pragmatist dreamer


A philosopher king Havel was not. The Czech presidency did not even entail enough power to make that possible. But if there ever was something like the “king of all dissidents”, Havel was it. No other active head of state has done more than Havel for those who have been politically persecuted – often at considerable political cost. Whether he was calling for more political freedom in Burma (he nominated Aung San Suu Kyi for the Nobel peace prize), supporting human rights activists in Belorussia, Cuba or Ukraine, his voice was heard. His inspirational actions found resonance well beyond the reach of a small country. It is often said that the problem in Russia has been that it does not have its own Havel.[11] It has always had Havel’s support though. One of the very last public interventions that Havel made through his writing was a contribution he wrote for the major Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. It was only published after Havel’s death. As the newspaper commented, Havel was “hurrying to tell people something very important. He succeeded – read it.” In the short article, Havel urged his Russian counterparts to continue in their struggle for “basic rights and liberty”; a struggle that can only succeed if more and more people get involved in it. Echoing his argument in the “Power of the powerless”, Havel argued that “the most serious danger for Russia is people’s indifference and apathy”.[12]

more from Stefan Auer at Eurozine here.