"Time for Outrage" (Quartet Books in the UK) is a translation of a book in French, "Indignez-vous!" (Indigene Editions in France) one of two recent books from France that have been stirring things up. I (Clayton Hallmark) have written extensively on these on the Internet ( TimeforOutrage dot net ).
"Indignez-vous!", basically just 12 pages of text (!)plus notes,shook up France at year end with record sales, and possibly its former colony Tunisia, in which riots took down the government just before the Egypt riots.
I'll provide a few excerpts later so you get the gist of Time for Outrage, which is sure to be an important book in English.
Author Stephane Hessel is, to France, a Justin Bieber-scale personality phenomenon at the other end of the age scale. He is 94 and wants us to get mad and take to the streets - peacefully. Peacefully because he thinks there is hope for reform. More is at timeforoutrage dot net. Hessel has been stirring things up for a long time: He helped to write the UN Declaration of Universal Human Rights (the word "Universal" is key, meaning the rights are inherent and not the state's to grant or deny), which was adopted in 1948 and based on an earlier program of the Free French resistance Hessel was part of. He thinks this declaration helped to free colonies such as Tunisia and Algeria in earlier revolts.
One way to understand the importance of this book is to compare it to the other current French literary phenom, "The Coming Insurrection" by the Invisible Committee thecominginsurrection dot net , which Glenn Beck of has been concentrating on in his Fox News broadcasts in early 2011. That book was translated to English recently and is available at Amazon. (For more, you can see my postings under Clayton Hallmark on the Internet.)
Latinos in America, Roma in Europe, and Palestinians take note: These books are about your rights and recourses.
Stephane Hessel's little book "Indignez-vous!" ("Get Indignant!" or "Get Outraged"), or "Time for Outrage," says history is a story of human progress, step by step, toward individual rights for all. Mr. Hessel quotes the UN Declaration on Universal Human Rights, which he helped to write, in saying "everyone has the right to a nationality," even, he says, undocumented "illegal" immigrants everywhere and displaced Palestinians in the Middle East). Also "everyone has a right to social security" (with little S's, meaning Freedom from Want for all) and to "rights indispensable for his [and her] dignity and the free development of his personality."
You have to read all of this in either language version ("Time for Outrage" or "Indignez-vous!") of Hessel's book to get the power of this. Get a hard copy - much better for thumbing through and waving around in an act of defiance timeforoutrage dot net.
Stephane Hessel thinks humanity will get there (achieve universal rights) but, poignantly, that he like Martin Luther King might not make it to the mountaintop. He is 94 years old as of this writing in February 2011. And like MLK he thinks nonviolence is the way. There are exceptions, "when people are occupied by forces immensely superior to their own."
Before you read further, I tell you that I am siding with "The Coming Insurrection." Of course I'll tell you why. .
However, before getting to that, Mr. Hessel's book is as if he wrote the script for the protests in Egypt and nearby countries, which is why you need to buy a copy of "Indignez-vous!" or "The Coming Outrage" right now.
In 2009, already in his nineties, he came with his wife to the Occupied Territories, he saw the aftermath of Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" violence in Gaza, and he got outraged - 1400 civilians killed and only 50 Israeli soldiers only injured. The plight of the Occupied Territories is today the main source of Mr. Hessel's long-running moral indignation.
It is "unbearable," Stephane Hessel says, how Israel is treating the Palestinians. "Alas," he says, "history does not give enough examples of people who draw lessons from their own history."
Inidignez-Vous! / Time for Outrage discusses two views of history, one optimistic and one pessimistic. Hessel, the wise old philosopher, takes this view: "But my natural optimism, which wants all that is desirable to be possible, carried me rather towards Hegel. Hegelism interprets the long history of humanity as having a meaning: It is the freedom of man progressing step by step. History is made of successive shocks, and the taking into account of challenges. The history of societies thus advances; and in the end, man having attained his full freedom, we have the democratic state in its ideal form."
And then there is the other view, which led a friend of his father to commit suicide, and it's illustrated by the painting Angelus Novus by Paul Klee. "It says progress is made by freedom of competition, striving for "always more"; it can be as if living in a devastating hurricane." The friend interpreted the painting as showing the angel opening its arms as if to hold back a tempest, which is identified with incessant progress. This is the "Life is just one damn thing after another" view of life. (A friend of Rockeller is said to have made this comment on learning the Oil Trust was being busted. Perhaps this is why Rockefeller suffered clinical depression for most of life despite his wealth.) This, not Hessel's view, is the one of thecominginsurrection.
While Stephane Hessel's stance is summed up in the title "Indignez-vous!", which means, literally, "Get indignant!", "The Coming Insurrrection" declares, "It is useless to get indignant about openly unconstitutional laws .... It's futile to LEGALLY protest the complete implosion of the legal framework."
In "Time for Outrage," Hessel sees a way out in reforming the edifice of Western civilization. But the cornice-eagles are falling onto the the sidewalk. People are falling through the rotten old floors. It's so ugly that people can't stand to live in or near it, and it's already collapsing anyway. Why, somebody might get killed.
Perhaps somebody like Mr. Hessel might be the architect of a new edifice. But are there any more like this 94-year-old hero?
Perhaps the situation in Western Civilization is hopeless and people must follow a part of his teaching that is elaborated upon in the other book, for hopeless situations. Mr. Hessel's own teaching, in "Time for Change / Indignez-vou!" on hopelessness is: "... it is necessary to acknowledge that when people are occupied by forces immensely superior to their own, popular reaction cannot be altogether bloodless." Also: "...they [Gazans] can explain this gesture [launching rockets] by the exasperation of Gazans. In the notion of exasperation, it is necessary to understand violence as the regrettable conclusion of situations not acceptable to those who are subjected to them." timeforoutrage dot net
In urging restraint in the present situation, where Mr. Obama seems to be a failed last hope for Americans as well as the Arab world, perhaps it is Mr. Hessel himself whose memory of his own history in the early 1940s is getting a litle foggy.
Like Mr. Hessel's book, "The Coming Insurrection" explains situations of hopelessness, but in more detail. It also shows how hopelessness makes starting over necessary. Hessel believes that hopelessness can be overcome by indignant protest and resistance that will bring needed change. The Invisible Committee believes Western Civilization itself is hopeless. (Did Obama really mean it when he said, "Yes we can!"? As Tavis Smiley says, he "is trying to out-Republican the Republicans.")
In America there is no such thing as loyal opposition, no Republican versus Democrat. For at least 30 years, there has been, effectively, ONE party in the USA with two wings, Republican plus Democrat, "Republicrats." Neither wing is loyal to the nation, the people, human rights -- to anyone or any thing.
Lobbyists buy out politicians of both sides until politicians become rich enough to retire in ease and luxury from public "service." This form of government became totally dominant about 30 years ago.
Obviously there is no way of escaping this long-endured trap other than by the methods described by the French book "The Coming Insurrection" (since translated and available at Amazon). Protests seem to have produced meaningful change recently in Tunisia, but it is by no means clear that the massive protests in Egypt will do the same. Don't be surprised if Mubarak or someone like him survives as head of a puppet government. Read "The Coming Insurrection" to see why mere indignant protest might fail in Egypt, or the US for that matter.
Now is the "Time for Outrage" and, soon possibly, in the US and Egypt, "The Coming Insurrection."