October 5

Amber pages

Some dates produce coincidence by happenstance... actually, all dates produce coincidence by happenstance, it just happens that some coincidences you notice, because you happen to be minded to see coincidence, and the items in question just happen to be within your sphere of knowledge and interest; so it isn't really coincidence at all, just, well, noticing the sorts of things you're on the look-out for... 

Where was I? Yes, some dates produce coincidence by happenstance, and today is one of them. 

The great philosopher of the Enlightenment, without whom there might never have been that explosion of liberal thought and worker-peasant awareness which led to the great rebellions of the 19th century, the great proletarian revolutions of the 20th, Denis Diderot, was born today in 1713

Could Vaclav Havel - dramatist, and former President of Chechosolvakia, born today in 1936 (see December 29) - or Lech Walesa - former shipyard-worker and President of Poland, named winner of the Nobel Peace Prize today in 1983 - have been anything more than an illiterate factory-serf or a press-ganged vassal-labourer, had it not been for Diderot (and others too, obviously, but he was one of the principals)? 

And Bob Geldof too - born today in 1954, and easily forgettable even while you're still listening to him as "rock musician", but memorable, indeed immortalised already, for Band Aid, one of the great occasions when the proletariat of the world took the initiative and told the power-executives what Democracy is supposed to be about

The mind-set of the common people, altered fundamentally by events in history, people in history, of which and whom they might well have been completely unaware, each leading to the next, cause and effect, but mostly what I would rather call source and impact, a phrase not generally "out there" in the philosophical essays. So who and what were they?

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