Thursday, 24 April 2014

Právo: Politicians lack Havel's ability to challenge

18 December 2012

Prague, Dec 17 (CTK) - The most distinct quality of the late former Czech president Vaclav Havel was his ability to challenge the "naturalness" of everyday political as well civilisation practice and to confront it with responsibility, and this is what is most missing now, Jiri Pehe writes in Pravo yesterday.

Havel, playwright, former dissident, and first Czechoslovak post-communist and first Czech president (1989-2003) died one year ago, on December 18, 2011, aged 75.

Havel was surprises in all his roles - as a playwright, the most known dissident as well as politician - at the naturalness with which the "rationalist" western civilisation, whether in its democratic or totalitarian form, accepts a sort of dehumanised practice that can be self-destructive, Pehe writes.

Various politicians and media commentators liked to ridicule Havel's "impractical" questions about the role of political parties, the importance of civic society, the role of morals in politics or the dangers of the stupid and potentially self-destroying self-motion of the industrial civilisation, Pehe writes.

These people believed that Czechs should have abandoned particularly the "great" questions about purpose and morals in politics after the fiasco of the communist utopia and accept politics as a pragmatic battlefield of interests, Pehe writes.

Now, the West is in a deep crisis. National democracies as well as the more and more privatised states cease to function when confronted with the global market that is plundering nature of the whole planet, and under the banner of growth are turning people into recycleable sources of labour and consumption, Pehe writes.

Intellectuals and various movements of the angered are rebelling against this, but the political elites depending on big money continue moving along the well-established paths of the technology of power, Pehe writes.

True, Havel did not sometimes avoid cheap generalisations and discords in his behaviour. On the one hand he was coming out against mindless practice while on the other hand he participated in the often trashy rituals of the political practice, Pehe writes.

It is, however, evident that he was a voice that is now missing not only in this country, but in the West as a whole.

Weekly Respekt, out yesterday, writes in its editorial that former Czechoslovakia was established in 1918 thanks to the developments on the international scene (disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy at the end of World War One) and it similarly regained independence in 1989 when the communist bloc fell apart.

Due to this Czechs do not have an equivalent of the founding fathers like the United States, for instance. The closest to them stood Czechoslovakia's founder and first president Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Havel, Respekt writes.

Their attitude to freedom, democracy, open society, responsibility for the weaker, the need to seek allies at home as well as in the world can be viewed as an unwritten idea of the state, the weekly writes.

It says the two men were pushing through their ideas both at a time when they stood on the margin of society as well as when they became head of state, which adds them strength and makes them persuasive.

This is what the Nazis and communists were well aware of. Both of them tried to humiliate Masaryk as much as possible nd the communists targeted Havel.

Articles very similar to those that Petr Hajek, deputy head of Czech President Vaclav Klaus's office, wrote recently about Havel were published about Masaryk in the 1950s.

Hajek likened Havel to Benito Mussolini and wrote that Havel did not believe in the democracy of the classical, Western type, but was heading for something that is called a corporatist, fascist state with his concept of civic society, Pravo wrote on Saturday.

Hajek wrote that according to his analysis, Havel served neither the truth, nor love, which he preached, but their utter opposite.

A few days ago, Klaus said Hajek's book was "excellently written."

Respekt writes that the motivation of the attacks on both Masaryk and Havel is clear: a representative of plurality, open democracy is dangerous because he tells people not to believe Messiahs, but trust themselves, to take interest in politics and to check anyone who wields power because politicians' task is not to control people, but to serve them.

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