Vaclav Havel was a Czech writer and dissident who later became, after the Velvet Revolution of 1989, the President of his country. This episode continues the The Burning Archive podcast's commemoration of his writing, ideas and the model of his way of living in truth remains meaningful to us today. This episode looks at the essays, "The Power of the Powerless" (1978), "Six Asides about Culture" (1984), and "Politics and Conscience" (1984), the memoir, To the Castle and Back, and Havel's work for a better world after leaving the Czech Presidency in 2003.
This episode of The Burning Archive podcast explores how Havel's writing, ideas and the model of his way of living in truth remains meaningful to us today. This episode sets out the main events of Havel's life and the ideas of his political essays. It looks in depth at the "Letter to Gustav Husak" (1975), and its uncanny evocation of aspects of our lives today in a locked down world.
The latest episode of The Burning Archive Podcast is out and available on all the usual platforms, including Apple and Spotify. When faced with cultural decay and ruined institutions, what is a podcaster to do? In this episode, Jeff Rich turns for hope to the traditions of the Eastern European dissidents of 1960-90 Eastern Europe. … Continue reading The Burning Archive Podcast #10 – The Parallel Polis and the Power of the Powerless
2020 has taught us through bitter experience that our societies are not vaccinated against totalitarianism, and certainly not the mutant strain of "soft totalitarianism" described in Rod Dreher's Live Not by Lies: a Manual for Christian Dissidents (2020). The last year has seen lockdowns, curfews and bans on the most fundamental human relationships (attendance at … Continue reading On living not by lies
And if and when Trump is no longer President, all the ills of political system can no longer be blamed on Trump. For four years now – in America but also through viral spread around the world – all the ills of our deformed, barren political society have been personified in a metonymic myth: Donald … Continue reading Our barren, deformed political society
During the week the High Court of Australia passed judgement on a case in which a public servant was sacked for an anonymous tweet, critical of government but made in her private life, that was said to breach a code of conduct for government employees. The lower courts had found that this action was an … Continue reading Free speech for public servants and Osip Mandelstam
Today I am posting the last (for now) of my reposts from earlier, retired blogs. This post comes from 2010 and is a reflection on Vaclav Havel's thought, then still alive, and comment on the defeat of the masters of the universe in the global financial crisis. As it happens I read Havel's famous long … Continue reading On the virtue of not knowing (WordPress anniversary repost)
As I look around the world at the state of politics, I conclude that our democratic republics are in distress. This judgment is not a mere oppositional response to Donald Trump or Brexit or any form of disappointment that my preferred leader or team has lost the electoral lottery. It is a more deeply and … Continue reading Republics in distress
"Who among us can know what may seem today to be marginal graphomania might not one day appear to our descendants as the most substantial thing written in our time? Vaclav Havel A premonition of blogging? No, but part of a profound essay on culture as the freedom of the human spirit. Read more at … Continue reading Six asides about culture (and Havel, reblogged)
I. Culture forms chaotically from spirit. Havel begins his essay, or talk, "Six asides about Culture" with some speculation that tomorrow he might write his best ever literary work, or then again he might never write another word again. Culture escapes determinants. It has the quality of life, and not the predictable attributes of an … Continue reading Six asides about Vaclav Havel