Via Ace and NoLeftTurns at the Ashbrook Center:
Explaining the reason for the Czech Republic’s economic slump in the mid-90’s, then-President Vaclav Havel postulated that it was a “punishment for pride”:
The government has embraced an arrogant ideology. They claim to know the key to prosperity. It’s analogous to communism. They thought the same thing. The clever ones – themselves – would run everything. That’s the analogy. The key to prosperity is to let things run themselves. We’ll liberalize everything, let everyone look after himself, let business, not the state, run the economy. The state should have no views, no policies of its own. Just open it all up, step back, let it go and you’ll see how well everything will work if we just leave things alone.
These were not prepared remarks. Havel was recorded while drinking scotch and chatting with political advisors. The translation from Czech may be a bit rough, but the relevancy to English-speakers warrants the rendition here.
If he’d been born in America, Havel would have been a Republican – and might have succeeded Reagan as one of the great conservative leaders of our time.
Havel and Reagan had a lot in common – they were both actors before they entered politics and both were ardent anti-communist and lovers of individual freedoms. The Czech Republic is one of the most stable of the former USSR satellites and is one of my favorite places to visit.
Prague is one of the most unspoiled European cities and still has a classic charm. Below is a picture of the Charles Bridge with Prague Castle in the background.