Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Spring Fund Drive: Keep CounterPunch Afloat
CounterPunch is a lifeboat of sanity in today’s turbulent political seas. Please make a tax-deductible donation and help us continue to fight Trump and his enablers on both sides of the aisle. Every dollar counts!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Flame Gone Out

On 27 February 2013 a flame went out. One of the great political and social thinkers of our time, Stephane Frederic Hessel, died at the age of 95. I only found out about Hessel’s passing a week after his departure from this world. I had been spending some time in rural West Cork, out of reach from the internet and what news I received was of a local nature. When I got back home to the city I read about Hessel’s death in an obituary online and it saddened me.

Hessel enjoyed a long life, from his birth in Berlin to his final breath in Paris. I discovered Hessel through one of his last works “Indignez-Vous!” (Time For Outrage), an English translation of which I picked up in a book shop a few years ago.

The small book holds a large punch and it came to life from a fiery speech Hessel gave in 2008 commemorating the French resistance. I purchased the 37 page book during a time when the occupy movement was emerging out of social networks and onto the streets, the Arab spring was spreading across the middle east, the Sarkozy presidency was coming to an end and Greece was in the throes of social and economic upheaval.

“Indignez-Vous” the short yet fierce little book showed the resilient spirit of Hessel who penned the work at the age of 92. The resistance veteran strived to resurrect the resistance sprit for this generation not only in France but across Europe and even further a field.

The occupy movement emerged with the hope of great change but within a year it was a movement easily quenched. The Arab spring brought democracy to many parts of the middle east such as Egypt but as soon as despots were deposed the revolution essentially devoured its children. In France the age of president bling, otherwise known as president Sarkozy, gave way for the age of President Holland, a socialist leader who has won praise for his support of gay rights but has been demonised for austerity measures. Meanwhile the Greeks still continue to bear the brunt of a harsh economic depression. While one step to a greater social change can occur it almost always results in two steps back. The resilient nature of Hessel and those of his generation of resistance fighters is a missing element for today’s socially oppressed.

“Indignez-Vous” warned us of how social rights can fall victim to harsh economic changes. Hessel painted the capitalist machine as the agitator of such harshness, The power of money which the resistance fought so hard against has never been as great and selfish and shameless as it is now.

Hessel used “Indignez-Vous” to call the youth out against the social oppression that a recession brings. The small book was his last great call on the current generation to take over, keep going, get angry! Indeed the youth took over when they occupied Wall street, indeed this generation kept going as the Arab spring spread like wild fire and indeed the modern voter got angry when they dumped Sarkozy from office but now it seems that compromise has been accepted by many of today’s generation, a compromise Hessel never accepted in his own youth. He came from a generation that stood up against the wrongs done against social freedoms and human rights and Hessel calls on the modern youth to follow suit and keep the flame lit, to you who will create the 21st century, he writes in “Indignez-vous” we say with affection, to create is to resist, to resist is to create.

Across Europe the austere way of living is creating a harsh reality especially in countries such as Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal. In my own country Ireland the recession seems never ending. It feels like each and every waking day brings with it a new tax while the health sector crumbles under inadequate and badly managed hospitals. Schools are losing teachers and police stations are closing down at an extraordinary rate just as crime levels rise dramatically and Mass emigration along with a worrying rise in suicide paint the grim picture of Ireland in the 21st century.

Hessel’s legacy is a great one, his freedom fighting spirit, his handbook of social revolution “Indignez-Vous!” and his over all fantastically inspiring life. Stephane Hessel lived life long and rebellious, it is just a pity he hasn’t lived it just a bit longer to see this generation through these hard times but his words remain with us as a legacy of a permanent revolution.

To create is to resist, to resist is to create.

Lily Murphy comes from Cork city, Ireland. She holds a B.A degree from University College Cork and contributes to magazines such as New Politics and 4Q among some others.

More articles by:

Lily Murphy lives in County Cork. She can be reached at: Lilymurphycork@gmail.com.

Weekend Edition
May 25, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
A Major Win for Trump’s War Cabinet
Andrew Levine
Could Anything Cause the GOP to Dump Trump?
Pete Tucker
Is the Washington Post Soft on Amazon?
Conn Hallinan
Iran: Sanctions & War
Jeffrey St. Clair
Out of Space: John McCain, Telescopes and the Desecration of Mount Graham
John Laforge
Senate Puts CIA Back on Torture Track
David Rosen
Santa Fe High School Shooting: an Incel Killing?
Gary Leupp
Pompeo’s Iran Speech and the 21 Demands
Jonathan Power
Bang, Bang to Trump
Robert Fisk
You Can’t Commit Genocide Without the Help of Local People
Brian Cloughley
Washington’s Provocations in the South China Sea
Louis Proyect
Requiem for a Mountain Lion
Robert Fantina
The U.S. and Israel: a Match Made in Hell
Kevin Martin
The Libya Model: It’s Not Always All About Trump
Susie Day
Trump, the NYPD and the People We Call “Animals”
Pepe Escobar
How Iran Will Respond to Trump
Sarah Anderson
When CEO’s Earn 5,000 Times as Much as a Company’s Workers
Ralph Nader
Audit the Outlaw Military Budget Draining America’s Necessities
Chris Wright
The Significance of Karl Marx
David Schultz
Indict or Not: the Choice Mueller May Have to Make and Which is Worse for Trump
George Payne
The NFL Moves to Silence Voices of Dissent
Razan Azzarkani
America’s Treatment of Palestinians Has Grown Horrendously Cruel
Katalina Khoury
The Need to Evaluate the Human Constructs Enabling Palestinian Genocide
George Ochenski
Tillerson, the Truth and Ryan Zinke’s Interior Department
Jill Richardson
Our Immigration Debate Needs a Lot More Humanity
Martha Rosenberg
Once Again a Slaughterhouse Raid Turns Up Abuses
Judith Deutsch
Pension Systems and the Deadly Hand of the Market
Shamus Cooke
Oregon’s Poor People’s Campaign and DSA Partner Against State Democrats
Thomas Barker
Only a Mass Struggle From Below Can End the Bloodshed in Palestine
Binoy Kampmark
Australia’s China Syndrome
Missy Comley Beattie
Say “I Love You”
Ron Jacobs
A Photographic Revenge
Saurav Sarkar
War and Moral Injury
Clark T. Scott
The Shell Game and “The Bank Dick”
Seth Sandronsky
The State of Worker Safety in America
Thomas Knapp
Making Gridlock Great Again
Manuel E. Yepe
The US Will Have to Ask for Forgiveness
Laura Finley
Stop Blaming Women and Girls for Men’s Violence Against Them
Rob Okun
Raising Boys to Love and Care, Not to Kill
Christopher Brauchli
What Conflicts of Interest?
Winslow Myers
Real Security
George Wuerthner
Happy Talk About Weeds
Abel Cohen
Give the People What They Want: Shame
David Yearsley
King Arthur in Berlin
Douglas Valentine
Memorial Day
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail