Hayek and his influence on Czech transition

Václav Klaus has served as finance minister, prime minister, and president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He helped lead his country out of communism, through a peaceful separation, and into the modern world.

He gave a lecture at Cato Institute which is quite a read.

It took us 20 long years to finally get rid of communism and of our Soviet oppressors. When this happened, I was, accidentally, again in Austria. The day before the student demonstration in Prague in November 1989 that started our Velvet Revolution, I was giving a lecture at the University of Linz. During my meeting with the economics professors in the afternoon, I asked them about the role of the Austrian School of Economics and of Hayek in the country where he was born and where he spent an important part of his life. Their answer was very depressing: “Hayek is dead in Austria now. He is not on our reading list anymore.”

In the evening, the university organized a panel discussion about the then ongoing reforms in Central and Eastern Europe. Several hundred students attended. In answering one of the questions, I made an unprepared but prophetic statement: “If Hayek is dead in Austria, we will bring him to life in Prague very soon.” Of course, I did not know what would happen in Prague the next evening.



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