The uncivilized society of Czechoslovak tramps. An exploration in proletarian fantasy
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This article examines the relationship between the political theories of Central European dissidents and the social practice of “tramping,” a back-to-nature movement that was associated with oppositional politics and “anti-politics” in Czechoslovakia from the end of World War I until 1989. The article reflects on the potential political significance of the tramping movement’s ideal of uncivilized society as an alternative to the dissidents’ concept of “civil society,” which began as a call for “antipolitical” transformation, and yet after 1989 became an ideological justification for explicitly elitist modes of liberal-conservative governance. The concept of “uncivilized society,” which can be drawn from the discourse of tramping, has parallels in contemporary autonomist calls for tactical retreats from oppressive modernity. The article concludes that the tramping movement’s emphasis on internal organization best distinguishes the movement both from East-Central European dissent before 1989 and from autonomism today.
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