Vaclav Havel by Jakub Patocka

[This is an automatic translation of an article which originally appeared in Czech by my dear friend and old boss Jakub Patocka]

The orginal article in Czech appears here

Although in the last years of his life was Vaclav Havel rightly criticized for some of his political views or for their proximity to one Czech oligarch, it would be blind to ignore because of its size and power of inspiration.


Jakub Patocka

19.12.2011 08:30

HavellibkoviceThe film documents the first meeting the author of the text (far right) with Vaclav Havel, 16th Libkovice December 1992. In the foreground the former organizer of the campaign to save Libkovice Jan Pinos with my son. Photo Ibra Ibrahimovic

 Vaclav Havel was a part of the age-old humankind’s effort for a better world

Attempting to explain today’s radical critics Vaclav Havel among left-wing idealists, why it should not behave in reverence, but even with him for inspiration, and at the same time attempting to explain the civically active rock fans Vaclav Havel, why they should have for his radical leftist understanding of criticism is almost superhuman task.

Let’s start by Vaclav Havel in his best form he could handle him.Vaclav Havel as a member of a strong year thirty-six joined the international public life in the sixties. At first, manifested primarily as a distinct personality bubbling cultural life, exciting and award-winning author of plays, or one of the main characters of the literary magazine face. blindingly

Political life began to take part in the invasion of Soviet troops who came to suppress the liberal Czechoslovak magical dreams of spring. His argument makes sense to August 1968 and the best exit strategy occupied the land that had fought with Milan Kundera , he has earned the respect of a substantial part of the Czechoslovak cultural public.

Although the controversy over the publication of thirty years in 1998 in Literary newspapers an opportunity to look at it with fresh eyes and rehabilitate the distance for the day as apparently nosnější position Kundera , then it did not seem so and maybe not even appear. And Vaclav Havel, the authority obtained in this confrontation will certainly help in further civil resistance to Husak’s normalization.

The status of the natural spokesman for civic opposition to the normalization of full coverage in 1975 confirmed his open letter to Gustav Husak , a text that still can be recommended as a brilliant mind handle civil activism conducted with an open visor and universalist positions. A comprehensive list can also be read as an unwitting argument supporting the view that the company he was trying to make its policy Vaclav Klaus, and others, but an analogous way, the Slovak Republic Vladimir Meciar, his mentality continues to Husákův mode “If the fear behind self-protective efforts of man to save what he has, then more and more we see that the main engine of his offensive efforts to obtain what has not, becomes selfishness and careerism,” wrote Havel Husak in a sentence, which would not have to read today’s Prague Castle with the General understanding, but rather would be a chill in my back felt deep down that goes to the essence of relationships managed by them.

Although Havel will always remember especially the last Czechoslovak and first Czech president, his top action through which gained worldwide fame and earned him the admiration and thanks to which it may remain an inspiration to all attempts led to believe that “better world is possible”, is linked to the formation of Charter 77

The Charter itself is a citizens’ initiative, whose legend perhaps prevented from making it to today’s activists know more closely, trying to understand its vision and looking at her inspiration. It’s a shame, because the connection nesamozřejmé Czechoslovak Democratic Socialists, Liberals and Christian Democrats, which connected the link to the ethos of Masaryk of Czechoslovakia and to a large extent, diplomatic skill Vaclav Havel and his closest colleagues, proved a very penetrating way to speak not only to domestic but also to world issues.

By the time of Charter 77, will include a brilliant essay release Power of the Powerless , which can together with Mr Vaculík two thousand words and Peroutkovým Democratic manifesto apparently considered complete post-war peaks Czech political esejistiky. Power of the Powerless enchant his readers elegance of language and subtlety of critical analysis, pointing beyond the crisis of Soviet socialism, which is the Havel eyes only “convex caricature of Western democracies.” They too, according to him are found in deep crisis, which describes the work as a crisis of socio-ecological, work as a crisis existential crisis of identity.

And when they talk about an alternative to destructive self-movement of Western civilization, built on the principles of self-governing community, we would hardly seek substantial difference from formulations, which are now used by radical groups such as Alternative bottom just to be grouped around one of the most influential figures in contemporary Czech Ilona Švihlíkové economics. “In the varied and changing dynamically such cooperation emerging and dissolving, and especially from their current living and meaningful human bonds tmelených organisms should be based political life – as well as economic life: respect for him, I believe that the self-governing principle, which alone can provide about what everyone dreamed theorists of socialism, that is true (ie informal) workers participation in economic decision making, and feel real accountability for the results of joint work, “Havel wrote in 1978.

Power of the Powerless while not unique performance, particularly successful sort of intellectual exercise. Approach that reeks of essays, was imbued with a Charter 77, a statement from basic, through phenomenal, this day is far from unappreciated, the text challenges the Prague of 1985, formulating a vision of Europe after the Cold War, at which could be today greatly build up the great political program democracy for all of 1988, who founded the Movement for Civil Liberty as a political alternative to the Communist government and that his spirit so much beyond our present circumstances, when a man in his reading of mana attacks: where are all those wonderful people who this thought, this is written like this and, after 1989 go?

The year 1989 is the year of breakthrough not only for Czechoslovakia, but also – and as time will show even greater extent – for Vaclav Havel. The dissident and civic activists to change the policy, which is the transition that he succeeded in something, and something too Sun ‘s undisputed success and great státnickým performance is itself the Civic Forum taking power from the hands of the Communists: work, which means little to this day. Various revolutionaries thirteenth hour, but surprisingly also crucial historical works, absurdly accuse the former elite of the Civic Forum, the takeover was negotiated and therefore part of a peaceful transition to freedom was a promise of the Communists that they will be able to freely participate in the new circumstances of democratic competition.But just as it reflected the democratic spirit of the Charter of the radical derived from the tradition of the First Republic: Democracy, which believes it is better for people than communism, also believes it is able to convince about it, and therefore does not need a ban.

Vaclav Havel, the great and imaginatively in the role of the president could support the citizens’ initiative, which was always convinced that the health of democracy are more important than political parties.Also, his support for green policies at the end of life was no mannerism, gravitated to this direction throughout life, as careful readers of his writings reveal a charming essay Hamlet’s question – which eighteen Havel interprets the de facto and environmentally over existentialism, with whom the juvenile in his text balances, builds their concept of pantheism as enhanced humanism.

Sympathy for the green movement retained throughout life, so even as the president carried out the things that are conscious of how garbled the presidency a man who lives in Prague Castle, the last nine years, I can not imagine ever: visit bouraných Libkovice and expressing support for hardline activists and blocking every bit brave citizen revolt against the completion of Temelin in the day decided in favor of Zeman’s government, one of the acts that can not be ignored and which you can not stop to appreciate.

The Havel also cease to remember dozens of different oppressed groups around the world, which he held his considerable authority. Can we doubt the selection criteria, but not that always built on the side of people postihovaných unjustly. Václav Havel loved talk: each month, held for the purpose of gathering in a private villa Lany Amalie debates and staff tried to conceive, so that links were created that could benefit the company long term.

As a participant in several of these debates, I can confirm that here there was a lovely old-world atmosphere in even the sharpest confrontations and idealism with which we have lost the habit policy linking higher. If we think about what Vaclav Havel failed, we must necessarily begin with extinction Czechoslovakia and the onset of ODS Václav Klaus as a driving force in Czech politics, which are related. The previously unpublished text of the anniversary of the demise of Czechoslovakia to the fact I wrote: “The question of whether the leaders of the November revolution, the emergence of committed vacuum that Klaus and Meciar only skillfully used, can leave open, but can not circumvent the fact that Vaclav Havel quickly vacated the field of practical political agenda setting, committed nejnadějnějšího disposal of the Slovak Democratic politicians, John Bud, idly watched the isolation of all men connected with the year 1968, though, between them, a number of first-class political talent tolerated and eventually demise of Czechoslovakia against the will of the majority of its citizens, although his head.

The argument that’s radical activist minority of Slovak nationalists can not long resist, exacerbated by referring to the bloody division of Yugoslavia can not succeed. Between Czechs and Slovaks did not want no history of mutual atrocities like war between Croats and Serbs. Managing radical separatist movement among the routine equipment self-confident European democracies, as the examples of Great Britain or Spain.

Finally, the inter-war Czechoslovak Republic had to cope with radical separatist minorities, and even if not always without difficulties, it proved quite worthy of admiration. As Spain and Britain were also Czechoslovakia for the world interesting and nobody doubted that he has to give. ” Perhaps the key prerequisite for this failure was that Vaclav Havel failed to transfer the tolerant spirit of the Charter of the Civic Forum and practical politics, before he felt an instinctive resistance and before which the Prague Castle in a way hidden.

The second intuitive approach, which in his motivations during the November revolution and setting new conditions played a crucial role, was his reluctance to left, including the Democratic Left. Only waiting for future research historian, how in the negative role played people like Sasha Vondra and Pavel Tigrid, but the fact is that many first-class key figures of dissent or exile, like the Milan Simecka, Ludvik Vaculik, Jaroslav Sabata, AJ Liehm, Milan Kundera Jiri Pelikan and ended up relegated to the sidelines. A vacuum casting stars like Vaclav Klaus and Vladimir Dlouhy. Such a result should not be taken but as an affirmation of the legitimacy of Havel’s opposition to party politics, but as the result – and as a result of prejudice against the Left.

Havel’s progress from this time and input to the position of President of the Czech Republic, it eventually with Vaclav Klaus at the time even just joined, but which was an alliance in which not even feel comfortable while looking for a way to escape from it. Although he is now , the situation radically re-raised social issues, are almost hard to remember the nineties was a period when it appeared that more fundamental than the clash between right and left is the conflict about the quality of political culture in which it was Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus, both personified counterparts. Havel also does not compromise the conflict completely, and also increasingly less.

He returned lustration laws, severely criticized the market fundamentalism, argued for civic initiatives. Even when, after some time it seemed that this substantial conflict Vaclav Havel with the help of Josef Lux and then Vladimir Spidla triumph, eventually fill his worst fears and president in 2003 he became his arch-rival Vaclav Klaus, a disaster that plagues us to this day. I think Klaus Vaclav Havel’s presidential victory struck more than ever publicly admitted, and in a sense broke its relationship to public activity.

After leaving office, he felt tired, discouraged and public exposure of his attitude towards politics, perhaps turning into a kind of sardonic grin , which is reflected in his last game and a single film Leaving. There was a period in which Vaclav Havel as if trying to return before the year 1968 and become only the cultural life of celebrities. It was of course illusory notion, because, as his biography of Vaclav Havel, and that man is tempted to say: “Sorry …”, from its political role simply could not get out. He did not have enough strength, background, taste, energy to with domestic and global conditions, played in the spirit of the claims formulated by the power of the powerless. It seemed so politically weak period, from which, unfortunately, will commemorate the achievements rather unfortunate: support false arguments justified the war in Iraq, dishonored Czech civil society activists, the de facto own followers, who opposed the stationing of a U.S. radar in Brdy, publicly demonstrated the political and civic friendship with extremely questionable existences as George W. Bush or Zdenek Bakala.

These are things that can not fairly be overlooked, but should also not just limited to – or even primarily – by Vaclav Havel judge them. Far more necessary is to try to understand them, understand their causes and contexts and also take lessons from them, which I can easily imagine anyone who ever thought about something in public space sought, and failed completely to your liking. Vaclav Havel in this while the lofty words from all sides compared with Masaryk.

This parallelism is not correct for a number of reasons: Masaryk was a politician and political philosopher, who all his life pilgrimage made ​​for spectacular performance, and it even reached. Became president in an age in which Vaclav Havel has been in office politics and tried to download. Masaryk is a man who has few analogies in world politics, and modern Czech none at all. Czech, and even the European political thinking of Masaryk in many respects still grows. Far more accurate than Vaclav Havel is great compared with Masaryk and wrongly fashionably precipitated successor to Edvard Benes. Benes also benefit from Czechoslovakia attempted, but failed to keep them.

Benes also at the end of political career happened that he was succeeded by his office arch rival. Both were men of European outlook and unfulfilled visions. But in any case, all three, Havel, Benes, Masaryk, is part of a humanistic-democratic traditions of Czech and Czechoslovak politics, while Hacha, Husak and Klaus are contradictory traditions, national-conservative.

In a Vaclav Havel, we lost an extraordinary literary talent, brave civil activist, a generous ally of the environmental movement, inspiring – even in their mistakes – politics, remarkably witty companion, teacher, friend and an extremely nice man.

3 responses to “Vaclav Havel by Jakub Patocka”

  1. Catarina Kostelnik says :

    Great info and right to the point. I don’t know if this is in fact the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to get some professional writers? Thx 🙂

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  1. Bye Vaclav, Hello Absurdistan « your passport to complaining - December 19, 2011

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