Central Europe Activ

Prague, end of August of 1968.According to a recent poll that is quoted on the refurbished website of the Visegrad Group of Central European countries, few Czechs believe that the ‘Prague spring‘ could have brought democracy in 1968. Although the Czechoslovak Communists attempt to put a human face on Socialism was remembered with warm nostalgia after it was crushed by Soviet and allied tanks, in 2008 only 16.2 per cent believe it could have resulted in democracy against 30.9 per cent who believe it was an attempt of the Communist Party to stay in power. I wonder if anybody has a clue how people in Slovakia think about the same issue?

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  1. Daniel, what’s your take? Do you think it would have brought “democracy” to Czechoslovakia?

    My understanding is that while “democracy” may not have been the immediate result, clearly there were positive benefits of the Prague Spring (e.g. freedom of the press, to move about, and to engage in (gasp) market economics).

    I wonder how the question was phrased and how – if at all – democracy was defined.

  2. The headline is more than misleading as it does not suggest that it reflects the present opinions of Czechs that are the results of almost the twenty years of efforts of downgrading the memory, meaning and hopes of Prague Spring 1968. The need to let the men of 86 down (politicians supporting the Third way, especially its economists) was substantial for the victory of neoliberal thinking in Czechoslovakia Actually, the degradation of the 1968 was the precondition of enthonement of neoliberalism in this country.
    It would be more serious and scientifically honest to draw on the public opinion poll held in Czechoslovakia in 1968. They suggest completely different picture. Please consult Sociological Institute of Czech Academy of Sciences to get the data.

  3. I’m really interested in opinions. Hungary also had a revolution in 1956. It’s memory was surpassed and people were not allowed to talk about it, so by 1989 it had no consensual meaning.

    Ever since that everybody has a different reading of our revolution (which, against the Prague Spring, was fought with arms) and even the surviving participants have very strong disagreements.

    I am not much interested in what people thought at that point, but how they remember it, does it help underpin their democratic institutions or not, etc.

    It’s up to the people in an open, democratic society to cultivate their history.

    Zuzana Kusá – this is what I found on the recommended webpage but maybe you have something else in mind.

  4. The famous photo of the bare-chested man standing blocking the tank was taken in Bratislava not in Prague in 1968 see http://www.unicreditgroup.eu/en/events/Event0459.htm

    The term Prague Spring makes one assume that the attempts at liberalisation in Czechoslovakia were mainly in Prague – many forget that Dubcek was a Slovak and the Slovaks were very much aware of this fact.

    The history of the Slovak involvement in the Prague Spring has not really been studied as the focus has as always been on Prague.

    You ask whether the Prague Spring would have resulted in Democracy. But you do not define the term. If you mean democracy as in parliamentary democracy as in the UK or France of today then the answer has to be negative. Dubcek did not question the leading role of the Communist party in Czechoslovakia. He sought liberalisation of the Socialist system whereby workers were able to have a greater say about what went on in their factories etc..

    In addition he removed the prohibition on the free activity of the Greek Catholic Church, mainly found in Eastern Slovakia. A reform that outlasted the invasion of the Warsaw Pact.

    The greater freedom of expression enjoyed the the Czechoslovaks and the greater ability of citizens to travel abroad would, but for the Warsaw Pact invasion, have led to a more vibrant society and perhaps eventually to a socialist form of democracy.

    Thank you for your questions – too often Czechoslovakia is viewed as Prague and its surrounding area and this ignores the interesting developments in the Slovak side.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘1055386704 which is not a hashcash value.

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