Vaclav Havel, who died on December 18 aged 75, was President of Czechoslovakia and later of the Czech Republic, but enjoyed his finest hour before he attained office when, in December 1989, he led “the Velvet Revolution” which toppled the communist regime in Czechoslovakia.
A true hero to millions of people, he braved political persecution in a nasty Stalinist country to fight for the cause of freedom. It’s well worth reading, for the history and the biography alone.
Never forget: living under communist rule sucks. It sucks hard. Everybody hates it except those in power, who abuse that power consistently as a matter of policy, not as a failure of policy. Which is why the powerful in such regimes adopt the use of constant lies as a strategy:
The tendency of communist officialdom to evolve modes of communication which masked its true meaning became a constant theme in Havel’s work.
Again: “… evolved modes of communication which masked … true meaning”.
Let me translate that into plain-spoken English for you: they “lied their asses off and acted like arrogant fools”. Because that’s just how you roll when your primary goal is to exercise power over others.
Pardon me while I point out here the obvious similarity between this tendency and, say, Attorney General Eric Holder’s refusal to acknowledge the obvious — that the true purpose of Operation Fast and Furious was to provide political cover for the continuing effort to remove our Constitutional rights to own firearms. And, just last week, the president’s ignorant and fact-free economic history lesson in Kansas last week which was intended to provide political cover for growing government power at our expense.
It’s very simple, really: when someone in a position of power is caught using lies created specifically to increase their power relative to you, then that person is not to be trusted. It doesn’t matter if they are in government or used-car sales. Same/same.
Also, see Gerard van Der Leun’s excellent take on the disparity in the reactions between Havel’s death and the recent death of Christopher Hitchens: Havel vs. Hitchens: Blogosphere have you no sense of decency or proportion?. Killer quote:
It’s best to remember that Havel’s motto was “Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate.”
What does it mean in the end? Little other than the passing observation that small men sometimes have bigger sendoffs in the land of the blind. After all, if you can’t see clearly it’s hard to tell what someone’s real stature is.
Vaclav Havel spent years in prison trying to bring freedom to a people held in slavery by a totalitarian ideology that Hitchens worshiped. In the end he helped to liberate around 100 million people.
Hitchens, on the other hand, wrote for, can you dig it?, Vanity Fair. Whew! Dude! What a winner! In the end he help to liberate about 1,000 cases of whiskey. Double winner!