“Living in Truth: Václav Havel’s Power of the Powerless”

Milan Hanyš in conversation with Ludger Hagedorn at the Vienna Humanities Festival 2018

It might be the greatest text ever written depicting the nature and fragility of late communist power: Václav Havel’s 1978 essay “The Power of the Powerless.” The green grocer who puts the slogan “Workers of the world, unite!” on his shop window becomes a symbol not of socialist enthusiasm, but of the indignity of enforced consent – lives lived in lies.

Charles University humanities scholar and IWM Patočka Fellow Milan Hanyš discusses the relevance of ­Havel’s concepts of human existence, “­living in truth”, human dignity and individual rights to the contemporary political condition of the West. Ludger Hagedorn, IWM Permanent Fellow and head of its Patočka Archive and Program conducts the conversation.


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Cover picture: Vaclav Havel, state funeral, minute of silence, Wenceslas Square. Photo: © Rene Fluger / CTK / picturedesk.com

Vienna Humanities Festival

The Vienna Humanities Festival, organised by the IWM, Wien Museum and Time to Talk, is a series of around 40 Events (in German and English) which took place from 27 till 30 September 2018 for the third time at the Wien Museum, TU Wien, Evangelische Volksschule and Stadtkino.

The topic of 2018 “Power and Powerlessness” focused on the vulnerability of democracies in Europe in light of historical events embedding them in the context of contemporary socio-political developments.

“Witnessing war to learn for peace.”

“Proletarians of all countries, who washes your socks?”

“Time to rethink growth”

“It’s elites who turn against democracy, not the people.”

“Witnessing war to learn for peace.”

“Proletarians of all countries, who washes your socks?”

“Time to rethink growth”

“Justice cannot wait.”

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