Dear Václav Havel:

In 1968, in the Stadtheater in Basel, there was a protest meeting against the invasion of Czechoslovakia. I was there and I spoke, and I closed my address with these words:

In Czechoslovakia, human liberty has lost one battle in the struggle for a fairer world, but not the war: the war will continue against violent ideologues everywhere, whether they be wearing the mask of Communism, ultra-Communism or democracy. The Czechoslovak people have given us an example of how to conduct such a struggle in a developed country without a jungle to disappear into: in order to avoid a massacre, the Czechoslovak people have declined to use their own army, but their non-violent resistance has dealt a blow to a great superpower that may be more grievous than we can presently imagine.

More than twenty years have passed. The United States has lost a war and its honour, in Vietnam. The power of the hardliners in Eastern Europe has crumbled away, and the bristling military blocks on both sides have lost their function: the clichéd pictures of the enemy have lost all relevance, as each superpower is increasingly confronted not by the other, but by its own internal problems. And non-violent resistance has found an ambassador in you, dear Havel, and Czechoslovakia a president.


Of Bankers and Soldiers
The Zoo in Basel