Srovnávání nesrovnatelného aneb Existovala v nejnovějších českých dějinách epocha totalitarismu?
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Comparing the Incomparable: Was There a Totalitarian Era in Contemporary Czech History?
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This article seeks to illustrate some particular problems that arise whenever the concept of totalitarianism is applied to Czech history. The article aims in particular to broaden the scope of the discussion, by introducing sociological and demographic aspects into a perspective usually limited strictly to political factors. Taking issue with the common application of the term ‘totalitarian’ to the period from 1938 to 1989, the author emphasizes the scope of change that Czech society experienced up to 1956, and he looks for an internal commonality extending over the whole period. He argues that the number of changes that altered the ethnic, demographic, social, and political stratifi cation of Czech society between 1938 and 1956, in contrast to what is implied by the ‘democratic tradition’ so frequently being claimed for the First Republic, led to a ‘totalitarian mindset’ that worked in favour of the dictatorships of the times. The principal prerequisite, he argues, is the exploitation of mass dynamics (as described by Hannah Arendt), which was achieved by those in power consciously manipulating social structures from 1938 to 1956.
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