Final Word from Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Every people needs its mythic figures, and Václav Havel hasplayed the role for post-revolutionary Czechs. He was neveras interested in truth as his proclamations suggested, and hislove was sometimes freer than what becomes a moral leader.As even some of his biggest supporters will admit, he servedin the 1990s to legitimize some of the building blocks of acriminal state. He was nevertheless the country's No. 1 exportarticle, and his persona attracted global acclaim and, lessdirectly, foreign investment too. It's probably fair to say thatwithout Havel, the global crises would have hit the CR soonerand harder. He's still alive and kicking, but his myth is beingappropriated by a new generation. There are signs that figureslike Andrej Babiš, Zdeněk Bakala, Zdeněk Tůma and KarelJaneček might be preparing to join forces to pick up the baton.If the resulting initiative is even more Havelian than Havel, itcould be a good thing for the country. If it's a cheap imitation,it might be better to allow the myth to slowly fade away.

Glossary of difficult words

birthday boy/girl - the person celebrating his or her birthday (Havel turns 75 today);

to become someone - to be appropriate or suitable for someone;

building block - a basic unit from which something is built up;

alive and kicking - prevalent and very active;

to appropriate something - to take something for one’s own use;

baton - a short stick passed from runner to runner in a relay race.

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