Vaclav Havel: Fought to Restore Ill-Gotten Wealth

By Stephen Gowans

Vaclav Havel, the Czech playwright turned President, came from a prominent, vehemently anti-socialist Prague family. Havel’s father was a wealthy real estate tycoon, who developed a number of Prague properties.

One was the Lucerna Palace, “a pleasure palace…of arcades, theatres, cinemas, night-clubs, restaurants, and ballrooms,” according to Frommer’s. It became “a popular spot for the city’s nouveau riche to congregate,” including a young Havel, who, raised in the lap of luxury by a governess and chauffeured around town, “spent his earliest years on the Lucerna’s polished marble floors.”

Then, tragedy struck – at least, from Havel’s point of view. The Reds expropriated Lucerna and the family’s other holdings, and put them to use for the common good, rather than for the purpose of providing the young Havel with more servants.

Four decades later, Havel, as president –celebrated throughout the West as a champion of intellectual freedom — presided over a mass return of nationalized property, including Lucerna and his family’s other holdings. As a business investment, Havel’s anti-communism proved to be quite profitable.

A champion of intellectual freedom, or the formerly pampered scion of an establishment family who had a material stake in seeing socialism overthrown?

9 thoughts on “Vaclav Havel: Fought to Restore Ill-Gotten Wealth

  1. futilitraian..Vaslav havel ort to think himself lucky i wasnt in power in the Socialist republic of Czechoslovakia because he never would have seen the light of day let alone die of self inflicted lung cancer.Only goes to show how weak some of the CP,s of eastern europe actually were that he would be allowed even to stay in the country.Good riddance to the pampered little shit.

  2. My favorite memory of this scumbag is that right after the overthrow of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, he rented out the wall of his home to Campbell’s Soup company for an advertising billboard. What a love of art and freedom! When he was “brutally repressed” in Socialist Czechoslovakia, being forced to work an actual job in a brewery (and no doubt drinking his free fill of that country’s wonderful beer), he drove to work in a Mercedes paid for by money from the West.

  3. Kim Jong Il??? You’re joking, right?!?

    Havel’s writings as a dissident described well the deadening existential effects of red fascism upon people in general but especially intellectuals.

    One day a North Korean Havel will be doing the same.

  4. Hi Larry.i think in the post communist frenzy the people had no say what so ever in what stayed and what went.Capital took what it wanted and to hell with the rest.

  5. futilitarian..Havels contribution to what???And to what end?why cant he be blamed for his socio/political positions,they bare his class positions and represent the attitudes of the deposed capitalists.What has that to do with me as a working class man and the conditions of my life?Like the catholic spy walesa and the drunkard yeltsin,havel died rather unpopular.His and the fore mentioned capitalist hacks job was to lay the foundation for capitalist restoration and eventual domination to the interests of local and foreign business along with nato membership and further plans of hegemony.that is his”contribution”nothing more,nothing less.Of far more importance to independance and social progress was the late Kim Jong Il,a far better leader than the pen pushing idle scribbler havel..

  6. I think that in the post-communist frenzy, people got carried away and actually got rid of the good things that they had while under the socialist system. By the time they woke up, it was too late. They were sold out.

  7. Havel’s greatest contribution lay in explicating the structures of political and social control, be it in supposedly socialist systems or bourgeois liberal systems.

    He can’t be blamed for his social origins and for retaining some of the inclinations of those origins.

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