Power Of The Powerless

289 Words2 Pages
I believe that this essay, by Vaclav Havel, is a very effective way to describe the failure of the much-needed action of his country. The greengrocer, of course, is not just a greengrocer, but represents the Czechoslovakian people, and the sign in his window stands for all the many thousands of acts of compliance that they commit in daily life. A system of rule like that in Czechoslovakia, what Havel calls a post- totalitarian system can only exist because of those people who "create through their involvement a general norm and, thus, bring pressure to bear on their fellow citizens." This is the power of the powerless; that they are actively shaping the system that represses them. He calls this living a lie. Havel's analysis of the toll that the post-totalitarian regime takes from the individual who lives under it, is extremely intelligent. Havel believed each member of society shared the blame for the actions of the regime. The concept and fundamental revolt that Havel proposes, "living in truth," is an admirable and necessary one. I agree with his argument that people are manipulated in ways that are infinitely more refined than the methods used in the post-totalitarian societies. In a democracy, human beings may enjoy many personal freedoms and securities that are unknown to us, but in the end they do them no good, for they too are ultimately victims of the same automatism, and are incapable of defending the same automatism, and are incapable of defending their concerns about their own identity or preventing their superficial concerns about the their own personal survival to become proud and responsible members of the polis, making a genuine contribution to the creation of its

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