The words artist and statesman do not normally sit well together, but they certainly did in the case of Václav Havel, who died this morning aged 75. In turn a playwright, poet, dissident and president, and finally a writer once again.
For me and my comrades on the libertarian left during the 1980s, as we watched the unravelling of the Soviet Union from within, Havel epitomised the fundamental values and practice of a free and open society, in which individual freedom and societal openness take precedence over political ideologies of whatever kind, even though the latter are a natural consequence of social activity. Havel was Europe’s Mandela.
He was also a friend of Frank Zappa. Enough said.
RIP Václav Havel (1936-2011)