Stéphane Hessel has died.
He was a fighter with the French Resistance, one of the drafters of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the writer of the booklet Indignez-Vous! (Time for Outrage!) that helped inspire the Occupy movement, and much more.
The Guardian reports, “In 2010, when most people are winding down and after a long career as a diplomat, Hessel’s life took yet another dramatic turn when his 48-page pamphlet Indignez-Vous!, sold 4.5m copies in 35 countries. It was translated into English as Time for Outrage. The work was originally written as a speech to commemorate the resistance to Hitler’s occupation of France during the second world war. It served as a rallying cry for those appalled by the gap between the world’s rich and poor. Hessel said afterwards he aimed to imbue French youth with the same passion and fervour as had existed in the resistance. He compared the 21st-century struggle against what he described as the ‘international dictatorship of the financial markets’ to his generation’s struggle against oppression as a young man during the war.”
“Time for Outrage! argued that the French needed to become as outraged now as his fellow fighters had been during the war. He was highly critical of France’s treatment of illegal immigrants, and Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and passionate about the environment, a free press and France’s welfare system. His call was for peaceful, non-violent insurrection. During the eurozone crisis, one of the names given to the protests against austerity programmes and corruption in Spain was Los Indignados, taken from the title of Hessel’s work. These protests, along with the Arab spring uprisings, inspired protests in other countries and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States.”
Hessel’s book also inspired the naming of the Council of Canadians conference in Montreal in October 2011, ‘Indignez-Vous! Hope in Resistance’.
Hessel was 95.