Freedom and Its Adversaries, post debate

With the panels now over, it’s up to Madam Secretary to hold the floor with the students; so, some highlights from this morning:

Jacques Rupnik spoke first on the obvious enemies of Freedom such as homogeneity, nationalism, and collectivity. Today it is the less obvious enemy of the Elite; there is an unprecedented level of what Isaiah Berlin calls ‘Negative Freedom’, the lack of intrusion as opposed to the expected enemy of intrusion. He also mentioned that the legacies of Dissent are lost, yet important to Freedom and a Civil society, that only a hollow, Democratic shell of society remains.

Adam Michnik was next. This man is an amazing personality. A wonderful, humorous, breath of fresh air. He also feels as though we have an empty state, a vacuum state. Corruption is a permanent state in the structure which leads to fundamentalism and fundamentalist slogans; and, fundamentalism of any kind is a very bad thing. Monetary fundamentalism is the idea that the market should decide. Also, ‘Putenism’ = a Sovereign Democracy, which = My Democracy. And finally, with a minor trip in translation was that ‘corruption is like prostitution, it will always be there’.

Martin Bútora spoke, “Civic helplessness + Civic indifference = Civil Frigidity .” Also, he’s shocked at the lack of imagination in young people. In addition, the previous phrase ‘Prosim, Odejtete’ should be ‘Prosim, Prijdete’.

Then it was Andrei Piontkovsky‘s turn at bat who said that “the best way to help Russia is to help Ukraine”. The points being: 1) Russia is too big for its britches, and 2) By creating hope and self-confidence from within smaller states like Ukraine, we help Russia to change.

Tom Stoppard consistently kicked-ass; Freedom isn’t won or lost in large dramatic events anymore, but it is being lost by a thousand tiny cuts.

Timothy Garton Ash added that corruption is poisonoing the air of Freedom. How to re-establish the rule of law? In 1989 we said that Democracy, Freedom and the Free-Market were the ideas of the day, but that we forgot to add “rule of law” to that trinity. How do we re-incorporate ‘the rule of law’?

A few common threads were ‘corruption’, ‘Putin’s Russia’, and what a joke Vaclav Klaus is. So, nothing we didn’t already know.

Re: Havel, do have any idea how hard it is to stop yourself from shaking while trying to take his picture, standing right next to him and being blocked by his bodyguard? Answer: Very Hard.

I got his signature anyway.

Life is good.


One Comment

  1. Special days for all Czechs and Europeans. In real life however, many people tend to focus on current economic difficulties and forget how incredibly important these events of 1989 were. And we still have the Communist Party in the Czech Parliament. From one perspective, a pity that the autumn elections were cancelled, as the mood is right now.

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