IN MEMORY OF VACLAV HAVEL

This is not a formal gesture, because we havenít come out of nowhere. 16 years ago, One World started in Prague, in Havelís spirit and at his initiative. For five years, our festival was organized under his patronage. After his physical disappearance, in 2011, he stubbornly stays in our minds and souls. Vaclav Havel, you have the word:


First of all, what do we understand by the term civil society? Personally, I feel it is created from within the society on the grass roots level. It usually means foundations and associations. Obviously, this natural human movement into various non-governmental non-profit organizations and the association with civic initiatives is immensely important.  Though it is a backbone of civil society, it is not its only aspect.

There are also institutions between the state and the structures spontaneously created on the civic level. Examples of these are universities, some extent local governments, and so on and so forth. This civil society is grass roots, the breeding ground and the basis of democracy. Democracy without well-developed civil society withers and decays. There are opinions that basic democratic institutions are parliament, government and political parties, and that nothing else is important. We must observe that this is not true.  Political parties draw inspiration from grass roots initiatives’ creative and associational life. Without the proliferation of this life political parties wither and politics alienates the citizen, becoming boring, introspective, odd and a horrid esoteric area for people.

The fact that there are elections in which people can vote does not affect this statement. Ultimately, the electoral turnout is decreased because of the alienation that people experience. It is not by accident that totalitarian regimes always consider civil society to be their main enemy, a threat that must be immediately eliminated.

Vaclav Havel at the Forum 2000 Conference
Prague, October 18, 2004