Stéphane Frédéric Hessel is a 94 year old man who wrote a book called, “Indignez Vous!” First a little background on Stéphane Hessel’s life that gives him the credentials and creditability of what he writes in his book.
Stéphane Hessel was a German Jew whose family immigrated to France in 1924, when he was 7 years old. He served in the French Army during the Battle of France and became a prisoner of war. Following his escape from the POW camp, he joined General de Gaulle in England and the Free French Resistance. Stéphane Hessel was asked to parachute into occupied France in advance of the Allied invasion of 1944 to organize Resistance networks. The Gestapo captured him and subjected him to the form of torture that we call “Waterboarding” today. (Of course Dick Cheney says that “Waterboarding” is not torture today even though the U.S. hung Japanese solders after WWII as a War Crime for doing this exact same thing to American Prisoners of War) He was sent to the concentrations camps,Buchenwaldand Dora but avoided the gallows only by switching identities with an inmate who had died. While being transferred to Bergen-Belsen, he escaped yet once again. After the war Hessel became a diplomat and involved himself in politics to have a say in the reformation and rebuilding of France.
Stéphane Hessel’s book became a best seller by selling more than 600,000 copies even before it had gone viral world wide as it speaks to the truth for the economic and political conditions of today. This book has been given much credit for the popular movement’s world wide much like Thomas Paine’s book, “Common Sense,” started the revolution forming the Colonial United States.
Stéphane Hessel had joined de Gaulle in March 1941, when I learned that the council had put the finishing touches on its program and adopted it on March 15, 1944: a collection of principles and values for Free France that still provides the foundation of France’s modern democracy.
My suggestion is that it should be reviewed by all of us here in theUnited States to remind ourselves from “Whence We Came” as I see we too have lost our core values and lost our way by the influence of large economics lobbies.
Stéphane Hessel is quoted saying, “We need these principles and values more than ever today. It is up to us, to all of us together, to ensure that our society remains one to be proud of: not this society of undocumented workers and deportations, of being suspicious of immigrants; not this society where our retirement and the other gains of social security are being called into question; not this society where the media are in the hands of the rich. These are all things that we would refuse to countenance if we were the true heirs of the “National Council of the Resistance.”
Let’s review the time Stéphane Hessel and his fellow resistance fighters reassembled a country after WWII’s total devastation. An excerpt for the book states, “After 1945, after that horrific tragedy, the forces in the “National Council of the Resistance” achieved an ambitious resurrection for France. Let us remember that this was when the social safety net that the Resistance called for was created: “A comprehensive “Social Security” plan, to guarantee all citizens a means of livelihood in every case where they are unable to get it by working”; and “retirement that allows older workers to end their lives with dignity.”
The Social Security plan had been instituted by Franklin D. Roosevelt more than a decade before France’s reconstruction. It worked very well for decades and had over a Trillion Dollars in surplus in the 1980’s until drastic cuts in collecting taxes and was extremely cut in 2000 by the G.W. Bush administration. Instead of collecting the revenues to operate the Government, the legislators dipped their hands into the Social Security retirement programs all the way up to their elbows stealing the future of the Middle Class of this country. Then you now have the ultra-conservative Republican legislators trying to lay the blame of their theft calling the Social Security program a “Ponzi Scheme.”
Sources of energy such as electricity, gas, and coal were nationalized, along with the large banks, in accordance again with what the program advocated: “returning to the nation the major means of production that have been monopolized, the fruits of common labor, the sources of energy, mineral riches, insurance companies, and big banks”; and “establishing a true economic and social democracy, which entails removing large scale economic and financial feudalism from the management of the economy.” The general interest had to be given precedence over particular special interests, and a fair division of the wealth created by the world of labor over the power of money. The Resistance proposed “a rational organization of the economy to guarantee that individual interests be subordinated to the public interest, one free of a dictatorship of established professionals in the image of the fascist state.”
It should be noted that our current event and depression was brought about globally by the greed of international banking authorities who purchased influence in our U.S. legislating bodies getting laws changed and passed that made practices that were made illegal in the 1930’s, now legal bring about the same results that they did in the 1920’s causing that Great Depression. How soon we forgot.
We also need to take a reflective time to note our latest wars were for the purpose of making sure the oil flow without restrictions into the U.S. as we are an oil based industry driving the economic engine of the United States.
Genuine democracy needs a free press. The Resistance knew this, and it demanded “the freedom and honor of the press and its independence from the state and the forces of money and foreign influence.” Again, these goals were carried forward, but they are at risk today.
Not GE (or Comcast). Not Disney. Not Murdoch or Time Warner. We are a wholly owned subsidiary of our own conscience.
I personally view that the blog writers independence like those who contribute to this blog are the highest form of patriotism by demanding to know exactly what Government’s doing in our name.
Another platform Stephen Hessel and his fellow countrymen at this time called for was “the practical opportunity for every French child to have access to the most advanced education,” without discrimination, but the reforms proposed in 2008 run counter to this plan. Young teachers have refused to implement these reforms up to now, and I support their actions. They have seen their salaries reduced in retaliation. They got angry, they “disobeyed,” they decided that these reforms diverged too far from the ideal of education in a democratic republic, were too deeply beholden to a society of money and failed to develop the creative and critical spirit sufficiently.
This is not just happening in France but all of these social rights at the core we here in the United States once valued so much are today under attack. Children of Latino immigrants are being refused advance education because of their parent’s questionable legal status. Science teachers in Pennsylvania were threatened with firing if they did not teach the religious viewpoint and inaccurate “Intelligent Design.” It was the Teachers Union that protected these Science Teachers from the religious fanaticism that had obtained power. Of course we have seen the Ultra Conservative “Koch Brother’s funding” of Republican Governors in Wisconsin and Ohio trying to destroy these Unions.
Stéphane Hessel speaks out on “Outrage Inspires Resistance:”
They have the nerve to tell us that the state can no longer cover the costs of these social programs. Yet how can the money needed to continue and extend these achievements be lacking today, when the creation of wealth has grown so enormously since the Liberation, a time when Europe lay in ruins? It can only be because the power of money, which the Resistance fought against so hard, has never been as great and selfish and shameless as it is now, with its servants in the very highest circles of government. The banks, now privatized, seem to care primarily about their dividends, and about the enormous salaries of their executives, not about the general good. The gap between richest and poorest has never been so large, competition and the circulation of capital never so encouraged.
The motivation that underlay the Resistance was outrage. We, the veterans of the Resistance movements and fighting forces of Free France, call on the younger generations to revive and carry forward the tradition of the Resistance and its ideas.
We say to you: take over, keep going, get angry! Those in positions of political responsibility, economic power and intellectual authority, in fact our whole society, must not give up or let ourselves be overwhelmed by the current international dictatorship of the financial markets, which is such a threat to peace and democracy.
I want you, each and every one of you, to have a reason to be outraged. This is precious. When something outrages you, as Nazism did me, that is when you become a militant, strong and engaged. You join the movement of history, and the great current of history continues to flow only thanks to each and every one of us. History’s direction is toward more justice and more freedom though not the unbridled freedom of the fox in a henhouse. The rights set forth in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 are indeed universal. When you encounter someone who lacks those rights, have sympathy and help him or her to achieve them.
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