Václav Havel’s remarkable and rousing essay on the tyranny of apathy, with a new introduction by Timothy Snyder
Cowed by life under Communist Party rule, a greengrocer hangs a placard in their shop window: Workers of the world, unite! Is it a sign of the grocer’s unerring ideology? Or a symbol of the lies we perform to protect ourselves?
Written in 1978, Václav Havel’s meditation on political dissent – the rituals of its suppression, and the sparks that re-ignite it – would prove the guiding manifesto for uniting Solidarity movements across the Soviet Union. A portrait of activism in the face of falsehood and intimidation, The Power of the Powerless remains a rousing call against the allure of apathy.
'Havel’s diagnosis of political pathologies has a special resonance in the age of Trump' Pankaj Mishra
"Havel’s diagnosis of political pathologies has a special resonance in the age of Trump" (Pankaj Mishra)
"Few voices did more to undermine the foundations of the Berlin Wall and the entire edifice of Soviet-imposed totalitarianism than this shy bourgeois, this sly, reticent, playwright and essayist" (David Remnick New Yorker)
"In gentle, ironic but scathing prose, Havel's The Power of the Powerless exposed the lies and cowardice that made possible the communist grip on power" (The Economist)
"In his now iconic 1978 essay, which circulated in underground editions in Czechoslovakia and was smuggled to other Warsaw Pact countries and to the West, Havel foresaw that the opposition could eventually prevail against the totalitarian state" (The New York Times)