Twenty-two years ago, on New Year's Day, Vaclav Havel gave a speech to the people of Prague, who had peacefully overthrown their communist government.
In his own words: "We have to abandon the arrogant belief that the world is merely a puzzle to be solved"
Western governments, he said, are organized on a flawed premise not far removed from the Soviet system that had just collapsed. "The modern era has been dominated by the culminating belief," he said, "that the world ... is a wholly knowable system governed by finite number of universal laws that man can grasp and rationally direct ... objectively describing, explaining, and controlling everything."
These bureaucratic structures are profoundly dehumanizing, Havel believed, striving to control choices that should be left to human judgment and values. This "era of systems, institutions, mechanisms and statistical averages" is doomed to failure because "there is too much to know" and it cannot "be fully grasped." The drive towards standardization is fatally flawed, Havel believed: "life is nonstandard."
Vaclav Havel's Critique of the West
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