Havel's Warm and Fuzzy Image (from "CAQ")

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May 1, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/1/98

[Taken without permission, for fair use only]


Vaclav Havel's Warm and Fuzzy Image

by Michael Parenti

(from "CovertAction Quarterly", Fall 1997)

No figure among the free market restorationists of
Eastern Europe has won more adulation from US officials,
academies, and journalists than Vaclav Havel. A playwright
who was once jailed because of his opposition to the
communist system, Havel later became the first president of
post communist Czechoslovakia and then president of the
Czech Republic. Lionized whenever he visits the US, he was
accorded the rare honor of appearing before a joint
session of Congress in February 1990 where he received a
standing ovation.
The corporate-owned US media could not get enough of
him nor do enough for him, portraying him as a crusader for
democracy a lone dissenter who courageously prevailed
against ruthless oppressors. Hardly immune to the very media
influences they often criticize, many progressives,
especially the academics, go absolutely gah gah over Vaclav,
overlooking some unsettling things: his reactionary
religious obscurantism, his undemocratic suppression of
leftist opponents, and his unrestrained devotion to economic
Consider the political pronunciamentos Havel has issued
from time to time. In a New York Times op-ed that caused an
embarrassed silence among his US admirers, he denounced
democracy's "cult of objec tivity and statistical average,"
and the idea that rational, collective social efforts should
be applied to solving the environmental crisis. Sounding as
goofy as his hero, novelist Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Havel
called for a new breed of political leader who would rely
less on "rational, cognitive thinking," show "humility in
the face of the mysterious order of Being," and "trust in
his own subjectivity as his principal link with the
subjectivity of the world". This empowered mystic, not
unlike Plato's philosopher king, would be endowed with a
sense of transcendental responsibility" and "archetypal
wisdom".1 Havel never explained how such gifts would
translate into actual policy decisions, for whose benefit,
at whose expense.
On another occasion, Havel called for efforts to
preserve the Christian family in the Christian nation.
Presenting himself as a man of peace and vowing never to
sell arms to oppressive regimes, he then sold arms to the
Philippine generals and the fascist regime in Thailand. In
June 1994, Gen. Augusto Pinochet, the man who butchered
Chilean democracy, was re- ported to be weapons shopping in
Czechoslovakia - with no audible objections from Havel.
Havel joined wholeheartedly in George Bush's Gulf Var, an
enterprise that killed more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians,
with hundreds of thousands more perishing in the subsequent
blockade. In 1991, along with other Eastern European pro
capitalist leaders, Havel voted with Washington to condemn
human rights violations in Cuba. But he has never uttered a
word on violations in El Salvador, Colombia, Indonesia,
Turkey, or any other US client state.

Uncivil Liberties
In 1989, one of his first acts as president of
Czechoslovakia was to grant amnesty to about two thirds of
the country's prison population, some 40,000 inmates. Havel
assumed that most of those incarcerated under communism were
victims of political repression and therefore deserved
release. He and his associates were dismayed to discover
that a good number of the `victims were experienced
criminals who then lost no time resuming their unsavory
In 1992, President Havel, the great democrat, demanded
that parliament be suspended and that he be allowed to rule
by edict, so better to ram through his free- market
"reforms." That same year, he signed a law that made the
advocacy of communism a felony punishable by up to eight
years imprisonment. He claimed, inaccurately, that the Czech
constitution required him to sign the legislation. In fact,
as he knew, the law violated the Charter of Hu- man Rights
which is incorporated into the Czech constitution. In 1995,
he supported and signed another undemocratic law that barred
communists and former communists from employment in public
The propagation of anticommunism has remained a top
priority for Havel - even after the communist governments
were overthrown. In 1995, he led what the San Francisco
Chronicle described as "a frantic international campaign" to
keep in operation two US-financed Cold War radio stations,
Radio Free Europe and Radio Lib- erty, so they could
continue saturating Eastern Europe with their anticommunist
Under Havel's government, a law was passed making it a
crime to propagate national, religious, and class hatred. In
effect, criticisms of big moneyed interests were now
illegal, being unjustifiably lumped with ethnic and
religiotis bigotry. Havel, the philosopher king, warned
labor unions not to involve themselves in politics. Some
militant unions had their property seized and handed over to
more compliant company unions.
In 1995, Havel announced that the "revolution" against
communism would not be complete until everything was
privatized. His government even liquidated the properties of
the Socialist Union of Youth - which included camp sites,
recreation halls, and cultural and scientific facilities for
children - putting them un- der the management of five joint
stock companies and leaving the youths to roam the streets.
Havel's "democratic reforms" have brought cuts in health
care, public housing, and education; and reductions in rent
and fuel subsidies to low income people. The condition of
labor has drastically declined. Sick leave, maternity leave,
paid vacations, and other job benefits once taken for
granted under communism have been cut or abolished. Worker
sanitariums, vacation resorts, health clinics, sports and
cultural centers, daycare centers, and other features that
made communist enterprises more than just workplaces, have
nearly vanished. Hospitals, libraries, houses of culture,
and public transport systems are closing or services have
drastically declined. Rest homes formerly reserved for
workers have been privatized and redone as casinos, night
clubs, and restaurants for the nouveaux riches.
Real income has shrunk by as much as 30 percent under
Havel's free market rule. More than one-third of citizens
live in abject poverty and large numbers hold two or more
jobs and work up to 14 hours a day. Those who have suffered
the most are among the more vulnerable. women, children, the
elderly and ordinary workers and peasants.
There is an upsurge in official corruption and organized
crime, as well as in street crime, murder, homelessness,
drug addiction, mental and physical illness, and suicide
Women are being recruited in unprecedented numbers for the
booming sex industry that caters to foreign and domestic
businessmen. Unable to find employment in their field, many
higbly educated women go abroad to work as prostitutes.
Children are also channeled into the sex market. "Prague and
Budapest now rival Bangkok and Manila as hubs for the
collection of children to serve visiting pedophiles."4
Oddly the Prague police force today under Havel's free
market "democracy" is many times larger than it was under
the "communist police state," when "relatively few police
were needed."5

Doing Well for Himself
Havel may be an intellectual and playwright but under his
government, subsidies for the arts and literature have been
severely reduced. Theaters have been closed and some
symphony or chestras disbanded. Education, once free for
qualified applicants even to the post-graduate level, is now
available only to those who can afford the high tuition. In
the name of "objective" social science, curricula have been
"depoliticized," meaning that a critical left perspective
has been replaced by a conservative viewpoint that is
supportive, or at least uncritical of, imperialism and

The inexpensive but high quality editions of classical and
contemporary authors and poets, including ones from Asia,
Africa, and Latin Amenca, have been re- placed by
second-rate, mass-market publications from the West. And as
the cost of books, periodicals, and newspapers has
skyrocketed and education levels have de- clined, readership
has shrunk almost to Third World levels.
Raised by governesses and driven by chauffeurs in a
wealthy and fervently anticommunist family, Havel has
remained true to his class interests. Under Czech
privatization and "restitution" programs, factories, shops,
estates, homes, and much of the public land was sold at
bargain prices to foreign and domestic capitalists. In the
Czech and Slovak republics former aristocrats or their heirs
were being given back all the estates and lands their
families had held before 1918 under the Austro-Hunganan
empire, dispossessing the previous occupants and sending
many of them into destitution.
Havel himself took personal ownership of public properties
that had be- longed to his family 40 years before. He is
once again a rich man. While presenting himself as dedicated
to doing good for others, he has done quite well for
himself, at the expense of many of his less renowned
For all these reasons, some of us do not have a warm fuzzy
feeling about Vaclav Havel.

1, Vaclav Havel, "The End of the Modern Era, New York
Times, March 1, 1992.
2, "Street Crtirie Hits Prague Daily Ltfe,"Neie York flaws,
Dec. 18,1991.
3. San Francisco Clirronicis, Feb. 17,1995.
4. Christopher Diekey, "The Death of Innocents",
Newsweek, Sept. 2,1996
5. "Street Crime...", op. cit.

***Michael Parenti's latest book is "Blackshirts and Reds
Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism"
(San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1997)***


May 2, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/2/98

In article <3549f29c...@news.mclink.it>, e...@ecn.org (Est) writes:

>Subject: Havel's Warm and Fuzzy Image (from "CAQ")
>From: e...@ecn.org (Est)
>Date: Fri, 01 May 1998 16:11:16 GMT

>[Taken without permission, for fair use only]
>Vaclav Havel's Warm and Fuzzy Image
>by Michael Parenti
>(from "CovertAction Quarterly", Fall 1997)
> No figure among the free market restorationists of
>Eastern Europe has won more adulation from US officials,
>academies, and journalists than Vaclav Havel. A playwright
>who was once jailed because of his opposition to the
>communist system, Havel later became the first president of
>post communist Czechoslovakia and then president of the
>Czech Republic. Lionized whenever he visits the US, he was
>accorded the rare honor of appearing before a joint
>session of Congress in February 1990 where he received a
>standing ovation.

The rest of the garbage (REAL garbage) deleted.

Havel in fact covers up for the Commies who are happily in charge of private
enterprises and govern in a way that suits them.

Peter J. Vanatko

May 3, 1998, 3:00:00 AM5/3/98

Kkostrouch <kkost...@aol.com> wrote in article

> Havel in fact covers up for the Commies who are happily in charge of private
> enterprises and govern in a way that suits them.

In absence of any other acceptable reason for such a cop-out, this actually
could be a better example of a psychological disorder called "victims'
syndrome". Criminologists are acutely aware of this malady, where the victims
actually fall in love with their tormentors, and later will go as far as to
obstruct justice when the perpetrators are to be punished.

A communist is a person who wants to share his nothing with everybody

(´¯`·.¸¸.Peter, in New York.¸¸.·´¯)

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