Vaclav Shall Lead Us: Towards a “Radical Conservatism”

English: Signature of Vaclav Havel.
Image via Wikipedia

Vaclav Havel was an incredible artist and advocate for the rights of the individual in the face of overwhelming political oppression.  Because of this when his country of Czechoslovakia attained freedom from Communist rule, he was named its President.  For him, there was no separation between his art and his politics, because to sign his name to his plays and writings was a political act.

“I think theater should always be somewhat suspect.”
Vaclav Havel

Havel’s quote is a reflection of the belief that theater is inherently subversive of the dominant order.  In our country this has led the left to use theater as a means of critiquing “conservative” or established thought and society.  But Havel used theater to critique a totalitarian Communist order, not a Capitalist society.  As conservatives we have left the arts to the Marxists for too long. Now they are the dominant order in out intellectual establishment and academia.  If we wish to change that we must produce art and theater which is “somewhat suspect” and subversive of dominant Marxist order. Perhaps we should look to Vaclav Havel for inspiration.

Below are some of his quotes which spoke to me as I was reading through them. They seemed eerily reflective of our own time and society, and decidedly “conservative” by American standards.  To have such views in any totalitarian state however, would surely make one a “radical.”

Towards a “radical conservatism” then. Let Vaclav lead the way….

As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.
Vaclav Havel

Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
Vaclav Havel

I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions.
Vaclav Havel

If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He’s not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he’s really needed.
Vaclav Havel

None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
Vaclav Havel

The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it.
Vaclav Havel

The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning – in other words, of absurdity – the more energetically meaning is sought.
Vaclav Havel

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility
Vaclav Havel

The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less.
Vaclav Havel

There’s always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
Vaclav Havel

When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete.
Vaclav Havel

Without free, self-respecting, and autonomous citizens there can be no free and independent nations. Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and the state, there can be no guarantee of external peace.
Vaclav Havel

Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed.
Vaclav Havel

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