Should we blame it all on the Communists?

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Clever gag, eh?

This post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for a long time.

I’ve Googled, I’ve mused, I’ve brainstormed.

The fact is though that I only have one thing to say. I know it might be controversial – and before you ask, yes, I am aware of the recent local election results which depressingly showed that a significant number of Czechs would like them back –  but the essence of what I want to say is this.

Stop blaming everything on the Communists.

I’m talking especially to you, Mr Smug Expat. I’m sick of your supposedly insightful pronouncements.  You may think it makes you sound wise when you say, “Ah yes, of course, but you must remember that they used to live under Communism,”  in reply to every grumble raised by your fellow foreigners. Frankly, it’s starting to get on my nerves.

Surely if a twenty year old waitress is rude to me that means she needs an attitude adjustment – or a slap. Can it really be blamed on a regime which ended before she was born?

And the bureaucracy. Isn’t that more a hangover from the Hapsburg Empire as much as it is part of the Communist legacy? After all, Kafka didn’t live under a Marxist-Leninist regime.

“Ah yes,” Mr Smug Expat continues, “but you must remember” – that stupid grin is spreading across his irritating face – “that the impact of Communism is still being felt here. Things don’t change overnight. The legacy lives on.”

In some ways, yes. Take corruption, for example. It’s obviously due in no small part to the power vacumm left when the country switched to a market economy.

Blaming it all on the Communist past and shrugging your shoulders isn’t going to do much to improve matters though.

I don’t want to underestimate the very real suffering undergone by so many during the forty years as a satellite Soviet state. Let’s not also forget the salient fact that plenty of senior party members simply switched jackets and are still in positions of power.

However, may I politely suggest that sometimes it seems to me some are using the Communist past as a crutch or a scapegoat: it’s those Reds, they crippled the country, we just can’t overcome our country’s past.

Mr Smug Expat wants to talk about the twenty year old waitress again. Perhaps it’s because she has particularly pert breasts.

“Communism may have been finished before she was born. But what about her parents? Didn’t she pick up  her behaviour from them? That’s why it will take generations before Czech society really recovers.”

Alright then Mr Smartypants. Perhaps you have a point. Even Vaclav Havel said that it would take Czechs several generations to recover morally from its Communist past.  But it still seems like some – Czechs and non-Czechs alike – are just shrugging their shoulders and pinning everything negative on Stalin and his chums. How can things ever really improve if you fail to examine the real root cause of a problem?

I didn’t get around to reading The Rise and Fall of Communism by Archie Brown which I ordered from Amazon in preparation for writing this post but I did watch this excellent BBC documentary – and you should too, even if it’s just to assess Havel’s level of English in the days before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Watch the first part below and educate yourselves.

53 Comments

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53 Responses to Should we blame it all on the Communists?

  1. Mike in Bohemia

    “Mr Smug Expat wants to talk about the twenty year old waitress again. Perhaps it’s because she has particularly pert breasts.”
    This really cracked me up, you know men so well :-) )))

    I started wondering what or who people in the UK blame stupid things about the UK on :-) We all need a scapegoat after all :-)

    • girlinczechland

      Hey Mike,

      Not sure I know men, but I do know a certain Czechman – ‘eyeing up the ladies’ is one of the first phrases he ever learned in English!

      And as for UK scapegoats, we must have some but I’ll have to get my thinking on… I think that Thatcherism, a political ideology of sorts that ‘fell’ around the same time the Berlin Wall did still has a hold on British society – just look at Messieurs Cameron et al… I’m not sure we wheel it out as a scapegoat for everything in the same fashion though.

      Yep, I’ll have to think harder…

      GIC

      • Michael

        I love English phrases like “eyeing up the ladies.” One just can’t say things like that in polite company here in the United States. My current scapegoat in the US is Obama. If it’s bad, wrong, etc, it’s all Obama’s fault. I hope we fix that in a few days.

  2. Richardinprague

    Another thought-provoking posting, “Girl” – thank you! I hadn’t seen that clip from the documentary before – thank you for sharing it with us.

    You mention “bureaucracy” and wonder whether it originated from a previous regime. I have spent several years of my life in former British Empire territories (India, Kenya, Bermuda, Jamaica etc), and feel that Britain has also left its’ stamp of bureaucracy on the world. It was necessary at the time, but things have changed, and surely we shouldn’t be afraid to change or even totally rebuild the bureaucratic structure.

    The results of the elections? I really wonder whether it is actually a turn towards communism, or whether it’s a fact that those who were voting for the other parties have become so disgusted and disenchanted with the performance of these youngsters in Parliament who have no recent legacy of democracy to draw on, that they just didn’t bother to vote, leaving the left wing stalwarts to succeed.

    I will not comment on the waitress – maybe she is one of my students!

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Richard!

      Your explanation for the troubling recent election results sounds convincing. If “democracy” in your eyes has only brought corruption, corruption, corruption, and general incompentency then it’s perhaps easy to see why some would hanker after a more stable past.

      As an aside, I wonder how Tomio Okumara will fare in the presidental race? I know he has Czech roots but are the Czechs ready to have a Japanese person running the show?

      GIC

      • girlinczechland

        Okamura – sorry!

        GIC

      • Kuře v hodinkách

        We are ready for Vladimír Franz! :)
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vladimír_Franz

      • girlinczechland

        Hello there Mr/Mrs Chicken,

        Vladimir Franz looks like he’ll add a fun element to the proceedings – a bit like a certain Screaming Lord Sutch – leader of the Monster Raving Loony Party – used to:

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/news/vote2001/hi/english/parties/newsid_1179000/1179187.stm

        Anyway, I wonder if David Cerny has ever considered standing for President? And to return to my original question, does Okamura stand a chance?

        GIC

      • Charon

        Hi,
        thanks for that documentary, really well made, balanced. And yes, we tend to blame communists for everything, somehow forgetting that those evil communists were we.

        About Okamura: No, I think he can actually win, and he knows it. After all, he just got elected to senat. The problem with Okamura is that he has adopted extremely populistic positions. I have read one of his books and it was really terrible – full of self-evident, nothing saying statements like “corruption costs us lot of money”, and some weird, nationalistic and anti-european sentiments, all that presented as some new, unprecedented wisdom. (Plus, his signature-hunters are really rude.)
        I would much rather have Franz as president – yes, he looks like a shaman of some african tribe, but… well, actualy, thats it!

    • Sarka

      Well, the trend towards communism is not so strong as you put it in your post, GIC.

      Yes, many communist representatives made it to the second round of elections recently, but that’s all. The winners were all from left wing parties (ČSSD) and only one was a communist. So when it comes to the final decision Czechs voted for the democratic candidates not communist dinosaurs.

  3. Joey

    Ah, yes. The spirit of communism still lives on in many parts of our lives. It’s alright as long as we’re identifying them as what they are: something to get rid of. What worries me a lot more though are young hipsters “ironically” voting for the communist party in the last couple of elections. I’m patiently waiting for their usual fanbase to die out (I know, not very nice), but what about these idiots? Hopefully supporting them will become too mainstream and they will lose interest. But that would mean… Oh god. We’re doomed.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Joey,

      I find it really shocking that anyone would do something so stupid as vote for the Communists (or any other party) as some kind of faux-cool ironic gesture. Does anyone else out there know of this happening?

      GIC

      • ZuzanaTau

        Hello GIC,

        I actually know many young people voting for the Communists, particullary because they mean it as an ironic gesture, particullary because their parents keep feeding them with stories about the great times from the “red past”.

        Frankly, I’m really worried about our future.

        Zuzka

      • Presle

        I think it’s also schools. We heard so many stories about Communism that by the time I was 16 I had the impression that everyone was in prison during that era. Which is nonsense. So the rest they tell us about the regime at school must be nonsense as well. And then they go and vote.
        The next thing is that noone talks to the communist party but they take up space in parliament. Since they do nothing (because they’re the boogie communists) they never screw up. That might be winning them votes as well.
        And the last thing that might be helping them is that the reforms taking place now are just to unacceptable for most that they go and vote for the opposite. And there you have pretty much 2 choices – CSSD and Communists. Pick the lesser evil.
        But in some areas they also do some work, so I wouldn’t see it as badly. Maybe some of them are elected because of that as well.
        As for the communism in people I think that it’s the “We’re all equal” and “These things were for free before so why not now” things. The first resurfaces in the attitude of the girl (Who are you to order me around?), the second resurfaces in voting for communists (We’re so not paying for this stuff). I think that this is simplified version and in the end it depends on the person you meet and whether or not they realize they’re not the Directors of the Universe.

      • Peter1024

        Just to add my opinion that might be controversial too.
        I think talking about communism like this is not good and that respectful.

        Using this postulate means that actual communism is de facto bad without arguing anything about their current program.

        I don’t like communism but what the country (current government) is doing now is the exact inverse.

        From my point of view some people tries to get rid of this extreme capitalism that corrupts many countries (cf movie ‘Cesky Sen’ for instance).
        As well look at who owns the banks, huge companies, industries and see what is going on here… not so glamour.

        This is a normal response to capitalism.
        I guess those who vote for them express this as a counterpower.

        Anyway, congrats for your interesting blog.

  4. Thank you very much for writing this, even though the very people this should be primarily addressed to won’t ever read it here, I’m afraid. But it needs to be said time and again.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Case,

      I’m glad that what I’ve written struck a chord – I was worried that this post would cause upset or be misinterpreted.

      It’s a serious subject but one which does need to be addressed. We expats should make a real effort to understand the culture we live in, not just mouth off recycled cliches that make it sound like we understand that place’s past and present.

      Next time though I promise they’ll be something more lighthearted – Ms Girlova wouldn’t let the blog become all doom and gloom…

      GIC

  5. Stanislav Ryska

    Hi GIC!!
    I have spend my teenage years in 70′s, it means during hard normalization,
    but we weren’t aware of something is wrong.We were young and the communists were some funny uncles dressed in synthetic fibre suit.
    We didnt see the dirty streets, the dropping to bits houses and the Monday queue in front of the butchers’shop was for us quait normal….
    On the other hand evryone had the job,to obtain the new flat was easy,free of charge healthcare ( I dont talk about standard of this..), almost evryone had the same car -Š105 or so,holiday in Bulgaria,nobody were hungry….
    We had lived in cage,you coud’nt out, but you were protect from all outside.
    You didnt have to do nothing,only shut up.You didnt have to take care of anything,you didnt have to make a decisions. That is was some people,mostly the olders, today miss. It will take many time,than it change.
    But I am a optimist…..we shall overcome one day…

    Srandy

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Standy,

      I felt oddly touched by your comment. I think it’s because I’d like to ask the Czech people (of the right generation!) more about their experiences of living under Communism, but somehow the right moment never arises – it’s not exactly a topic for small talk – and/or I feel shy to do so. Your funny uncles dressed in synthetic suits certainly evokes a vivid image of the period!

      Another thought: isn’t normalisation a horrible sounding word, even if you don’t really know what it refers to?

      GIC

  6. Stanislav Ryska

    I see, I have written instead off Standy Srandy – alespoň bude kopa srandy,když nic jinýho…..
    S.

  7. Dear girl in Czech land,
    I know what you mean and I have heard it from other expats as well. But you can´t understand the impact of the communists (or the Soviets, because they were in power here really).
    I don´t know much about politics, but I understand my field of interest – the service giving. I have beeb an air hostess, waitress, manager of a restaurant and now I have a small catering business. The reason, why the 20 year old waitress is rude lies so deep in the nations subconcience you wouldn´t beleive it.
    When Moses took his nation out of Egypt, the journey took 40 years. So that when they reached their homeland 2 generations changed and Moses himself didn´t even get there. Somebody clever (forgot who) said this as an example of how long it takes for a nation to get rid of all the remains of dictatorship.
    Me personally I am trying to change the little part of the world I can and I definitely don´t blame any of my personal failures on the communists.
    But the reality is: it is out there in the people and it is so frustrating to fight against. It is like talking to a wall. So sometimes I sadly think, that we are still the “lost” generation and we don´t know what to do with the freedom and the responsibility it comes with.

    • girlinczechland

      Hi Bara,

      Thanks so much for your comment: it’s very, very interesting indeed to hear what a Czech person working in the service industry has to say about the customer service issue. When I usually ask Czechs about the general grumpiness and occasional but shocking rudeness of most waiting staff, they agree with me but cannot come up with any explanation.
      If I try to think about this from the opposite perspective, why do I find myself saying apologising automatically if someone bumps into me on the tram or metro? Because I’m British and that behaviour isn’t about being genuinely sorry but it’s something deeply ingrained in my psyche because of my nationality. So, yes, perhaps your Moses analogy has some truth to it. The Communist legacy is part of the explanation for poor service but it’s only a part of the story – I just don’t think we can blame it all on that and then just accept things the way they are. So I’m glad to hear you’re doing your bit to change things in your corner of the world – that’s all any of us can do I think.
      By the way, have you read this article about the topic? Seems like it might be of interest to you:http://www.expats.cz/prague/article/czech-culture/customer-service-in-the-czech-republic/

      GIC

      P.S I checked out your website by the way – the sushi making looks great fun!

      • You are completely right. We can´t and we shouldn´t blame it all on the past. I don´t know what else to do abot it apart from trying to set a good example. It may sound hard, but maybe the people are just not scared enough about losing their job. Nowadays a customer complain can spread pretty fast thanks to the internet and people should realise, that there may not be a job for if they don´t behave better.
        My friend loves wearing hats and she told me about one hat shop to buy some winter caps for my kids. I was like:
        “I know about it but the shop assistent was so rude I don´t want to go there anymore.”
        She started laughing and it turned out she had the same experience there and wasn t eager on going there as well.
        Then I thought, if I were the owner of the shop I wouldn´t be happy. It is the only shop specialised in hats in our area and they sell really nice stuff. But they loose business because of the way the woman in there behaves..

      • K. Pokorny

        Change?!! Why we should change. Yes, it has nothing to do with communism. We have been such during First republic, during Austria-Hungary, etc. It´s part of our national psyche and I found it annoying, if some arrogant expat try to change it. No nation is obliged to rebuild our soul. Neither Czechs nor British. Period

      • girlinczechland

        Hello K Pokorny,

        I’m certainly not on a mission to singlehandedly alter the Czech soul or psyche. How could I? As an expat, I’m just here to point out some of the differences I see between this country and my own, whether those differences are better or worse. If you find my perspective arrogant, I apologise, but I think you’ll find you’re in the minority.

        GIC

      • K. Pokorny

        What you call poor customer service, is actually aspect of our national culture. It was here, it is here and it will remain here. I hate the arrogant attitude of expats that Czechs should ape other so called more civillized nations.
        Jsme jací jsme a komu se to nelíbí, ať si prdel políbí!

      • girlinczechland

        In reply to this comment, I’m just going to translate K Pokorny’s comment in Czech for the benefit of my Anglophone readers: ‘We are what we are, and who doesn’t like it can kiss my arse.’

        Wow. Thankfully the majority of the Czechs I’ve encountered are a touch more welcoming and open-minded.

        GIC

      • I for one would gladly “rape our soul” if it meant e.g. I wouldn’t have to feel like I’m bothering the hell out of some sour-faced and rude/annoyed shopping assistant two times out of three by me merely being there and simply expecting her/his to do her/his job like a professional and repay my politeness the same way. I honestly don’t care how bad her/his day was and how much she/he thinks her job sucks. Same goes for most of the waiters/waitresses or any other similar public jobs. It’s always such a relief to leave this country (to pretty much anywhere else in the world) and deal with people who can actually smile and make you feel like they care whether you shop in their shop or not and whether or not you are satisfied with their service. I really don’t care if their smiles are actually fake or not, and why should I?

        If things like that should be this nation’s long-standing legacy, then we couldn’t be more wrong on picking one…

        Luckily, that doesn’t seem to be the case. But changing such outlook on life is indeed slow and painful for many of us, as clearly demonstrated here.

      • girlinczechland

        Hello Case,

        I wish these comments had a Facebook style ‘like’ button. But they don’t so I’ll just say ‘like’. And add a smiley face :)

        GIC

      • Thanks and back to you for holding your own against internet trolls in such a civilised and patient way (as always) :)

        And BTW, since you’ve mentioned it and your blog seems to run on WordPress – it might interest you there actually are plugins you could install in your WordPress to get a sort of “like” (or “thumbs up/thumbs down”) functionality to both posts and/or comments. Standalone, so to speak, no Facebook stuff involved (unless you want to). Not really sure which of them is the best or easiest to install and use (I’m not using them for comments on my site, just a simple Like button for posts), but there certainly are a few.

      • girlinczechland

        Hello Case,

        Fortunately I’m not plagued by too many trolls: most of those who take the time to leave comments have something interesting and perceptive to say (like your good self) which is one of the reasons I bother to keep writing.

        As for the techie stuff, thanks for the heads up re the ‘like’ in WordPress. I wonder if you (or anyone) can recommend a decent Facebook plug in? I’ve downloaded one but can’t seem to get it up and running…

        GIC

      • Hi again GIC,
        I’m afraid it seems I was unintentionally misleading you a bit. There’s a difference between having your blog hosted on wordpress.com and running a self-hosted standalone WordPress installation (which I’m used to and somehow taking as granted) and I didn’t realize your blog is most likely in the first category (as far as I can tell right now). The main difference in this case being that you can install any plugin you like on standalone install, whereas on wordpress.com hosted blog you’re kinda stuck with what they offer there and can’t install any additional stuff.

        But if you want to enable the “like/dislike” functionality for comments, there seems to be a way to do that even on wordpress.com hosted blogs. See this page: http://en.support.wordpress.com/ratings/

        I’m not exactly sure how that works as I don’t have any wordpress.com blog available for testing at the moment (it seems to use some external service by the same company called PollDaddy, so it might not be entirely free or may be somehow limited in the free version), but take a look, there’s quite a lot of options available.

  8. Matous Hruska

    I have to admit i dissagre with you. The main point of your what you wrote is: “Blaming our past is not going to help us improve our future.” That is of course true in general, but quite useles in talking about political issues. Since we need to understand roots of our recent problems, I dare to say, we need to blame communism for most of them, because i strongly believe that they originated from late normalization.

    I have a favourite article. In 90. Ivo možný wrote an article named Proč tak snadno? (Why so simple?) describing the moral attributes of our new democratic society emerging from past era. He identified, that our society became extremly individualist a materialist (quite paradoxical compared to what communists did wanted to create). Theese attributes than created whole “polity” of 90. and therfore formed our recent society.

    If our generation (*1988+ I guess) wants to make a change, we must keep in mind, that communists are to blame for where we are today. But not in themselves but in values they endowed us, because those values are the corrosive aspect.

    • girlinczechland

      Hello Matous,

      I’m glad that someone finally disagrees with me: all this consensus was getting a bit boring!

      The thing is, after reading your comment, I didn’t feel like our views are so at odds as it might seem. What I’m annoyed about is expats in particular (but sometimes Czechs too) pretending that they understand why things are a certain way in this culture when in fact their explanations are flawed and superficial. In my experience, there are too many expats claiming that The Communist Past is the reason behind everything – the weather, smelly people on buses, whatever – when the truth is more complex.

      I think we both share a desire that people should at least attempt to understand the real reasons why things are the way they are, even if when it comes to that explanation, our points of view diverge. But because we don’t live under a totalitarian regime, that’s ok – we’re free to express our differing views. It’s a shame that the power vacumm left post 1989 let corrupt folk prosper – but that’s a whole post in itself…

      GIC

      • Matous Hruska

        1. Ok, but you said, that what bugs you, is that people are trying to blame everything on the communist. For me, the relevant “everything” is political culture (actually its just the small part of “everything” but that is in what I am interested in :-) ).

        And in political culture, there is virtually nothing new in last 20 years. (Not counting brave intelectuals/individuals like Václav Havel, who are the perfect examples of Czech artists subtituing our lack of actual politicans) We have build our political polity on communist relictic moralss and therefore everything must be deeply influenced by it.

        2. The word Blame is so dubious isnt it :) . It is reactionary in itself. It does not seek future goods. Any blaming is wrong talking about future solutions. What happened, happened and thats that. I would perhaps rephrase the question. Can we look for roots of our recent problems in unremoved relicts of our communist past? And than I would say, definitely yes!

  9. Stanislav Ryska

    Hi GIC!
    I think you dont must be shy speeking about communismus.The opinions from “the other side” is what we need to hear. The problem ist ,that we hasn’t still deald with this our past.Unlike Germany,which had setlled up with its nazi period or has been still trying to do it,we dont want listen to anything – it was past,it is not our business….I belive in balance of the world in balance of everthig – how long it had been ruined, so long it will have to be rectified = 50 years. Bara is right. I agree with Mr.Hruska, absolutely. I am proud beeing Czech, I dont lie,I dont steal, I tray to smile
    and I try to be better.That is, what we have to do everybody.Stop complaining,lamenting and waiting for somebody,who save us. It will be a hard fight, but without striving it will come nothing.
    For better understanding of this time I recommend you the movie Občanský průkaz, it is about our generation born in 60′s – exactly
    P.S.
    The word normalisation is horrible

    Standy

  10. Creager

    This business of “living under Communism” and “blaming it all (whatever “it all” might be) on the Communists” is absolutely disingenuous. In point of fact, many Czechs were Communists. The claim is made by Mary Heimann in her recent book “Czechoslovakia: The State That Failed” that at the close of WWII, on a per capita basis, the Czech Communist party was the largest in the world. Whether true or not, later on it was the complicity of the majority that gave the party it strength. This was the point of Havel’s phrase (and book title) concerning “the power of the powerless.” Pointing this out was and still is the reason many Czechs are not as fond of Havel as we expats assume. Reminds me of the excuse for being late: “I’m stuck in traffic” when, as the bumper sticker points out, “No, You’re Traffic.” And now the party that so many blame for so much is making a comeback. So it goes for the Pogo people – including we Anglos -, “We have met the enemy.. and he is us.”

    • K. Pokorny

      Well, we are such nation and there is no reason to rebuild our national psyche. No nation in history raped his own soul. Every nation in history either remained unchanged or demised. Did British ever changed their national soul?! Nope!

      • girlinczechland

        Hello again Porkorny,

        I think you’ll find the British *have* have been forced to change their national soul but first of all they had to construct it as Britain is made up of four quite distinct nations (Scottish, Irish, Welsh, English). The first thing that comes to mind when I read your comment is imperialism – we had to learn that we are not superior to the rest of the world and cannot go around colouring a quarter of the world pink just because we felt like it. Building a multicultural nation based (largely!) on mutual respect following that required a big shift in perspective and how we view ourselves. And what about the Germans? Weren’t they forced to change their national ‘soul’ following WWII?

        GIC

      • K. Pokorny

        Well. If I wear socks in sandals, if I don´t use fake smile , if I don´t use deodorant every day, I am equal to nazzi mass murder. For the record, nobody will force me to use deodorant every day and smile in public. I am just that and I will not be different. Am I worse than you due to these facts?

      • girlinczechland

        Hello again Pokorny,

        I’m pretty sure the Nazis were a hygenic bunch so staying smelly will ensure that you avoid any confusion on that front. I’m not sure they were too keen on smiling though so I’d perfect that fake grin if you don’t want to be confused with Himmler. As for the socks with sandals, who knows (or indeed cares)?

        GIC

      • K. Pokorny

        I am just tired of the widespread attitude that everything, what is typically czech, is essentially bad. And I am equally tired of statements, that some aspects of czech behavior are remnants of communism. Have you ever read Elizabeth Wiskemann? She described Czechs during First republic in quite similar way as you. And I doubt, that we were much different even during Austro-Hungarian monarchy. We are just that and I don´t think that we are better or worse than you.

      • girlinczechland

        Hello again Pokorny,

        You’re tired of people thinking what’s Czech must be automatically inferior. So am I. I’m thoroughly fed up of having to explain to the puzzled Czechs that I meet why I enjoy living here more than being in London. If you haven’t understood that’s my position, you’ve profoundly misunderstood this blog.

        I hadn’t heard of Elizabeth Wiskemann before but having just Googled her she seems like a I plan to read some of her work – thanks for the tip.

        GIC

  11. 100% agreed. It irritates me when people put down all the quirks of East Europe down to 40 years of Communism which was less than the life of one person, even their working life, and ignore the 200 years preceding that which really determines what makes up a nation’s character and culture.

    Poland and Czechoslovakia, as it was then, had similar experiences of Communism in that the dogmas being inflicted on them were the same and the people it was emanating from was the same. Their experience differed only because of different reactions to those edicts which were determined by what was already in the character of the nations from earlier history. But now, Poles, Czechs, Romanians, etc, all have very different cultures which only panoramic ignorance can call the same, and the key to understanding why these things are is in a study of cultural history going back even to before Napoleon. If a person doesn’t know the history of a European country for at least the last 200 years, then they have no real understanding of the country and should save their final judgments about its people for when they are better read.

    Looking only at post-second world war history just doesn’t cut it. You’re bang on there.

  12. Miles

    Alright, the communists indeed are to blame for the current state of this country. Not the communist regime, nor the communist party… the communist people. They are 40-60 years old now. Back in 80s, they were either fresh Party members, or at least fresh graduates from communist schools (as arranged by their high-profile communist parents). Today, they are judges, mayors, politicians, businessmen, all while distancing themselves from the communist party vigorously (see this Fischer fellow, for instance: “If I were a president, I’d prevent communists from the government.” Says a former bolshevik!). Should you shoot a gun in Parliament, you’re almost guaranteed to hit someone with a communist past. They didn’t magically lose their mindset, nor their contacts, back in 1989 – and both serves them well to this day. They are still as rotten as they were raised to be… except today, they are free to ruin this country without any repercussions. Because, you know – while the communist regime was bad enough, at least they were careful not to anger their citizens, especially not the working class. They were scared of the hemp noose, so to say. This rot today, however, doesn’t care about their citizens’ anger anymore. They don’t fear the people, they don’t fear anybody and anything, and they are deliberately running this country into the ground because it brings them profit.

    Actually, that’s only a half of the truth, because not all current VIPs are former communists. Some (especially in connection to local business and regional politics) are also former parasites – “wexelmen”, taxi-drivers, black marketeers and rip-off artists – and their family members, who profited greatly from preying on the communist state. For best example of this kind of people, check the movies “Bony a klid” or “Pumpaři od zlaté podkovy”. After 1989, these people got an unprecedented chance to legalize their dirty money, and as a result, they became the “elite” of this society (while, of course, staying the criminal scum they always were).

    So, well… communists are to blame. Just not the way “Mr. Smug Expat” thinks. As time goes by, more and more people realize that nothing actually changed in the grand scheme of things. For instance, if I were to be prosecuted for some reason, I have a huge chance my judge and prosecutor will be the very same people who sent my father to jail thirty years ago. Believe it or not, it is somewhat demotivating.

  13. Sophy

    Cant agree more.Just read all the recent articles that I missed.Good job! Hope to see you soon.

  14. Standa

    Ahoj, diky za zajimavy clanek, Tvuj blog ctu rad. (Hmm, mozna bych mel rici Vas, ale vekove zrejme budeme podobne, tak snad tykani nevadi;-). Rad jsem i shlednul ten dokument. Mimo diskuzi, ale radsi komentar pod aktualni clanek nez jinam: Jiz par let ziji v Anglii, a nektere veci musim stale dovazet, protooze se mi nedari najit adekvatni ekvivalent. Typickym prikladem je (detska) krupicka (semolina?) nebo obycejny praskovy pudink (jakysi pudink se sehnat da, ale chutove to ten cesky moc nepripomina). Za pripadnou odpoveded predem dekuji a hodne zdaru s dalsim blogovanim! Standa

  15. Pavel

    For defense of austro – hungarian empire bureaucracy, it is working very well,
    efficiently, czech bureaucracy has only one handicap – best type of official for this kind of work is german official with typical german attributes: orderliness, loyalty, thoroughness, intelligence, politeness etc.
    Replace him with result of communist genetic experiment and you have problem.

  16. Gilnar

    I think that most of what’s wrong and fucked up in our country was brought upon us or at least strongly nurtured by communism. However, that is a reason, not an excuse! After all, we overthrew communists, so we should strive to destroy their legacy, not just sit in the old shit and do nothing.

  17. mmmc

    Great post :) I also think in other countries like, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, you will see that the Czechs have a special nostalgia for blaming everything on Soviet Union/Russia/communism. Czechs are great at preserving their architecture as well as their attitudes :)

  18. Eugene

    which depressingly showed that a significant number of Czechs would like them back

    Depressingly for whom, by the way?

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