I first met Václav Havel in 1988, shortly after he had been released from prison and a year before he led his country out of the Communist abyss. As a young undergraduate in England I had decided to travel round eastern Europe that summer, and was given various books and other materials to smuggle to Havel on behalf of Czech dissident friends of his in London. In the years since, especially after I moved to Prague, he occasionally found time to speak to me because, as he said, he was very grateful for receiving those items.
Havel was a true liberal and understood the nature of communism better than most, which is why so many distinguished people will be attending his funeral tomorrow. But Neil Clark won’t be there.
When it published Clark’s article on Monday, the Guardian was parroting 1970s Soviet-style propaganda. Clark wrote: “Havel’s anti-communist critique contained little if any acknowledgment of the positive achievements of the regimes of eastern Europe in the fields of employment, welfare provision, education and women’s rights. Or the fact that communism, for all its faults, was still a system which put the economic needs of the majority first.”
Who needs Pravda when you have the Guardian?