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The Power of the Powerless: Citizens Against the State in Central-Eastern Europe [Paperback]

by Vaclav Havel, John Keane
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 26, 1985 0873327616 978-0873327619
Books of great political insight and novelty always outlive their time of birth and this reissued work, initially published in 1985, is no exception. Written shortly after the formation of Charter 7, the essays in this collection are among the most original and compelling pieces of political writing to have emerged from central and Eastern Europe during the whole of the post-war period.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Editorial Reviews


'This brilliant text is undoubtedly the finest analysis ever made of the 'post-totalitarian' systems.' - Times Literary Supplement 'A profound intellectual tour de force that analyzes the 'post-totalitarian' system of Eastern Europe. ... Havel's The Power of the Powerless has not lost its intellectual appeal.' - Slavic Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English, Czech (translation) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 228 pages
  • Publisher: M E Sharpe Inc (June 26, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0873327616
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873327619
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #534,401 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
59 of 78 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Living within the truth is the ultimate act of citizenship, and such living, even in the face of totalitarian repression (as in Czechoslovakia) or consumerist subversion and corporate corruption of the political and financial systems (as in the USA) can ultimately empower the powerless.
This is an *extraordinary* book that is directly relevant to the circumstances that we now find ourselves in--what Ralph Nader calls "corporate socialism," where the nominal owners of both the federal government (the voters) and the corporations (the stockholders) find themselves disenfranchised, abused, shut out, and their life savings looted by the most senior chief executive officers and politicians.
The book is slightly mis-represented, with "et al" in small print after Havel's name as the author. I was even tempted to skip the additional small essays (his leading essay constitutes 44% of the total book, with ten other essays each being roughly 6% of the book) but that would have been unwise. There is real value in the other essays.
Both Eastern Europe prior to the revolution, and the USA in particular but Western democracies in general, share a common overwhelming problem, that of the silenced majority. As both Havel here and Nader elsewhere observe, the word "progressive" is contaminated and diluted, while democracy and capitalism (or socialism) in the ideal are completely compromised by a combination of asymmetric information (keeping the people uninformed) and corporate or bureaucratic or political corruption.
Havel opens by noting that "the system has become so ossified politically that there is practically no way for ...nonconformity to be implemented within its official structures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read for all political students. November 19, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Covers the concepts behind the Chartist movement, essentially as a tool for truth and not ignoring the law, opening up some interesting ground: socialists and capitalists, atheists and Christians, side by side noting and working to fix the lies, flaws and shortcomings of a blistering Marxist regime. You need a high tolerance for double speak and for Euler like proof set-ups, but understand that direct talk less circumspect back then would have been suicidal, it was anyway for many or these folks!. I particularly liked Vaclav Cerny's condemnation of socialism as Satan! It probably didn't get him a lot of adoration from the Czech govt. but if you rip out the word Chartist and replace it with the words, "Tea Party," suddenly his tract becomes chillingly and frighteningly relevant to a contemporary American politic that seems headed down that same amoral gray tunnel of state slavery, state greed, and insane class hatred inspired priorities..
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brief review of Power of the Powerless October 10, 2012
By Kelvin
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I have read 3 articles so far and and could say its excellent up to this moment. The terms "post-totolitariamism:" are well introducted and its gave meaning to why people have to live within the truth. On the contrast, live within the lie, is exactly made one maintain its "life" without dignity.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a moral leader of our time November 22, 2007
By Ben
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
a big humble man, a man of intellect courage and principle whose word deserve to be read, Havel is the triumph of the individual who preserves its integrity under communism. Havel is also the living symbol of modern Czechoslovakia, that what makes this nation special and different. .
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