Totalitarian

While reading Havel’s New Year’s Address to the Nation, 1990. I found it interesting that the term totalitarian came up a few times. In the beginning, Havel describes that they are currently living under totalitarian rule he describes it as ” We had all become used to the totalitarian system and accepted it as an unchangeable fact and thus helped to perpetuate it. In other words, we are all – though naturally to differing extents – responsible for the operation of the totalitarian machinery” (Havel, 2). Later on, in the address, he describes that “Everywhere in the world people wonder where those meek, humiliated, skeptical and seemingly cynical citizens of Czechoslovakia found the marvelous strength to shake the totalitarian yoke from their shoulders in several weeks, and in a decent and peaceful way” (Havel, 3). Although, I believe he is talking about the current government he then says that the same totalitarian regime they were under in the 1950s is the same as what they are living now. ” Those who defended the honor of our nations during the Second World War, those who rebelled against the totalitarian rule” (Havel, 3). My question to the class would be, do you think the author wants the nation to know that they have not progressed since WW2? Do you think the author wants the nation to feel the same anguish that they were feeling in the 1950s to feel while giving the address to the nation? Do you think that this is a fair comparison? Or do you think that this is justified by past history actions? What do you think?

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