Here we go, the day that brought freedom to the Czechs is twenty years old today. Celebration and festivities have started with many public figures assessing what went wrong and what went right since the fall of communism in this country and elsewhere.
When one goes through the speeches of various Czech policitians, intellectuals and opinion-makers, or talks to the people on the street, one feature pops out as a common one to almost everybody. And that is, that the Czechs still seem waiting for something, something to happen. Nobody really knows what or can not describe it properly but that inner feeling is there. As if November 17th, 1989, wasn´t so great.
Well, we should take a moment and think for a while. As the editorial of Respektof this week points out, the Czechs have achieved all the main things they were calling for during those cold days twenty years ago. We wanted free elections and we have them: we wanted multiparty democracy, we have it. We wanted to get rid of censorship and open up a space for freedom of speech and honest public debate, and we managed.
Hence the spleen of today can´t have anything to do with the past. It has something to do with the present times. Because when the Czechs look around, they see corruption, weak governments, agressive politicians and their parties behaving like sects while being unable to lead responsibly the country. They see economic fall-down, rise of economic nationalism, populism and scandals. The low spirits of the people is understandable and, importantly, is not unique only to the Czechs in the post-communist space.
Still, very often when the Czechs talks about their disullisionment they would start with saying „they…“ when „they“ means politicians, parliamentarians, teachers, judges, policemen, bosses at work, or even the shopkeepers around the corner. It is always „they“ and never „us.“
You can read it in nothing but one way: the Czechs have managed to have their political state but haven´t truly managed to have their political, self-confident civil society that would be ready to step in and take on some part of the homework of the state. And in doing so, shape the fate of the country. And so, as Respekt concludes, when a Czech complains and swears at the status of nowadays Czech republic, he or she should go in front of the nearest mirror and take a look at one-self. He/she would see the first one to blame.
The good thing, though, is that there is a hope for change growing up. Quite a number of young Czechs, most of them university students in their twenties, have set up a group bearing a name „The audit of the democracy.“ The group wants to get involved in public debates and public affairs, their members express their views on the Czech reality, these young Czechs have their self-confidence, experience from free travelling around the globe, and most of all – they don´t say „they.“ They go „us.“
For them, the day back in November 1989 was the most perfect one. The rest of the population should bear this in mind, rejoice at it and instead of swearing, should go out now and celebrate. They, us, we have a reason for it.