The divided society and the democratic idea by Glenn C. Loury university lecture boston university october 7, 1996

If truth is not unproblematic, then neither is it inaccessible. And, telling the truth is decidedly a political act. "From the viewpoint of politics, truth has a despotic character," declared Hannah Arendt, in her essay, "Truth and Politics." "Unwelcome opinion can be argued with, rejected, or compromised upon," she goes on, "but unwelcome facts possess an infuriating stubbornness that nothing can move except plain lies." Moreover, at this late date in the twentieth century, we know that social justice is impossible unless intellectuals tell the truth. This is a lesson which Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright turned politician, teaches as well as anyone. In "The Power of the Powerless," his classic essay on the intellectual's role in opposing totalitarianism, he observes that: "Under the orderly surface of the life of lies... there slumbers the hidden sphere of life in its real aims, of its hidden openness to truth.".
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