Communists in the Way

Czechoslovakia’s first president T.G Masaryk said that it would take fifty years for democracy to take root in the country. In 1989, we got another chance. Today, we are sixteen years down the line. If there is a single telling barometer of just where we are along Masaryk’s time-line today, then it is the Czech Communist party (KSČM) which, as the only remaining communist party in Europe, has not renounced it’s brutal past and instead represents itself as a (albeit modified) continuation of the old system. The party and its continuing existence remains a source of constant debate. However, a society, in which many segments are still mired in a post-communist mind-set, can not be expected to resolve such a complex issue overnight. With the help of their still-active former communist judges, members of the KSČM continue to evade blame for the many atrocities of their past.

Old ties are still alive and well, and challenging them takes courage, since in essence one is not just challenging a system, but also creating a new moral background against which a new national identity can emerge. For the time being, this is something that we are afraid to do – it’s simply too abstract, aloof, and above all, dangerous, since whenever we tried to do such a thing in our history (such as in 1938 and 1968), we always paid a severe price. Nevertheless, there will soon come a day, when we will be ready to take the next step along the path. This time, as opposed to the largely individual initiatives of senators or citizen’s groups, our entire society will eventually come to look at the communists through a strong magnifying glass. At that point, it will be clear to all that the existence of such a conglomerate in its present state is incompatible with Masaryk’s goals for Czech progress. That’s why the current post-election political stalemate, in which the conservative party victors of the election can’t form a cabinet due to the seats in parliament being split evenly down the middle between a Social Democrat coalition and winner’s coalition, presents a deep lesson to all. Thus far, all politicians, from president Klaus to premier Paroubek, have prostituted themselves to the communists in order to secure their votes for key political maneuvering.

The current political stalemate is the direct result of the continuing “dependency” on a political party which single-handedly represents all the evils of the past. If, however, our politicians decided to give the KSČM an ultimatum: either change and renounce your past, or face the consequences, they would soon discover how easy it is to remove this blot on Czech politics. Such a step would have untold positive consequences for our national character, not to mention for our remaining politicians. This is confirmed by the glaring irony, that the eradication of the KSČM would actually help the left-wing Social Democrats the most, since it would be to them that most of the former communist voters would gravitate. Hence, it would be the Social Democrats and not the Conservatives who would today be given the obvious choice of forming a cabinet. And that’s an irony that is sad, but hopeful as well.

Martin Jan Stránský


The New Presencesummer 2006

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