The vast bodies of the temporary

By Katie Heffring


The three main factors which determine the nature of all social life on which, therefore, the preservation or destruction of civilization depends are power, economics, and ideas. The politician who acts on the assumption that any one of these three elements is of decisive importance and that the others can be neglected will ultimately end in disaster, and political theories which pursue the same course end by becoming dogmatic phantasies. The difference between civilization and barbarism consists of a difference in social relations, in the relation of the individuals to one another and to the community. Those relations are affected by the use and distribution of power, by the economic structure, and by the social objectives and standards of social value pursued by those who control power… I am convinced that if western civilization is to be defended at all, it must be by people who understand and pursue its principles and maintain its standards.” – Leonard Woolf, 1939


Thick and long


But a sound

Penetrates and cuts deep

Shakes me to the core

There’s a lot not right

For a long time now

I don’t understand the acquiescence

But then, of course, I do

When the shadow of man

Looms at length over me

Pushing its heavy weight on

My shoulders

Not a burden, but a force

I walk now with great effort

Is everyone used to this?

I need to get out and enjoy the night

when the shadows are gone…

What weakens the forces of civilization is not the strength of the dictators and the barbarians, but the divisions among the civilized, their own refusal to accept the postulates of civilized society.” – Leonard Woolf, 1939

I’ve seen his house.

And it was not made of brick, or wood, or metal

Or anything a normal house would be made of.

I’ve seen his house.

And it did not have a door, or a window, or a toilet

Or any running water for that matter.


A word, a blow, a blind eye.

We are all guilty.

I imagine the negative.

The repressive, oppressive, suppressive

Energy of violence turning a big wheel

A big gear

Like a crank and the machine

Turns on and it turns on a light bulb

So bright it blinds us all.

I’ve heard her voice.

And it was not passive, or quiet, or disillusioned.

I’ve heard her voice.

And it did not falter, subside or fall back.


A heart, an idea, an understanding.

We are all capable.

I imagine the positive.

The resounding, astounding, surrounding

Energy of love turning a big wheel

A big gear

Like a crank and the machine

Turns off and it turns off the blinding light

And the sun shines on….

To “reconstruct” Europe, to redraw its frontiers, to restore democratic government, to organize the passage from an economy of war to an economy of peace, and on the top of all this to take the necessary steps for transferring the control of economic power from capitalists to the community these tasks of the peace – more difficult and dangerous than any operations of war – require a scrupulous and passionate adherence to the ideals and standards of civilization. They could only be accomplished by people who recognized no rights in power based upon force or violence, who were prepared to give to others the liberty which they claimed for themselves, and who recognized as the primary standards of social value and principles of communal action, justice, tolerance, truth, and humanity.” – Leonard Woolf, 1939

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