Je v pražském jaru 1968 alternativa k dnešnímu kapitalismu? Politická úvaha nad historickou interpretací
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Is the Prague Spring of 1968 an Alternative to the Capitalism of Today? Political Reflections on an Historical Interpretation
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In this article, inspired by Jiří Hoppe’s Opozice ’68: Sociální demokracie, KAN a K 231 v období Pražského jara (Prague: Prostor 2009), the author considers the paradoxical attitudes of society and politicians in 1968 and the question of whether an alternative to the capitalist system had been born at that time (as was claimed by the Reform Communists back then and is argued by some left-wing intellectuals today). In the spring of 1968 the reformist politicians found themselves stuck between Kremlin pressure on the one hand and an awakening civil society on the other. They had no intention of relinquishing power, which they ultimately derived from the authority of Moscow, and they also longed to retain popularity and regain legitimacy from the public, whose intentions were quite contrary to Moscow’s. The public underwent a spontaneous, but civilly disciplined, diversifi cation and pluralization of views, interests, and expectations, which, however, did not manage to crystallize clearly. In the summer of 1968, and particularly after the military occupation of the country, an illusory unity predominated between the politicians and the public, based on a fatal misunderstanding. In the street protests the political programme of liberty and independence was born and the public expected it would be defended by the Czechoslovak politicians interned in Moscow. But those men never wanted to go so far. For them it was more important to hold on to power and maintain the socialism that society now tended to perceive as an ideal rather than as a programme aim. In freedom there would necessarily have been a confrontation of various expectations and interests, which would not have remained limited to ‘democratic socialism’, as was the case after the Changes of November 1989. The author concludes by taking issue with the conclusions of Jan Mervart’s contribution to this block of articles. In his emphasizing the necessity of another, more exact kind of research on 1968, one based on theoretical starting points of social history and freed from the obsolete theory of totalitarianism, the author perceives a belief in the possibility of history as a neutral fi eld of scholarship, stripped of political or ideological preferences and assumptions. Though the ‘resurrected conception’ of the Prague Spring of 1968, which Mervart criticizes, was substituted for by another conception, one which would be based, for example, on the radical reform potential of the Municipal Committees of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, that would surely also have its political contingencies and consequences.
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