WONKETTE WORLD O' BOOKS  7:30 am December 21, 2011

What Can Vaclav Havel Do For You?

by Greer Mansfield

Incorporating Washington Post Book World.And now Vaclav Havel is dead. Absurdist playwright, passionate essayist, beer connoisseur, deep thinker about humankind’s place in the cosmos, non-violent fighter for human freedom and dignity, political prisoner of his country’s totalitarian communist regime, and then the post-Velvet Revolution president of Czechoslovakia (and, after the nation split, president of the Czech Republic). What do his writings have to offer us, here in the U.S. of States, on this December day in 2011? Does a disheveled anti-authoritarian haunter-of-theaters-and-pubs have anything to teach us in Earth’s Most Exceptional Country? Let us see.

The remarkable thing about Havel wasn’t just that he was a writer and an intellectual who ended up president of his country. It was that he was so thoughtful a writer, one who couldn’t assume a political position without thinking through its moral and spiritual implications. He was the opposite of glib and shallow, which in practice means he was about as far away from most American journalists and bloggers (librul and konservative) as one can be.

It’s interesting to compare him to American writers and journalists who are routinely called “brave” for any number of things (writing blog posts about Newt Gingrich, writing about their difficult relationship with their mother, writing about their wacky online dating experiences) and like to see themselves as outspoken risk takers. Havel was an actual dissident who put himself in physical danger to voice his beliefs, and willingly went to jail for them.

Havel on what led him to form Charter 77, the human rights movement launched following the arrest of a Czech rock band, Plastic People of the Universe:

What was happening here was not a settling of accounts with political enemies, who to a certain extent were prepared for the risks they were taking. This case has nothing whatsoever to do with a struggle between two competing political cliques. It was something far worse: an attack by the totalitarian system on life itself, on the very essence of human freedom and integrity. The objects of this attack were not veterans of old political battles; they had no political past, or even any well-defined political positions. They were simply young people who wanted to live in their own way, to make music they liked, to sing what they wanted to sing, to live in harmony with themselves, and to express themselves in a truthful way.

Two decades after the Velvet Revolution was cheered by Washington, American citizens can be locked in military cages forever if the President, in a fit of fraternal assistance, decides we are thinking dangerous thoughts. Is this a blessed place or is it not?

Havel on “a more meaningful way of organizing the world”:

Man must in some way come to his senses. He must extricate himself from this terrible involvement in both the obvious and the hidden mechanisms of totality, from consumption to repression, from advertising through manipulation through television. He must rebel against his role as a helpless cog in the gigantic and enormous machinery hurtling God knows where.

Havel on economic arrangements, capitalist and socialist and otherwise:

The most important thing is not to lose sight of personal relationships — i.e., the relationships between man and his co-workers, between subordinates and their superiors, between man and his work, between this work and its consequences, and so on.

An economy that is totally nationalized and centralized…has a catastrophic effect on all such relationships. An ever-deepening chasm opens up between man and the economic system, which is why this type of economy works so badly.

IBM certainly works better than the Skoda plant, but that doesn’t alter the fact that both companies have long since lost their human dimension and have turned man into a little cog in their machinery, utterly separated from what, and for whom, their machinery is working, and what the impact of its product is on the world.

Havel on advertising in sports:

Yesterday at the embassy, together with many of the local Czechs, we watched the final match in the World Hockey Championship, which the Czech Republic won. As usual, it seems the whole nation was caught up in it. I shared in the general excitement, the admiration of the players’ skills, and the joy of victory but I couldn’t help thinking again about something that has bothered me for a long time: these marvelous players are like billboards on skates. Anyone who didn’t know what the Czech coat of arms looked like, which probably means most of the people in the world, would have no idea these boys were playing for the Czech Republic. It looked more as though they were playing for the Skoda automobile works and a cooking pot called Zepter.

Take that, Jaromir Jagr, you MULLETED WHORE.

You can find Havel’s essays, diaries and interviews in Open Letters, Disturbing the Peace, Summer Meditations, and To the Castle and Back. All of these are rich, expansive  books. The next time someone tells you that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire through his folksy witticisms and gigantic military build-up (which we’re still paying for), remind them that, perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it.

 

Hola wonkerados.

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{ 183 comments }

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 7:40 am

Plastic people!
Oh, baby, now you're such a drag

Take a day and walk around!
Watch the Nazis run your town!
Then go home and check yourself!
You think we're singing 'bout someone else!

But you're Plastic People
Oh, Baby, now you're such a drag

DerrickWildcat December 21, 2011 at 8:30 am

Yup, I has that song.

Indiepalin December 21, 2011 at 9:09 am

What's there to live for?
Who needs the Peace Corps.?

Barrelhse December 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

Who are the brain police?

FlownOver December 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

"If your children ever found out how lame you are they'd kill you in your sleep."

- FZ

Mort_Sinclair December 21, 2011 at 7:41 am

America read a book that doesn't involve some or all of the following: a sports team, tandem guys adept at snappy patter, a tough-talking chick with swagger, a somnulent vampire, a bevy of willowy, narcotized female adolescents steeped in testosterone, ghosts, Jesus, or a dog? Oh, how you do go on.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 7:49 am

"somnolent vampire"
By "somnolent," do you mean "dick-shy Mormon"?

Mort_Sinclair December 21, 2011 at 7:54 am

Yes, I do. Actually, that'd be "dick-shy Mormon clutching a dictionary."

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 8:03 am

Oh buddy, you cut deep.

swordfis December 21, 2011 at 10:11 am

However, a novel with all of the above might be a formidable literary achievement.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

Sounds like a job for Christopher Moore.

L188188 December 21, 2011 at 12:16 pm

How about time travel? Should I read about time travel? I like time travel stories.

Mort_Sinclair December 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm

I must have been time travelling when I wrote the comment at the crack of dawn. Your point is extremely well taken. I like those stories, too, In fact the best books are the ones with time travel and an nerdy, scatterbrained professor.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Hokey Smoke, Mr Peabody!

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

As a tough-talking chick with… a moderate amount of swagger, I'm not sure what you're going for here.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 7:44 am

"It looked more as though they were playing for the Skoda automobile works and a cooking pot called Zepter."

Obviously they don't have NASCAR in CZ.

Steverino247 December 21, 2011 at 9:26 am

Speaking of a meaningless series of left turns, what's Congress up to today?

HedonismBot December 21, 2011 at 10:07 am

Don't you mean a meaningless series of "right" turns?

Steverino247 December 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Left? Right? They're not moving forward on the nation's business, that's for sure.

Biff December 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm

"Wrong" turns, most apropos.

Oblios_Cap December 21, 2011 at 7:46 am

Does a disheveled anti-authoritarian haunter-of-theaters-and-pubs have anything to teach us in Earth’s Most Exceptional Country?

Yes, but no one listens to me either.

freddymcmurray December 21, 2011 at 7:47 am

you better czech yourself, before you wreck yourself

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 7:55 am

The article forgot to address the most important question. Where can I buy some of these Zepter cooking pots and Skoda automobiles?

johnnyzhivago December 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Even more important, the article skips over the kind of stuff that keeps readers engaged, like what were his hobbies? What was his favorite TV show? What was on his iPOD?

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

"Skoda automobiles"

I understand they get 40 rods to the hogshead.

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm

Or at least they did back when Czechs would wear cabbages on their belts, which was the style at the time.

Negligently_Joe December 21, 2011 at 7:57 am

Thanks for this. It's like the antidote to all the sucking of Christopher Hitchens's corpse's cock that's been floating around the blogs, the last week or so.

hollywooddood December 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

"I didn't always agree with his point of view, but…"

Moonbat December 21, 2011 at 10:16 am

… even when I did, I kind of thought he was an asshole."

At least, that's how I'd finish the sentence.

HempDogbane December 21, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Katha Pollitt, is that you?

Generation[redacted] December 21, 2011 at 12:13 pm

You are truly the last remaining voice of reason.

SorosBot December 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

Well there were a lot of people talking about what a misogynist and warmonger he was too. It's certainly not as bad as when fucking Steve Jobs died, and he was apparently the greatest man ever who wasn't just another bloated plutocrat and didn't employ tons of sweatshop labor because hipsters like their iPhones and prefer overpriced computers that look shinier than a good PC.

Negligently_Joe December 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Honestly? I think it depends on how you define bad. Providing an intellectual framework and a "liberal" voice advocating for the mass-murder of at least a half-million Iraqis is probably also a somewhat graver sin than your run-of-the-mill sweatshop-labor-using plutocrat.

And as far as the dumb mitigating arguments, "formative influence on the development of personal computing as a thing", versus "well, he was 'warm' if you knew him personally (unless he was actually a drunken mysogynist asshole???)"… well, ehn. It bothered me when people did it to Steve Jobs, but doing it for Hitchens definitely seems worse.

Plus, even if you actually liked his stuff, there's something really unseemly about fingerbanging the corpse of some guy who was a petulent atheist in life. What the hell makes you think he'd have even wanted your reverence, guys?

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 8:01 am

Hush, Greer. One of the Kardashian skink-lizards is trying to vocalize on my television, right now. You know, the big one, the alpha female in some kind of metallic bodysuit who appears as if she could eat the other two, whole.

Barrelhse December 21, 2011 at 9:22 am

Well, I could eat the other two hole.

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 11:33 pm

Well played; well played.

paris biltong December 21, 2011 at 8:08 am

"Intelligent" Americans prefer Jonathan Franzen. which may explain something.

FNMA December 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

Or Thomas Friedman. Or maybe Dan Brown…
Now, see what you've done. I was hoping to get through this morning without getting pissed off — OK, well, too pissed off — about shit and you have to bring this up.
Thanks.

Barrelhse December 21, 2011 at 9:25 am

I believe that most of our social ills today stem from the writings of Walter Lantz, but that is personal opinion.

FNMA December 21, 2011 at 11:03 am

Don't get me started about that fucking woodpecker…

Biff December 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Walter Lantz used to have some summer cabins in June Lake, we all loved him and Gracie for what they did for the community.

prommie December 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Boy, that Franzen just can't get over his jealousy of David Foster Wallace, can he?

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

"I was beaten with Tom Clancy novels… which, admittedly, would have been less painful than reading them." — Sideshow Bob

ProgressiveInga December 21, 2011 at 8:12 am

"….but I couldn’t help thinking again about something that has bothered me for a long time: these marvelous players are like billboards on skates…"

Billboards are people, my friend.

swordfis December 21, 2011 at 10:12 am

!!!

Toomush_Infer December 21, 2011 at 8:15 am

Yeah, what was so amazing about Havel was that he reminded me that all my 3 dimensional friends count, and his presence cleared away some of the smarmy fecal matter covering our political landscape – how do we get these 2 dimensional media creations (Gingrich, Perry, Bachmann, Boehner, McConnell, Harry Reid, not to mention most of the political commentators left and right) to pretend that they are human and folks we would like to entrust with national decisions…? It really is too early to start drinking (been down that road too many times)…

ChernobylSoup December 21, 2011 at 8:21 am

IBM certainly works better than the Skoda plant, but that doesn’t alter the fact that both companies have long since lost their human dimension and have turned man into a little cog in their machinery, utterly separated from what, and for whom, their machinery is working, and what the impact of its product is on the world.

Havel's totally ripping from Styx, here.

sezme December 21, 2011 at 12:17 pm

True, but Styx were plagiarizing from Plastic People of the Universe, so it all works out.

L188188 December 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Domo arigato.

jaytingle December 21, 2011 at 8:24 am

"…perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it."
Perhaps… if their name was Ronald Reagan! Little known fact: The USS Ronald Reagan CVN-76 aircraft carrier does not run on nuclear power. It is powered entirely by Ronald Reagan's balls, which were donated (posthumously, of course) by the Reagan Library. I'd like to see any saintly relic so much as move a jet-ski! Take that, John-Paul II!

user-of-owls December 21, 2011 at 11:23 am

Objection! Assumes facts not in evidence. To wit, insofar as balls are mutually exclusive with cunts, and whereas Reagan was history's greatest monster cunt, it follows that Reagan's balls are a logical impossibility.

Res loquitor ipso hoc gamma hubba hubba.

Biff December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Regrettably, since Nancy is still among the living, his balls remain in her tightly clenched fist.

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm

"The USS Ronald Reagan CVN-76 aircraft carrier does not run on nuclear power. It is powered entirely by Ronald Reagan's balls, which were donated (posthumously"

They tried donating his brain, but it turns out that didn't generate sufficient power to run a Timex watch.

Baconzgood December 21, 2011 at 8:31 am

"Jaromir Jagr, you MULLETED WHORE"

As a Pens fan I endorse this comment.

(I used to like him….until he learned to speak english and I found out that he was a whiney little bitch. I mean c'mon you're a fucking right wing! Muck it out on the boards you pansy)

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 11:08 am

Ah, brings me back to when I was living in the 'Burgh back in the 90s. Loved that city. There was a commercial on constant rotation on WTAE (which was then a quirky independent talk radio station well worth listening to) that had Jagr trying to teach Myron Cope how to pronounce his name. Even the presence of Myron couldn't give that stiff any personality. 'Course at the time the Pirates had Barry Bonds and the Steelers had strong-armed, granite-brained Bubby Brister at QB, so Jagr didn't seem so bad.

(Edit: corrected call letters of radio station.)

Baconzgood December 21, 2011 at 12:19 pm

"BARRY BONDS IS A BUM!!!"

-Jim Leyland to Banconz Out Side a Men's Room At The White Eagle Bar-

Baconzgood December 21, 2011 at 8:36 am

Today we ALL wanted to say that first.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 8:37 am

OT, but reviewing the comments on yesterday's sparse offerings from our wonkette overlords (I mean, 5 whole posts all day, and two of them on the sidebar?), I must say that everyone was really on their game. Avanti, my friends!!

chascates December 21, 2011 at 11:24 am

Wonkette checks bouncing? Coup in the works? Retro virus from company party? Snark becoming passe?

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 11:27 am

Well, the fact is, Baldar, that we came to post. We were giving it 110% out there, leaving it all on the board. Not taking any posts off. 'Cause none of us wanted to let the rest of the guys on the team down. It's all about pulling together. There's no "I" in "win". You can't spell "me" from the letters in "team". And we just want to put those other guys on notice – the posters at Gawker and Huffpo and the Breitbart – Abteilung that the Wonketeers will protect their house. And the upfisters were like an extra man on the field, giving us support even to remarks that were banal and obvious, 'cause they're not fair-weather fans. So Baldar, even in tough times we just find a way to get it done, to keep this miracle stretch going.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 11:39 am

It's like you're the Vince Lombardi of Wonkette!!

ShaveTheWhales December 21, 2011 at 7:41 pm

I read that as "There's no 'T' in 'win'. Which would work too, also.

HempDogbane December 21, 2011 at 12:08 pm

These right here, except a few from the 99ers, are perty good too !

EatsBabyDingos December 21, 2011 at 8:43 am

And he was a Zappa fan. "Watch out where the Palins go and don't you eat that yellow snow…"

ManchuCandidate December 21, 2011 at 8:45 am

"Take that, Jaromir Jagr, you MULLETED WHORE."

Of course he was. He had a stripper in every NHL city or so I was told.

Baconzgood December 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

BUT THE DUDE CAN'T PLAY THE BOARDS!!!! That's what right wingers are suppos'ta do. DON'T GET ME STARTED MANCHU!!!!!!!!!!!

Biel_ze_Bubba December 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

Plays the broads, not the boards? Check. Czech.

ManchuCandidate December 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

If you met his "friend" in Maple Loafs land, Czech and mate. He had good taste when it came to the ladies… not so much his hair or clothes.

Biel_ze_Bubba December 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Hockey fans do admire a hard Czech into the broads.

(I knew there was a joke in there somewhere.)

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

And in this regard he differed from every other NHL player since Aurèl Joliat how?

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 8:49 am

We must not forget that the Czechs brought us Bohemia, literally.

Negligently_Joe December 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

In New York, they're also responsible for the Biergarten craze of the past couple of years.

MzNicky December 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

And Czechs mix?
What?

Smitros December 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

I own real estate on its coast.

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

Ah, memories. You've reminded me of a precious childhood moment, when I was about 10 years old. Time magazine had some kind of "look back at the 60's" special piece, and they had a photo from the Prague spring with a longhaired hippie type marching alongside and hectoring a Red Army soldier. Caption (first three words remembered like it was yesterday, rest I'm less sure): "Young Czech bohemian taunts Russian soldier in Prague." And I thought (as best I can reconstruct): – "Surely they must realize that Bohemians are – I mean, Bohemia is, – I mean, that might have been a Bohemian bohemian,…". And that's when I first realized with crystal clarity that Time magazine is produced and written by hacks.

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:16 pm

"And that's when I first realized with crystal clarity that Time magazine is produced and written by hacks."

A fact that is driven home, with emphasis, every other month when they run one of the following stories:

1. Back to the kitchen, bitch: The scientific basis for gender roles
2. "Mommy, why did Jesus have to die?" "It was the Jews, Timmy."

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 11:45 pm

What an excellent story. Being quite bit younger, I didn't realize that Time was garbage until I witnessed their coverage of the 2008 Democratic primaries. Someone had got me a subscription as a gift, and needless to say, I didn't renew it after that drek.

johnnyzhivago December 21, 2011 at 8:51 am

If this foreign guy had spent more time worrying about the ornaments on the Czech Christmas tree – or at least had the courtesy to fix their language so it looked more like a real language like American, he might have earned more respect here.

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

With place names like "Brno", methinks they could use a few more vowels, instead.

ChernobylSoup December 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

Gah. It's too early in the morning. I'm deleting the comment and hanging my head in shame the rest of the day.

Negropolis December 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

It wasn't bad at all.

Barrelhse December 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

See Vanna White.

swordfis December 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

They were on a wait list but the Soviets never delivered.

MrFizzy December 21, 2011 at 8:55 am

Maybe there's a post-mortem job opening at the George W. Bush Center for Thoughtful Action and Mission Accomplishments.

Terry December 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

"The next time someone tells you that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire through his folksy witticisms and gigantic military build-up (which we’re still paying for), remind them that, perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it."

Bravo. You said this better than I ever could. Of course, I tend to add "Hunkies* rule!" at the end, which may dull the impact of the rest of my statement.

* – Hunky: old derisive term applied to people who come from (or whose family immigrated from) the area once included within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. About half of my family.

EatsBabyDingos December 21, 2011 at 9:16 am

In Cedar Rapids, they were called "Bo-Hunks." Bohemian Hunkies. I'd forgotten about that, as it was a good memory from Iowa and my youth, things that are both in short supply these days (my youth and good things from Iowa).

Terry December 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

In the coal mining towns of central and western Pennsylvania, it used to be an insult but now is what folks call themselves. Typical of those sorts of words, I think. My cousin used to play on a softball team called the "Drunken Hunkies".
http://www.jaha.org/edu/flood/story/img/hoax-hero

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 9:30 am

There's a pretty big colony of them over between San Antonio and Houston, half the names in the phone books for Flatonia, Hallettsville, Shiner, and Yoakum end in "-czyk" or a variation therof.

Negligently_Joe December 21, 2011 at 9:51 am

Interestingly enough, this is also a place where, after the brave folks of Eastern Europe, but still well before Reagan, George Soros actually deserves mad props. His first foray into philanthropy consisted of helping to bankroll a number of these revolutions, as he's of Hungarian extraction and it was his countrymen amongst those languishing under Soviet dominion.

Of course, Glenn Beck used this to cast him as dangerous anti-governement radical, in that anti-semitic hit job of a mini-series he put together on Soros.

swordfis December 21, 2011 at 10:19 am

It's amazing how quickly this has been forgotten. I visited the USSR in its last days and saw Soros $$ in action. Beck accused him of fomenting "revolution," without mentioning that these were anti-Communist revolutions.Beck's star has faded, but has left a trail of tears and slime, if I can mention the latter without offending snails.

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:23 pm

"Glenn Beck used this to cast him as dangerous anti-governement radical"

As contrasted with the wise and benevolent anti-government radicals on the right?

Mumbletypeg December 21, 2011 at 10:29 am

from EatsBabyDingo's:

In Cedar Rapids, they were called "Bo-Hunks."

Oily bohunk / channeling Zombie John Hughes FTW!!

SaintRond December 21, 2011 at 9:03 am

It's so rare to see a leader of a nation who isn't just a sick asshole. And even more rare to see one that is even more than that.

johnnymeatworth December 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

You forgot Velvet Underground fan.

From allmusic.com: "In October 1990, Lou Reed interviewed Vaclav Havel, playwright, poet, president of the newly emancipated Czechoslovakia, and — surprisingly? — a Velvet Underground fan. During the course of their conversation, Havel handed Reed a book. 'These are your lyrics, hand-printed and translated into Czechoslovakian. There were only 200 of them. They were very dangerous to have. People went to jail.'"

bobbysneakers1 December 21, 2011 at 9:14 am

I've got that interview somewhere. it was amazing that lou could have that effect on someone not a snotnosed would-be lovethug from upstate with pretensions of grandeur (and I mean that in the best way possible). I fell in love with havel that day…

johnnymeatworth December 21, 2011 at 9:19 am

Yeah, it's in Lou's book of lyrics called "Between Though And Expression," and I think it might be the last time Lou was actually nice to someone who wasn't Laurie Anderson….

poncho_pilot December 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm

i can say in my case that old line is true: i listened to the Velvet Underground and started a band.

Barrelhse December 21, 2011 at 9:31 am

When I stick that spike into my vein
I tell you things aren't quite the same
When I'm rushing on my run
I feel just like Jesus' son

paris biltong December 21, 2011 at 9:10 am

"Solidarity" is a term that seems totally absent from the American political discourse.

freakishlywrong December 21, 2011 at 9:12 am

I get the feeling our revolution will not be so civilized…

Grief_Lessons December 21, 2011 at 9:20 am

I like Christmas surprises. When I started reading this article I had no way of knowing that it would end by ragging on Jagr.

ManchuCandidate December 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

You know what else Vaclav could have done for me while he was alive?

Introduce me to Czech women. Have you seen them? They're gorgeous even Martina Navratilova in a manly sort of way but I digress.

coolhandnuke December 21, 2011 at 9:37 am

Tis a fine morning to sit under a bridge, pour the absinthe and listen to Lou Reed.

GorzoTheMighty December 21, 2011 at 9:38 am

Something about those Czechs. Let us not forget the Prague Spring of 1968 with revolution in the air. Always on the cutting edge are they.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 9:47 am

Plus, Czech-brewed Budweiser beer puts the American variety to shame.

HedonismBot December 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

As a homebrewer, I imagine I could probably brew better Budweiser beer than (American) Budweiser can.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

All you need to be able to do is piss in a can, so, yes.

HedonismBot December 21, 2011 at 10:34 am

Cheap swill is cheap swill. I'd rather make something that tastes good.

Guppy December 21, 2011 at 9:42 am

"What Can Vaclav Havel Do For You?"

Can Vaclav Havel give me a four hour erection?

I'm asking for a friend.

actor212 December 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

Son, you'll be able to receive radio signals from Tierra del Fuego!

cheaphits December 21, 2011 at 9:59 am

So this Vaclav guy was a writer and intellectual – kinda some little foreign countries version of Newt Gingrich, right?

El Pinche December 21, 2011 at 10:28 am

without the thyroid (corn syrup) issue.

FNMA December 21, 2011 at 10:59 am

Or the lobotomy.

CapeClod December 21, 2011 at 10:10 am

Yeah, but how many real estate deals did he pull off? Or how many casinos did he build? And how many vulgarian tv shows did star in? Hardly seems like Presidential material to me.

ManchuCandidate December 21, 2011 at 10:13 am

Or how many cancer ridden wives he left? Or how many really stupid ideas did he come up with?

Mumbletypeg December 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

"have long since lost their human dimension and have turned man into a little cog in their machinery"

We're already so disconnected personally and dehumanized professionally (depending on your occupational demands and disposable income free-time priorities) it wouldn't surprise me if Havel hadn't given up on championing this precedent of sustaining direct human contact long ago — or at least as recently as this week when Mother Jones detailed yet another snapshot of the sordid workplace conditions in the online retail industry.

DerrickWildcat December 21, 2011 at 10:14 am

So like there's this old guy that's like a cop or detective or something and he has this tattoo of a dragon that helps him solve crimes. And then there's like this weird girl that's good with knives, explosives, motorcycles and hiding that can read animal's thoughts. They go to Czeckl La Slavakia where it's always night to look for some Millionaires lost pet cat. They have to kill a bunch of people but they find the pet cat and so then the guy asks the creepy girl if she will be in another movie with him if he has another case that involves an animal. She says whatever and then there is a big explosion with lots of fire.
The End.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 10:27 am

That's one of my favorite movies evah.

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

*anxious*
Was the cat OK??

DerrickWildcat December 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm

Oh, yeah the cat is fine, but he runs away again to Ohio so they can make another movie. I think he gets there on a boat.

rileywaggs December 21, 2011 at 10:33 am

Another keeper:

“The worst thing is that we live in a contaminated moral environment. We fell morally ill because we became used to saying something different from what we thought. We learned not to believe in anything, to ignore one another, to care only about ourselves. [...] The previous regime — armed with its arrogant and intolerant ideology — reduced man to a force of production, and nature to a tool of production. [...] It reduced gifted and autonomous people, skillfully working in their own country, to the nuts and bolts of some monstrously huge, noisy and stinking machine, whose real meaning was not clear to anyone. [...] We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it.” — Václav Havel, New Year’s Address to the Nation, Prague, Czechoslovakia, 1990.

Just missed him….I'm moving to the Czech Republic in two weeks!

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 10:48 am

Have fun over there Riley. Those Czech czicks are hot!!

paris biltong December 21, 2011 at 11:09 am

"Nature as a tool of production." I like that.
You're not going to work for an insurance company, I hope. Also, think twice before going up to the castle.

AlterNewt December 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Be strong and brave, young Riley.

El Pinche December 21, 2011 at 10:34 am

Today we're all cogs.

SudsMcKenzie December 21, 2011 at 11:00 am

What can Vaclav Havel do for me?

my Vaclav Hummels are selling like hot cakes

kids, … there Will be a Christmas

bringmeanaxe December 21, 2011 at 11:02 am

I'm sorry…so what you're saying, like, is that he was really a godless communist?

actor212 December 21, 2011 at 11:05 am

Chris Hitchens used to drink himself blind for his muse! How can you compare Havel to a man willing to sacrifice his liver daily????

donner_froh December 21, 2011 at 11:21 am

"Democracy of obedience". Stoppard sums things up quite well.

chascates December 21, 2011 at 11:26 am

The current crop of GOP candidates would counter the US has Tim LaHaye.

Pres.Libunatic December 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

Or Bryan Fischer.

chascates December 21, 2011 at 11:35 am

I suppose Newt Gingrich would state that the US has Newt Gingrich.

Blueb4sunrise December 21, 2011 at 11:30 am

mah brane hurtz.

WhatTheHeck December 21, 2011 at 11:43 am

We have many beautiful, Czech crystal glasses at home and they are frequently filled with Czech Pilsners, Scottish single malts, French, Spanish, Italian wines. So every time I raise a glass, I am unpatriotic?

MzNicky December 21, 2011 at 11:58 am

Yes.

And: You forgot Poland!

(Been waiting all morning to use that.)

freakishlywrong December 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

Where's our Mourning Briefing? Where's our Mourning Briefing? Where's our Mourning Briefing? Where's our Mourning Briefing? Where's our Mourning Briefing?

mavenmaven December 21, 2011 at 11:44 am

You expect real Merkans to read? And to read the works of this guy, what was he, French?

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 12:18 pm

And what's tragic is that things could have been so different. If only American men knew that 95% of Milan Kundera's stories are compelling, vivid descriptions of lively, fun, perfect-10 looking hot bodied women getting nekkid and naughty with men who are complete fucking assholes…, Czech literature could be more popular than NASCAR.

(At least the comic book versions.)

SayItWithWookies December 21, 2011 at 11:45 am

Havel's emphasis on the dehumanizing aspect of power is refreshing for two reasons — the first is that repressive governments tend to produce bad art and philosophy, even in their dissidents, as any statement even nominally rebellious gets noticed and gains circulation. So for Havel to maintain a standard of rigor as a political philosopher and an artist is especially rare.

Second is that he knew the anti-human leanings of political and economic power applied regardless of whether that power was communist or capitalist or some other, which tends to get missed. Hearing the right in the US attempting to appropriate Lech Walesa's opinions as approval because he's anti-communist during the healthcare fight just pissed me off — Walesa just sounded a warning about state encroachment and the GOP took it up as some sort of rallying cry for a while, as though the puppet government in Warsaw before he came to power had anything to do with the Democratic party. Turns out Walesa was more ill-informed than anti-healthcare, though the Republicans made the most of it anyway.

But Havel seemed to be a little more savvy than that. Our politics are so partisan now that it's taken for granted that whatever hurts one side is good for America — well — it takes a little more focus to keep one's eye on the humanist ball.

Biel_ze_Bubba December 21, 2011 at 12:09 pm

It's taken for granted that whatever hurts one side is good for our side, and the hell with America.

Fixed.

An_Outhouse December 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

None of that stopped him from being W's butt buddy when the opportunity presented itself. I guess all that power managed to dehumanize him too.

vulpes82 December 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

Isn't the guy who's president of the Czech Republic now, the OTHER Vaclav, some global warming-denying homophobe or something? Quite a drop-off there, Czechs!

Pres.Libunatic December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm

Yep. Vaclav "Bad King Wenceslaus" Klaus.

Of course, Vaclav is like "John" over there. It actually means Wenceslaus, ferealz.

Steverino247 December 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Newt Gingrich is Czech for "fucking asshole." (I thought everybody already knew that.)

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm

So, is his name really spelled Ñîèût Gîñg®ïžçžh?

Steverino247 December 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yes. Yes it is. But it's pronounced "Fucking Asshole!"

SorosBot December 21, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Where is everyone today? It's noon, and there's been nothing since early in the morning. I believe most of us are not students but working adults, and so only get off one day for Christmas instead of a long break.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm

No shit. I think this is the first time ever that a Wonkette World o' Books thread ever exceeded 100 posts.

user-of-owls December 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Owls' little sister acquired a bit of what she quaintly described as, "an opium problem" (sounds so much nicer than "black tar junkie") some years back. We always knew she was back on the pipe when all communications essentially ceased. And like clockwork, after these lulls, she'd be back on the phone (or once, to my horror, barreling toward my nest with deadbeat, illegal Irish husband and born-junked nephew in tow) saying everything was going great, even peachy. But oh, by the way, those assholes at the restaurant/landscaping/housecleaning/etc outfit where I work screwed up my check this month. Think you could spot me a few, just until I get it straightened out?

I'm sure any number of you have similar stories. What I'm trying to say is if Wonket comes by on Xmas Eve and asks for a wee loan, be afraid.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm

So, do you reach for the wallet, the scotch, or the shotgun when this shit happens?

freakishlywrong December 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Um..all of 'em, Katie?

user-of-owls December 21, 2011 at 2:07 pm

Yes (protectively). No (protectively). No (sanely).

not that Dewey December 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm

: (

user-of-owls December 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

No cry albino. Iz B ok.

[Damned if I could actually get a usable link on this Walnuts Original. Anyone?]

flamingpdog December 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I have a hard enough time getting my brain working to perform the mental drudge work my evil state gummint overlords require of me on the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, and I go to the Wonkette for relief (tits, dicks, and buttsechs) and all I find is someone's first semsester European lit final exam essay on Vaclav Havel? I'm with Soros on this one.

proudgrampa December 21, 2011 at 12:31 pm

What is going on here???

Havel: Done Too Soon.

An_Outhouse December 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm

"He must rebel against his role as a helpless cog in the gigantic and enormous machinery hurtling God knows where."

He should have kept this mind when he was whoring the Iraq war for the neocons.

johnnyzhivago December 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm

I reject this notion of foreigners getting credit for earning their own freedom. Freedom making responsibility and credit goes to the country able and willing to bomb these people into submission. When foreigners realize that they either submit to our will or be blasted to the stone age, they will begin to enjoy their freedoms more fully.

Pres.Libunatic December 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Must have been a Wonkette/Gifzette XmasJesusWeen/Solstice Party last night, because neither publication has been updated. Gifzette still has that little slice of the Batman trailer they posted yesterday showing Hines Ward running away from the exploding football field…

johnnyzhivago December 21, 2011 at 12:36 pm

The whole staff was gitmo-ed at 4am this morning. They've all been assigned making Obama ornaments for NEXT year's Holiday Tree.

Seal Team 6 is now going through the commentors picking out the freedom lovers from the terrorists.

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Hello, this is Chichokovich and not some other person pretending to be him. I want to say that you have made an excellent joke Dr. Zhivago, and of course it is funny because we all know that it would be silly for people from the military to do what this very funny, not true at all joke says. Heh, heh. Good one.

OK, now time to return to posting normally as I always do, and you should too, about Buttsox and Trucker's nuts. It is so pleasant when nothing like a roundup of people is happening.

An_Outhouse December 21, 2011 at 12:44 pm

"Havel presided over the destruction of the education, health and pension systems, and the introduction of the “Wild West” capitalism that continues to shape the Czech Republic, Eastern Europe and Russia to this day. For workers and pensioners the political changes of 1989 have produced a social catastrophe. Havel, however, benefited from them; the return of the family assets expropriated in 1948 made ​​him and his brother Ivan millionaires."
http://www.wsws.org/articles/2011/dec2011/have-d2

DerrickWildcat December 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm

I ran out of smart things to say 2 hours ago. I might want my money back.

freakishlywrong December 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Should we send out a search party?

ChernobylSoup December 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Okay, but the most scantily-clad teenage girl has to stay here by herself until we get back.

Chichikovovich December 21, 2011 at 1:11 pm

That would be irresponsible. We'd better leave the weasely guy with the tattoo and a pack of cigs rolled up in his t-shirt sleeve behind too, so they can have sex.

ttommyunger December 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm

Sorry, can't get much attention in 'Merika with a name like 'Vaclav Havel". Should have changed it to something simple, like: Donald Trump, or Ted Nugent or somesuch, also, too.

johnnyzhivago December 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm

This story makes me PROUD to be an American! In OUR country, an old guy like this Havel fellow wouldn't have to be banished to old age as a useless, shriveled man forced to sit around and "think" and "philosophize" all day. In America he could be productive to the end – as a greeter at Wal-Mart for example. USA!!!

proudgrampa December 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm

"…would have no idea these boys were playing for the Czech Republic. It looked more as though they were playing for the Skoda automobile works and a cooking pot called Zepter."

How great a line is that? The man was a fucking genius.

Biff December 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm

Were it not for the Formula 1 race at Monaco, I'd have never seen the name Zepter. And were it not for Top Gear, likewise Skoda.

ChernobylSoup December 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm

Having learned the Wonkette pay structure is based on the number of comments-per-post, Greer KILLED THE REST OF WONKETTE.

paris biltong December 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Someone please tell me what's going on. Is it just a non-functioning Wonkette or is it the end of Western Civilization as we've known it?

Biff December 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

I fear that the Sekrit Cervix has discovered that teh Wonkeets, like me, clicked on something or other in support of Bradley Manning and are being gitmo'd as we read this post.

tessiee December 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm

"The next time someone tells you that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire through his folksy witticisms and gigantic military build-up (which we’re still paying for), remind them that, perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it."

I'm still trying to figure out why he kept asking "Mr. Gorbachev" to tear down a wall that was in frickin' Germany.
Oh, that's right. He was a stupid bastard with a worldview 50 years out of date.

slothrops_willy December 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

"The next time someone tells you that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire through his folksy witticisms and gigantic military build-up (which we’re still paying for), remind them that, perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it."

Don't forget dem Romanians, who got their asses righteously and spectacularly shot in Timisoara, Bucharest and everywhere else for their trouble. (And then had to put up with endless misery of a different kind under exactly the same bastards, forever, but let's not get into that). They had *balls*.

Antispandex December 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

"The next time someone tells you that Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet empire through his folksy witticisms and gigantic military build-up (which we’re still paying for), remind them that, perhaps, some brave Czechs, Slovaks, Poles, Russians, Hungarians and East Germans had something to do it."

Now, you see, I would, except I don't want someone to think I'm a godless heathen (Commie), and send me to the new American Gulag….wait, is THAT ironic? I can never tell. I'm told irony is lost on modern Americans.

sbj1964 December 21, 2011 at 4:20 pm

People around the world have been fighting to bring down tyrannical regimes that lock people up in military prisons without trial.Here in America our brave Congress,and president just signed a bill the NDAA that will give them the same ability to do exactly this.We have lost our way America.

user-of-owls December 21, 2011 at 10:32 pm

Excelsior!

TanzbodenKoenig December 21, 2011 at 11:56 am

For real. I think I finally got banned from BigDouchebag for rampant use of the truth so I need some snark stimulus

freakishlywrong December 21, 2011 at 11:59 am

Newt is a fucking asshole. How is this news?

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 12:01 pm

It's the end of the year, and they have to use up their "use or lose" leave or it gets dropped from the books.

MzNicky December 21, 2011 at 12:02 pm

And also: Newt told a gay voter to go vote for Obama. http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/12/newt-to

too as well: Iowa evangelicals throw their support to Ricky Sanitorium. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-vander

The Wonkettes are all out waging war on xmas I bet.

BaldarTFlagass December 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm

Well, I've been calling him a fucking asshole for 20 years.

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