Rod Dreher

Two days ago, a car in front of me featured a bumper sticker with the following quote:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell.
Other stickers on that car’s bumper included a pro-vegetarian slogan, that familiar line about it’ll be a good day when the military has to have bake sales to buy bombers, and a few other stickers indicating that the driver leans to the left, politically.
Last night in the parking lot of my church, I saw a bumper sticker with the following quote:
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” — George Orwell.
Other stickers on the car: “They Might Be Giants” and “Don’t blame me, I voted for Ron Paul.” Not a liberal driver, though one with quirky musical taste.
This is no longer a political blog, but this coincidence did bring to mind a point about the remoralization of politics, made by Vaclav Havel when he was a Czech dissident. Excerpt:

One such fundamental experience, that which I called ‘anti-political politics’, is possible and can be effective, even though by its very nature it cannot calculate its effect beforehand. That effect, to be sure, is of a wholly different nature from what the West considers political success. It is hidden, indirect, long term and hard to measure; often it exists only in the invisible realm of social consciousness, conscience and subconsciousness and it can be almost impossible to determine what value it assumed therein and to what extent, if any, it contributes to shaping social development. It is, however, becoming evident–and I think that is an experience of an essential and universal importance–that a single, seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, ready to pay a high price, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous voters. It is becoming evident that even in today’s world, and especially on this exposed rampart where the wind blows most sharply, it is possible to oppose personal experience and the natural world to the ‘innocent’ power and to unmask its guilt, as the author of The Gulag Archipelago has done. It is becoming evident that truth and morality can provide a new starting point for politics and can, even today, have an undeniable political power. The warning voice of a single brave scientist, besieged somewhere in the provinces and terrorized by a goaded community, can be heard over continents and addresses the conscience of the mighty of this world more clearly than entire brigades of hired propagandists can, though speaking to themselves. It is becoming evident that wholly personal categories like good and evil still have their unambiguous content and, under certain circumstances, are capable of shaking the seemingly unshakeable power with all its army of soldiers, policemen and bureaucrats. It is becoming evident that politics by no means need remain the affair of professionals and that one simple electrician with his heart in the right place, honouring something that transcends him and free of fear, can influence the history of his nation.
Yes, ‘anti-political politics’ is possible. Politics ‘from below’. Politics of man, not of the apparatus. Politics growing from the heart, not from a thesis. It is not an accident that this hopeful experience has to be lived just here, on this grim battlement. Under the ‘rule of everydayness’ we have to descend to the very bottom of a well before we can see the stars.
When Jan Patocka wrote about Charter 77, he used the term ‘solidarity of the shaken’. He was thinking of those who dared resist impersonal power and to confront it with the only thing at their disposal, their own humanity. Does not the perspective of a better future depend on something like an international community of the shaken which, ignoring state boundaries, political systems, and power blocs, standing outside the high game of traditional politics, aspiring to no titles and appointments, will seek to make a real political force out of a phenomenon so ridiculed by the technicians of power–the phenomenon of human conscience?

Tell the truth, no matter what. What else is there?

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