After the Fall: The Pursuit of Democracy in Central Europe

By Jeffrey C. Goldfarb | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 5
Havel to the Castle

Immediately after the fall of 1989, while walking around the streets of Prague, I was struck by a remarkable irony. Plastered on building walls, in subway corridors, in car and store windows, on all available spaces, I saw the smiling, benign image of Václav Havel. He was not only the president of the new Czechoslovak polity, nor was he simply the major opponent of the previous communist order; he and his image represented Czechoslovak unity and democracy, the symbol of a civil society. The very existence of the Velvet Revolution was personified by this professional playwright and purportedly amateur politician. The ubiquity of Havel's name and image was overwhelming. Before, wherever one looked in socialist Czechoslovakia, one discovered the banal slogans and jargon of the communist overseers: "Workers of the World,

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