor rich and rich poor. He cites protective laws in France at the time that protected an estate from being split apart amongst heirs, thereby preserving wealth and preventing a churn of wealth such as was perceived by him in 1835 within the United States of America.

Family Happiness

Leo Tolstoy
138 views - May 21, 2015

The story concerns the love and marriage of a young girl, Mashechka (17 years old), and the much older Sergey Mikhaylych (36), an old family friend. The story is narrated by Masha. After a courtship that has the trappings of a mere family friendship, Masha's love grows and expands until she can no longer contain it. She reveals it to Sergey Mikhaylych and discovers that he also is deeply in love. If he has resisted her it was because of his fear that the age difference between them would lead the very young Masha to tire of him. He likes to be still and quiet, he tells her, while she will want to explore and discover more and more about life. Ecstatically and passionately happy, the pair immediately engages to be married. Once married they move to Mikhaylych's home. They are both members of the landed Russian upper class. Masha soon feels impatient with the quiet order of life on the estate, notwithstanding the powerful understanding and love that remains between the two. To assuage her anxiety, they decide to spend a few weeks in St. Petersburg. Sergey Mikhaylych agrees to take Masha to an aristocratic ball. He hates "society" but she is enchanted with it. They go again, and then again. She becomes a regular, the darling of the countesses and princes, with her rural charm and her beauty. Sergey Mikhaylych, at first very pleased with Petersburg society's enthusiasm for his wife, frowns on her passion for "society"; but he does not try to influence Masha. Out of respect for her, Sergey Mikhaylych will scrupulously allow his young wife to discover the truth about the emptiness and ugliness of "society" on her own. But his trust in her is damaged as he watches how dazzled she is by this world. Finally they confront each other about their differences. They argue but do not treat their conflict as something that can be resolved through negotiation. Both are shocked and mortified that their intense love has suddenly been called into question. Something has changed. Because of pride, they both refuse to talk about it. The trust and the closeness are gone. Only courteous friendship remains. Masha yearns to return to the passionate closeness they had known before Petersburg. They go back to the country. Though she gives birth to children and the couple has a good life, she despairs. They can barely be together by themselves. Finally she asks him to explain why he did not try to guide and direct her away from the balls and the parties in Petersburg. Why did they lose their intense love? Why don't they try to bring it back? His answer is not the answer she wants to hear, but it settles her down and prepares her for a long life of comfortable "Family Happiness".

THE GERMAN CLASSICS

Frederic H. Hedge
304 views - May 19, 2015

When I contemplate the world as it is, independently of any command, there manifests itself in my interior the wish, the longing, no! not a longing merely—the absolute demand for a better world. I cast a glance at the relations of men to one another and to Nature, at the weakness of their powers, at the strength of their appetites and passions. It cries to me irresistibly from my innermost soul: "Thus it cannot possibly be destined always to remain. It must, O it must all become other and better!" I can in no wise imagine to myself the present condition of man as that which is designed to endure. I cannot imagine it to be his whole and final destination. If so, then would everything be dream and delusion, and it would not be worth the trouble to have lived and to have taken part in this ever-recurring, aimless, and unmeaning game. Only so far as I can regard this condition as the means of something better, as a point of transition to a higher and more perfect, does it acquire any value for me. Not on its own account, but on account of something better for which it prepares the way, can I bear it, honor it, and joyfully fulfil my part in it. My mind can find no place, nor rest a moment, in the present; it is irresistibly repelled by it. My whole life streams irrepressibly on toward the future and better. Am I only to eat and to drink that I may hunger and thirst again, and again eat and drink, until the grave, yawning beneath my feet, swallows me up, and I myself spring up as food from the ground? Am I to beget beings like myself, that they also may eat and drink and die, and leave behind them beings like themselves, who shall do the same that I have done? To what purpose this circle which perpetually returns into itself; this game forever recommencing, after the same manner, in which everything is born but to perish, and perishes but to be born again as it was; this monster which forever devours itself that it may produce itself again, and which produces itself that it may again devour itself? Never can this be the destination of my being and of all being. There must be something which exists because it has been brought forth, and which now remains and can never be brought forth again after it has been brought forth once. And this, that is permanent, must beget itself amid the mutations of the perishing, and continue amid those mutations, and be borne along unhurt upon the waves of time. As yet our race wrings with difficulty its sustenance and its continuance from reluctant Nature. As yet the larger portion of mankind are bowed down their whole life long by hard labor, to procure sustenance for themselves and the few who think for them. Immortal spirits are compelled to fix all their thinking and scheming, and all their efforts, on the soil which bears them nourishment. It often comes to pass as yet, that when the laborer has ended, and promises himself, for his pains, the continuance of his own existence and of those pains, then hostile elements destroy in a moment what he had been slowly and carefully preparing for years, and delivers up the industrious painstaking man, without any fault of his own, to hunger and misery. It often comes to pass as yet, that inundations, storm-winds, volcanoes, desolate whole countries, and mingle works which bear the impress of a rational mind, as well as their authors, with the wild chaos of death and destruction. Diseases still hurry men into a premature grave, men in the bloom of their powers, and children whose existence passes away without fruit or result. The pestilence still stalks through blooming states, leaves the few who escape it bereaved and alone, deprived of the accustomed aid of their companions, and does all in its power to give back to the wilderness the land which the industry of man had already conquered for its own. So it is, but so it cannot surely have been intended always to remain. No work which bears the impress of reason, and which was undertaken for the purpose of extending the dominion of reason, can be utterly lost in the progress of the times. The sacrifices which the irregular violence of Nature draws from reason must at least weary, satisfy, and reconcile that violence. The force which has caused injury by acting without rule cannot be intended to do so in that way any longer, it cannot be destined to renew itself; it must be used up, from this time forth and forever, by that one outbreak. All those outbreaks of rude force, before which human power vanishes into nothing—those desolating hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, can be nothing else but the final struggle of the wild mass against the lawfully progressive, life-giving, systematic course to which it is compelled, contrary to its own impulse. They can be nothing but the last concussive strokes in the formation of our globe, now about to perfect itself. That opposition must gradually become weaker and at last exhausted, since, in the lawful course of things, there can be nothing that should renew its power. That formation must at last be perfected, and our destined abode complete. Nature must gradually come into a condition in which we can count with certainty upon her equal step, and in which her power shall keep unaltered a definite relation with that power which is destined to govern it, that is, the human. So far as this relation already exists and the systematic development of Nature has gained firm footing, the workmanship of man, by its mere existence and its effects, independent of any design on the part of the author, is destined to react upon Nature and to represent in her a new and life-giving principle. Cultivated lands are to quicken and mitigate the sluggish, hostile atmosphere of the eternal forests, wildernesses, and morasses. Well-ordered and diversified culture is to diffuse through the air a new principle of life and fructification, and the sun to send forth its most animating beams into that atmosphere which is breathed by a healthy, industrious, and ingenious people. Science, awakened, at first, by the pressure of necessity, shall hereafter penetrate deliberately and calmly into the unchangeable laws of Nature, overlook her whole power, and learn to calculate her possible developments—shall form for itself a new Nature in idea, attach itself closely to the living and active, and follow hard upon her footsteps. And all knowledge which reason has wrung from Nature shall be preserved in the course of the times and become the foundation of further knowledge, for the common understanding of our race. Thus shall Nature become ever more transparent and penetrable to human perception, even to its innermost secrets. And human power, enlightened and fortified with its inventions, shall rule her with ease and peacefully maintain the conquest once effected. By degrees, there shall be needed no greater outlay of mechanical labor than the human body requires for its development, cultivation and health. And this labor shall cease to be a burden; for the rational being is not destined to be a bearer of burdens. But it is not Nature, it is liberty itself, that occasions the most numerous and the most fearful disorders among our kind. The direst enemy of man is man.

God and the State

MICHAEL BAKUNIN
2,704 views - Feb 11, 2015

One work was not completed when others were already under way. “My life itself is a fragment,” he said to those who criticised his writings. Nevertheless, the readers of “God and the State” certainly will not regret that Bakunin’s memoir, incomplete though it be, has been published. The questions discussed in it are treated decisively and with a singular vigor of logic. Rightly addressing himself only to his honest opponents, Bakunin demonstrates to them the emptiness of their belief in that divine authority on which all temporal authorities are founded; he proves to them the purely human genesis of all governments; finally, without stopping to discuss those bases of the State already condemned by public morality, such as physical superiority, violence, nobility, wealth, he does justice to the theory which would entrust science with the government of societies. Supposing even that it were possible to recognize, amid the conflict of rival ambitions and intrigues, who are the pretenders and who are the real savants, and that a method of election could be found which would not fail to lodge the power in the hands of those whose knowledge is authentic, what guarantee could they offer us of the wisdom and honesty of their government? On the contrary, can- 7 -we not foresee in these new masters the same follies and the same crimes found in those of former days and of the present time? In the first place, science is not: it is becoming. The learned man of to-day is but the know-nothing of to-morrow. Let him once imagine that he has reached the end, and for that very reason he sinks beneath even the babe just born. But, could he recognize truth in its essence, he can only corrupt himself by privilege and corrupt others by power. To establish his government, he must try, like all chiefs of State, to arrest the life of the masses moving below him, keep them in ignorance in order to preserve quiet, and gradually debase them that he may rule them from a loftier throne.

The Algonquin Legends of New England

John Wilson
662 views - Jan 24, 2015

"A brilliant collection of stories from the folklore tradition of the Algonquin (Algonquian, Algonkin) peoples of North America, in particular, as the subtitle tells us, of the “Micmac, Passamaquoddy, and Penobscot tribes”. The collection presented in the book is a result of the collecting efforts of folklorist Charles G. Leland and from Rev. Silas T. Rand, a Canadian Baptist clergyman who was the first to record the legend of Glooskap. It is this legend, with its many chapters, which takes up the majority of the book. The central character is a giant of a divinity named Glooskap, who “grows to a more appalling greatness than Thor or Odin in his battles”, and whose name literally means Liar, because it is said that when he left earth he promised to return but has never done so. In addition to Glooskap, a large proportion of the book is dedicated to “The Merry Tales of Lox, the Mischief-Maker”, a character, as Leland explains in his introduction, who ranges “from Punch to Satan, passing through the stages of an Indian Mephistopheles and the Norse Loki, who appears to have been his true progenitor”. Also, Throughout the book are scattered a set of wonderful illustrations (some featured below), presumably copied from tribe members themselves, though no information is given on this. - See more at: http://publicdomainreview.org/collections/the-algonquin-legends-of-new-england-1884/" - Public Domain Review

SOUTH!

SIR ERNEST SHACKLETON C.V.O.
1,141 views - Dec 26, 2014

After the conquest of the South Pole by Amundsen, who, by a narrow margin of days only, was in advance of the British Expedition under Scott, there remained but one great main object of Antarctic journeyings—the crossing of the South Polar continent from sea to sea. When I returned from the Nimrod Expedition on which we had to turn back from our attempt to plant the British flag on the South Pole, being beaten by stress of circumstances within ninety-seven miles of our goal, my mind turned to the crossing of the continent, for I was morally certain that either Amundsen or Scott would reach the Pole on our own route or a parallel one. After hearing of the Norwegian success I began to make preparations to start a last great journey—so that the first crossing of the last continent should be achieved by a British Expedition. We failed in this object, but the story of our attempt is the subject for the following pages, and I think that though failure in the actual accomplishment must be recorded, there are chapters in this book of high adventure, strenuous days, lonely nights, unique experiences, and, above all, records of unflinching determination, supreme loyalty, and generous self-sacrifice on the part of my men which, even in these days that have witnessed the sacrifices of nations and regardlessness of self on the part of individuals, still will be of interest to readers who now turn gladly from the red horror of war and the strain of the last five years to read, perhaps with more understanding minds, the tale of the White Warfare of the South. The struggles, the disappointments, and the endurance of this small party of Britishers, hidden away for nearly two years in the fastnesses of the Polar ice, striving to carry out the ordained task and ignorant of the crises through which the world was passing, make a story which is unique in the history of Antarctic exploration.

A Short History of the World

H. G. Wells
6,340 views - Aug 16, 2013

THE story of our world is a story that is still very imperfectly known. A couple of hundred years ago men possessed the history of little more than the last three thousand years. What happened before that time was a matter of legend and speculation. Over a large part of the civilized world it was believed and taught that the world had been created suddenly in 4004 B.C., though authorities differed as to whether this had occurred in the spring or autumn of that year. This fantastically precise misconception was based upon a too literal interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, and upon rather arbitrary theological assumptions connected therewith. Such ideas have long since been abandoned by religious teachers, and it is universally recognized that the universe in which we live has to all appearances existed for an enormous period of time and possibly for endless time. Of course there may be deception in these appearances, as a room may be made to seem endless by putting mirrors facing each other at either end. But that the universe in which we live has existed only for six or seven thousand years may be regarded as an altogether e of 239,000 miles. Earth and moon are not the only bodies to travel round the sun. There are also the planets, Mercury and Venus, at distances of thirty-six and sixty-seven millions of miles; and beyond the circle of the earth and disregarding a belt of numerous smaller bodies, the planetoids, there are Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune at mean distances of 141, 483, 886, 1,782, and 1,793 millions of miles respectively. These figures in {3} millions of miles are very difficult for the mind to grasp. It may help the reader’s imagination if we reduce the sun and planets to a smaller, more conceivable scale.

TEXT BOOKS OF ART EDUCATION

HUGO B. FROEHLICH
2,101 views - Aug 14, 2013

In presenting to the public the series of Text Books of Art Education, of which this volume is a part, it is desired to state briefly the aims and purposes of the plan upon which the series is based. It is not necessary to review the history of art education in public schools, nor to present argument for the introduction or retention of drawing as an important study. These questions have been exhaustively treated, and need no fresh discussion. The school that does not offer to its community some kind of systematic art instruction is today an exception. Education along specific lines should conform to the philosophy which is accepted as fundamental in general educational work. The educational principles adhered to in these books are, therefore, in accord with the psychological laws of child development which are endorsed by the leading educators of the present time, and the effort has been made to work out in these books a series of lessons that shall be not only educationally sound and artistically correct, but at the same time adapted in the different stages to the child's ability to comprehend and his power to express. With this end in view, the lessons in the Text Books of Art Education have been divided into three groups which may be known as the Observational or Objective Group, in which the study of things is the aim; the Subjective Group, in which the study of principles or laws of beauty is the aim; and the Creative Group, in which the application of accumulated knowledge and ability is the aim. In furthering the work of the first group, the topics so familiar to the art teacher of our modern schools are treated—landscape, plants, life, and still life. In the second group are presented the principles of perspective, of industrial drawing, of color harmony, and most important of all, the principles of pure design. In the third group are placed creative exercises in composition, in decorative design, and in many forms of manual training. While the same division of work is kept throughout the course, the manner of presentation differs greatly in the different years. In the primary grades, the work is largely objective in its character. Children are taught to see and to do. In the intermediate grades, the children are introduced to the principles of arrangement, Balance, Rhythm, and Harmony, which have been adopted as the working basis of this series of books, and in the light of which the subjective and creative work of the upper grades is planned. As the work progresses through the different years, the subjective and creative sides are more and more emphasized, and the study of objects is felt to be merely a means necessary to an end. All through the series, there is a definite, logical progression, so that in schools where these ideas are put into practice, there should be no ground for the complaint that the work of the intermediate and grammar grades falls below the work of the primary grades, in general excellence. These books are the outgrowth of years of experience in practical fields of work. They have been prepared with a keen appreciation of the obstacles which have confronted the art teacher in public education, and with an intimate knowledge of the child mind, in its various stages of development. Never before has an attempt been made to put into the hands of children a text of lessons in art. The illustrations serve the double purpose of illuminating the text and of furnishing the children with standards of work in the various mediums. For the Theory of Color Relations used in these books, special acknowledgment is due to Dr. Denman W. Ross, of Harvard University. The lessons in design are preparatory to the fuller exposition in the upper books of Dr. Ross's principles of arrangement—Balance, Rhythm, and Harmony.

Noam Chomsky - Understanding Our World

Noam Chomsky
1,742 views - Jul 29, 2013

Chomsky is one of the best-known figures of the American left although he doesn't agree with the usage of the term. He has described himself as a "fellow traveller" to the anarchist tradition, and refers to himself as a libertarian socialist, a political philosophy he summarizes as challenging all forms of authority and attempting to eliminate them if they are unjustified for which the burden of proof is solely upon those who attempt to exert power. He identifies with the labor-oriented anarcho-syndicalist current of anarchism in particular cases, and is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World. He also exhibits some favor for the libertarian socialist vision of participatory economics,[1] himself being a member of the Interim Committee for the International Organization for a Participatory Society.[2] He believes that libertarian socialist values exemplify the rational and morally consistent extension of original unreconstructed classical liberal and radical humanist ideas in an industrial context.[3] Chomsky has further defined himself as having held Zionist beliefs, although he notes that his definition of Zionism would be considered by most as anti-Zionism these days, the result of what he perceives to have been a shift (since the 1940s) in the meaning of Zionism (Chomsky Reader). Chomsky is considered "one of the most influential left-wing critics of American foreign policy" by the Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers.[4] Source: Wikipedia

Not protest but direct action: anarchism past and present

David Goodway
1,409 views - Jul 26, 2013

Fifty to sixty years ago anarchism appeared to be a spent force, as both a movement and a political theory, yet since the 1960s there has been a resurgence in Europe and North America of anarchist ideas and practice. Britain nowadays must have a greater number of conscious anarchists than at any previous point in its history. In addition there are many more who, while not identifying themselves as anarchists, think and behave in significantly anarchist ways. The last fifteen years has also seen the rise of the anti-globalization or anti-capitalism movement. At a series of international meetings of the key organizations that determine the global economic order - notably, the World Trade Organization at Seattle in 1999, the G8 at Genoa in 2001 and most recently the G20 in London in 2009 - minorities of self-professed anarchists have gone on the rampage, capturing the attention not just of the civil authorities but of the world's press, radio and television. To this extent the anarchists have announced their return as a significant disruptive presence, once again inspiring anxiety among governments and police chiefs. Anarchists themselves disdain the customary use of 'anarchy' to mean 'chaos' or 'complete disorder'. For them it signifies the absence of a ruler or rulers in a self-managed society, usually resembling the 'co-operative commonwealth' that most socialists have traditionally sought, and more highly organized than the disorganization and chaos of the present. An anarchist society would be more ordered since the political theory of anarchism advocates organization from the bottom up with the federation of the self-governed entities - as opposed to order being imposed from the top down upon resisting individuals or groups. This is a long-established way of looking at things, with not just a distinctive but an impressive intellectual history. Yet the media and other commentators (including many who should know better) insist on employing 'anarchists' and 'anarchism' as smear words unworthy of rational consideration. The French anarchists' cult of dynamite in the 1890s had much to answer for the exceedingly negative image throughout the twentieth century. Now, in contemporary Britain, recent anarchist mayhem on the streets leads to a lazy, or frightened, association of all violent actions with 'anarchists', such as the unrelated student demonstration of November 2010 or the widespread urban rioting of August 2011, neither of which had any identifiable anarchist component.

Common Sense

Thomas Paine
1,983 views - Jan 24, 2013

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour; a long habit of not thinking a thing WRONG, gives it a superficial appearance of being RIGHT, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason. As a long and violent abuse of power, is generally the Means of calling the right of it in question (and in Matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the Sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry) and as the King of England hath undertaken in his OWN RIGHT, to support the Parliament in what he calls THEIRS, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpation of either. In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise, and the worthy, need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious, or unfriendly, will cease of themselves unless too much pains are bestowed upon their conversion. The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected, and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested. The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling; of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR. P.S. The Publication of this new Edition hath been delayed, with a View of taking notice (had it been necessary) of any Attempt to refute the Doctrine of Independance: As no Answer hath yet appeared, it is now presumed that none will, the Time needful for getting such a Performance ready for the Public being considerably past. Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the Object for Attention is the DOCTRINE ITSELF, not the MAN. Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.

Freedom's Battle

Mahatma Gandhi
1,633 views - Jul 18, 2012

After the great war it is difficult, to point out a single nation that is happy; but this has come out of the war, that there is not a single nation outside India, that is not either free or striving to be free. It is said that we, too, are on the road to freedom, that it is better to be on the certain though slow course of gradual unfoldment of freedom than to take the troubled and dangerous path of revolution whether peaceful or violent, and that the new Reforms are a half-way house to freedom. The new constitution granted to India keeps all the military forces, both in the direction and in the financial control, entirely outside the scope of responsibility to the people of India. What does this mean? It means that the revenues of India are spent away on what the nation does not want. But after the mid-Eastern complications and the fresh Asiatic additions to British Imperial spheres of action. This Indian military servitude is a clear danger to national interests. The new constitution gives no scope for retrenchment and therefore no scope for measures of social reform except by fresh taxation, the heavy burden of which on the poor will outweigh all the advantages of any reforms. It maintains all the existing foreign services, and the cost of the administrative machinery high as it already is, is further increased. The reformed constitution keeps all the fundamental liberties of person, property, press, and association completely under bureaucratic control. All those laws which give to the irresponsible officers of the Executive Government of India absolute powers to override the popular will, are still unrepealed. In spite of the tragic price paid in the Punjab for demonstrating the danger of unrestrained power in the hands of a foreign bureaucracy and the inhumanity of spirit by which tyranny in a panic will seek to save itself, we stand just where we were before, at the mercy of the Executive in respect of all our fundamental liberties. Not only is Despotism intact in the Law, but unparalleled crimes and cruelties against the people have been encouraged and even after boastful admissions and clearest proofs, left unpunished. The spirit of unrepentant cruelty has thus been allowed to permeate the whole administration.