Pertinently Perennial

In light of my last post, I thought this quote from Milan Kundera could not be more applicable…

From Immortality:

“The concept of human rights goes back some two hundred years, but it reached it’s greatest glory in the second half of the 1970s. Alexander Solzhenitsyn had just been exiled from his country and his striking figure, adorned with a beard and handcuffs, hypnotized Western intellectuals sick with a longing for the great destiny that had been denied them. It was only thanks to him that they started to believe, after a fifty-year delay, that in communist Russia there were concentration camps; even progressive people were now ready to admit that imprisoning someone for his opinions was not just. And they found an excellent justification for their new attitude: Russian communists violated human rights, in spite of the fact that these human rights had been gloriously proclaimed by the French Revolution itself! And so, thanks to Solzhenitsyn, human rights once again found their place in the vocabulary of our times; I don’t know a single politician who doesn’t mention ten times a day ‘the fight for human rights’ or ‘violations of human rights.’ But because people in the West are not violated by concentration camps and are free to say and write what they want, the more the fight for human rights gains in popularity the more it loses concrete content, becoming a kind of universal stance of everyone towards everything, a kind of energy that turns all human desires into rights. The world has become man’s right and everything in it has become a right: the desire for love the right to love, the desire for rest the right to rest, the desire for friendship the right to friendship, the desire to exceed the speedlimit the right to exceed the speedlimit, the desire for happiness the right to happiness, the desire to publish a book the right to publish a book, the desire to shout in the street in the middle of the night the right to shout in the street….”

By the way, everyone should read this book. They have used copies for a single brown eye at the above link.


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Filed under Bigotry, Culture

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