The Velvet Revolution, the Current Crises and the Future of Liberal Democracy. A Patočka Debate


In the days following November 17, 1989, the Czech and Slovak citizens took responsibility for the destiny of their country and embarked on decades of a dramatic and largely successful transformation. From this perspective, the perfect storm of recent crises, from the COVID pandemic through Putin's aggression against Ukraine, the energy crisis and the disruption of globalization chains and processes, together with the challenges of the democratisation of knowledge and the advent of the ‘postfactual era’, can be seen as different symptoms of a single crisis of responsibility that Václav Havel predicted in his address to the US Congress more than thirty years ago.

On the eve of the anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, two of its eye witnesses and sympathetic observers, historian Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European Studies at Oxford University, and journalist Misha Glenny, recently appointed rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, together with Professor of political sociology Anna Durnova of the University of Vienna, shared their thoughts on the velvet heritage, the crisis of liberal democracy, the legacy of Václav Havel with moderator Michael Zantovsky and the audience.

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