The Socialist Temptation

A forgotten dissident's warning

Václav Benda (1946-1999) was a Czech dissident, companion of Václav Havel, and signatory of Charter 77–the political manifesto that played a pivotal role in the downfall of communism in what was once Czechoslovakia. When he wasn’t unemployed and living on benefits, Benda worked variously as a philosopher, a biologist, a mathematician, a computer programmer, a stoker, and a cow herder, among other jobs. This owed mainly to his principled opposition to the communist regime, which punished dissidents by destroying their careers. Benda was, above all, a piercing critic of socialism and totalitarianism.

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The Socialist Temptation

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