Friday, October 17, 2008

In the term limits debate, learning from the Velvet Revolution

The Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia has some lessons, perhaps, for those City Council members aiming to overturn voter-imposed term limits.

As summarized by New York Magazine's John Leonard:
It was at the Magic Lantern Theater, on a stage set for Durrenmatt's Minotaurus, under a television set with the sound turned off, that Vaclav Havel and his friends -- writers, professors, actors, and jailbird intellectuals -- met to compose a brand-new social contract. Ash tells us that once when they were tired and depressed, students appeared onstage dressed comically as Young Pioneers (red kerchiefs, white blouses, and pigtails): "It is the Committee for a More Joyful Present. We have come, they say, to cheer you up -- and make sure you don't turn into another politburo. Then they hand out little circular mirrors to each member of the plenum." So that the members of that plenum would have to look at themselves as they wrote the future.

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