The Czech journal A2 is dedicated to the thirtieth anniversary of the breakup of Czechoslovakia (31 December 1992) and is revealed collectively with its Slovak counterpart Kapitál. Whereas A2 focuses on the shared previous and the rising variations between the 2 international locations, as mirrored in historic writing, fiction, the visible arts and documentary movie, Kapitál takes a speculative strategy, gauging the way forward for cultural coverage, theatre, music, folklore and structure.
A conflicted partnership
A2 editor Matěj Matelec sees the historical past of Czechoslovakia because the ‘unsuccessful try at a standard state of Czechs and Slovaks’. A key foundational fantasy of the newly-created state in 1918 was the fictional idea of a single nation, invented to make sure that the bulk would have a bigger presence than the sum-total of nationwide minorities: ‘Simply because the Czechs wanted the Slovaks due to the Germans, so the Slovaks wanted the Czechs due to the Hungarians.’
However inequality was baked into the undertaking from the beginning, with Czechs wanting down on Slovaks and sometimes seeing the japanese a part of the nation as little greater than an open-air museum of people artwork. Regardless of the rhetoric, Slovaks aspirations to actual equality had been thwarted for many years, fuelling resentment and nationalism. As a result of the Czechs and the Slovaks didn’t share the identical concept of what a widespread state ought to be, the breakup of Czechoslovakia was inevitable.
However, Matelec believes that ‘the Velvet Divorce represents a failure of our younger democracy – a betrayal of the citizens’ that heralded future selections taken by elected representatives above the voters’ heads. Matelec concludes his unsparing evaluation of the Czech elites as follows: ‘We’ve got blamed another person for many of the main historic upheavals in our trendy historical past – the start of Czechoslovakia, the Munich Settlement, the liberation and occupation. The one factor we did by ourselves was to smash up our widespread state.’
The primary time as tragedy…
‘The breakup was a whole failure,’ argues sociologist and former politician Fedor Gál in a lengthy interview with Matěj Matelec and Lukáš Rychetský. Born in 1945 to Slovak Jewish dad and mom within the Theresienstadt ghetto, Gál was a number one determine within the ‘Tender Revolution’, because the Velvet Revolution is thought in Slovakia. He was additionally a founding member of Public In opposition to Violence, the occasion that spearheaded Slovakia’s transition to democracy. In 1992 Gál moved to Prague, disillusioned with politics and rising antisemitism. ‘I typically surprise what we did flawed for issues to finish up like this, for Czechoslovakia to be damaged up by individuals foaming on the mouth and spewing out detrimental feelings, individuals whose visions have been harking back to what we noticed in Slovakia within the Thirties.’
Gál is equally scathing about present-day Slovak politicians who fake to be pragmatic whereas behaving ‘like black marketeers and peddlers of shoddy items’. However, when requested if Czechoslovakia would nonetheless exist if it hadn’t been for the Czech prime minister Václav Klaus and his Slovak counterpart Vladimír Mečiar, Gál replies: ‘Each historic scenario chooses its personal solid. If it hadn’t been Mečiar and Klaus, it will have been some clones of theirs a yr or two later.’
In Kapitál, sociologist Dominik Želinský takes a important view of a new e book by Martin M. Šimečka, a former dissident, author and journalist with a blended Czech and Slovak background. Šimečka’s broadly praised account of his lengthy stroll throughout the Slovak countryside, Príhody tuláka po Slovensku (‘The adventures of a wanderer round Slovakia’), was hailed by its writer Matúš Kostolný as ‘a brand new mind-set about the important thing themes of our instances’. However whereas Šimečka sees a greater diploma of improvement on the Czech facet of the border, Želinsky takes him to process for failing to elucidate why the distinction ‘isn’t just ‘dramatic’ (whether or not in financial, political or different phrases) however ‘civilisational’.
Šimečka asserts that Slovakia lags behind its Czech neighbour as a result of the nation hasn’t but absolutely reckoned with its previous. ‘Vital reflection on the previous is undoubtedly necessary,’ Želinský contends, ‘nonetheless, one would possibly ask if the dearth of retrospective evaluation is actually what engenders a way of hopelessness in Slovakia … Shouldn’t Slovakia’s precedence, moreover reflecting on its previous, be its current and future?’ In spite of everything, there are many shameful moments within the Czech previous that haven’t been correctly mirrored: Želinský cites, amongst different issues, the focus camp for Roma individuals in Lety that was not changed into a memorial till 2022, after a long time of getting used as a pig farm.’
Relatively than providing any new insights into the state of the nation, writes Želinský, Šimečka’s e book offers solely well-worn clichés about ‘oligarchs, offended individuals, nostalgia for socialism, and infinite lamentations about issues being higher within the Czech Republic’.
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