Must We Adore Vaclav Havel? | Michael Parenti

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Must We Adore Vaclav Havel? | Michael Parenti

Michael Parenti wrote about Vaclav Havel in 1997 in order to bring some balance to the hagiographies of the ‘great democrat’. Now that Havel has popped his clogs it’s necessary to republish it to provide a much needed counter-balance to the fawning tributes

In 1992, while president of Czechoslovakia, Havel, the great democrat, demanded that parliament be suspended and he be allowed to rule by edict, the better to ram through free-market “reforms.” That same year, he signed a law that made the advocacy of communism a felony with a penalty of up to eight years imprisonment. He claimed the Czech constitution required him to sign it. In fact, as he knew, the law violated the Charter of Human Rights which is incorporated into the Czech constitution. In any case, it did not require his signature to become law. in 1995, he supported and signed another undemocratic law barring communists and former communists from employment in public agencies.

The propagation of anticommunism has remained a top priority for Havel. He led “a frantic international campaign” to keep in operation two U.S.-financed, cold war radio stations, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, so they could continue saturating Eastern Europe with their anticommunist propaganda.

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 religious bigotry. Havel’s government warned labor unions not to involve themselves in politics. Some militant unions had their property taken from them and handed over to compliant company unions.

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Donagh is the editor of Irish Left Review. Contact Donagh through email: dublinopinionAtgmail.com