1998

The Art of the Impossible

English

This collection of 35 essays written by the Czech playwright and human rights dissident who became the president of his country in 1989, focuses on the challenges facing an East learning democracy from scratch and a West unused to the multicultural complexities this process involves. Their organizing principle is that what is necessary now in politics and statecraft is the reaffirmation of values. "It will certainly not be easy," Havel writes, "to awaken in people a new sense of responsibility for the world, or to convince them to conduct themselves as if they were to live on this earth forever and be answerable for its condition one day. Who knows how many cataclysms humanity may have to experience before such a sense of responsibility is generally accepted? But this does not mean that those who wish to work for it cannot begin at once." The best vehicle for pulling this off, Havel says, are "those organisms that lie somewhere between nation-states and a world community." What he has in mind are "regional communities" like NATO, world organizations like the U.N., and another force that he thinks might be the best suited of all for this task--the mass media.

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