Perhaps you read, or heard, of the death this past week of Vaclav Havel, the playwright, anti-communist, and first president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. If you didn’t, or didn’t know who he was, you can read about him and his achievements here (it’s Wikipedia, but it’s a good summary). At any rate, he played a big role in the Velvet Revolution: the bloodless end of Communism in Czechoslovakia. Many words of tribute have been written of Havel, and they are deserved. His personal motto was “truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.”
It is lies and hate, apparently, that led Neil Clark of the Guardian to pen this assessment of Havel:
He was the symbol of 1989, the anti-communist playwright who helped free his country – and the rest of eastern Europe – from Stalinist tyranny and who put the countries that lay behind the iron curtain on the road to democracy.
So goes the dominant narrative of the life of Václav Havel, the former Czech president, who died on Sunday aged 75. Havel, we are told, was a hero and one of the greatest Europeans of our age.
But, as with the recent consecration of Christopher Hitchens, another “progressive” opponent of the communist regimes of eastern Europe who found favour with Washington’s neocons, there is another side to the story.
No one questions that Havel, who went to prison twice, was a brave man who had the courage to stand up for his views. Yet the question which needs to be asked is whether his political campaigning made his country, and the world, a better place.
Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.
Really? It needs to be asked if the end of Communism in Czechoslovakia made that country, and the world a better place? The last sentence is the real kicker – if you’re not already busy wrapping the duct tape around your noggin, or you missed it, go back and read that last sentence. I’d like to go and find non-elite class members of society that lived in Czechoslovakia under the Communist regime, and ask them how good life was for them; how much the Communists put their economic needs first.
What lucid member of civilized society pines for the economic of the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe (aside from Barack Obama and and some of his closest advisors – wait, maybe it was China’s regime that he covets)? Anyway, I see that some other folks thought the same of Clark’s vile drivel:
Smitty over at The Other McCain: Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right. Two Thousand Wrongs? A Right Jolly Commie Start
This one, from Iowahawk Blog, seemed to sum it up best: