I first “met” Vaclav Havel in a political philosophy class. We were assigned The Memorandum. Do yourself - and your funny bone! – a favor and commemorate the great man’s passing by reading this hilarious sendup of the bureaucratic face of tyranny. It’s the most delightful satire you’ll ever read on what organizations run strictly on power are like.
His classic, The Power of the Powerless, is strictly for the hardcore reader; you have to skip over a lot of that dense Euro-verbiage that uses a lot of long, fancy words to say what could be better said in fewer and clearer words. But the book’s very history is really an amazing thing. He wrote a book about how he was going to bring down the Stalinist regime in Czechoslovakia, then he went out and did what he wrote. It’s like the good guys’ version of Hitler writing Mein Kampf and then going out and doing it.
Finally, since the new issue of FT features the inestimable Charles Glenn on why religious liberty requires the end of the government school monopoly, I won’t scruple to link to my own thoughts on what education reformers can learn from Havel – especially about school choice.