Klaus’’s Havel

Photo: Petr Horník, Právo If someone tried to form an opinion of Václav Havel’’s presidency based on what President Klaus has lately been saying about the late President, the result would not go down very well with those who knew Václav Havel personally. None of them remember Havel as an extreme leftist, nor a post-democratic elitist, nor a modernist destroyer of the democratic order, nor indeed an enemy of the state. A much truer picture of Havel emerges from the eulogy the very same President Klaus gave at Havel’s funeral a year ago, when he said that we had lost […]

Truth and Love

Photo: Peter Župník The more the communist regime becomes a distant memory, the more obvious it seems to me that the essence of this world is located in a different dimension than that defined by political regimes. Admittedly, from the factual point of view, dictatorship and democracy are worlds apart, since democracy enables me to freely voice my outrage at the state of affairs and under certain circumstances – provided I am willing to expend the necessary will, time and energy – to try and do something about it. However, if I compare the horror at the rule of lies […]

Ukraine’s Reality, Post-Orange Revolution

At a recent meeting of Ukrainian and French publishers a few ‘basic’ facts about Ukraine were mentioned for the benefit of the French by way of introduction: the country has a territory larger than France and 45 million inhabitants. The French publishers’ eyes popped out in astonishment: ‘But that’s a huge market!’ one of them exclaimed. I believe educated people with no idea of the size of the state of Ukraine can be found anywhere in the world. Which means that the world doesn’t know much about Ukraine. It is Ukraine that is mostly to blame for this state of […]

After The Velvet Divorce

Tyres quietly swish on the motorway, gliding on the smooth surface almost untouched by cars right up to the Czech state border. This is one of the few motorways in Europe that has seen the number of cars using it go down. Once it was known for long tailbacks but that was a long time ago, before two nations turned their backs on one another. In 1992, in a touching display of cooperation, these two nations erected two concrete buildings for customs and border officials on the border they shared. It was as if a river had been artificially diverted […]

The Twilight of Proletarian Afterglow

I had a dream the other night. I dreamt of the Passenger Car Factory where my father had worked for over forty years. After World War II it was the first – and for a long time the only – factory producing passenger cars in Poland. It was built in 1951. The first car it produced was the Polish version of the Russian GAZ M20, known as Pobeda, which means Victory. The factory occupied a large district on the periphery of Warsaw and must have been one of the largest employers in town and one of the largest in the […]