Thursday, January 6, 2011

A madman shouting in the marketplace

Dag Hammarskjöld
The madman shouted in the marketplace and no-one stopped to answer him. Thus it was confirmed that his thesis was incontrovertible.

This striking saying was written by Dag Hammarskjöld in 1957. I don't have the original Swedish but I guess it would be "Den galne ropade på torget, men ingen stannade för att svara honom. På det viset syntes att hans tes var oemotsäglig."

I came across the saying in an American blog deploring the Democrat losses in November's mid-term elections.  The blogger writes “The Dems did little to counteract the lies of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and whatever it was they did was ineffective,” and goes on to quote Dag Hammarskjöld and the madman shouting in the marketplace.

The source is Markings, published posthumously in 1963 in Swedish as Vägmärken, which literally means traffic signs.  The book is a sort of personal testament, from which it is clear that Hammarskjöld was motivated by a strong Christian faith.

Dag Hammarskjöld was the second Secretary-General of the United Nations, and his name seemed always on the radio when at the age of 7 or 8 or thereabouts I was becoming dimly aware of world events.

Hammarskjöld was a Swedish diplomat and economist. He served as Secretary-General from April 1953 until his death in a plane crash in September 1961. He is the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize posthumously, and the only U.N. Secretary-General to die in office.

There are grounds for suspicion that western intelligence agencies were implicated in the plane crash in which he died.  According to Wikipedia, former US President Harry Truman is reported to have said that "Dag Hammarskjöld was on the point of getting something done when they killed him. Notice that I said, 'when they killed him'."

At issue was the fabulous wealth of the newly independent Congo’s copper reserves, and western fears that Congolese prime minister Patrice Lumumba would nationalise them. Lumumba too was assassinated.

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