Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Writers in Politics III

Role of the literati in modern society



Peace to whom, tolerance to what

Keyword of “Velvet Revolution” was a proclamation of peace and tolerance as a counterpart to violence and intolerance of Communist regime. However, many years of Communist oppression replaced by post-Communist depression taught us that nothing in social life and politics is so clear as it looks at first sight.

Within following years the writers who had come out from behind their desks and had in very beginning everything in their hands, had again lost everything in terms of the political power. From that moment appears a myth, a legend that there were too tolerant to the former Communists, who are now recovering themselves from the shock of the revolution in 1989. This myth is still preserving a shelter of opposition where these writers retreated finally and it is until now a general excuse for all their failures in recent years. We have to raise the question -- should this be true?

Communist regimes in Central and East Europe were as a repeated Christian history of heretics, reformists and their oppression in the shorten way. Consequently, revolutionary democratic movements in post-Communist countries in the region were as a repeated Communist history in the shorten way too. Like Communists hated Christian ideology, but adopted its hierarchy of the power, velvet revolutionaries hated a hierarchy of Communist regimes but spontaneously adopted their sort of ideological practices in politics. Velvet revolutionaries were really tolerant to defeated Communists, with some exceptions like the uncovering of the former agents of the Secret police. Nothing happened even to hard, orthodox Communist leaders and apparatchiks after 1989. Some explanation could be in hypothetic peculiar and secret contract between the dissidents around Havel and part of the Communist leaders, which (under peculiar supervision of that same Secret police?!) triggered Velvet Revolution. But tolerance of velvet revolutionaries had one strict limit. They were intolerant toward their own colleagues and friends if there appeared only an attempt of the criticism from inside the velvet revolutionary leadership.

Tragicomic was fact that, especially in Slovakia, those pure dissidents were really only few. Enough for playing cards, but not enough to playing a real political game. However a larger circle of “sympathizers” very soon surrounded them. All of them had some history; some of them were former Communists and not only passive ones. Among them were also those who wrote adoring poems about the Communist party in the past. And now, overnight, they were perfect democrats, although hardly knowing what democracy is and how it should be implemented in Slovakia. Only confusing for them was that, instead of usual instructions from Moscow, they got no any detailed instructions from Bonn, London or Washington. They did not even get a “Vocabulary of Democracy” according to which they could prepare to teach and scrutinize others. Karel Kryl, well-known poet and protest singer, called them the leaders of “democraturaship”. They understood plurality as a chorus of voices singing their praises. They adopted very soon a Communist slogan “those who are not with us, they are against us” (strangely enough, later we have heard the very same one from Mr. Bush with his attempt to excuse “War against terrorism”, his conservativeness and methods were not far from the communists approach). And it was meant seriously and unconditionally. They simple understood that everything critical that was said about them (and not from Communist now, but from other writers who dared to do so) was against democracy. And finally they adopted a method of how to distinguish between “good” and “bad” boys -- ostracism.

Simultaneously with the rising demands for equal cooperation between Czechs and Slovaks (not for dividing the federal state primarily) these velvet revolutionaries found again their certainty. If democracy is so complicated that there isn’t even a User’s Guide, the question of nationalism is quite clear -- nationalism as such is wrong and what is most wrong if not the nationalism of a nation which (according they opinion and instructions from some extremists in Prague) doesn’t exist. If they were before so intolerant to their own friends not to listen to critical remarks, now they started to be intolerant again. Intolerant to anything that was against this purely intellectual and artificial construction describing the political situation in terms as simple as that of a schoolboy might be so bold as to do. If they were like a small group of courageous young intellectuals, now they started to behavior like an even smaller gang of the owners of the only truth. Ostracism started to be a weapon of mass liquidation among writers. It was so easy to recognize that, in this indirect way, you were labeled a bad boy. If in previous times they did not like to hear criticism, now they did not like to hear any alternatives. Beloved with waves of sympathy at the beginning, finally they isolated themselves and cut off serious two-way contacts with the political environment. A one-way information track led to nowhere. This way they lost. And until now are loosing their time and effort to not to seriously evaluate their mistakes (the simply idea how could they lost if not by their own mistakes, is now forbidden for themselves too), but to describe the stupidity of such a nation who did not listen them (but paradoxically was not regard so stupid when elected them and gave them full power at the beginning of this story).

The conclusion is obvious, and sad at the same time. For the shameful stages of human history are not responsible only that stupid pragmatics dying for instant success and recovering themselves by political corruption of all sorts, but also that nice boys that show disinterest for politics, dying only for their idealistic ideals (by the way at the beginning all these revolutionaries for democracy openly expressed how they hate to have power, but were so sorry to say it “good-bye” later). Paradoxically, these nice boys taught those now in power not to be ashamed about being intolerant to criticism, to use ostracism against other opinions and even counter everything that is critical against them like an attack against the Nation, against Homeland. It is not familiar slogan to you already? Yes, replace words Nation or Homeland with Democracy and surprisingly you will find that this sort of weapon was already used. Of course, the newcomers are dealing with such weapons in a more drastic way and, of course, they are not shameful to bring shame to everything, if honorable intellectuals showed them examples. The circle of intolerance of those who one time would like to be as a teacher of tolerance was closed.

(to be continued)

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