Václav Havel 1936-2011

Václav Havel, last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic, writer and poet, died at the weekend. He was also a man who seemed to understand liberty and individual freedoms well, perhaps through having not had them himself for so much of his life.

If every day a man takes orders in silence from an incompetent superior, if every day he solemnly performs ritual acts which he privately finds ridiculous, if he unhesitatingly gives answers to questionnaires which are contrary to his real opinions and is prepared to deny his own self in public, if he sees no difficulty in feigning sympathy or even affection where, in fact, he feels only indifference or aversion, it still does not mean that he has entirely lost the use of one of the basic human senses, namely, the sense of humiliation.

You may ask what kind of republic I dream of. Let me reply: I dream of a republic independent, free, and democratic, of a republic economically prosperous and yet socially just; in short, of a humane republic that serves the individual and that therefore holds the hope that the individual will serve it in turn. Of a republic of well-rounded people, because without such people it is impossible to solve any of our problems — human, economic, ecological, social, or political.

For me that’s dream as worthy as Martin Luther King’s. May the late Václav Havel become as well remembered for it.

4 comments for “Václav Havel 1936-2011

  1. bollixed
    December 19, 2011 at 10:03 am

    An inspiring figure indeed.

  2. Jeremy Poynton
    December 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    A truly great man. And a huge Velvet Underground (and Zappa) fan to boot. RIP. How we could do with our own Vaclev.

  3. December 20, 2011 at 3:41 am

    R.I.P. Václav Havel but the EUrocrats will be breating a sigh of relief.

    The first quoted paragraph describes precisely what is happening in North Korea today, the people of that sad country know what is expected of them.

  4. December 20, 2011 at 8:39 am

    Thirding this.

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