Monday, November 17, 2014

The "Velvet Revolution" in Czechoslovakia as Vaclav Havel's Main Nihilistic Play (of course, with a generous patronage)--PART II

This is a continuation of the material I posted two days ago and which I put together almost twenty years ago. It is presented here in its old form (for better and worse), that is, in its original spirit, even if untidy form; and, by the way, today (November 17, 2014) happens to be the 25th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution or rather a pseudo-revolution, but one with a velvet curtain, which made it hard to see at first where the theater is and where the brothel began:

The Velvet Revolution of 1989, which marked the end of communism in Czechoslovakia, has become a kind of mythical or mythically veiled happening. As Peter Oslzly, one of the 'men' of 1989, put it: "The whole 'tender' revolution is permeated by symbolic coincidences."[1] On December 6, 1989, V. Havel said that in his "globally popular view," it was "all a kind of play" that "first required to be decoded" in order to "decide what we say [to the public] about it." And only after that, Havel continued, "it would be possible to announce further strategies."[2] In this regard, Klaus's statement "I am a symbol of an unwritten program"  has been noted and also raised some eyebrow-raising questions in the press.[3] Similarly, Havel hinted in his speeches that preceded the breakup of Czechoslovakia several times about his "beforehand prepared [yet publicly further undefined] program."[4]
            It is also remarkable how many high-profile revolutionaries of 1989 either rejected or seriously questioned the word "revolution" as adequate for describing what had happened (Urban, Panek, Klima, Neff , Steigerwald, Oslzly, Battek, Bystrovova).[5] Yet, they found it either problematic to come up with a different name of their own or finally preferred 'takeover' to 'revolution.' Karel Steigerwald offered his own version - "The Theatrical Putsch," to denote the leading role played by play-writers and actors in the revolution.[6] Such a name of the takeover has a particular relevance, especially in the light of the confession of Steigerwald, one of its managers, himself a theatrical artist, who pointed out that because the dissidents were either unknown to the overwhelming majority of the citizens, or their public image was not yet particularly high, they stepped aside to let the popular actors and artists pave the way for them.[7] In addition, the dramatic institutions (theatres, schools and unions) and artists also performed a role of the first (public) organizers of the take-over and its transmission belt at its very start.[8] The protest strike also began first as a strike of theatres. As Martin Palous, a dissident leader and later a deputy foreign minister, pointed out, in the theatres the formerly isolated dissident movement was elevated into politics.[9]  In this regard, Martin Palous further added: "Everything was in fact taking place in a theatre [in Laterna magika - the headquarters of the Civic Forum] and, moreover, under direction of a playwright, and so everything was some kind of theatre."[10] Vaclav Maly, a Catholic priest and chief manager of the manifestations was with regard to such a theatrical technology of politics very explicit:

In directing the public presentations, we focused on that people should see famous faces, actors, sportsmen, singers. This was to prevent an impression that it is created again by the dissidents, that it is a matter of only a tiny group of power-thirsty people with inferiority complexes [my italics].[11]

            In this way and from the very start, the organizers of the take-over consciously wanted to "educate people below to support effectively support the powerful."[12] The takeover appeared to another of its actors as a "happening" and "big fun" (Vladimir Kovarik).[13] Similarly, the last spokesman of the Communist government, Miroslav Pavel, who played an important role in the takeover to become then for a while the director of the Czechoslovak Television, stated that it was not so much a revolution as an orderly passing-on of the power.[14] Miroslav Vacek, the last Communist Minister of Defence and still a supporter of the Communist party, said: "Many former dissidents do not call November 1989 a revolution, but they speak about a take-over. This appears as more truthful to me as well."[15] Alojz Lorenc, who is suspected as being one of the directors of the power transfer, also referred to it as a "state take-over," conspicuously avoiding the word "revolution."[16] Ludvik Vaculik, a former Czech communist writer and later dissident, further elaborated on this theme, arguing that "how the StB agents participated in this play was not essential; what was important was how the play ended."[17] What is the available evidence that would (or not) substantiate such a thesis? Is the result really everything, and is anything else dismissable?
            The preceding evolution of Czechoslovak communism towards its capitalist metamorphosis was well summarized by a former Czechoslovak foreign minister Jiri Dienstbier (also a communist-turned-dissident): "after 1968 [the elite] already knew that their empire would not be there for a thousand years."[18] In this regard, the strange coincidence and parallels between Czech theatre and Communist power and police are manifest here again. Curiously enough, an essentially correct and subsequently validated scenario of what was to become the Velvet Revolution and following transformations, including the breakup of the state, can be also found in Havel's play The Conspirators, and also in another piece of his The Beggars' Opera. As Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, a Canadian Bohemist, noted, The Conspirators is about craving for political power where ideals are used as coverups of this struggle for power, and, as other plays of Havel, is also circular [like the perfect system of Hegel], circular are also all the transformations and interchangeability of identities of Havelian characters.[19] So, for example, "in The Beggar's Opera we no longer know when anyone is pretending and when he is not."[20] Because, in the Hegelian universal homogeneity, nothing can stand out, only that one who is able to be more universally "homogeneous" (be better at being nothing) can cheat on others more efficiently. Thus, it is a system that allows only the liars to compete - with each other. This Hegelian theme underlies the whole of Havel's opus. And if contrasted with the 'other possibility' of the Czech ethos, this "main theme" of Havel's plays inevitably turns to that of betrayal and treason.[21] In this way, The Beggar's Opera, as well as other Havel's plays. are about joining such a game and accepting its rules:

Macheath [one of the mafia bosses in The Beggars' Opera], caught in the mesh of pretence, no longer able to distinguish a lie from the truth ... draws his conclusion: 'If everyone around betrays me, as has become obvious, it does not mean that they expect anything else from me, but the exact opposite: by acting in this way they offer me some sort of principle of our mutual relationship.' Accordingly he decides to play along on the principle, when in Rome, do as the Romans do; or 'if you can't beat them, join them.'[22]

            In so many words, Havel tries to argue that betrayal "became common" while realizing its conditionality by "existential schizophrenia" which he, however, inflates again by a ruse of projection into a universal and homogeneous quality.[23] What happens after these Havelian heroes start indulging in this kind of  theatrical politics? How do they rationalize their roles? Jenny, one character of Havel's Beggars' Opera, we learn, "had to betray" in order to "preserve herself," in this regard, she discovers even her concealed hatred of others as "self-preserving." In addition, she suffers from a schizophrenia or split personality, implying this as an acquittal of her guilt because she does not see herself as being identical with herself or her actions.[24] On other occasions, Havelian protagonists at least try to appease themselves by imaging that their real identity can be the very role: "Life simply forced you into a certain role, and you came to believe that what you are playing is your own self."[25] Since, understandably, this can hardly be a viable solution, the play, as well as the Havelian figures are condemned to the circularity of the Hegelian spirit - or Nietzschean eternal recurrence of the same (instability and uprootedness from a firm stand-point)  - going around oneself in circles and whirling around the truth, not close enough to get burned by it, not far enough not to be afraid of it, hence also their schizophrenia. Admittedly, such was also the mechanism of the Communist metamorphoses in Czechoslovakia.[26] However, in addition to providing this general and psychological insight, Havel also drew quite a concrete frame of the Velvet Revolution, including an account of somewhat nasty bargaining and inner struggle among the conspirators over who ought to be the new 'big boss' - the new head of the state. In his play The Conspirators, written in 1970-1971, Havel depicts the conspirators as triggering, managing from behind, and using in their interests - a student revolt (what also happened in November 1989): Moher, being both the police chief and chief conspirator, stresses:

You do know my concept: the demands of the students should be boycotted, but nothing should be done against [the students] so that we don't scare them. Only in this way, it can grow into larger unrests that will only then show in a full light the incapability of the government [whose he is a member] to solve that situation.[27]

            The conspirators are actual power-holders of the regime which they are set to bring down. They are chiefs of the regime police, army and justice. Formally, they prepared slogans disguising their take-over as a "national revolution," while, in reality, they meant its negation.[28] Their task is a cover-up war against their own population and reducing its being to folklore - to "traditional forms of folk's art."[29] Ofir, the chief of the army staff, declares: "I am not an ambitious man and have never longed for functions ... As far as the future is concerned, I do have some certain ideas ... a fight organized by the state  ... against the population ..."[30] To this effect, national and patriotic emotions of the nation are to be manipulated and abused, wherein the press is to play an essential role (articles and reports to be prepared well beforehand), as well as a calculation with and making use of people's fear.[31] The conspirators also understand that it would be necessary to overcome a critical span of several days needed for making the mechanism of fear effective: "the others will become scared and will start joining [the stage]."[32]
            Understandably, the regime which the conspirators have in mind is not democracy, the words of Moher who recapitulates as if the post-1918 history of Czechoslovakia from the point of view of Böhmisch nihilism, seem to apply to a kind of post-post-Communist phase:

This is a crisis of our whole political system which since the declaration of independence was not able to solve any of the difficult social problems which had been left over to us by colonialism ... Why did we fight so long for our national freedom when we become somebody's milk cow? The crisis of our system is part of the global crisis of parliamentary democracy. Where has such democracy led us? To the edge of total destruction when the arbitrary will of the gang of demoralized members of the [elite's] golden youth is about to rule the country. Our allies have a right to be alarmed. What should they, for example, think of when, during the last week, five new Communist parties have arisen? ... What follows from this, my friends? It follows that it is high time that we took things firmly into our hands. In other words: our moment is coming [to make an ordnung].[33]

            In this regard, the conspirators' program envisaged actions against universities going as far as closing them  (like during the Fascist occupation) and struggle against the cultural and educational level of the population.[34] On the other hand, the head of the new regime would focus in his speeches after the putsch on "the question of inter-human relationships" because "new possibilities will open in this area too."[35] Moreover, the (military) security of the state would be handed over or surrendered into the hands of foreign power.[36] In fact, the conspirators are controlled and directed from abroad.[37] Helga, the officer for liaison with these foreign powers, assures: "finally, they promised to me that their countries are willing to offer us large economic aid, for example, in the form of exploitation of our mineral wealth."[38] Importantly, already in 1970 when Havel wrote this play, he foresaw the split of the country over which he presided. Unless the foreign powers did not reach an agreement (on their spheres of influence), "the state would be simply cut in half." As one of the heroes-conspirators of this, Havel's play tells us, any disagreement,  with such a dictate to break up the country  "won't matter a sh..."[39] The Havelian heroes also evoke the confession of Skvorecky's coward: they are dead living or living corpses (to use Arendt's term), thus, fulfilling the Hegelian-Kojèvian ethos of death and its imperative at the end of history:

It appears to me as if I were buried alive. Like a body without the soul. An artery without blood. A tree without sap.[40]

I am squashed by death! Whatever I have done, lived or thought up since then, is marked by it - as if all that were dead in some strange way - I know that and I am helpless against it. It is a horrible, vain struggle -[41]

            Havel's Beggars' Opera (1972) deals with the structural and 'moral' problems of the transformation, concretely about the coalescing of the police and mafia (an outstanding feature of the [post-]Communist transformation): "Morals [of the mafia-elite] are always the same, but what had been hushed up before, is done now publicly!"[42] This ostentatious amorality is to internalize the masses with it and forge thereby a new bond between the rulers and the folk. The play shows the impossibility of escape from the circles of conspiracies, lies and betrayals presented as acts of prudence. Betrayal and treason are the only things arousing the 'dead' Böhmisch nihilists to life and the only subject of their "love."[43] Moreover, betrayal becomes their only possible way of existing and communicating with the world - all they can is to expand, reproduce and "gradually improve" it. Such is the rule of the game.[44] This  (political) prostitution thrives best and most freely when covered by a legal facade.[45] The structure of this 'spider web' is ubiquitous, but most importantly is the top equals the bottom. It is the world of Kafka's Trial separating "justice" from the law and the "law" from justice: "But yet, it is strange: No one knows about our organization, and everyone serves it! - Who does not know that he is serving, always serves best!"[46]
            In this nihilistic power which is powerful because it hides itself, there is also weakness - weakness of (Böhmisch) nihilists, their complex of inferiority which they consequently strive to make a basis for political tactics and strategy: "ugliness can be turned into capital."[47] How? Ugliness should promise that it become a beauty: "Why not? You can promise anything, what is then important is that you will not be doing it."[48] To this effect, it is, however, essential to have "some back-up" of that ugliness claiming its beauty inside the underground.[49] In addition, it is acknowledged that without a cooperation with the (political) police nothing can be simply done.[50] The police and mafia are a ruling dyad.[51] In this regard, particularly important  are those agents who are a linkage-transmission in the "dangerous zone" on the edge between the underground-police and the public, spreading step by step the dominance of the political underworld.[52] What is given to the public the revealed truth, but its concealment. Emotions and feelings are good only for manipulations.[53] Moreover, such a swindle, especially at a local level, should respect the orders as to the pre-arranged "dimensions" of how much and whom it can (un)veil.[54] Schizophrenia and angst of the plotters compensated by their hatred of the world, where they officially belong to, are paramount (this is encountered by turning the fear into a source of masochistic lust of a [sex] slave):

Do you understand at all what it is - to have two faces for so long? To live two lives? To think in two ways? From the morning ti the evening, to watch yourselves, to pretend, to hide something or feign? To keep accustoming oneself constantly to the world where you live, and that you reject, and denounce the world to which you really belong?[55]

            Because of this impossibility to belong somewhere and also their unwillingness to do so, these (Hegelian) nihilists-agents become true 'universal nothings' or non-beings (German N-ichts): they are "not identical with themselves."[56] Their "destructive [nihilistic] way of thinking" drives them "into a strange vacuum" of non-being where all is compared to nothing, and, thus, "there is no identity!"[57] This lack of their own positive content is also a reason why they feel no responsibility for concrete being 'here and now' (the state and nation). And this emptiness is also a reason for their collaboration - they bow to an external force or will that gives to their emptiness a form. Only this assigned form or image appears as all that which represents their essential content - form represents content.[58] For such nihilists-agents, a would-be escape from existential paranoia - if they "want to belong to themselves again" -  is to destroy what is and has its own identity (like the state and nation). Only a "drastic self-confirmation by action" or "murder," that is, death of the other, makes it possible for them to "live."[59] Understandably, a deep existential hatred stemming from one's realized radical deficiency is here a key, or, as Havel put it in his play, a "mysterious need to do evil."[60] Importantly, the play is also one of Havel's crucial elaborations on political strategy related to the destruction of existing institutions and their restructuring defined here as(new) "fusion" (assimilation) by the means of "delimitation," or breaking up of the existent entity.[61] Its relevance to the strategy of Böhmisch nihilism vis-à-vis the Czech statehood and the Czech nation is as much profound as apparent.
            In 1987, when practical preparations for the events of 1989 were apparently already in full swing, Havel finished another 'prognostic' play Redevelopment or Slum Clearance (Asanace). There he speaks of a "project" of "taking from the people their home(s)" disguised as renovation.[62] The plan makers are hidden in a Kafka-like Castle so that nobody in the village below knows what is really planned and by whom.[63] The designs are only referred to as "a modern housing project" of masons, that requires  "a smoothly running complex of efficient communication systems."[64] A great deal of the project is a play, a theatre involving its own makers: "It's as if they're not people but characters in a play someone's putting on -"[65] The play is about putting (political)  death of the people into effect: "We're not improving life, we're manipulating it to death!"[66] A first part of the play apparently is a short-lived party-like frenzy wherein the secret police grant the people freedom, that is, they seem to be "liberated" from the police - by the police that, in addition to freedom, also order :[67]  "But everyone must dance!"[68] This is followed by a wild party-celebration[69] reminiscent of not only the final episode of Orwell's Animal Farm but also of another "exotic" one that took place in reality in the autumn 1989, that inaugurated the velvet dialogue of the "Revolution" in a rather strange way (see below). After letting people rejoice at the gift of democracy for a while, the police announces:

Preparations for the project will therefore continue as before but with a new dynamism! Certain people will try to convince you that this is a return to old rightfully rejected methods. On the contrary! This is a radical renewal of the original intention, and a radical cleansing of former deformities calling for critical reform, as well as of all later excesses resulting from this criticism.[70]

            The play (project) winds up as a ritual of lie and farce. It seems that, in this way, the play would cover a possible course of development well after the post-Communist take-over, as remarkably grasped and portrayed here by one of its chief actors. Again, the nihilistic characters and executors of the project are spiritually dead - this was accomplished or completed by their "arrest," that is, initiation into collaboration with the political police. As a result, they cease to be beings sharing in human togetherness and love and turn into a mechanism or empty machine of an extraneous 'absolute' will.[71] To this effect, Plekhanov named apparently after a well-known Russian Marxist, here an experienced planner, advises: kill love inside or you must kill oneself.[72] The choice that the Havelian heroes made is given with a sufficient explicitness. By being "dead" with regard to their own character and truth, they are prone to believe (out of desperation) that they have gained thereby one great advantage: the others can still lose the truth because they have it - and so the agent of nihilism cannot but try to destroy the truth wherever it is still suspected and take away from others the ability to justify themselves in memoriam. They cannot do otherwise: they are and have to be totally false. Truth is killed for them as much as they kill it.In this way, they are 'absolutely' free from the truth. Thus, with a touch of bitterness, they congratulate themselves: "Only a corpse is never fooled."[73] This reduces to politics to "apolitical politics" - to a theatre where the nihilist believes only in the power of his lie:

Some plays, Luisa, you'll never understand until they're taken out of the repertory. As this one; you'll see. ... Only this time the audience won't walk out of the play; the play will walk out of the audience.[74]

            Accordingly, Havel defines politics as "[theatrical] acting."[75] The concrete relevance of theatre-politics to Havel personally, is described by him as "having been chosen by those [theatrical] aspects of the world as their interpreter" which is also what lies in his identity: "ultimately, all theatre is built around the conflict between who a character seems to be and who he really is."[76] Because the play is only about an exchange of one lie or form (mask) for another - its actors as well as its audience (like the nation) are caught in a Hegelian-Nietzschean circularity of the eternal recurrence of the same. Because there is no truth, individual differences between lies are only a matter of form - and then as Havel himself said, only what matters is the form under which there  is really nothing.[77] And nothing is essentially all the same, hence the essence or lack of it of the transformations and metamorphoses played on the part of nihilism, including the Böhmisch one. Havel called this law of  eternal recurrence "the well-known Law of Universal Misery Exchange" which is also the law of the "architecture" of nihilism, and, thus, apparently of the Universal and Homogenous State.[78] Why do the nihilists have an urgent need to denounce, although in a covered way, themselves and what they are to do? One of the inevitable reasons is that, as one of the Havel's characters put it,  "you can't put on our drama without an audience ."[79] Indeed, the high degree of coincidence between Havel's projections and the Velvet Revolution and subsequent evolution is overwhelming. In this regard, one can only assume that either Havel has qualities of a self-fulling prophet or there appears to be somewhere really a new Hegel-like God. That all these theatrical concepts had a direct relevance to the post-Communist phase was confirmed by Havel himself. In his speech at New York University on October 27, 1991, Havel, already as the head of the post-Communist state, concluded:

I can responsibly say that I was not forced to disclaim nothing from what I wrote before or to change my opinion about anything I wrote about. It is perhaps incredible, but it is really so: I did not have to change my opinion, but I have even reassured myself of it![80]

            In the summer of 1992, at a time when the top elite decided to break up the country, Havel was thinking in his Summer Meditations literally the same - with a striking consistency:

[I] can responsibly say that I was not forced to disclaim anything from what I wrote before or to change my opinion about anything I wrote about. It is perhaps incredible, but it is really so: I did not have to change my opinion, but I have even reassured myself of it![81]

            If the above said shed some light on the background of the tenderness of a late XXth-century "revolution" and following "tender" breakup of the Czechoslovak state, it is now necessary to focus closer on the political events as they unfold following the spirit and letter of the said scenarios, including their scientific versions by Uhl and Pithart and an artistic one as in the case of Havel.

1 [1] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, (Art-Servis: Praha, 1990), p. 17.
2 [2] For a discussion on Havel's public hints on the existence of a previously prepared plan, see Slavomir Ravik, Zahradni slavnost pro 15 milionu aneb jak vyhovet Murphyho zakonum, (Prazska imaginace: Praha, 1993), p 17. Also Slavomir Ravik, Totalni deziluze, (Prazska imaginace: Praha, 1992), p. 9.
3 [3] Slavomir Ravik, Zahradni slavnost pro 15 milionu, op. cit., p. 49.
4 [4] Slavomir Ravik, Zahradni slavnost pro 15 milionu, (Praha: Prazska imaginace, 1993), p. 23.
5 [5] Karel Hvizdala, op. cit., pp. 7, 16, 34, 41, 45, 48, 53, 55.
6 [6] Hvizdala, op. cit., p. 41. Of course, the term "theatrical" revolution could have also a broader and, admittedly, quite relevant meaning.
7 [7] See Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., pp. 40-43.
8 [8] See, for example, M. Otahal and Z. Sladek, eds., Deset prazskych dnu (17.-27. listopad 1989), (Praha: Academia, 1990), pp. 564-565, 567.
9 [9]  Ibid., p. 632.
10[10] Ibid., p. 633. There was a great deal of irony in a statement of Ladislav Adamec, the premier of the last Communist government, addressed to Jiri Bartoska, a Czech actor, during the first meeting with a delegation of the Civic Forum on November 21, 1989: "Why aren't you playing [in] a theatre? People want to go to a theatre." [Michal Horacek, Jak pukaly ledy, (Praha: Ex libris, 1990), p. 78]
11[11] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 32. Vaclav Havel later said that his role at the head of state seems to him as that of "swindler" from which also stems his great personal uncertainty: "I feel that anytime anybody could come, take the position from me and send me back to prison." [Michaels Simmons, Nesmely prezident, op. cit., p. 15]
12[12] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 33. That this support (or better, who should support whom) was understood essentially as a radical "onesidedness" was evidenced by subsequent statements on the part of the new political elite. Thus, for example, Pavel Tigrid, a former leading dissident and Czech minister of culture after the breakup, complained in 1994: "There is still such a belief that the state ... has a certain obligation with regard to the [national] culture. This should end." [Frantisek Dvorak, Slavomir Ravik, Jiri Teryngel, Zaloba aneb Bila kniha k patemu vyroci 17. listopadu 1989, (Praha: Periskop, 1994), p. 61]
13[13] Karel Hvizdala, Vyslech revolucionaru z listopadu 1989, op. cit., p. 58.
14[14] Oskar Krejci, Proc to prasklo aneb hovory o demokracii a 'sametove revoluci', (Praha, Trio, 1991), p. 111.
15[15] Miroslav Vacek, Na rovinu: Bez studu a prikras,  (Praha: Periskop, 1994), p.
17[16] Alojz Lorenc, Ministerstvo strachu, op. cit., p. 170.
18[17] Lorenc, op. cit., p. 10.
19[18] Jana Klusakova a Jiri Dienstbier, Rozmlouvaji nadoraz: nejen o tom, jak si stojime ve svete, (Primus: Praha, 1993), p. 61.
20[19] Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, The Silenced Theatre: Czech Playwrights without a Stage, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), p. 60.
21[20] Ibid., p. 65.
22[21] Cf. ibid., p. 65. In addition to the archetype of a Hegelian slave-coward who becomes a kind of super-slave trying to make slave-cowards from others as embodied by Emil Hacha, the Czech "president" during the fascist occupation, there is also another side of this archetype represented by Karel Sabina, a XIXth-century Czech writer and political leader who turned to be a paid informer of the Austro-Hungarian secrete police. The parallels with the present are as much striking as abundant. In this regard, a first-class analysis of the existential and spiritual background of Sabina's Böhmisch nihilism and collaboration can be found in Slavomir Ravik, Ceske Charaktery: Karel Sabina (portret konfidenta),  (Praha: Prazska imaginace, 1992). Ravik stresses that Sabina cannot be seen as an individual case, coincidence or merely as a mistake. As a prominent personality, Sabina became a 'father' of modern Böhmisch nihilism by advancing its culture and philosophy - the philosophy of a "squealer." It was a reflection of a real process: collaboration, treason, split personalities, inferiority complexes, pettiness of megalomania of agents and their inability to find a meaning of life thereby escaped the frames of individual problems and became a political and social curse. Their collaboration and personal failure are turned into a social force for "extending their pettiness" as their ostensible redemption and revenge. In this regard, Sabina  typified a man "without essence and force lost in the wind." [Ibid., p. 10] This agent-nihilist is a coward and weakling aspiring to play if not a leader's role in the universe than at least in the nation which he hates. [Ibid., p. 19] All Sabina's literal work is a painful search for his own self-justification and apology for betrayal, and this also became a basis of his "philosophy," hence a "philosophy" and writings as nothing but an incessant diagnosing of his own ego and its 'feelings' presented as a doctrine of the universe. The solution was found in nihilism, that is,  'beyond good and evil'  that meant an assimilation  of good by evil - because he was himself conscious that he had failed in  standing for good. [Ibid., pp. 5, 20, 26] To this effect, Sabina had to avoid being concrete and, thus, escaped into superficiality of  'big words' and phrases bordering on covered primitivism and abstractness. [Ibid., pp. 34, 38-39] Sabina was a schizophrenic "driven by a permanent dissatisfaction and eternal striving for change." [Ibid., p. 38] Sabina's existential mode was distinguished as a 'crisis of (his) identity', radical uncertainty, self-alienation and impossibility to be what he is. [Ibid., p. 44]  Sabina's megalomaniac vanity was combined with his view that all being is in vain, from where there was only a step to an urge to become a traitor and get rid of all that is. [Ibid., p. 38] In this way, Sabina was also a forerunner of the concept of the 'solidarity of the shaken' and existential 'shock' (in the face of death) forwarded by a Czech Heideggerian philosopher Jan Patocka (1907-1977) who became a spiritual father of contemporary Böhmisch nihilism and political elite - as Sabina put it in one his librettos: "Only a vigorous action which will shake the country ... will bring us salvation! (Jen zivy cin, jenz zemi zatrese .... nam spasu prinese!)." [Ibid., p. 45] Sabina covered his becoming a traitor under his notion-cipher of "responsibility" while he was able to rob a dying man. [Ibid., p. 39, 18] In this way, Sabina, the Hegelian slave-schizophrenic, hoped to become a master - because he could not become such in reality (in 'everydayness'), he could at least think and dream of it - as a squealer positing himself as a false master at least by the help of 'the world of darkness' - the police. As Sabina wrote in a libretto to Smetana's opera "Branibori v Cechach": "you did not want to give us during the daylight what we demanded so much, so we have come for it at night to take it ourselves ... the master and slave are equal ... let's play the master!" [Ibid., p. 44, also 77] Consequently, the Hegelian slave becomes a snitch upon his own initiative. [Ibid., pp. 54, 57, 63]  In this way, the meaning of a cipher "secrete zones" (also used in today's nihilistic jargon) is rendered as a tomb of betrayal or police engagement. [Ibid., p. 63] These "secret zones" are guided by a rather simple notion: "Take where people do not know, leave what they come to know." [Ibid., p. 20] Such a man longs for the future to negate the present and the past and knows that he has no future. [Ibid., p. 68] He is a perfect outsider to life, being an accomplice of death, as well as an outsider among the masters whom he admires and hates. [Ibid., p. 73] This banality and 'vulgarity' of agent (Arendt) seeks its depth by reflecting on itself as "demonic" or evil. [Ibid., p. 79]  Cf. Havel's play Temptation where a German titanic Faust is transformed into a petit Faust - Foustek - while his alter ego Fistula  is a police squealer-provocateur-devil with smelling feet; as Havel himself said, such a Faust "had been haunting him for a long time," "understanding that he had somehow become involved with the devil" and, thus, "rediscovering himself" - it was a "recapitulation," "personal revival," "resume of  what has already been." Importantly, both Foustek and Fistula appear as "double agents" - the former is unsuccessful in it and the former is presented s highly effective. [Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, op. cit., pp. 67-68] Sabina was in need of the public and audience for having his 'being', 'identity' and 'greatness' confirmed and 'recognized' - a supreme existential need of the Hegelian god as we know. At the same time, Sabina sincerely despised the public while projecting his own deficiencies into it. Then,  he indulged in reprimanding the public for his projection and personal problems. It seemed to him that actually only the nation and its aspiration prevent him from reaching his identity and being. [Cf. Slavomir Ravik, Ceske Charaktery: Karel Sabina (portret konfidenta), op. cit.., pp. 68, 126] After his exposure, he claimed that this truth is "barbarian," "terrorist" and that its intention "was to crush his whole being." (Actually, he was offered a gentlemen's deal and money for going abroad; he accepted - but only the money.) [Ibid., p. .97] Notably, these Böhmisch agents command themselves as being more effective than foreign enemies, as a German soldier tells a domestic traitor Thousandmarks in Sabina's libretto: "Not even thousand strangers make such a damage as such one villain to whom this country is his homeland which he betrays and trots with every step of his." [Ibid., p. 80] As a matter of fact, after 1918, it was revealed that the damage he did and his guilt was much higher than initially suspected. Importantly, these who tried to absolve Sabina was a Communist collaborator with Gestapo Julius Fucik and a leading Communist intellectual Zdenek Nejedly. On this occasion, arguments of the alleged banality or harmlessness of treason were used  - similar to those resorted to after 1989. [Ibid., pp. 104-105] Interestingly, there is one peculiar coincidence between the case of betrayal by Sabina and present events. In particular, Sabina's collaboration came to surface when the Czech patriots obtained Sabina's report on his work against the Serbs and the Serbian state. In this regard, a contemporary Czech politician Dr. Gregr stated: "I declare [Sabina] as a traitor of the homeland, as a traitor of the Yugoslav question whose solution is essential for the Czech nation." [Ibid., p. 94] Apparently, there is some inherent linkage and close interrelatedness  between the beings of these two Slavic nations. Sabina was also an author of the libretto of a well-known Czech opera, The Bartered Bride, by Bedrich Smetana whose title may be also rendered as "the sold-out bride."  This piece is inter alia notable because one its chief characters is a stupid Vasek (Vaclav) a local cheater-comedian who is exposed and ridiculed at the end. One of the mottoes of the play is: "Almost all men are more or less comedians, but not everybody plays his comedy as well as we - as we do!" [Ibid. 17] Interestingly, Vaclav Havel has a special weakness for this very opera and its Sabina's libretto. As Havel confessed seeing this opera was always "on of the most beautiful experiences" so that "tears came to my eyes during almost every aria." [Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga, June 1979 - September 1982, translated by Paul Wilson, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf,  1988), p. 270] What found Havel so appealing in the opera was the fact that in The Bartered Bride there  "everything revolves around the concealing and revealing of Jenik's [a competitor of  Vasek, his brother-in-law] identity" - an  "identity lost and then sought for in vain." Vasek's "happiness," existence  and identity stands and falls with the recognition of Jenik and confirmation of Jenik's existence and identity. [Ibid., p. 291] On his second appointment as president, Havel prepared a theatrical reception on the Prague Castle that was inaugurated under the tunes of the opera The Brandenburgers in Bohemia "Our hour has struck, the gates are open." The libretto was coincidentally written by Sabina. Coincidentally, the parallels between Sabina's text and the then unfolding developments were found conspicuously eminent. [Slavomir Ravik, Zahradni slavnost pro 15 milionu, op. cit., p. 22]
23[22] Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, The Silenced Theatre: Czech Playwrights without a Stage, op. cit., p. p. 84. For Havel, treason is evidently tied to a fear of maturing as a man; thus, "maturing" means for him betraying: "the 'mature' I ... betrays its source in Being and denies intrinsic orientation toward it." [Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga, June 1979 - September 1982, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), p. 335. Apparently, this denotes a deeper truth disclosing an infant-like dependency of informer. In Ende's real fiction about nihilism, a snitch says in strikingly Havelian language: The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts. That's why I sided with the powerful and served them - because I wanted to share their power ... When your turn comes to jump into the Nothing, you too will be a nameless servant of power, with no will of your own. Who knows what use they will make of you? Maybe you'll help them persuade people to buy things they don't need, or hate things they know nothing about, or hold beliefs that make them easy to handle, or doubt the truths that might save them. Yes, you little Fantastician, big things will be done in the human world with your help, wars started, empires founded ..." [Michael Ende, The Neverending Story, op. cit., pp. 126-127]
24[23] See Havel's own admittance, for example, in Vaclav Havel, Vazeni obcane, Projevy cervenec 1990 - cervenec 1992, op. cit., 20. An excellent example of such a typical projection, also denoting an emphasized effeminacy of character, is reflected in Havel's statement quoted in Michaels Simmons, Nesmely prezident, op. cit., p. 26: "I strongly believe that state power finally cease to behave ... like an ugly girl which breaks the mirror thinking that it itself is guilty of her appearance." Cf. Marketa Goetz-Stankiewicz, The Silenced Theatre: Czech Playwrights without a Stage,  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), p. 85, 210. In this regard, Goetz-Stankiewicz rightly observed that a Havel's hero "caught in the mesh of pretence, no longer able to distinguish a lie from the truth ... draws his conclusion: 'If everyone around betrays me, as has become obvious, it does not mean that they expect anything else from me, but the exact opposite: by acting in this way they offer me some sort of principle of our mutual relationship.' Accordingly he decides to play along on the principle, when in Rome, do as the Romans do;, or 'if you can't beat them, join them [my italics].'" [Ibid., p. 84; cf. Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga, June 1979 - September 1982, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), p. 233: Havel's "responsibility" towards the 'invisible" is conditioned by betrayal, and everybody is guilty] In the play Temptation, betrayal and collaboration with the police is explained a "devil" conveniently enabling the newly hired squealer to "enjoy something thrilling in life and consequently to become more fulfilled [himself]" by having one's responsibility  projected and shifted to a "place outside of one's own ego;" this, together with betraying, had been the hero's "secret dream." [Vaclav Havel, Temptation, op. cit., p. 59] A strong presence of apparent autobiographic features of Havel's plays is acknowledged by the author himself. [See, for example, Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), pp. 53, 65-67, 72] The essence of the betrayal misery is also well expressed in Havel's Memorandum: "... and we are irresistibly falling apart [in a moment of betrayal], more and more profoundly alienated from the world, from others, from ourselves. Like Sisyphus, we roll the boulder of our life up the hill of its illusory meaning, only for it to roll down again into the valley of its own absurdity. ... [man] stares at a himself, unable not to be what he us not, nor to be what he is. ... I am in fact totally alienated from myself: the desire to help you fatefully encounters within me the responsibility thrust upon me - who am attempting to salvage the last remnants of man's humanity ..." Vaclav Havel, The Garden party and Other Plays (the Garden Party, the memorandum, the Increased Difficulty of Concentration, Audience, Unveiling (Private view), Protest, Mistake), (New York: Grove Press, 1993), p. 129] In another Havel's play The Beggars' Opera, treason ("a mysterious need to do evil') is presented as the only possible source of self-gratification and self-preservation appearing but as a veil of impotence: "Believe me, I have never suspected that treason can be so erotically thrilling!" [Vaclav Havel, Zebracka opera, (Praha: Dilia, 1990), p. 77]
25[24] See the relevant comments and analysis in ibid., p. 67.
26[25] Vaclav Havel, Hry 1970-1976, (Toronto: Sixty-Eight Publishers, 1977), p. 72. The referred statement is addressed to a conspirator-chief of the police by his mistress, also a conspirator.
27[26] Thus, Jiri Voskovec, a prominent Czech theatrical artist, wrote in the introduction to one selection of Havel's play in 1977: "[In Havel's plays] it is about a motion, a whirl of nonsense ... hurry of emptiness and deadlock ... [wherein] you [Havel] and all the other citizens, including the rulers, are circling. Only you ... can design this tornado theatrically as if from outside. Moreover - and the fun is already over  - it is a tornado of the Big General Nonsense ... of a universal ptydepe [artificial sign language] of deadness." Clearly, this is one possible definition and perception of the human death brought about the maturation and expansion of the Hegelian spirit (the Universal and Homogeneous State). [Vaclav Havel, Hry 1970-1976, (Toronto: Sixty-Eight Publishers, 1977), p. 11]
28[27] Ibid., p. 33.
29[28] Vaclav Havel, Hry 1970-1976, op. cit., pp. 24-25.
30[29] See ibid., p. 26.
31[30] Ibid., p. 26, also p. 100. On May 28, 1991, Havel himself stated: "we all repeat over and over that we are not after power as such, but only certain general values ... And usually it is only the God who knows if it is really so, or if it is only a more digestible way how we justify to ourselves and to the world our desire to be powerful and to confirm to ourselves by the means of power and its impact that we really exist ..." [ Vaclav Havel, Vazeni obcane, Projevy cervenec 1990 - cervenec 1992,  (Praha: Lidove noviny, 1992), p. 82] On June 25, 1992, Havel addressed the last Czechoslovak parliament with words specifying the notion of his "certain ideas and values" as "responsibility for the state of the world and general things ... not bounded by the frontiers of the state, nation ... but it is simply co-responsibility for the destiny of man." [Ibid., p. 191] Thereby, Havel de facto confirmed the validity of Uhl's political program: it is man, not the nation or the state that is a valid matter of the concern on the part of Böhmisch nihilism because the nation allegedly has no  "right to have their own state,' or state or national sovereignty" (see note 181). This may be contrasted or rather compared with another statement of Ofir from the said play Ofir: "Yes, the measure of certainty which we will be able to give to others, is the only measure of our existence ;" apparently, this "only measure of certainty" is the very power that Ofir is striving for as a goal of his conspiracy and treason and whose capability to "confirm one's existence" was stressed in Havel's speech. Consequently, Ofir's goal, like that of Uhl is  "a unification of our mankind into a higher structure of some kind of superpersonal society": "If this is achieved, then there will be no force that could thwart our historical deed!" [Vaclav Havel, Hry 1970-1976, op. cit., p. 102]
32[31] Ibid., pp. 97-98.
33[32] Ibid., pp. 97-99.
34[33] Ibid., p. 86. The Prime Minister to be disposed by the conspirators complains in this regard to the leader of the putsch, a member of his government: "And do you think that this nation with so profoundly democratic thoughts and feelings nation would shortly after [1989?] they finally achieved democracy - although certainly imperfect - let it be stolen by somebody over night?" [Ibid., p.  67]
35[34] Ibid., p. 99. On the analysis and statistics related to the decline in the field of education and culture after 1989  (number of students, attendance of cultural events, number of books read, number of concerts etc.) see, for example, Slavomir Ravik, Bylo - nebylo: Uber Alles, (Praha: Periskop, 1995), pp. 38-64; Slavomir Ravik, Totalni deziluze, (Praha: Prazska imaginace, 1992), pp. 67-72; Slavomir Ravik, Latrina magika v Cechach, na Morave a ve Slezsku, (Praha: Periskop, 1995).
36[35] Vaclav Havel, Hry 1970-1976, op. cit., p.  78.
37[36] Ibid., pp. 98-99.
38[37] Ibid., pp. 51, 57, 58, 70, 84, 98, 99; cf. pp. 43, 85-86.
39[38] Ibid., p. 99.
40[39] Ibid.,p.  99.  The arrogance and vulgarity of the relevant statement cannot be easily translated into English, in Czech it reads: "To by vam bylo hovno platny -"
41[40] Ibid., p. 59.
42[41] Ibid., p. 49. Evidently, (self-consciously) dead nihilists are not what our world is lacking. The following moments of the play can be noted either because of their relevance to subsequent real developments in Czechoslovakia after 1989 or to the general nature of nihilism: on hysteria (both natural and consciously produced) as a form of self-gratification see ibid., p. 49-50; the linkage of that hysteria to hypocrite exhibitionism of self-humiliation ibid., pp. 49-50; plus infantilism ibid., p. 80; plus sadism and masochism ibid., pp. 48-49, 50, 57; and its link to impotence ibid., p. 73; on a notion of war collaboration ibid., p. 53. Helga (Havel's wife was Olga), a lover of the future head of the state, dreams: "Do you know what we will do if all this ends up well? ... We will have a nice residence where we will regularly invite actors, writers, scientists, simply intellectual elite of the nation; I will be a hostess, and you will philosophy with them, discuss your reforms as a really enlightened head of the state! Are you for it? - A fantastic idea, puppee!" [Ibid., p. 27] Understandably, Havel's play The Conspirators is the least known and promoted of Havel's works in the Czech Republic. Havel himself, on the eve of already becoming the head of the later defunct state, expressed his wish that the play had not been published. [Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace, op. cit., p. 60)
43[42] Vaclav Havel, Zebracka opera, (Praha: Dilia,1990), p. 13.
44[43] Ibid., p. 77.
45[44] See ibid., pp. 82-85.
46[45] See ibid., p. 19.
47[46] Ibid., p. 85.
48[47] Ibid., p. 17.
49[48] Ibid., p. 26.
50[49] Ibid., p. 34.
51[50] Ibid., pp. 44-45.
52[51] See, for example,  ibid., pp. 82-85.
53[52] Ibid., p. 45.
54[53] Ibid., p. 63.
55[54] Ibid., p. 37.
56[55] Ibid., p. 68.  A similar misery of a squealer-traitor was, for example, expressed by Jiri Grusa, the post-1989 Czechoslovak Ambassador to Germany, also wrote in one of his poem from the 1960s: "I have embarked on betraying and then I seek/ who can forgive me." [Jiri Grusa, Cviceni muceni, (Praha: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1969), p. 21]  One can also find there such a verse like "I am lonely with my betraying" [Ibid., p. 7] or a whole poem titled "Betraying" ending with a masochistic groan: "but soon I will not believe them/ even if they call me/ perhaps only: a crippled child." [Ibid., pp. 45-46]
57[56] Vaclav Havel, Zebracka opera, (Praha: Dilia,1990), op. cit.., p. 76.
58[57] Ibid., p. 77.
59[58] See ibid., pp. 82-85.
60[59] Ibid., p. 77. On Havel's notion of the interrelatedness between death and voidness of content and his own personal experience ("dead outlines, forms without content") see Vaclav Havel, Letters to Olga, June 1979 - September 1982, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), p. 242.
61[60] Ibid., p. 77. In another play, Havel says: "the devil of it is that she destroys not out of malice or simple-mindedness but out of her very nature ..." [Vaclav Havel, Redevelopment or Slum Clearance,  (London & Boston: Faber and Faber, 1990), p.36]
62[61] See particularly Vaclav Havel, Zebracka opera, op. cit., p. 72.
63[62] Vaclav Havel, Redevelopment or Slum Clearance,  (London & Boston: Faber and Faber, 1990), p. 12.
64[63] Ibid., p. 13.
65[64] Ibid., pp. 13-14.
66[65] Ibid., p. 19.
67[66] Ibid., p. 15.
68[67] Ibid., pp. 26-27.
69[68] Ibid., p. 31.
70[69] See ibid., pp. 31-32.
71[70] Ibid., p. 44, see also p.  47.
72[71] Ibid., p. 62.
73[72] Ibid., p. 36.
74[73] Ibid., p. 45.
75[74] Ibid., p. 41.
76[75] Quoted in Slavomir Ravik, Bylo - nebylo: Latrina magika v Cechach, na Morave a ve Slezsku, (Praha: Periskop, 1995), p. 250.
77[76] Vaclav Havel, Disturbing the Peace: A Conversation with Karel Hvizdala, (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 195. Havel also calls it a "problem of the true face," "the phenomenon of masks," "the theme of identity in crisis"  and "identity that is decaying, collapsing, dissipating, vanishing." [Ibid., pp. 195-196] On the assignment of Havel's role compare ibid., p. 205.
78[77] Vaclav Havel, Letni premitani, op. cit., p. 102.
79[78] Ibid., p. 52.
80[79] Ibid., p. 40. The other reasons for the urge to make a confession, except for the need to unveil the plan inasmuch as its realization unfolds, or for a certain masochistic pleasure it probably gives, is also an urge to seek some kind of absolving in the form (Hegelian) recognition: "We cannot be forgiven, and there can be no peace in our souls unless we make a confession of our guilt. Confession liberates." [Vaclav Havel, Vazeni obcane, Projevy cervenec 1990 - cervenec 1992, (Praha: Lidove noviny, 1992), p. 12]
81[80] Vaclav Havel, Vazeni obcane, Projevy cervenec 1990 - cervenec 1992, (Praha: Lidove noviny, 1992), p. 113.
82[81] Vaclav Havel, Letni premitani, op. cit., pp. 101-102.

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