Coffee with the FT: V√°clav Havel

Copyright The Financial Times
An excerpt:
…Havel is, however, disappointed that ex-communist societies have followed the west in embracing globalisation and rampant consumerism. At our meeting he makes clear that there is little that can be done about this in free societies. “But I feel there is no reason why we shouldn’t reflect upon this trend. It is a two-faced trend: on the one hand it brings people thousands of advantages and joys and pleasures; on the other, it is endangering the human race.”
I wonder whether there isn’t some intellectual snobbery hiding behind this anti-consumerism and put it to him that if people wished to use their freedom to go to McDonald’s, why shouldn’t they? He responds: “I don’t want to prevent anyone from being able to do that. What I want to say is something different … I get the sense that we are the first civilisation in the history of mankind that is completely atheist. Human existence now isn’t metaphysically anchored in any way in a code of moral conduct, from which we could then derive a legal code.
“That doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the delicacies I can buy at the local supermarket … What I’m talking about is the underlying atheism and anti-spirituality of our civilisation. We don’t know where it’s going to go from here and what it will bring for the human race.”
Pointing to a mobile phone, he says: “Fifty years ago, I wouldn’t have imagined this little device could be used to make calls all over the world, to make video recordings, and to send images. If someone had told me about this then, I would have thought the future world would be a wonderful one when people would have these things and would be able to communicate better. But that didn’t happen. The world today is worse, and it is full of more traps and contradictions than it was 50 years ago.”…
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