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Vaclav Klaus

Former prime minister and finance minister of the Czech Republic


We want a market economy without any adjectives. Any compromises with that will only fuzzy up the problems we have. To pursue a so-called Third Way is foolish. We had our experience with this in the 1960s when we looked for a socialism with a human face. It did not work, and we must be explicit that we are not aiming for a more efficient version of a system that has failed. The market is indivisible; it cannot be an instrument in the hands of central planners.

Jun. 01, 1990 - from an interview published in Reason Magazine
If we want a free Europe, and if we consider institutions to be instruments and not goals in themselves, we have to carefully study the consequences of unionistic ideas because 'ideas matter'.

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
Milton Friedman was right - the communist economy produced goods and services not because of the planners, but in spite of them. And his message was clear; the more unconstrained the markets are, the better.

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
[On de-constructing communism in the Czech Republic] We knew that the negative vision ['no more communism'] must be very rapidly supplemented with a positive one. ... The positive vision is necessary, though I am not an advocate of social constructivism. On the contrary, I am a true believer in the Hayekian evolutionary process of formation of all complex human institutions, but I know that after dismantling institutions of one social system, the institutional vacuum must be rapidly filled with new rules of the game, both formal (laws) and informal (patterns of conduct). Otherwise, chaos and anarchy start to govern society. Therefore, it was necessary to introduce some elementary, system-creating measures, and the role of vision-suggesting where to go and how to get there-was enormous.

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
[The European Union] We see more governments and more bureaucrats; we see more an inward-looking (outward-looking) mentality; we see more room for special interests and rent-seeking; we see less democratic constraints, and ... we see more opponents of capitalism in important positions of international institutions than at home [in the once-communist Czech Republic].

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
The Third Way [a utopian concept of government postulated to rise from the ashes of socialism and communism] is the fastest way to the third world.

1990 - from an address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
We started to dismantle communism six years ago without the slightest flirtation with the possibility of reforming it. We knew there was no fundamental structural difference between communism and socialism, that the system was not reformable, that there was nothing like socialism with a human face, and that there was no third way between capitalism and socialism. At least in our country, our position in this regard was clear and straightforward.

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
It would be a disaster to accept the accusations of enemies of democratic capitalism that economic behavior is egoistic, whereas political behavior is or should be altruistic, that economic transactions and morality are incompatible, that culture is noble and superior, whereas financial markets are nasty and inferior, and so forth. We human beings are consistent and coherent in our behavior...

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute
[On de-constructing communism in the Czech Republic] We understood very clearly that it was not possible to change the political system first and the economic system second, to decentralize economic decision making and to postpone political decentralization, to wait for people being prepared to behave as Schumpeterian innovators before dismantling central planning, to educate people first and to liberalize, deregulate, and privatize afterwards. ... It is the chicken-egg problem, and it is quite clear that we had to go ahead simultaneously in all three dimensions of our life.

Dec. 1, 1995 - from "From Communism to Democratic Capitalism: The Role of Visions", an address to the James Madison Institute