Vaclav Havel

(Václav Havel)

Vaclav Havel
Vaclav Havel
  • Born: October 5, 1936
  • Died: December 18, 2011
  • Nationality: Czech
  • Profession: Leader

64

Quotes

32

Citations

127

Concepts

0

Videos

Václav Havel was a Czech statesman, writer and former dissident, who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia from 1989 until the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 and then as the first President of the Czech Republic from 1993 to 2003. As a writer of Czech literature, he is known for his plays, essays, and memoirs.

Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
… in politics, just as anywhere else in life, it is impossible and it would not be sensible always to say everything bluntly. Yet that does not mean one has to lie. What is needed here are tact, instinct and good taste. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A politician must become a person again, someone who not only trusts scientific representation and analysis of the world, but also the world itself. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
A single seemingly powerless person who dares to cry out the word of truth and to stand behind it with all his person and all his life, has, surprisingly, greater power, though formally disenfranchised, than do thousands of anonymous voters. Power
A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit.... A state that does not hesitate to lie to its own people will not hesitate to lie to other states. States. Nations & Nationhood ;Foreign Policy, World & International Affairs
Cultural conflicts are increasing and are understandably more dangerous today than at any other time in history. The end of the era of rationalism has been catastrophic. Armed with the same supermodern weapons, often from the same suppliers, and followed by television cameras, the members of various tribal cults are at war with one another. War & Peace
Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance. Time ;Hope ;Miscellaneous
Falsifiers of history do not safeguard history but imperil it. History
I do not know whether I have helped or harmed my fellow citizens. History can probably be the only judge of that. History
I favor anti-politics politics. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Ideology gives people the illusion of principles and dignity while making it easier for them to part with them. Miscellaneous
It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs. Leaders & Leadership
It is not true that people of high principle are ill-suited for politics. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
It's not hard to stand behind one's successes. But to accept responsibility for one's failures... that is devilishly hard Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Let us admit that most of us writers feel an essential aversion to politics. By taking such a position, however, we accept the perverted principle of specialization, according to which some are paid to write about the horrors of the world and human responsibility and others to deal with those horrors and bear the human responsibility for them Arts, Culture, Entertainment & Lifestyle
Many people hardly ever see a politician as a person anymore. Instead, a politician is a shadow they watch on television, not knowing whether he is speaking impromptu or reading a text written for him by anonymous advisers or experts from a screen hidden behind the cameras. Citizens no longer perceive their politician as a living human being, for they never have and will never see him that way. They see only his image, created for them by TV, radio and newspaper commentators. Public Relations & Image
Many people hardly ever see a politician as a person anymore. Instead, a politician is a shadow they watch on television, not knowing whether he is speaking impromptu or reading a text written for him by anonymous advisers or experts from a screen hidden behind the cameras. Citizens no longer perceive their politician as a living human being, for they never have and will never see him that way. They see only his image, created for them by TV, radio and newspaper commentators. It also happens, rather often, that politicians do not actually talk to each other but only to one another's shadows as they appear in the media. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
People who live in the post-totalitarian system know only too well that the question of whether one or several political parties are in power, and how these parties define and label themselves, is of far less importance than the question of whether or not it is possible to live like a human being. Miscellaneous ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
Seek the company of those who are looking for the truth, but run from those who have found it. Miscellaneous
The dissident does not operate in the realm of genuine power at all. He is not seeking power. He has no desire for office and does not gather votes. He does not attempt to charm the public, he offers nothing and promises nothing. He can offer, if anything, only his own skin — and he offers it solely because he has no other way of affirming the truth he stands for. His actions simply articulate his dignity as a citizen, regardless of the cost. Citizenship & Patriotism
The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better... Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The only lost cause is one we give up on before we enter the struggle. Miscellaneous
The only lost cause is one we give up on before we enter the struggle. Miscellaneous
The truth is not simply what you think it is; it is also the circumstances in which it is said, and to whom, why, and how it is said Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The way this works for us Presidents is … we always tell whoever wins that we were crossing our fingers. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
The world we live in is made of an immensely complex and mysterious tissue about which we know very little and which we must treat Environment & Environmentalism
There can be no doubt that distrust of words is less harmful than unwarranted trust in them Propaganda & Disinformation
We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all—-though naturally to differing extents-—responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery. None of us is just its victim. We are all also its co-creators. Miscellaneous
We live in the postmodern world, where everything is possible and almost nothing is certain. Miscellaneous
We must see the pluralism of the world, and not bind it by seeking common denominators. Minorities & Women
Without a global revolution in the sphere of human consciousness, nothing will change for the better in the sphere of our being .... We still don't know how to put morality ahead of politics, science and economy. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
Without free, self-respecting, and autonomous citizens there can be no free and independent nations …. A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit.... A state that does not hesitate to lie to its own people will not hesitate to lie to other states. Freedom & Liberty
Words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government Oratory, Discussion & Debate
Anyone who takes himself too seriously always runs the risk of looking ridiculous; anyone who can consistently laugh at himself does not.
As soon as man began considering himself the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, the world began to lose its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.
But if I were to say who influenced me most, then I'd say Franz Kafka. And his works were always anchored in the Central European region.
Drama assumes an order. If only so that it might have - by disrupting that order - a way of surprising.
Hope is a feeling that life and work have meaning. You either have it or you don't, regardless of the state of the world that surrounds you. Life ;Hope ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Hope is a state of mind, not of the world. Hope, in this deep and powerful sense, is not the same as joy that things are going well, or willingness to invest in enterprises that are obviously heading for success, but rather an ability to work for something because it is good. Hope ;Success ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force
Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. Hope
Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out. Hope
I really do inhabit a system in which words are capable of shaking the entire structure of government, where words can prove mightier than ten military divisions. Government
I think it's important for one to take a certain distance from oneself.
I think theatre should always be somewhat suspect.
If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed.
In my opinion, theater shouldn't give advice to citizens.
Isn't it the moment of most profound doubt that gives birth to new certainties? Perhaps hopelessness is the very soil that nourishes human hope; perhaps one could never find sense in life without first experiencing its absurdity. Life ;Hope
It lies in human nature that where you experience your first laughs, you also remember the age kindly. Nature
Just as the constant increase of entropy is the basic law of the universe, so it is the basic law of life to be ever more highly structured and to struggle against entropy. Life
Lying can never save us from another lie.
Modern man must descend the spiral of his own absurdity to the lowest point; only then can he look beyond it. It is obviously impossible to get around it, jump over it, or simply avoid it.
None of us know all the potentialities that slumber in the spirit of the population, or all the ways in which that population can surprise us when there is the right interplay of events.
Sometimes I wonder if suicides aren't in fact sad guardians of the meaning of life. Life
The attempt to devote oneself to literature alone is a most deceptive thing, and often, paradoxically, it is literature that suffers for it.
The deeper the experience of an absence of meaning - in other words, of absurdity - the more energetically meaning is sought.
The exercise of power is determined by thousands of interactions between the world of the powerful and that of the powerless, all the more so because these worlds are never divided by a sharp line: everyone has a small part of himself in both. Power ;Leaders & Leadership
The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in the human power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility. Power
The tragedy of modern man is not that he knows less and less about the meaning of his own life, but that it bothers him less and less. Life
Theater is there to search for questions. It doesn't give you instructions.
There are times when we must sink to the bottom of our misery to understand truth, just as we must descend to the bottom of a well to see the stars in broad daylight. Truth
There's always something suspect about an intellectual on the winning side.
What's certain is that a totalitarian enclave like Cuba's can't continue to exist, so change will definitely come there, eventually.
When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete. Truth ;Freedom & Liberty
Without free, self-respecting, and autonomous citizens there can be no free and independent nations. Without internal peace, that is, peace among citizens and between the citizens and the state, there can be no guarantee of external peace. War & Peace
Work for something because it is good, not just because it stands a chance to succeed. Work, Workers & The Labor Force