A state that denies its citizens their basic rights becomes a danger to its neighbors as well: internal arbitrary rule will be reflected in arbitrary external relations. The suppression of public opinion, the abolition of public competition for power and its public exercise opens the way for the state power to arm itself in any way it sees fit. A manipulated population can be misused in serving any military adventure whatever. Unreliability in some areas arouses justifiable fear of unreliability in everything. A state that does not hesitate to lie to its own people will not hesitate to lie to other states.

Václav Havel (1936-2011) Czech playwright, essayist, dissident, politician
“An Anatomy of Reticence [Anatomie jedné zdrženlivosti],” sec. 9, no. 5 (1985-04) [tr. Kohák (1986)]

First reprinted in Cross Currents: A Yearbook of Central European Culture #5 (1986). Reprinted here in Living in Truth: twenty-two essays published on the occasion of the award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel, Part 1, ch. 6 (1986).

Added on 8-Jun-09 | Last updated 22-Jul-23
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