• Anthony Kammas1
  • 1Department of Political Science, University of Southern California


This article examines Václav Havel's unconventional route to democracy. At the core of the enquiry is an analysis of the role his Absurdism played in the development of his thought and activism. The essay illustrates how a typically literary, non-democratic intellectual orientation sustained Havel in his struggle for democratic political change against the abuses of really existing socialism. Yet, Havel's thought did not stop there; he eyed Western liberal ism critically as well. Springing from his Absurdist sensibility was a vision of democracy that was neither wholly liberal nor socialist, yet quite practical. By making a case for reconsidering ideas that typically fall outside the purview of democratic theory, this article also suggests the possibility of critically rethinking democracy itself.


  • Václav Havel
  • absurd
  • dissent
  • democracy
  • existentialism
  • ideology

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