About the (non-)sense of the Czech state

Jiří Gruša, one of the most renowned modern Czech thinkers, referred to Prime Minister Nečas as a “gnome without a garden” and to the castle of Václav Klaus as the “seat of Czech claptrap”. The conflict of the Czech culture of citizenship compatible with the European one and “Czech politics” could not be more clearly defined. Czech “politics”, in fact, ceased to require a thinking and requesting citizen and it actually hates him.

From time to time, history has nodes – significant periods of one generation when old answers and beliefs are no longer valid and new ones are not yet to hand. There is nothing that the old roots could support. The things that were held together lose their consistency and the culture learnt through order is disappearing. There is nothing to believe in. There is nothing that would connect us – even if these were pseudo-values and idols. At this time, Pied Pipers come with their millenarianist promises of the only valid truth. These destroy civilizations as well as tolerances that have been built for centuries. Drudgery and tying peasants to the land of landlords could not survive the industrial revolution. Railroads and factories needed a mobilized workforce. Owning land ceased to bring economic power. The Catholic Church which had been stabilizing power relations and public morals in its lands for centuries never found an answer to the steam engine. The shock caused by modernity led by industrial “science” brought the newly defined nation-states to totalitarian ideologies and the madness of two world wars, as well as to approaching the borders of nuclear self-destruction. Neither faith, nor science was able to prevent these. Another node in history. Only recently computers popped up and with them global financial markets as well as the inability of nation-states to tax their transactions. Faith, science, and even the traditionally perceived identity cannot help or explain.

Peasants bound by drudgery used to live in unchanging environments for generations. They used the same tools as their fathers and grandfathers and they perceived the flow of time and permanence of relations similarly. Peasants belonged somewhere and their identities were seemingly unchangeable and firm. Computers and software change in the course of months. New mass production and seemingly individualized consumption (it does not matter if it is the consumption of goods, information, entertainment or power) have become the most significant indicators of modern human identity. And thus the community of what may appear as a logically created Czech Republic has to face the time of lost illusions and Pied Pipers.

We live in a state that refuses to be a homeland. We live in a state that seems to follow the model of arguing noblemen of the Middle Ages and falls apart to bosses of individual regional oligarchies. These pretend that they are the result of democratic processes but in fact they are corrupting and using all the three state-forming powers to their advantage. Being loyal is the closest that power has become the determining feature of identity. These days political Czechs only “belong to someone” as they cease to want to “belong somewhere”. Public space that has been stolen away is only a different version of churches from which everything was stolen, chapels that were doodled on, monuments and landscapes that were devastated, or low parvenu “architecture”. We live in a state in which a seventy-year-old tragedy of the expulsion of a quarter of German-speaking Czech citizens can be repeated as a hot topic of current politics. We live in a state in which this “politics” and public opinion move in the tracks of 150-year-old argumentation and clichés. We live in a community defined by a language. We live in a community that refuses to be a nation formed by values – apart from defending the language and emotional identification with professional sport. It is sweet and easy to be against someone when being someone and being for something is so much harder.

The powerful ones today only continue in the Czech tradition of authoritative behavior of the owners of the state, whose legitimacy is determined exclusively by their loyalty to the only possible and allowed truth without shame. The country, including its history and former culture, is actually occupied by the gangs of shareholders whose values are limited to their own benefits.

A thief said: “What arrogance! It is incredible how they prevent one from working…” The Czech Republic’s Prime Minister threatens the European Union – understand by this his allies, without whose help the Czech economy and security would not exist – that if they don’t tolerate the stealing of dozens of billions of their money in our country, it will have economic and other problems. A caught embezzler is not ashamed and does not apologize. He slanders and threatens. Hence, stealing is not bad but you cannot talk about it, focus attention on it or require a remedy.

Ex-ministers of the Czech government are being prosecuted for corruption and “diverting” unexplainable incomes. Police officers and attorney generals can only prosecute them in conspiracy against their superiors. Political parties are falling apart, they are full of regional cliques, and are represented in the government by “personalities” such as Jiří Besser, Martin Kocourek, Pavel Drobil, Josef Dobeš or Pavel Blažek. The Law, formalized to the point of absurdity, often changes to become a whore for the powerful ones. Voters consider the old ideologies of the Communist party to be the second most attractive – as if there were not thousands of dead people and millions of destroyed lives that were left behind after forty years of their totalitarian rule in the country. The President, Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs represent three different foreign policies. The President even brazenly promotes Russian interests and insults allies of the Czech Republic. New political parties brought a new hope for the restoration of what is called politics in the Czech Republic. However, they failed and they are getting rid of voters as loads in hot air balloons. Czech populist claptrap enthusiastically shovels more wood into the fire of problems with European integration, keeps saying “I told you so…”, and refuses to see the historical risks for Czech democracy. Czech “politics” lost the ability to look for the things that connect us. Long-term interest of the state and its people stopped to be “politically” interesting and important.

The Czech state is uncontrollably losing its sense. Its powerful ones as well as the majority of culture stopped to understand the value of the state and its sovereignty. The issue of values, which makes us a nation capable of creating values, ceased to be perceived and discussed. The power of “politics” stands against the law and the principle of dividing power. It seems that our Czech node in history, due to a lack of values and ideas, is heading towards a conflict as it did so many times in the past. Unless a Czech citizen willing to fight for the value of community in his state appears again, the Czech Republic is likely to turn into an unkind and unpopular governor of badly cultivated land which will be occupied or trafficked at the occasion of the first bigger international crisis. In March 1920 Tomáš Masaryk had the Hussite or better said Biblical inscription “The Lord’s Truth Wins” written on the presidential banner. He said that it does not necessarily mean that he will speak Czech.

published: 5. 8. 2012

Jan Urban

Jan Urban

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