Havel's Corporate Officer

"I feel like Havel’s shopkeeper"

All people who talk about "Havel's greengrocer" miss one important piece of context, that was absolutely clear to the intended audience - people of 1970's socialist country - and is necessary to understand the parable.

In capitalism, being retail clerk in greengrocer store is low pay and low prestige peon work, and even being owner of small corner greengrocer store is nothing to boast about.

In really existing socialism, working in retail, especially anything with food, was highly sought prestigious job, and being greengrocer (technically - manager of "people owned" greengrocer store) was like being minor nobility.

Imagine you lived there, worked hard, clawed your way up, had lots of luck, knew and paid the right people, and finally were appointed to this desired position.

Now, you are at the top of the world (of your village or small town).

Now, supply of the shortage goods (and socialist economy is built on permanent shortage) is at your disposal. Now, despite you miserable official wage, in few years you are going to buy big (possibly even foreign) car and build a big house, everyone in the town will admire and envy you.

Are you going to risk to piss up the people above you and possibly lose it all for some grand but pointless political gesture?

The equivalent in modern time would not be some poor office drones refusing to put up rainbow flags, but high ranking corporate officer risking his career.