This collection of 35 essays written by the Czech playwright and human rights dissident who became the president of his country in 1989, focuses on the challenges facing an East learning democracy from scratch and a West unused to the multicultural complexities this process involves. Their organizing principle is that what is necessary now in politics and statecraft is the reaffirmation of values. "It will certainly not be easy," Havel writes, "to awaken in people a new sense of responsibility for the world, or to convince them to conduct themselves as if they were to live on this earth forever and be answerable for its condition one day. Who knows how many cataclysms humanity may have to experience before such a sense of responsibility is generally accepted? But this does not mean that those who wish to work for it cannot begin at once." The best vehicle for pulling this off, Havel says, are "those organisms that lie somewhere between nation-states and a world community." What he has in mind are "regional communities" like NATO, world organizations like the U.N., and another force that he thinks might be the best suited of all for this task--the mass media.
From Library Journal
Havel is the president of the Czech Republic as well as a dramatist and human rights activist, and this book presents approximately 35 of his speeches and writings given from 1990 to 1996. The selections are well chosen and illustrate how this postmodern politician has continuously tried to establish links among modern society, politics, and fundamental spiritual values both at the individual and collective levels. Havel believes strongly that spiritual and moral values must form the bedrock of all intergovernmental organizations, and he laments that politicians have become captives to the mass media to the point where Western electorates feel detached from their political systems. His spiritual journey combines his dramatist background and unique perspective on politics and politicians. An excellent book that will demand from readers invidious comparisons with their own political system and leaders, this is a terrific choice for all libraries.?Stephen W. Green, Auraria Lib., Denver
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