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Havel's 'humane republic'

Sir -- Eoghan Harris's eloquent tribute to the late Vaclav Havel (Sunday Independent, January 1, 2012) also shed light on an episode which occurred inside the Workers' Party in 1990, relating to the fate of Mr Harris's pamphlet, The Necessity for Social Democracy.

This document -- as he states -- was suppressed which led to exodus from the party.

The Workers' Party elite aped the totalitarian mindset which Mr Havel had overcome.

It is worth noting that these people now occupy prominent positions in our Government (all good Labour Party people).

The damage they inflicted then upon the social and political body by disallowing an open debate on the rationalist ideology of social democracy, must never be underestimated.

Mr Havel's great achievement in bringing his country from the mind-numbing grip of socialist totalitarianism to social democracy had inspired many in Ireland to embrace social democracy. These voices needed to be heard, not crushed.

Social democracy -- which is concerned with a just and, to use Mr Havel's term, a humane republic -- never got a hearing in our so-called Republic, and in consequence we ended up with the worst of both worlds: insanely unregulated free market capitalist fundamentalism and a rigid ideological protectionism of the public sector, representing an unwritten law of cronyism, which governments had to kowtow to. Is it any wonder we're in an ungodly mess.

Whatever the outcome would have been if such a national debate on a genuine 'third way,' had taken place is difficult to say, in a country like Ireland, with a long tradition of power-elite politics, rather than one which defines politics as a 'high moral calling,' to use Mr Havel's phrase. However, it was worth a try in order to bring about a common sense social democratic republic, one that, had it occurred, could have avoided becoming a colony of Frankfurt.

Pierce Martin,

Celbridge, Co Kildare

Sunday Independent