Wednesday, August 03, 2011
'More than machinery we need humanity"
I was reminded of this brilliant speech by one of my favorite left-wing sites. It's the climax of Charlie Chaplin's 1940 film "The Great Dictator," a must-see on anyone's list. This is a stirring, heartfelt speech made by Chaplain himself playing a Jewish barber who has found himself masquerading as Adenoid Hynkel, the film's bumbling parody of Adolf Hitler.
The times we live in are very different than the world of 1940: the Hitlers of the world today are at worst very little Hitlers indeed. But it's not necessary to exaggerate the state of the world or fling over-reaching hyperbole about to find in Chaplin's emotional call for a new and better world ideas that retain currency even when jack-booted thugs are for the moment mostly dormant.
Fighting hatred, intolerance and militarism is always a good idea: and in a world that does seem like it's spinning about on a precipice of horrible possibilities, I find a poignancy in the relevance of this short and stirring testament. Some people seem in an awful hurry to repeat some really horrible chapters of the past: perhaps by listening to this cry from the past we can remember to keep our gaze pointed at a better future.