“Sometimes when I’m in a big important international meeting and you see me writings stuff down, it might be that I’m just drawing some, drawing some folks.”
Václav Havel on politics and politicians
“Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.”“Despite all the political misery I am confronted with every day, it still is my profound conviction that the very essence of politics is not dirty; dirt is brought in only by wicked people. I admit that this is an area of human activity where the temptation to advance through unfair actions may be stronger than elsewhere, and which thus makes higher demands on human integrity. But it is not true at all that a politician cannot do without lying or intriguing. That is sheer nonsense, often spread by those who want to discourage people from taking an interest in public affairs.
— Letter to the downthrown Czechoslovak Communist Party chairman Alexander Dubček (August 1969)
“Having begun my thirtieth year of teaching high school, college and law school courses on the philosophy of pacifism and the methods of nonviolent conflict resolution, I was challenged again to decide where to begin this year’s course. Should I use the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks to discuss nonviolent alternatives to the Bush/Cheney bents for bombs and bullets? Or pose this: would members of Congress, left or right, have voted to increase military spending so dramatically during the Bush years if they had studied peace and nonviolence in college? Would Barbara Lee of California’s 9th District have been the only member of Congress — one out of 535 — to vote against the Bush war plans on September 14, 2001?
Should I discuss the influence of nonviolence on the protests of the Arab Spring, from Egypt to Bahrain? Or explore alternatives to more than a dozen forms of violence that put one or another group of victims at risk every day: military violence, economic violence, environmental violence, corporate violence, racial violence, homophobic violence, verbal violence, emotional violence, sexual violence, structural violence, street violence, religious violence, legal or illegal violence, video game violence, violence toward animals? Or how about a quiz? Identify: (a) Emily Greene Balch; (b) Jeannette Rankin; (c) Dorothy Day. (…)”
“War must not be a means to achieve political ends. Wars must be eliminated, not merely limited. No national interest can today be isolated from collective responsibility for peace. This fact must be recognized in all foreign relations. As a means of achieving European and worldwide security, therefore, foreign policy must aim to reduce tensions and promote communication beyond frontiers. (…)
How to prevent war is a question which is part of the European tradition - Europe has always had reason enough to ask it. (…)
Our ethical and social concepts have been shaped by two thousand years of Christianity. And this means that, in spite of many aberrations under the flag of bellum justum, “the just war”, attempts have been made over and over again to achieve peace in this world, too.
Our second source of strength is humanism and classical philosophy. Immanuel Kant postulated his idea of a constitutional confederation of states in words that pose a very distinct question to today’s generations: Man, he said, will one day be faced with the choice of either uniting under a true law of nations or destroying with a few blows the civilization he has built up over thousands of years: then, necessity will compel him to do what he ought better to have done long ago of his own free reason.1 (…)
Peace policy is a sober task. I, too, try with the means at my command to pave the way for the prevalence of reason in my own country and in the world: that reason which demands that we seek peace because the absence of peace has come to mean extreme lack of reason.
War is no longer the ultima ratio but rather the ultima irratio. Even if this is still not a generally held view, I personally understand a policy for peace as a genuine Realpolitik of this epoch. (…)
Under the threat of mankind’s self-destruction, co-existence has become a question of the very existence of man. Co-existence became not one of several acceptable possibilities but the only chance of survival. (…)”