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On the second anniversary of the death of Vaclav Havel, we are reminded what made him different:

Former [Czech] dissidents entered the new era with the naïveté of children on their first trip to the toy store; out of everything that was Western, the invisible hand of the market proved most alluring. But Havel was different, because he did not simply look at Communism or capitalism from the perspective of the other. He considered both systems to be two versions of the same crisis of civilization.

In what is perhaps the most important manifesto of anti-Communist dissent, his 1978 “Power of the Powerless,” Havel expresses this very clearly. Modern democratic societies offered “no fundamental opposition to the automatism of technological civilization and the industrial-consumer society, for they, too, are being dragged helplessly along by it.”