PJ Media readers know why we mourn the passing of Vaclav Havel. On this site, Michael Ledeen beautifully laid out the reasons why the world knows it has lost one of its greatest leaders. Ledeen put it in these words: “he was one of a handful of people who changed the world by fighting totalitarian Communism and then, having defeated it, inspired his people to rejoin the Western world, embrace capitalism, and support democratic dissidents everywhere.”
But now that almost a week has passed since Havel’s death, some on the Western Left have decided to let their true feelings about Havel out. Despite having to give some lip service to Havel’s integrity and what he accomplished, these men of the Left quickly get to what they really think: Havel helped destroy the great ideal of Communism as a worthy goal, and for that, he cannot be forgiven.
The most egregious is the blog in the British paper The Guardian. The headline to Neil Clark’s article reads, “Another Side of the Story.” Clark immediately ties Havel up with another individual who has just passed way, Christopher Hitchens, whose “consecration” he strongly objects to. For Hitchens was, he writes, “ another ‘progressive’ opponent of the communist regimes of eastern Europe who found favour with Washington’s neocons.”
Clark does not question that Havel was “a brave man” who stood up for his views. That he cannot deny. It is Havel’s views, and his anti-Communism, that he detests. For Havel, he writes, did not help make his country “and the world, a better place.” In particular, denying everything we know about the nature of Stalinism in Eastern Europe — the repression, the bureaucracy, the lack of necessary consumer goods to lead a decent life, the ever pervasive secret police — he faults Havel for the following:
Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgement of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.
Surely Mr. Clark must be kidding. Has he not read any of the scores of books revealing the nature of life under what his comrades then called “really existing socialism”? Does he not realize that all these so-called “positive achievements” were there mainly in the minds of the state and Party propaganda apparatus, and that the only people to have them were the Party’s apparatchiks? Does he really believe that communism put the needs of “the majority first”? What accounts, then, for the scores of brave crowds who swept Havel into office, and who openly taunted the regime’s spokesmen as liars and no different than the Nazis who ruled before them?
Clark does not stop with the above. In true Communistpeak, he attacks Havel as “the son of a wealthy entrepreneur,” in other words used by the Maoists of the day, a “capitalist roader.” How dare the son of a bourgeois merchant becomes a national hero? Havel, to Clark, as to the comrades who ruled for decades, had no right to power, since he came from the hated capitalist class.