It?s interesting that American conservative bloggers like Glenn Reynolds and Jonah Goldberg are touting the idea of making Vaclav Havel the UN Secretary General. I like the idea ? but for what I suspect are completely different reasons than the Instapundit crowd.
Let?s look at a few of Havel?s points in this recent column, which Reynolds quotes approvingly:
1. The same mindset that supported communism is still prevalent in the world today — for instance, in blind faith in ?various laws of the market and other invisible hands that direct our lives.? Such a focus on ?manifestations of inevitability? over ?individual responsibility and action? is undermining democracy.
2. Political apathy is rife. And that?s undermining democracy.
3. Global corporations are undermining democracy.
4. Media cartels are undermining democracy.
5. Powerful bureaucracies are undermining democracy.
6. Lobbyists and special interests are undermining democracy.
7. Mass conformism is undermining democracy.
8. Economic globalization has escaped political control and is causing economic havoc and ecological devastation (and, presumably, undermining democracy).
9. We should reform the United Nations to reflect the influence of new regional powers and reduce the power of non-democratic states.
10. The rest of the world should look to a unified, integrated Europe as a role model.
11. Europeans should stop ?cheaply blaming America? for the world?s problems.
Hm. Which of these laudable goals do you think Instapundit picked up on?
I think maybe Matt Welch was more right than he knew when he compared Vaclav Havel to George Orwell last year. Like Orwell, everybody claims Havel as their own; the relationship of the pundit to Havel is a bit like that of the critic to Hamlet, as described by T.S. Eliot: “These minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realization.”
I recently lamented the fact that we don?t hear more from Havel these days. Since then, Havel?s actually become a lot more vocal. I?ll chalk it up to coincidence as I suspect he’s not a reader of my blog. Here?s Havel on the Ukrainian elections; here he is in Taiwan; the Vaclav Havel library, meanwhile, just opened in Prague. The author of North Sea Diaries suggested I post something to AFOE along the lines of ?what should a public intellectual be talking and thinking about today?” Well, here’s a good start.
Let?s be clear: When Havel talks about European integration, he?s talking about a federal Europe with a bi-cameral legislature and a constitution with a “lofty preamble.” It?s all laid out, and much more, in a speech he gave to the French Senate in 1999. Joschka Fischer picked up on the idea of a bi-cameral federal Europe in his famous ?Thoughts on the Finality of European Integration? speech (you know, the one with the bit about the Peace of Westphalia). But give credit where it?s due. Havel didn?t come up with the idea, but he was the first European statesman to articulate it clearly. This approach to European integration (that is, shared sovereignity between nation states and supra-national institutions) is the example he wants the world to follow. Frankly, it all sounds suspiciously like a post-national super-state to me ? an idea decried by right-wingers on both sides of the Atlantic. The problem? None, as far as I?m concerned.
The question is, do American conservatives really want this guy shaping the new and improved UN? Beats me. But if they do ? and Goldberg wants to ?get the ball rolling? — then let?s find some common ground.