Prague Twin

Friday, September 28, 2007

Havel Responds

If you don't know about Vaclav Havel that is a pity. The last President of Czechoslovakia and the first president of the Czech Republic, Havel earned his reputation as a political writer and playwright under communism. He spent many years in prison because of his dissidence and for that, he certainly has my respect.

We don't always agree (he supported the Iraqi invasion) but he is consistent in his approach: he vehemently opposes oppression. So when he argues that acting to curb global warming does not jeopardize our civil liberties, I listen.

This recent article in the Herald-Tribune was clearly written in response to Klaus' assertion that the global warming hysteria is a danger to freedom (see post below). In the article he nails a point that I think is being missed in the argument....

Because so much uncertainty still reigns, a great deal of humility and circumspection is called for.

We can't go on endlessly fooling ourselves that nothing is wrong and that we can go on cheerfully pursuing our consumer lifestyles, ignoring the climate threats and postponing a solution. Maybe there is no danger of any major catastrophe in the coming years or decades. Who knows? But that doesn't relieve us of responsibility toward future generations.

I couldn't agree more.

But seriously, read the whole thing. It is short, sweet, and to the point.

And Vaclav Havel is worth your time. He's earned it.

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21 Comments:

  • thanks for the pointer

    we need to vastly the reduce the amount of overall energy we use as well as alter the way we get that energy

    a funny thing i read recently that is certainly food for thought is that there is quite a lot of evidence that hunter-gatherer societies had a ggreat deal more leisure time than we do now.

    By Anonymous michael greenwell, at 2:36 PM  

  • Yeah, I read that too. Something like 20 hrs. per week on average worked. The rest was free time.

    Then again, they don't have Adidas.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 5:34 PM  

  • Good quotes from Havel. The thing I always liked best about Havel was that he was friends with Frank Zappa.

    By Anonymous Tom Harper, at 6:34 PM  

  • he supported the Iraqi invasion

    he vehemently opposes oppression

    I wonder how the hell he managed to rationalize that one.

    His article was good.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 6:39 PM  

  • I'm lost: is it Havel or Klaus who is talking about GW? I'm not thinkingn that nothing is going on, I'm just not sure the warming is all over the World, that it's human caused, that it's bad, that we can do anything about it and, if we can, that the cost will be worse than the bad GW will cause.
    I knew who Havel was and liked him.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 7:44 PM  

  • he supported the Iraqi invasion

    he vehemently opposes oppression

    I wonder how the hell he managed to rationalize that one.

    Graeme, are you of the 'Iraq was a kld kite flying paradise before we started a war for nothing' camp? Or are you aware of the reality that Saddam was a vicious totalitarian dictator?
    I grow weary of faulty analysis based on historical ignorance.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 7:48 PM  

  • Then again, they don't have Adidas.

    Or the Internet. ;-)

    You're right, Havel's point that we can't know to the nth decimal point the exact effect that humans have on global warming is something that doesn't get stressed enough. We do know enough to know we have to act.

    The consequences of not acting are potentially HUGE. Besides, there are other, more immediate benefits to reducing our reliance on fossil fuels - health, for one. Distancing ourselves from volatile, oil-producing regions for another.

    By Anonymous abi, at 4:59 PM  

  • Tom,

    Thanks for that, I didn't know. He hangs with a lot of cool people.

    Graeme,

    Basically, he is for getting rid of dictators. Like I said, I disagree with him on Iraq, but he is consistent.

    Roger,

    He isn't dead yet! They are both talking about global warming, thus the title "Havel Responds." They are enemies going way back. Something to do with Klaus getting rich while Havel was rotting in cell.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 5:41 PM  

  • Abi,

    I like fine wine as well, since we are at it. ;)

    I'm glad you got my point. Global warming has become the battle cry of the environmental movement, but the concern should go beyond global warming. I just could never express it as well as Havel.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 5:43 PM  

  • Roger,

    I suppose you were protesting against Saddam murdering Iranians with our help in the 80s as well? Saddam is a "bad guy" because he stopped taking orders.

    In order to be legitimate, resistance must by led by internal elements (like the brave Monks in Burma). Right now, the legitimate resistance in Iraq is the one fighting the American occupation. It was up to them to throw out Saddam, and in time they probably would have. Perhaps they'd replace him with someone that wanted the people to control their resources. We couldn't take that chance.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 7:32 PM  

  • When Havel talks, I listen. As usual, his logic is near flawless. By lessening our footprint on the earth, what harm can it do? And by practicing conservation, we can improve Mother Earth's chances to be here for future generations. I think my own government is doing more to erode my civil rights than the global warming hystericals.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 9:08 PM  

  • Rocky,

    Spot on as usual.

    Thanks.

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 12:06 AM  

  • Graeme, indeed I was critical of Saddam Hussein in the 80s. He started and bungled a war against Iran. I was highly critical.

    In order to be legitimate, resistance must by led by internal elements

    Where did you get this idiocy? So Germany should still rule France, since it was American and British troops who liberated it, while the legitimate government of France was largely in collusion. You are more ignorant than I thought. And that was hard to do.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 10:51 PM  

  • Rockync,

    Do you have a civil right that you claim has been eroded? I'm not talking about responses to war (like those which followed on Pearl Harbor attack) but erosion of your civil rights by the Bush Administration just being power mad or evil.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 10:54 PM  

  • Roger,

    You don't acknowledge the French Resistance? Who are you, Ken Burns?

    By Blogger Graeme, at 8:11 AM  

  • Is it your contention that the French resistance cleared the German troops out of France? Also for homework, were there more
    Frenchmen in collaboration with the Germans (actual membership whether later denied or not) than there were members of the French Resistance (actual membership whether claimed later or not)? I think the numbers will surprise you, Graeme. I am aware of Free French Forces fighting with the American, et al., just in case that was where you were headed in your retreat from your original silly comment.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 7:47 PM  

  • Roger, Where to begin? These comment sections are for briefs, but I will try to hit a few points without getting too wordy. My civil right to privacy is definitely being eroded since the government approved wiretaps without warrants and monitoring my email for “trigger” words to name just a couple of instances. My constitutional rights face many challenges in the form of the constant battle to further gun laws that infringe on my right to keep and bear arms, the nanny laws meant to “protect” me from: MYSELF! IE helmet laws, seat belt laws and certain drug laws. That many of the new restrictions are tied to the Patriot Act should not disqualify them from being worrisome. The Patriot Act should not be used to curtail the activities of law abiding American citizens. Nor should it be used to detain non Americans indefinitely without due process. I could go on, but what would be the point? You will post a response telling me all about how wrong I am and I’ll still be worried about the direction my country is heading.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 6:27 PM  

  • rockync, you wrote:

    "My civil right to privacy is definitely being eroded since the government approved wiretaps without warrants and monitoring my email for “trigger” words to name just a couple of instances."

    Surveillance cameras have been placed at the two subway stations near my house. At the closest station, eight cameras have installed in the last couple of months. Moreover, the police presence at this stop has increased from zero to at least two cops nearby 24 hours a day.

    Meanwhile, four surveillance cameras have been installed at the next nearest subway stop. Actually, these cameras are mounted on poles overlooking the small strip mall which sits on the platform built over this subway station.

    There has been no objection to these cameras. Their presence may not stop a perpetrator from committing a criminal act, but they will certainly improve the likelihood of identifying and capturing miscreants.

    Why were they placed at these two stops? Because a large muslim population lives nearby and accesses the subway via these two stations. In the world of terrorism, it would be hard to find two more likely spots for a terrorists to enter the subway system.

    You wrote:

    "My constitutional rights face many challenges in the form of the constant battle to further gun laws that infringe on my right to keep and bear arms..."

    I doubt it. Name one change in gun laws that impinges upon your ability to buy and own weapons.

    You wrote:

    "the nanny laws meant to “protect” me from: MYSELF! IE helmet laws, seat belt laws and certain drug laws."

    Please. I gather you believe it is your right to spread your outrageous medical bills among all taxpayers if you snap your neck falling off your motorcycle. There is a hospital on Roosevelt Island in NY City that exists to care for people with spinal-cord injuries. Many of the patients move around the area near the hospital on motorized wheelschairs, and in a number of cases, on motorized gurneys.

    It's strange to see so many impaired people zipping around in wheelchairs, especially when you know that quite a few of them are paralyzed due to motorcycle crashes and bullet wounds.

    As they say, it's not the gun that breaks the law. It's the guy holding it. There are a lot of those guys in NY City. Their victims can be found in cemeteries and on street-corners in black and hispanic neighborhoods. The shooting victims are the guys in wheelchairs.

    What's your solution for further reductions of shooting crimes?

    As for seatbelts, well, I guess since you're game for risking your life on a motorcycle, and you are obsessed with the imagined impairment of your freedoms resulting from buckling up, I must conclude you have no family who would care if you lived or died or existed in some state of living death from an accident.

    You wrote:

    "That many of the new restrictions are tied to the Patriot Act should not disqualify them from being worrisome."

    I don't think seat-belt laws are connected to the Patriot Act.

    You wrote:

    "The Patriot Act should not be used to curtail the activities of law abiding American citizens."

    I've seen nothing to suggest your statement is true.

    You wrote:

    "Nor should it be used to detain non Americans indefinitely without due process."

    That depends on circumstances.

    By Anonymous no_slappz, at 8:22 PM  

  • "The Patriot Act should not be used to curtail the activities of law abiding American citizens."

    I've seen nothing to suggest your statement is true.
    NO SLAPPZ, perhaps you missed my reference: "the government approved wiretaps without warrants and monitoring my email for “trigger” words to name just a couple of instances."
    And, I repeat;"I could go on, but what would be the point? You will post a response telling me all about how wrong I am and I’ll still be worried about the direction my country is heading."
    As for your statement,""Nor should it be used to detain non Americans indefinitely without due process."

    That depends on circumstances."
    That I find truly scary. Are we a democratic country sworn to uphold the human rights or ALL people on our soil or are we democratic when it's convenient and totalitarian the rest of time? Can't have it both ways.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 8:46 PM  

  • The assault on Amendment rights are not from the Administration (maybe next one). Detention of captured soldiers without due process has happened in American for 230 years. Wartime surveillance has occured for that long as well. Habeas was suspended during the Civil war and we can always round up aliens and deport or hold them as we choose. You're worried about things that have been going on for a long time without serious downsides. No warrant is required for foreign signal intelligence. I'm not sure the 'key word' programs hold any horrors either. They could never use them in a trial at least. I'm with you on 'nanny state' stuff. Let's review, what side of the political aisle is the primary source of those laws? Thanks for getting back to me.

    By Blogger Roger Fraley, at 11:48 PM  

  • Roger, First, I'm an independent so I don't give a rat's ass which political affiliation is the source of laws or policies. There's enough guilt to go around all of them. Second, we are not "rounding up aliens and holding them." We went into their country and pulled them out and stuck them in Gitmo. Again, if we are going to tout ourselves as a democracy and hold up our lofty constitution to the rest of the world, we must apply it to the Gitmo detainees and give them due process. You really want to be part of keeping even one innocent man incarcerated indefinitely? And unless they are given a speedy trial how will we know if they are innocent or guilty? You said, " Detention of captured soldiers without due process has happened in American for 230 years." Once again, this concerns capturing of soldiers as POWs. Where is the proof any of these detainees are soldiers? Our government has kept these men long enough. Time to produce. I'm glad having phone taps (which are happening on phones in AMERICA) and having someone monitor your email doesn't concern you; it concerns me greatly.
    You and I see things very differently and I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 6:03 AM  

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