Vaclav Havel's Speech

At UCLA on Oct. 25, Czechoslovakian President Vaclav Havel delivered the Tanner Lecture on Human Values. It was not a humane message.

Rather than extol economic freedom, productivity and private property, as he did elsewhere on his U.S. visit, Havel advocated a philosophy geared to destroy those very values: environmentalism.

What particular values did Havel advocate? Not self-interest or the use of one's mind to solve problems. These values he incredibly ascribed to Marxism, a philosophy which created communist Czechoslovakia, where individuals sacrificed to the collective. On the contrary, said Havel, man is too "haughty." He must become humble and recognize that there is something "higher" than the intellect. Above all, man must realize that he is but a tiny component of "a mysterious meta-organism." Only if he recognizes the "mystery of being" will man forsake his desire to control nature for his own purposes.

Czechoslovakia, like the other Eastern European nations, needs a drastic infusion of wealth. It needs production, capitalization, privatization, the motivation of personal profit (which acts to prevent mindless destruction of resources), the freedom of its citizens to act on their own judgments--in a word: capitalism.

But Havel can't have it both ways: an environmentalist philosophy will destroy technological civilization.

Czechoslovakia has the opportunity to participate in another economic "miracle"--if it adopts the values of freedom, productivity, reason and life on Earth. Havel's mystical, neo-fascist environmentalism would deliver his country into a tyranny even more primitive than the one from which he helped it emerge.

MICHAEL S. BERLINER

Executive Director, Ayn Rand Institute

Marina del Rey

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