Sunday, 24 December 2017

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year!!!!

Merry Christmas  & A Happy New Year!!!!


Public Diplomacy

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

How to Rule Mankind

                                         Ayn Rand - How to Rule Mankind

“The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities.”
― Ayn Rand

Thursday, 7 September 2017



A wounded heart and soul never will heal ............. K. S 

Thursday, 27 July 2017

The EU’s FP: Towards Ukraine and the Middle East ( BY k. s)

 The European Union was created in the consequences of the Second World War. After the WW2, the EU founder states devoted to working together for peace and prosperity. The Schuman Plan first resulted the Coal and Steel Community of 1951, and later the Treaties of Rome of 1957. The Treaties of Rome make no mention of EU foreign policy, because the development of a common foreign policy has always been one of the big issue. E.g. there is a historical example in the failure of the French Assembly to ratify European Defence Community (EDC) in 1954. Then EU foreign policy effectively removed from the agenda of the European Integration.

During the 1970s, the EC members took steps to co - ordinate their foreign policies in the framework of the European Political Cooperation (EPC). In 1973, an ineffectiveness of EPC become obvious, when the EC wanted to negotiated with the US through EPC. The EC had failed to create a single voice of Europe, with whom for example Henry Kissinger could negotiate. Despite that the EU has proved to be effective in mobilising shared position of the member states in pursuit of their common economic interests, it has been so difficult to mobilise the common foreign policy interests of the member states. However, in 1992, the Maastricht Treaty established, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU.  The Treaty also introduced common positions and joint actions. The Amsterdam Treaty of 1997 also reformed CFSP and empowered defence policy. However, the treaty stated that ‘’EU policies must not jeopardize NATO.”  As Barry Posen pointed out, there also was a concern that empowering the EU could be seen as ‘’balancing against the US.’’ Under the Amsterdam Treaty, the Union also created the post of High Representative for the CFSP to represent EU on foreign policy issues. In 2011, the EU  established European External Action Service (EEAS). Today, the High Representative for the EEAS and CFSP is Federica Mogherini. 

One of the most important achievements of the CFSP is the expansion of membership into Central and Eastern Europe. After the end of the Cold War, the EU through a foreign policy instrument of the EU: the Neighbourhood Policy , EU as a soft power was effectively involved in measure to promote regional cooperation in the economic and political fields in the Central and Eastern Europe. The EU borders have been extended to include the space of the  Former Soviet States. Between 1991 - 2013, the EU effectively became larger and integrated. The Union rebuilt the peaceful – non-aggressive political environment in Europe, bringing freedom, peace, security, and prosperity. The EU’s influence on peace and security, since 1945 is the Union’s proudest and biggest legacy. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for it.
The EU diplomacy and the process of enlargement has worked remarkably well until  the Arab Spring and Ukraine Crisis. Relations between Ukraine and the European Union (EU) are shaped through the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). In 2007, the EU started preparing an Association Agreement with Ukraine and completed it in 2012. In 2013, under Russian pressure, the EU Association Agreement was rejected by Viktor Yanukovych. In 2013,  The pro - European Ukrainians went out on the streets to protest against President’s decision. The peaceful protests turned into a Russian backed civil war. Yanukovych fled to Russia and the EU-Ukraine association agreement, signed in March 2014, by Petro Poroshenko. The EU policy had been a defensive response to Ukraine Crisis. In 2014, Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea, and the  EU rejected aggressive action with Moscow.  Also, during the Ukraine Crisis, EU governments were deeply divided about the economic sanctions. However, later under the US pressure, the EU imposed economic sanctions as ‘’a necessary evil’’ on Russia. In April 2014, the Minsk I and in 2015, the Minsk II" peace agreement was signed, between the leaders of Russia, Germany, France and Ukraine. Today, EU closely observing the implementation of the Minsk Agreement, an effort to resolve the conflict that has killed more than 9, 000 people. The humanitarian situation also remains serious in Ukraine. More than 3 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.   According to Democracy Watch, ‘’in 2016, the EU Commission have committed to "support the Ukrainian people,’ the Union  provided financial assistance of €1.8 billion’’. In 2016, following eight years of negotiations, the EU and Ukraine have signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA). Recently, the EU has adopted a visa-free travel for Ukrainians. 

The European Union also plays an important role in the Arab World.  EU’s policies towards the Region is mainly framed by the EU  Partnership  agreements and by the EU Neighbourhood Policy. However, since 2011, the Arab Spring forced the EU to rethink foreign policy attitudes towards the region, because of the EU’s security was affected by the refuge crisis. The EU has not played a major foreign policy role during the Arab Spring, because of a lack of common political vision. For example, in Libya, European countries were in the lead, but the EU was not. The military intervention in Libya, led by France and the UK, and commanded by the US and NATO. However, the intervention involved no ground forces, and terrorists gained ground and Libya has turned into chaos. The Syrian conflict, despite having a direct impact on EU has also failed to attract significant EU common  interests beyond economic incentives, humanitarian, and planned reconstruction support. In the Syrian conflict the US and EU failed to fill the power vacuum, and Russia and Iran have replaced the EU and the US. The conflict has metastasized into a regional disaster, with depressive consequences in Europe.  The EU also was not able to find a solution to the Refugee crisis. The Union’s policies and efforts to promote human rights and democracy in Arab states also failed. Right now, the EU is almost nowhere. And in Iraq, there seems to be no EU at all.  This is because, the EU is a soft power, not a hard - military power, in fact there is no EU common army, therefore the Union’s capabilities is limited. Despite this the EU continues to carry out some small military operations. For example, in Libya from 2013 to present. A border monitoring mission between Gaza and Egypt from 2005 to present, and the EU Police Mission to Afghanistan, from 2007 to present.

As this essay suggests, my evaluation of European Union’s foreign policy is mixed. The EU is able to act with a single and effective voice on some issues but not others. For example, the EU’s policies was not effective towards the Arab World, because of a lack of common political vision. However, when it comes to Ukraine, the EU’s record in Ukraine was mostly one of success. During the Ukraine Crisis, the EU’s economic sanctions were imposed on Russia. Also, in 2016, the EU and Ukraine have signed the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and recently, EU has adopted a visa-free travel for Ukrainians. Despite all efforts, today the EU is not a very effective foreign policy actor, because the EU does not uses its economic capabilities in order to promote a strong common foreign policies. And as long as the EU member states retain their full foreign policy capabilities the effectiveness of  CFSP of the EU will remain low.     

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Structural Realism: Can China Rise Peacefully?

 The Structural realism also known as Neorealism is a general theory of international relations, with key assumptions about the anarchic international system where states are subject to structural pressures, which makes  them  anxious about their own security and survival. By contrast of Classical realism, Structural realism believes that world politics is governed by the structure of the international system not by the human nature. The theory of structural realism is associated with the American defensive realist, Kenneth Waltz (‘’Theory of International Politics’’,  ‘and ’Man, the State, and War ‘’) and offensive realist, John Mearsheimer (The Tragedy of Great Power Politics , 2001).     
According to Structural realism states perform in a self - help  system, because there is no world government, there is no night - watchman who can save them if they are threatened by another state. All realists believe that states are unitary rational actors that are motivated by the desire for power and security rather than ideals. Central also for structural realism is the distribution of capabilities among states. Str – realism believes that capabilities determine a state’s place within the international system.  The defensive realism believes that states are security maximizers,  while the offensive realism believes that states are power maximizers. For classical realists, power is an end itself while for structural realists power is a means an end and the ultimate end is survival.   However,  ‘’in a  zero - sum game’’  Mearshemier  argues  ''in it is difficult for a country to improve its prospects for survival without threatening the survival of other states.’’ Structural Realism also believes continuity in international politics, not change.  
The Cold War - Propaganda Poster
The concept  ‘’ balance of power’’ also plays a key role in Structural realism. The Waltzian Structural realism supports the balance of power politics and the bipolar world system. According to Waltz great-power wars are much more likely to happen under multipolarity than under bipolarity, this is because bipolarity reduces uncertainties among the enemies, that under the Bipolar system there is less opportunity for miscalculations and therefore less chance of great power wars. For example, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union balanced the power of the United States, whereas the United States balanced the power of the Soviet Union (checks and balances).     

 After, the peaceful end of the Cold War the world suddenly became unipolar. Since the collapse of the bipolar system, the position of a sole superpower is held by the US. However, recently, new actors emerged in the world stage, among them China is considered as the most challenging to the US.  China has a population of 1.3 billion. China's fast economic development  has put the country on the world stage with great powers like the United States,  EU, and Russia. As China continues to develop, the question on political observers' minds is will China rise peacefully?  Structural realism argues that the structured anarchic system of the world creates a security competition which cannot allow a peaceful rise of China.  One of the most well known sceptics of China’s “peaceful rise’’, the offensive realist John Mearsheimer argues  that China has the right to maximize power in order to ensure its own security and survival, because  in the self – help system ''it is better to be Godzilla than Bambi,'' however  Mearsheimer believes that ‘an uncertainty over  China’s intentions will give rise to constant security competition with the potential for war''. 

 By contrast  to Mearsheimer’s pessimistic  assumptions, Liberal Complex Interdependence is optimistic about the possibility of a peaceful rise of China. Robert  Keohane and Joseph Nye in the ‘power and interdependence’ argued that under conditions of Complex interdependence the military force will have less utility.  CI believes that  great power  relations be managed through diplomacy and international organisations.  In 2017, Joseph Nye with the Project Syndicate argued that Structural realism misses the engagement and growth of economic interdependence between the US and China.  Nye  believes that ‘’China can rise peacefully, that there is no need for the US and China to go to war.'’ During Barack Obama's presidency, the U. S has been committed to engaging China, not containing it.  Liberals believe that if China could be made both democratic and prosperous, will not engage in security competition with America. Mearshiemer who advocates tougher scrutiny of Chinese policies pointed out that ‘’the U.S. foreign policy on China to engage or to foster trade are “misguided and doomed to fail, that a rich China and the United States are more likely to participate in  security competition.” However, I believe that an outcome will also depend on American responds to the rise of China and On the Trump Administration’s position towards the South China Sea and Taiwan. For example, China considers Taiwan to be part of China and unification of China is the key priority of the project China Dream of 2012. Therefore, president Trump’s phone call with the leader of Taiwan was a highly provocative act, because since Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972, the US has accepted the so called “One China” principle. If, for example, Trump’s America will support Taiwan’s independence, and Taiwan declares independence, then a war, including a nuclear war between China and the U.S. becomes more likely. Recently we have seen kind of a soft power competition; China’s government has been actively trying to take advantage of The U.S. declining prestige on international stage, and replaces itself as a defender of multilateralism and the Paris Climate Accord, from which President Trump has withdrawn America.   
Nixon's historic visit to China in 1972
This essay shows that, Structural realism believes that international politics is governed by the structure not the human nature.  The rise of China is the key issue of the 21st century. Whether the rise of China will continue peacefully or not, Structural realism and liberal CI provides different perspectives. According to Mearsheimer, China cannot rise peacefully; this is because the anarchic structure of the international system requires states to seek hegemony at the expense of other states. By contrast of Structural realism, Liberal CI believes that under conditions of Complex interdependence the military force will have less utility. Joseph Nye believes that the U. S and China can overcome anarchy based on common interests and engagement.  However, Structural realists strongly believe ‘’an uncertainty over rising China’s intentions will force the US to abandon its policy of engagement, and regardless of their economic interdependence, the US and China will engage in security competition with the potential for war.’’  I, also believe that  because of China's economic liberalization does not led to political liberalization, that China remains a  most repressive authoritarian state, the so called China’s ''peaceful rise'' to great power status already is not peaceful at all.  

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Freedom of speech is under danger, that means all human rights are under danger!

Freedom of speech is under danger, that means all human rights are under danger! If a state and people will not protect the freedom of speech, that will mean that automatically all human rights will be abolished including 'life, liberty and pursuit of happiness'.  And "free speech is meant to protect unpopular speech. Popular speech, by definition, needs no protection."

K. S

Dance To Freedom

You live as long as you dance. 
- Rudolf Nureyev

 Jackie and Bobby Kennedy' with the Soviet ballet dancer Rudolf Nureyev' :))

Me... and The streets of London (Photos).

Me and a friend of mine with the statue Charlie Chaplin in Leicester Square. 
Covent Garden, London, UK.
17. 07. 2017 

 The Cambridge in Soho, London, by photo K. Shiuka
17. 07. 2017

 London, by photo K. Shiuka
17. 07. 2017

 London, by photo K. Shiuka
17. 07. 2017

Andrei Tarkovsky and Sergei Parajanov

"Always with huge gratitude and pleasure I remember the films of Sergei Parajanov, which I love very much. His way of thinking, his paradoxical poetical...ability to love the beauty and ability to be absolutely free within his own vision. "
-- Andrei Tarkovsky

Parajanov's restored Sayat Nova

Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Isaac Asimov

Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.
Isaac Asimov

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Assessment of the Legacy of Barack Obama’s Foreign Policy, by K. S

If I lay here

 ''If I lay here, If I just lay here. Would you lie with me, and just forget the world?''
 Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars.

                                                                Chasing Cars


T. Rex  Hot Love 

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Klaus Nomi

* I think opera music is very conservative,
 and Rock and Roll music is conservative as well, 
and that's why I'm trying to make a bridge between these two elements.

* I approach everything as an absolute outsider. 
It is the only way I can break so many rules.
Klaus Nomi

                                               Klaus Nomi

And You My Love


                                         Music; Chris Rea - And You My Love
                                         Malena, Director: Giuseppe Tornatore

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Meeting with the UN Secretary-General

Meeting with the UN Secretary-General, London, 2017
Photos by K. S

António Guterres, the UN secretary general, giving his first speech in London, at Central Hall Westminster. recorded by me. 

Me and my friends, after the meeting, w have some lunch ,closer at Central Hall Westminster, London.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Trafalgar Square, London. 23 April 2017

  The sculpture of the mermaids and dolphin in Trafalgar Square, London.
          Photo by  K. Siuka.    23 April 2017

 The scene from the Trafalgar Square, London. 
Photo by  K. Shiuka. 23 April 2017

London From the Waterloo bridge, by K. Shiuka.   23 April 2017


Kubricks' "The Shining", rejected concept design.

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Rest Is Silence

 The Rest Is Silence

From pure sensation to the intuition of beauty, from pleasure and pain to love and the mystical ecstasy and death — all the things that are fundamental, all the things that, to the human spirit, are most profoundly significant, can only be experienced, not expressed. The rest is always and everywhere silence.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
When the inexpressible had to be expressed, Shakespeare laid down his pen and called for music. And if the music should also fail? Well, there was always silence to fall back on. For always, always and everywhere, the rest is silence.

The Benedictus. Blessed and blessing, this music is in some sort the equivalent of the night, of the deep and living darkness, into which, now in a single jet, now in a fine interweaving of melodies, now in pulsing and almost solid clots of harmonious sound, it pours itself, stanchlessly pours itself, like time, like the rising and falling, falling trajectories of a life. It is the equivalent of the night in another mode of being, as an essence is the equivalent of the flowers, from which it is distilled.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
 --- ''Music at Night' and Other Essays'' (1931)

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The US Congressman and me....

With The US Congressman Victor H. Fazio. We had some discussion about the freedom of press and the new Trump Administration's anti - media rhetoric, and so on...

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Has multilateral diplomacy replaced bilateral diplomacy ?

'If you're not at the table, you're on the menu''.
Michael Enzi
  How Small States Influence Policy Making in Multilateral Arenas ( UN).

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Happy 60th anniversary to the European Union!

 Happy 60th anniversary to the European Union!  ✌️ <3 ☮  🇪🇺
 25 March 1957
The European Union nations and top officials marked the 60th anniversary of Treaty of Rome, the 60th birthday of European Union. The Treaties of Rome were signed on 25 March 1957 by  France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. On 25 March 2017, the leaders of the European Union met in Rome on Saturday to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the bloc’s founding treaty and demonstrate that the EU can survive the impending departure of major power Britain. The UK poised to start divorce proceedings, the 27 remaining European Union nations put pen to paper Saturday in Rome to renew their vows for continued unity in the face of crises that are increasingly testing the bonds between members. At the end of the session, all 27 leaders signed the Rome Declaration saying that "European unity is a bold, farsighted endeavor" and "we have united for the better. Europe is our common future," the declaration said.  Jean Claude Juncker said "Our parents and grandparents founded this Union with one common vision: never again war. It was their strong conviction that breaking down barriers, working together  and not against each other makes us all stronger. History has proven them right."
25 March 2017

Since the end of the Cold War, EU quietly and effectively became more larger and integrated. The EU was able to act with an effective single voice  on some foreign
 issues for example; The one most  important achievement of the CFSP of the EU is the expansion of membership into Eastern Europe. The EU as a soft power was effectively involved in measure to promote regional cooperation in the political, economic and cultural fields in Hungary, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Czech Republic. The EU boundaries has been extended to include the space of the ex - Soviet Union.  EU began with the six state, and in 2013 grew to 28, with population over 500 million. One of the main successes of the EU was the building of a non-aggressive political environment in Europe. The EU effectively rebuilt the peaceful Continent, bringing freedom, peace, security, and prosperity. The EU 28 Member States benefits greatly from the two greatest achievement of the EU - Peace and the Single Market. The EU’s influence on peace and security, since 1945 is the Union's proudest and biggest legacy. In 2012, the EU won the Nobel Peace Prize for advancing the causes of peace, security, reconciliation, democracy, pluralism and human rights in Europe..

Monday, 20 March 2017

Life While-You-Wait, by Wisława Szymborska

 Life While-You-Wait
 by Polish Nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska.
 * * *

Life While-You-Wait.
Performance without rehearsal.
Body without alterations.
Head without premeditation.

I know nothing of the role I play.
I only know it’s mine. I can’t exchange it.

I have to guess on the spot
just what this play’s all about.

Ill-prepared for the privilege of living,
I can barely keep up with the pace that the action demands.
I improvise, although I loathe improvisation.
I trip at every step over my own ignorance.
I can’t conceal my hayseed manners.
My instincts are for happy histrionics.
Stage fright makes excuses for me, which humiliate me more.
Extenuating circumstances strike me as cruel.

Words and impulses you can’t take back,
stars you’ll never get counted,
your character like a raincoat you button on the run –
the pitiful results of all this unexpectedness.

If only I could just rehearse one Wednesday in advance,
or repeat a single Thursday that has passed!
But here comes Friday with a script I haven’t seen.
Is it fair, I ask
(my voice a little hoarse,
since I couldn’t even clear my throat offstage).

You’d be wrong to think that it’s just a slapdash quiz
taken in makeshift accommodations. Oh no.
I’m standing on the set and I see how strong it is.
The props are surprisingly precise.
The machine rotating the stage has been around even longer.
The farthest galaxies have been turned on.
Oh no, there’s no question, this must be the premiere.
And whatever I do
will become forever what I’ve done.

An Anthem Against Silence

 Anthem Against Silence 1914
 by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Wilcox was an American poet.

To sin by silence, when we should protest,
Makes cowards out of men. The human race
Has climbed on protest. Had no voice been raised
Against injustice, ignorance, and lust,
The inquisition yet would serve the law,
And guillotines decide our least disputes.
The few who dare, must speak and speak again
To right the wrongs of many. Speech, thank God,
No vested power in this great day and land
Can gag or throttle. Press and voice may cry
Loud disapproval of existing ills;
May criticise oppression and condemn
The lawlessness of wealth-protecting laws
That let the children and childbearers toil
To purchase ease for idle millionaires.

Therefore I do protest against the boast
Of independence in this mighty land.
Call no chain strong, which holds one rusted link.
Call no land free, that holds one fettered slave.
Until the manacled slim wrists of babes
Are loosed to toss in childish sport and glee,
Until the mother bears no burden, save
The precious one beneath her heart, until
God’s soil is rescued from the clutch of greed
And given back to labor, let no man
Call this the land of freedom.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Public diplomacy; The Norwegian Model( By K. S)

                                          The Art of Persuasion & Attraction

Silence and Powerlessness Go Hand In Hand ( R. S)

Silence and Powerlessness Go Hand In Hand
Rebecca Solnit

Silence is golden, or so I was told when I was young. Later, everything changed. Silence equals death, the queer activists fighting the neglect and repression around Aids shouted in the streets. Silence is the ocean of the unsaid, the unspeakable, the repressed, the erased, the unheard. It surrounds the scattered islands made up of those allowed to speak and of what can be said and who listens.

Silence occurs in many ways for many reasons; each of us has his or her own sea of unspoken words. English is full of overlapping words, but for the purposes of this essay, regard silence as what is imposed, and quiet as what is sought. The tranquillity of a quiet place, of quieting one’s own mind, of a retreat from words and bustle is acoustically the same as the silence of intimidation or repression, but psychically and politically something entirely different. What is unsaid because serenity and introspection are sought and what is not said because the threats are high or the barriers are great are as different as swimming is from drowning. Quiet is to noise as silence is to communication.
The quiet of the listener makes room for the speech of others, like the quiet of the reader taking in words on the page, like the white of the paper taking ink. “We are volcanoes,” Ursula Le Guin once remarked. “When we women offer our experience as our truth, as human truth, all the maps change. There are new mountains.” The new voices that are undersea volcanoes erupt in what was mistaken for open water, and new islands are born; it’s a furious business and a startling one. The world changes. Silence is what allows people to suffer without recourse, what allows hypocrisies and lies to grow and flourish, crimes to go unpunished. If our voices are essential aspects of our humanity, to be rendered voiceless is to be dehumanised or excluded from one’s humanity. And the history of silence is central to women’s history.
Words bring us together, and silence separates us, leaves us bereft of the help or solidarity or just communion that speech can solicit or elicit. Some species of trees spread root systems underground that interconnect the individual trunks and weave the individual trees into a more stable whole that can’t so easily be blown down in the wind. Stories and conversations are like those roots.

Being unable to tell your story is a living death, and sometimes a literal one. If no one listens when you say your ex-husband is trying to kill you, if no one believes you when you say you are in pain, if no one hears you when you say help, if you don’t dare say help, if you have been trained not to bother people by saying help. If you are considered to be out of line when you speak up in a meeting, are not admitted into an institution of power, are subject to irrelevant criticism whose subtext is that women should not be here or heard.
Stories save your life. And stories are your life. We are our stories; stories that can be both prison and the crowbar to break open the door of that prison. We make stories to save ourselves or to trap ourselves or others – stories that lift us up or smash us against the stone wall of our own limits and fears. Liberation is always in part a storytelling process: breaking stories, breaking silences, making new stories. A free person tells her own story. A valued person lives in a society in which her story has a place.

Violence against women is often against our voices and our stories. It is a refusal of our voices, and of what a voice means: the right to self-determination, to participation, to consent or dissent; to live and participate, to interpret and narrate.

Sometimes just being able to speak, to be heard, to be believed, are crucial parts of membership in a society
A husband hits his wife to silence her. A date rapist or acquaintance rapist refuses to let the “no” of his victim mean what it should, that she alone has jurisdiction over her body. Rape culture asserts that women’s testimony is worthless, untrustworthy. Anti-abortion activists also seek to silence the self-determination of women. A murderer silences forever.

These are assertions that the victim has no rights, no value – is not an equal.

Other silencings take place in smaller ways: the people harassed and badgered into silence online, talked over and cut out in conversation, belittled, humiliated, dismissed.

Having a voice is crucial. It’s not all there is to human rights, but it’s central to them, and so you can consider the history of women’s rights and lack of rights as a history of silence and breaking silence. Speech, words, voices sometimes change things in themselves when they bring about inclusion, recognition: the rehumanisation that undoes dehumanisation. Sometimes they are only the preconditions to changing rules, laws, regimes to bring about justice and liberty.
Sometimes just being able to speak, to be heard, to be believed, are crucial parts of membership in a family, a community, a society. Sometimes our voices break those things apart; sometimes those things are prisons.

And then when words break through unspeakability, what was tolerated by a society sometimes becomes intolerable. Those not impacted can fail to see or feel the impact of segregation or police brutality or domestic violence; stories bring home the trouble and make it unavoidable.

By voice, I don’t mean only literal voice – the sound produced by the vocal cords in the ears of others – but the ability to speak up, to participate, to experience oneself and be experienced as a free person with rights. This includes the right not to speak, whether it’s the right against being tortured to confess, as political prisoners are, or not to be expected to service strangers who approach you, as some men do to young women, demanding attention and flattery and punishing their absence.

Who has been unheard? The sea is vast, and the surface of the ocean is unmappable. We know who has, mostly, been heard on the official subjects; who held office, commanded armies, served as judges and juries, wrote books, and ran empires over past several centuries. We know how it has changed somewhat, thanks to the countless revolutions of the 20th century and after – against colonialism, racism, misogyny, against the innumerable enforced silences homophobia imposed, and so much more. We know that in the US, class was levelled out to some extent in the 20th century and then reinforced towards the end, through income inequality and the withering away of social mobility and the rise of a new extreme elite. Poverty silences.

Silence is what allowed predators to rampage through the decades unchecked. It’s as though the voices of these prominent public men devoured the voices of others into nothingness, a narrative cannibalism. They rendered them voiceless to refuse and afflicted with unbelievable stories. Unbelievable means those with power did not want to know, to hear, to believe, did not want them to have voices. People died from being unheard.
If the right to speak, if having credibility, if being heard is a kind of wealth, that wealth is now being redistributed. There has long been an elite with audibility and credibility, and an underclass of the voiceless.

As the wealth is redistributed, the stunned incomprehension of the elites erupts over and over again, a fury and disbelief that this woman or child dared to speak up, that people deigned to believe her, that her voice counts for something, that her truth may end a powerful man’s reign. These voices, heard, upend power relations.

A hotel cleaner launched the beginning of the end of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s career. Women have ended the careers of stars in many fields – or rather those stars have destroyed themselves by acts they engaged in, believing that they had the impunity that comes with their victims’ powerlessness. Many had impunity for years, some for lifetimes; many have now found they no longer do.

Who is heard and who is not defines the status quo. Those who embody it, often at the cost of extraordinary silences with themselves, move to the centre; those who embody what is not heard, or what violates those who rise on silence, are cast out.

By redefining whose voice is valued, we redefine our society and its values.

Rebecca Solnit, The Guardian