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Velvet Revolution anniversary

In History, Politics on November 16, 2008 by Petr Bokuvka Tagged: , , , , ,

Remember the year 1989? The year of peaceful revolutions in East Germany, Bulgaria and… Czechoslovakia?

Nineteen years ago Czechs and Slovaks got rid of the Communist regime. It was Friday, November 17, when riot police forces suppressed a student demonstration. This lead to a significant series of events that included the resignation of then-president Gustav Husak, or student leaders meeting the PM, or the election of Vaclav Havel as the first democratic president since 1946.

Just like most Americans remember where they were when Kennedy was shot, most Czechs remember where they were on November 17 just as the police were using their batons against students who had been singing and chanting “We got bare hands”.

The Iron Curtain was removed from the border with Germany and Austria in early December 1989. This was also the end of communist oppression instruments, like the secret police, restrictions on travel, or one of the most terrifying ones: the Communist Party’s power over people’s jobs and fates (enemies of the state were being fired from jobs and often made to have demeaning jobs, compared to their previous ones).

And still, 19 years after the end of Communism as a rule, over 15 percent (in average) of people would still vote for “the new communists“!!! (both in Parliamentary and regional government elections)… These people think their lives used to be better before 1989, simply because the communist regime used to take care of everything and they did not have to take responsibility. And just because “everybody had equally little”. And just because “the institutions of the communist oppression did not do anything to their families”.

I think I am not going to comment on these people because I would have to be extremely rude. But I think it is legitimate to say that this country will not change until the voters of the communist party who remember the prior-1989 life will have died out…

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4 Responses to “Velvet Revolution anniversary”

  1. “These people think their lives used to be better before 1989, simply because the communist regime used to take care of everything and they did not have to take responsibility.”

    Actually, opinion polls show that large numbers of Czechs – far more than vote Communist – *say* that life was better before 1989. But, of course, it’s a meaningless question and, as any pollster, will tell you what they really mean is that truly pissed with the uncertainties and inequalities of the present day…

    Should they be? Well, that’s a political question isn’t it? Possibly not. But it’s so easy to glib stuff about ‘taking responsibility’ when you’re a young fit, well paid cosmopolitan journalist not someone in their fifties with few skills washed up in some declining provincial hole.

    Still, maybe when the global downturn finally hits the Czech economy and your own income, lifestyle and certainties get shredded, you’ll have a little more sympathy for your many more left-wing fellow citizens.

  2. TACADO: Good point, but there are some “but”s : having little skills washed up in some declining provincial hole is NOT an argument for voting a party that used to send people to work camps, had them fired from their jobs etc. Communism IS a criminal ideology. Plus, people who are fifty-something now were thirty-something in 1989. Okay, I admit, I can have sympathy for left-wing citizens who are seventy now. But I do not have sympathy for those who, sorry to say, whine and whimper now and who were perfectly happy with their communist lifesfyle before 1989 when they were just over thirty…
    Oh, and one last thing, the pre-1989 nostalgy with some people was here WAAAY before this financial crisis, even in early 21st century when the Czech news broadcasts were full of news pieces saying “the Czech economy is doing really well”

  3. TACADO: Good point, but there are some “but”s : having little skills washed up in some declining provincial hole is NOT an argument for voting a party that used to send people to work camps, had them fired from their jobs etc. Communism IS a criminal ideology. Plus, people who are fifty-something now were thirty-something in 1989. Okay, I admit, I can have sympathy for left-wing citizens who are seventy now. But I do not have sympathy for those who, sorry to say, whine and whimper now and who were perfectly happy with their communist lifesfyle before 1989 when they were just over thirty…
    Oh, and one last thing, the pre-1989 nostalgy with some people was here WAAAY before this financial crisis, even in early 21st century when the Czech news broadcasts were full of news pieces saying “the Czech economy is doing really well”

  4. [...] Czech Daily Word writes about the time when “Czechs and Slovaks got rid of the Communist regime” 19 years ago – [...]

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