The Power of the Powerless
Václav Havel et al.
Books of great political insight and novelty always outlive their time of birth and this reissued work, initially published in 1985, is no exception. Written shortly after the formation of Charter 77, the essays in this collection are among the most original and compelling pieces of political writing to have emerged from central and Eastern Europe during the whole of the post-war period. Václav Havel’s essay provides the title for the book. It was read by all the contributors who in turn responded to the many questions which Havel raises about the potential power of the powerless.
The essays explain the anti-democratic features and limits of Soviet-type totalitarian systems of power. They discuss such concepts as ideology, democracy, civil liberty, law and the state from a perspective which is radically different from that of people living in liberal western democracies. The authors also discuss the prospects for democratic change under totalitarian conditions. Steven Lukes’ introduction provides an invaluable political and historical context for these writings.
The authors represent a very broad spectrum of democratic opinion, including liberal, conservative and socialist.
--Taken from the publisher
"'This brilliant text is undoubtedly the finest analysis ever made of the `post-totalitarian systems."
--Times Literary Supplement
"A profound intellectual tour de force that analyzes the `post-totalitarian system of Eastern Europe.... Havel's The Power of the Powerless has not lost its intellectual appeal."
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Introduction by Steven Lukes
1. The power of the powerless
by Vaclav Havel
2. Spiritual values, independent initiatives and politics
by Rudolf Battk
3. Catholicism and politics
by Vaclav Benda
4. On the question of Chartism
by Vaclav Cerny
5. The human rights movement and social progress
by Jiri Hajek
6. Prospects for democracy and socialism in Eastern Europe
by Ladislav Hejdanek
7. Chartism and ‘real socialism’
by Miroslav Kusy
8. Who really is isolated?
by Jiri Ruml
9. The alternative community as revolutionary avant-garde
by Petr Uhl
10. Thoughts inside a tightly-corked bottle
by Josef Vohryzek
11. On not living in hatred
by Josef Zverina
Appendix: Charter 77 Declaration
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