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The Price of Velvet: Thomas Masaryk and Vaclav Havel

[journal article]

Gellner, Ernest

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Abstract Contrasts the philosophies of Tomas G. Masaryk & Vaclav Havel, the men who led the Czech Velvet Revolution in 1918 & 1989. Masaryk opposed a regime he would not fully reject until later in life, whereas Havel opposed an indisputably repulsive regime. For this reason, Masaryk sought deeper reasons for the revolution & legitimated the renewal of the Czech state with his philosophy of history. Positing that the world evolved from theocracy to democracy, Masaryk argued that the Czechs initially provided the impetus for the shift dcuring the fifteenth-century Hussite movement, lost touch with the democratization process after the Battle on the White Mountain in 1620, & returned to the mainstream of European history in their fight against absolutism. Masaryk's faith in the meaning & strength of democracy was subsequently destroyed by the Munich Agreement. Havel, by contrast, based his politcal vision not on the philosophy of history, but on belief in democratic values. Both men have accepted a rather high level of continuity with the overturned political structures, which may be the price of a 'velvet' approach to political revolution.
Classification Political Process, Elections, Political Sociology, Political Culture; History
Free Keywords Intellectual History; Political Philosophy; Presidents; Democracy; Czech Republic; political philosophy, Czech Tomas G. Masaryk vs Vaclav Havel, 1918-1989;
Document language English
Publication Year 1995
Page/Pages p. 45-57
Journal Sociologický časopis / Czech Sociological Review, 3 (1995) 1
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Deposit Licence - No Redistribution, No Modifications