Vaclav Havel, the Czech dissident, playwright, and president, died this weekend at the age of 75. His 1978 essay, “The Power of the Powerless,” which critiqued Communism as a morally bankrupt system based on lies, is a classic of human-rights literature. Havel personally experienced totalitarianism from the inside of a prison; his bravery and decency gave him a legitimacy that few politicians in Europe, or anywhere, can claim. Here is a tribute by Czech academic Jiri Pehe, who served as Havel’s political adviser from 1997 to 1999.

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