Political Repute

I subscribe to Parabola, a remarkable little quarterly, each issue of which "has its own focus: one of the timeless themes of human existence." It seldom addresses politics, specifically, but the Spring 2013 issue, "Spirit in the World," contains a series of commentaries by Vaclev Havel, collected by Roger Lipsey.

This particular essay is not available online, and I do not have permission to quote extensively, but given what I can only presume is my relatively small audience and that my object is to highly recommend all three, Parabola, Roger Lipsey and, most especially, Vaclev Havel, to you, I'm going to go ahead and give you my favorite quote from that piece. I do most urgently suggest that you check out this issue of Parabola and more of the thought of Vaclev Havel.

Despite the political distress I face every day, I am still deeply convinced that politics is not an essentially disreputable business; and to the extent that it is, it is only disreputable people who make it so. I would concede that it can, more than other spheres of human activity, tempt one to disreputable practices, and that it therefore places higher demands on people. But it is simply not true that a politician must lie or intrigue. That is an utter nonsense, spread about by people who for whatever reasons want to discourage others from taking an interest in public affairs.

Speech, New York University, New York, October 27, 1991