The World We do not Want to Live in

11. 10. 2010

This is a proclamation of the "Coalition of the Unwilling", a group of young Czech intellectuals, represented in public by Jan Černý and Ondřej Slačálek. It was disseminated on the occasion of the opening of yet another of Václav Havel's "Fora 2000" in Prague at the weekend.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Prague is hosting another conference, Forum 2000, under the auspices of Mr. Václav Havel. Alongside respectable personalities such as the sociologist Zygmunt Baumann and journalist George Monbiot, speakers invited include Paul Wolfowitz, Czech coal baron Zdeněk Bakala as well as neo-liberal reformers Mirek Topolánek and Rudolf Zajac. The title of the conference is "The world we want to live in".

We have gathered to convey to you, speakers and participants, our best. But we are also here to tell you that we do not want to live in a world where war criminals and business oligarchs reinvent themselves as incarnations of morality and philanthropy.

Coalition of the willing

Mr. Václav Havel repeatedly voiced his support for the wars on Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He lent his moral authority to the Bush administration and its rhetoric as well as to the "Coalition of the willing" who attacked Iraq. Although the pretexts for the war were later proven false, Mr. Havel has chosen to invite Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the war, as a speaker at Forum 2000.

Reforms benefitting big business

Massive cuts to public services is a key political issue in present-day Europe. Mr. Václav Havel has chosen to invite those who lead this attack on public services. Mirek Topolánek, former Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, is famous for his political cynicism, links to disreputable businessmen, and neo-liberal reforms. Those include the "flat income tax" in combination with limits on social insurance payments for high income groups. As a consequence, Czech low-end earners nowadays contribute a greater proportion of their incomes than high-end earners to the public budget.

Investor and Philanthropist? A Czech Business Oligarch

Zdeněk Bakala will address the conference as an "Investor and Philanthropist". One of the richest Czech businessmen and media magnates, he is connected with several disreputable deals. The most high-profile of those was the acquisition of 45 000 flats in the North-East region of the Czech Republic for below the market rate. In breach of contract Mr. Bakala subsequently refused to sell them to tenants and violated their first option right below market rate. When Lubomír Zaorálek, an MP, called him "a crook" for the way he treated the tenants, Mr. Bakala pursued a slander action against him - but lost the case.

Mr. Bakala has also never paid the 30 million CZK (1.2 million Euro) fine he was sentenced to in an arbitration procedure for the same violation. Yet he was happy to donate a little lesser amount to the three right-wing political parties that form the current coalition government to meet the cost of their 2010 election campaign. He thus clearly demonstrated the difference between an ordinary citizen with a single vote and a business oligarch capable of influencing politics with his money. Along with several Czech media enterprises, Mr. Bakala also finances the Václav Havel Library.

A different world is possible

We do not want to live in a world where our destinies are decided by the money of "crooks", where moral authorities host the architects of wars. We want to live in a different world and we can see that world coming into being in front of our eyes. Not at elitist fora open to the few but in the social movements where people join forces to face wars, neoliberal reforms, and the devastation of nature, where the power of a single voice cannot be traded for that of money or media.

What Václav Havel represents today is an intellectual conformism, a "coalition of the willing" of sorts, willing to nod to a military enterprise here, a big business interest there.

To convey this appeal to you we have formed a Coalition of the unwilling, unwilling to nod, and we will see our ranks grow.


Obsah vydání | Sobota 10.12. 2016