Czech Republic Government

Václav Havel's Lessons on How to Create a "Parallel Polis"

The New Yorker

For Havel, the main question before him was "equally relevant to all": whether we could succeed in "placing morality above politics and responsibility above our desires, in making human community meaningful, in returning content to human speech, in reconstituting, as the focus of all social action, the autonomous, integral, and dignified human'I.' Thinking of his own close-knit fraternity of political outcasts in Eastern Europe, Havel called for "the rehabilitation of values like trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, love" in politics. The spontaneous and vigorous opposition to Trump, whether at the women's marches the day after his Inauguration or at the protests at U.S. airports in support of a viciously demonized people, has already manifested many of the qualities that Havel wished to see in civil society: trust, openness, responsibility, solidarity, and love. Many more people realize, as Havel did, that arbitrary and inhuman power cannot deprive them of the inner freedom to make moral choices, and to make human community meaningful.