úterý 3. února



  • Dopis nově zvolenému prezidentovi (Andrew Stroehlein)
  • A letter to a newly elected Czech President (Andrew Stroehlein)
  • Rozumí Václav Havel dnešní situaci v České republice? (Petr Očko)
  • Havlova esej Moc bezmocných a dnešní globalizující se společnost (Petr Očko)

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  • A Letter to the newly elected President Havel

    Andrew Stroehlein

    Dear President Havel,

    As you look forward to another five years at the Hrad and as the young Czech Republic looks forward to its second five years of existence, I thought that I would share my ideas with you on how to make your second term in office more successful than the first one. I have three ideas that may be of some use.

    First, I think it would help to stop criticising your fellow citizens as suffering from some kind of maloměšťácký provincionalismus či zápecnictví. Living outside of Prague does not make people ignorant, as you seem to suggest. If you want to criticise uncivilised behaviour in Czech politics today, you needn't look so far as the provinces. Lack of civility can be just as easily seen in rude whistling which happens closer to home.

    It makes no political nor logical sense to use the terms "provincial" and "small town" as slurs in the Czech Republic, where half the population lives in small towns and villages (in communities smaller than 15,000 citizens). These people have ideas and opinions that, whether you like it or not, deserve full hearing in a democratic system. Listening to them more and insulting them less might bring real benefit to society.

    Second, it may also be beneficial to stop talking about the "mravní krize" in Czech society after the Communist era. In my experience talking to people in your country, morality was never a major issue for them in their decision-making za totality. People had more practical concerns: keeping their jobs, getting their kids into good schools, finding materials to build their family homes.

    I cannot count the number of times I have heard people say, "Havel could rebel more easily. He didn't have any children." Of course, it isn't fair to suggest that you had it easy during the Communist era, but when people emphasise the role that their children played in their decision-making za totality, they have a point. It is worth remembering who started the Revolution in 1989 in the first place: young students with no children of their own to worry about.

    The vast majority of people za totality didn't act immorally as you often say, but rather they acted amorally: morality was not an issue. Like most people under every system, they simply played by the rules to maintain their standard of living and to aid their children as best they could with the minimum of hassles from the authorities. People shouldn't be ridden with guilt for this.

    Additionally, it may be misleading to see today's political scandals as the result of entrenched immorality stemming from the Communist era. Party financing scandals and dubious bank failures occur in all democracies. Combating these difficulties does not require lamentations about the "mravni stav spolecnosti" but rather sound laws that create regulation and require transparency in the political and financial worlds.

    Finally, I have a practical suggestion for your staronový presidency: talk to all democratically elected politicians including people who you find distasteful. Democracy is never pretty. In every society of millions of people, some elements are going to be distasteful. Ignoring them won't make them go away, however.

    The parties that you dislike were freely and fairly elected by a large minority of citizens. You have a duty to listen to these people and their opinions, no matter how much you disagree with them. Their leaders represent these peoples' opinions just as you represent the people as head of state. If you try to cast doubt upon their democratic position by ignoring them, you actually cast doubt upon your own position, as well.

    As far as I can see, there are two main reasons why you consistently refuse to meet with leaders of two Parliamentary parties which control 20% of the seats. First, its is thought that these parties are not "státotvorné", and second, it is thought that meeting with them will somehow legitimate them. Neither of these reasons is convincing.

    In the first place, these parties are already de facto "státotvorné" because they take part in general elections for the Parliament, they recognise the results of those elections and they take their seats in that legislative body. Few politicians in the Czech Republic seem to acknowledge the difference between opposition to the government and opposition to the state. It would help if the President could at least realise that there is a difference. Any party that takes its seats in Parliament de facto recognises that Parliament, and thus the state behind it.

    Second, meeting with the radicals will not legitimate them because such meetings are not where democratic legitimacy stems from. In fact, these parties are already legitimate because their legitimacy comes from the people who elected them. It is curious that as President, you refuse to acknowledge this fundamental point of democracy: the head of state does not legitimate political parties, voters do.

    Of course, meeting with radical leaders will not change them and make them reasonable and decent. That's not the point. The point is that over one million people voted for the Communists and Republicans, and their views can not be ignored. Like it or not, those people are your spoluobcane, too.

    S pozdravem,

    Andrew Stroehlein

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