Great Blows of the Overproud
Random thoughts about punching someone in the face
Just read Arkady Babchenko’s latest Facebook post about the futility of demonstrating against bloody dictator Alexander Lukashenko. He delivered the same peaceful-resistance-is-pointless message earlier with much fanfare, conjuring up pink ponies and his personal experiences in Russia, Ukraine and various other hell holes.
“If we are already talking about life and death, then personally I would prefer to die on the barricades with a Molotov cocktail, and not be pummeled unarmed in a police van. Actually, that is why I moved from the country of paddy wagons to the country of barricades,” he writes.
I didn’t see Arkady on the barricades in Kyiv on February 20, 2014, but I’m sure he was there, if only in spirit.
I was never a fan of forceful retaliation until I was mugged.
The literal translation of the last lines of Antigone (1350-54) is as follows: "But great words, counteracting [or paying back] the great blows of the overproud, teach understanding in old age." (Holderlin's translation: "Grosse Blicke aber, / Grosse Streiche der hohen Schultern / Vergeltend, / Sie haben im Alter gelehrt, zu denken.")
Sheer violence is mute. It might save your life, but violence alone can never be great, even when beating off muggers on S train.
Back in Sophocle’s day, the whole concept of civil disobedience, rule and being ruled, of government and power, belonged in the private rather than the public sphere. That has changed. Now equality - not justice - epitomizes liberty: to be free means to be free from the inequality present in rulership and to live in a place where people neither rule nor are ruled, like in modern day Ukraine, parts of Alberta and homesteads in northern Utah.