In Havel’s analysis, in other words, the basis of Communist power was consumerism. The Communist regimes were not different in kind from the West; they were merely, to borrow a phrase, the avant-garde, and Havel thought the West should consider them “a kind of warning.” In hand-to-hand combat, the dissident’s antagonist was banal greed, a force not destined to pass out of the world with the fall of the Iron Curtain. A post-totalitarian regime didn’t need to execute rebels. All it had to do was reward conformists who mouthed its empty slogans, the true meaning of which was always, “I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.” When one weighed material comforts against something as ineffable, and unpriceable, as integrity, standing up for one’s beliefs could seem like a utopian gesture—a moral luxury that was “admirable, perhaps, but quite pointless.” As Havel emphasized in his open letter to Husák, “We are all being publicly bribed.”