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The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation Chapter 1: Nation Against State Nick Fundytus.

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Presentation on theme: "The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation Chapter 1: Nation Against State Nick Fundytus."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Little Czech and the Great Czech Nation Chapter 1: Nation Against State Nick Fundytus

2 The Public and Private Spheres  Czechoslovakia is unique among the Eastern Bloc countries in that it voted in the Communists freely and by a majority. Its last free elections were in 1946, and the communist coup d’etat occurred in 1948.  Because of state ownership of production, Public life became anything to do with work or the state, while private was home and family.

3 “Anyone who doesn’t steal...  Czechs, like Westerners, generally made friends outside of work.  Czechs were not known for their friendliness to foreigners or people they did not know personally.

4 ... is robbing his family”  Czechs saw lying to the state as expected to maneuver within the socialist system, in private life it was unforgivable.  One popular practice was to pilfer state goods to supplement income.  Thus a popular saying in Czechoslovakia arose: “Anyone who does not steal is robbing his family”

5 Opposition to the Communist Regime  Prague Spring or “Prager Spring,” 1968. A short- lived period of increased openness in C.S.  Public demonstrations in Prague in 1988-9, led to the fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia. Dubcek

6 A Problem of Legitimacy  Despite regular elections and state-sponsored demonstrations such as the May Day parade, the Communist government did not have legitimate support from the masses.  An attempt to rectify this and discourage resistance to the state was to make material wealth the “meaning of life” within the state.

7 State vs. Nation  Communist Party  Political aims  Interests tie in with Soviet policies  Defined material well- being as a symbol of success  Dissident Groups  Idealistic aims  Diverse bases and interests  Defined morality as a goal (this stance was undermined by the communist stance)

8 National Symbols: Prague and St Wenceslas  Prague  Capital of Czechoslovakia  Idea of “Mother Prague” was important to Czechs  Dubcek exploited this symbol upon his rise to power in 1968.  St Wenceslas Square  Heart of Prague, and thus the real heart of the nation.  St. Wenceslas was a martyr in the Czech church, and one of its most enduring symbols against oppression.


10 AUGUST 21, 1968 Warsaw Pact Troops descend upon St. Wenceslas Square and crush unarmed opposition to the communist regime

11 Timing of Resistance  In 1988-9, demonstrations occurred on days that were specifically important to the nationalist cause  October 28- Anniversary of the independent C.S. state in 1918  August 21- End of the Prague Spring in 1968  January 19- Death of Jan Palach in 1969  November 17, Closing of Czech Universities by the Nazis in 1939

12 Well, maybe it’s funnier in Czech?  Of Socialism: The first peculiarity is that everybody is employed and nobody works. The Second is that nobody works and the plan gets filled 100%. The third is that the plan is filled and there is nothing in the shops. The fourth: There is nothing to be had in the shops and people have everything.The fifth is that people have everything and everybody still grumbles. The sixth is that we grumble about the regime and then we all go vote for it.  Popular Czech Joke in the 1970’s

13 Two Types of Nationalism: Friedrich Meinecke  State Nation  Describes post-revolution France  Political ties  In Czechoslovakia, described the “official” nationalism of the communist Party  Cultural Nation  Describes Germany in opposition to Napoleonic France  Cultural and Language Ties  In Czechoslovakia, described the Czechs

14 Summary  Though Czechoslovakia entered into communism Willingly, so did it leave it by its own will. The Adoption and manipulation of national symbols by both government and dissidents in 1968 and 1988 defined the struggle of Nation against State.  Eventually it was the state that would fall to the Czech Nation, and her vague notion of what it meant to be “free.”

15 “Show the world that we are not monkeys!”


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