Friday, September 03, 2010

Crazy Vaclav's Place of Markets

The right wing blogosphere, beginning with the No Left Turns blog, is propelling a quote from Czech legend and former President Vaclav Havel --

The government has embraced an arrogant ideology. They claim to know the key to prosperity. It's analogous to communism. They thought the same thing. The clever ones - themselves - would run everything. That's the analogy. The key to prosperity is to let things run themselves. We'll liberalize everything, let everyone look after himself, let business, not the state, run the economy. The state should have no views, no policies of its own. Just open it all up, step back, let it go and you'll see how well everything will work if we just leave things alone.

Cheering the quote, Justin Paulette says --

If he'd been born in America, Havel would have been a Republican - and might have succeeded Reagan as one of the great conservative leaders of our time.

Jonah Goldberg is elated --

[Havel] has a few scotches and comes out swinging for capitalism.

There's just one problem. If you read the quote, it's quite clearly a critique of laissez-faire politics, but Havel's sarcasm was clearly a little too calibrated for his new-found American audience.

But don't take our word for it. The quote comes from 1997 in events covered by the Czech documentary Citizen Havel and specifically concerns his feud (as President) with then Prime Minister and now President Vaclav Klaus who was advocating precisely the policies that Havel thought were going so wrong.

So what Goldberg et al have endorsed is an analogy of free market capitalism to communism in its absolute assurance that it knows what's right for the economy.

Next time dudes, make sure you have the right Vaclav.

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