Vaclav Havel Dies—Words And Ideas Matter
Czech writer and freedom fighter Vaclav Havel died yesterday.
Mr. Havel went from jailed dissident in a totalitarian state to President of Czechoslovakia and later the Czech Republic.
(Above–Vaclav Havel in 2010. Photo by David Sedlecky.)
Mr. Havel came to prominence and then to power based on the strength of his ideas and moral courage.
Words and ideas matter. Occupying will matter. Don’t let anybody tell you any different. You don’t have to accept things just because they seem hopeless to change, or because they are less bad than the limited options people in power say you should be content with.
From that obituary—
It was as a dissident that Mr. Havel most clearly championed the ideals of a civil society. He helped found Charter 77, the longest enduring human rights movement in the former Soviet bloc, and keenly articulated the lasting humiliations that Communism imposed on the individual. In his now iconic 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless,” which circulated in underground editions in Czechoslovakia and was smuggled to other Warsaw Pact countries and to the West, Mr. Havel foresaw that the opposition could eventually prevail against the totalitarian state.
I’ve been reading Postwar–A History of Europe Since 1945 by Tony Judt. I’m reading this book in part because I’ve never read a comprehensive retrospective of the years leading up to the fall of communism. I’m not yet up to the portion of the book where the Berlin Wall is dismantled and the years Mr. Havel played a central role in the history of Europe. I can tell you though that the book is well worth your time, and helps provide historical context to the financial crisis and to the overall political situation in Europe today.
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