ABSTRACT

Year 1989 was memorable for rhetoric. Words had power. Clumsy Communist speeches, delivered in a futile attempt to preserve the old order, backfired and sealed the downfall of the old regime. The town squares became public arenas for ad hoc referenda; rhetoric became a legitimate weapon. Battles for public opinion culminated in unique confrontations of speakers and crowds at the ČKD industrial plant and Letná plain in Prague. Václav Havel, a dissident and shy unlikely leader, won by both his ethos and logos. Havel’s slogan ‘Truth and Love has to Prevail over Lie and Hatred’ became a staple of the Velvet Revolution and is still alive, provoking the enemies of moral politics and civil society. Drawing on academic literature, the article provides a closer analysis of Havel’s rhetoric.

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