Old Men ought to be Explorers (roger_kuin) wrote,



I was listening in the car to the excellent WWII CD 'Churchill and Friends', when this excerpt caught my ear. It comes from the great speech of 16 October 1938, broadcast to Britain and to the United States. And as I listened, I realised I was thinking about Iran in 2009, and even more perhaps in 2010. The relevance is startling:

Thus was assured throughout the English-speaking world, and in France by the stern lessons of the Revolution, what Kipling called, "Leave to live by no man's leave underneath the law." Now in this resides all that makes existence precious to man, and all that confers honour and health upon the State…

It is this very conflict of spiritual and moral ideas which gives the free countries a great part of their strength. You see these dictators on their pedestals, surrounded by the bayonets of their soldiers and the truncheons of their police. On all sides they are guarded by masses of armed men, cannons, aeroplanes, fortifications, and the like - they boast and vaunt themselves before the world, yet in their hearts there is unspoken fear. They are afraid of words and thoughts; words spoken abroad, thoughts stirring at home - all the more powerful because forbidden - terrify them. A mouse, a little mouse of thought appears in the room, and even the mightiest potentates are thrown into panic. They make frantic efforts to bar our thoughts and words; they are afraid of the workings of the human mind…. A state of society where men may not speak their minds, where children denounce their parents to the police, where a business man or small shopkeeper ruins his competitor by telling tales about his private opinions; such a state of society cannot long endure if brought into contact with the healthy outside world.

Of course, this is much more powerful still when heard in Winston's inimitable rasp and growl. I couldn't find a recording of this piece online; but here is an even more famous clip, to remind us of That Voice. And Those Words.

What can we do? One easy thing is to send old USB keys (7 MB or more) to Austin Heap's Haystack network, to help Iranians maintain contact with 'the healthy outside world' and with one another.
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