On the Road to Democracy: The Czech Republic from Communism to Free Society

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9781568081434: On the Road to Democracy: The Czech Republic from Communism to Free Society

On November 17, 2004, the people of the Czech Republic celebrated 15 years of independence from communist rule. For the millions of Czechs who are old enough to remember what life was like behind the Iron Curtain, the contrast with their country today could not be more profound. For four decades, Czechs were virtual slaves within their own borders. They were told what they could and could not read, when and where they could assemble, how much they could buy and sell, and even what they could and could not say. They worked in state-owned factories, read state-owned newspapers, drove cars from state-owned companies, and ate food from state-owned farms.

The result was a country whose economy and society were much poorer than those of Western European countries. Today's Czech economy is one of the most vibrant in Europe, with per capita income near $16,000 and a gross domestic product of $161 billion. Czechs are not only wealthier than ever before, they are also freer. Residents of Prague now can choose from more than a dozen newspapers. They can choose from an unlimited number of political parties -- five of them are now in the parliament -- compared to practically only one under communism. They can buy products from all over the world and sell them all over the world. They can travel to neighboring countries, form their own businesses, criticize the government, and assemble in city squares without fear of reprisal from government tanks.

This book presents a long overdue restatement of Klaus' challenges to the socialist model and shows that his ideas are as relevant today in the struggle against the expansionary welfare state as they were in the struggle against communism. It consists of 45 of Klaus' most memorable speeches and lectures, organized into four chapters -- two of which look back at the lessons learned in the period after communism and two of which look forward to future challenges and opportunities.

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Vaclav Klaus is that rare politician who has a deep understanding of and belief in the principles of a free private enterprise economy. First as prime minister and now as president, he has played a major role in the successful transition of the Czech Republic from communism to freedom. --Milton Friedman, Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, recipient of the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics

A remarkable collection of essays written during arguably the most remarkable decade of the 20th century, when communism fell throughout the Soviet Empire, and was replaced by free and market oriented nations. --Gary S. Becker, University of Chicago, recipient of the 1992 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics

A remarkable collection of essays written during arguably the most remarkable decade of the 20th century, when communism fell throughout the Soviet Empire, and was replaced by free and market oriented nations. --Gary S. Becker, University of Chicago, recipient of the 1992 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics

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Vaclav Klaus
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