Archive for January, 2013

The Future Latent In the People

“This population works and suffers, and suffering and toil are the two faces of men. There are vast numbers of unknown beings teeming with the strangest types of humanity, from the stevedore of the Rapee to the horse-slaughterer of Montfaucon.

Fex urbis, cries Cicero; mob, adds the indignant Burke; the herd, the multitude, the populace. Those words are quickly said.

But if so, what does it matter? What difference does it make if they go barefoot? They cannot read; never mind. Would you abandon them for that? Would you make their misfortune their curse? Can’t the light penetrate these masses?

Let us return to that cry: Light!

And let us persist in it!

Light! Light!

Who knows but that these opacities will become transparent?

Are revolutions not transfigurations? Go on, philosophers — teach, enlighten, kindle, think aloud, speak up, run joyfully toward broad daylight, fraternize in the public squares, announce the glad tidings, lavish your alphabets, proclaim human rights, sing your Marseillaises, sow enthusiasms, tear off green branches from the oak trees.

Make thought a whirlwind.

This multitude can be sublimated.

Let us learn to avail ourselves of this vast conflagration of principles and virtues, which occasionally sparkles, bursts, and shudders. These bare feet, these naked arms, these rags, these shades of ignorance, depths of despair, the gloom can be used for the conquest of the ideal.

Look through the medium of the people, and you will discern the truth.

This lowly sand that you trample underfoot, if you throw it into the furnace and let it melt and seethe, will become sparkling crystal; and thanks to such as this a Galileo and a Newton will discover the stars.”

— Victor Hugo, Les Miserables (Paragraph breaks added!)

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Written by dan

January 30th, 2013 at 1:54 pm