It was 26 years ago...

Jukka Laari jlaari at
Wed Aug 24 10:07:48 MDT 1994


1. No. Behind was my very personal obsession. I was a kid at that time.
That Prag spring & occupation process was first television happening that
made a huge impression on me. People around were very sad, even shocked.
And before the occupation there was perhaps optimism in the air - third way
has been opened for rest of the world to follow... (NB: there was
demostrations all around the world against the occupation, even communists
disagreed with USSR, except hard-liners.)

2. Hungary 1956 and USA in the sixties (campuses, black panthers,
Kennedys and King)? I don't know. Haven't thought about it earlier. But
let's try to compare Hungary and Czechoslovakia:

Both were surely traumatic processes and had effects up to late 1980s.
Differences: in Hungary there was a militant uprising; in Czechoslovakia
the process was peaceful, it proceeded through the CP (lessons of
Hungary were surely in mind). I don't know, but it's been said that
uprising in Hungary was bourgeois; as far as I've understood, was the
Prag spring socialist (although there surely was anti-communists
involved when the process went to the streets in 1968). Reaction of USSR
is in a sense understandable, when it comes to Hungary; they tried to
get rid of the whole bloc. But wasn't 1969 occupation exaggeration?
Czechoslovakians said, that all they're doing is economic reform and some
necessary political changes to make reform successful.

Oh, I almost forgot: it's been said that Czechoslovakia would've choosed
socialism in 1940s (after the war and German occupation), that the
communist coup was unnecessary. Besides, they trusted russians at that
time. Problems began later: stalinist economico-political order was
obviously a failure. Czechoslovakia was industrialized country before
the World War II. After the war they had all the chances - no, they
didn't! at that time, at that place... - to get things right, but the
next decades didn't fulfilled their wishes.

It was different with Hungary. Not as industrialized, not much loyalty
to russians (cultural, economic, social and political 'factors' were
quite different). It was understandable that they tried the hardest way.
Anyway, sympathy creates solidarity: from the Soviet point of view Prag
was bigger mistake - it turned even communists against USSR (at least
for couple of weeks), it blocked up the western sympathy for 'human
faced' socialism from getting into USSR (what a sentence). Somebody said,
that occupation was positive for both east (USSR) and west (USA): if
Czechoslovakian enterprise would have succeeded, it would have got
followers both in west and east.

Well, that surely wasn't an analysis...

What I had in mind, I guess, was that if there's discussion on possible
marxist or post-marxist politics, then there are some things to keep in
mind. One can't sell people views of future which make them puke, if one
is bound to have effective politics. - What's more disgusting for
western individualist than Chinese sort of socialism in the 1960s and
1970s? Everyone had same kind of uniform and bicycle... Or take USSR:
cities look(ed) the same, because some central planning committee had
decided, that next 5 years new buidings will be based on plan X. I might
say, that it doesn't matter much what the house looks like as long as
there's warm in the winter time. But what about statistical median
citizen? - Post-war period has changed so drastically cultures,
structuration of subjects or identities, that it's necessary to change
the forms and style of politics (isn't that what also Laclau and Mouffe
kept saying? Why Baudrillard, Deleuze & al are so popular? There's surely
not much new in their theories, but they are funny writers).

The difference with Prag Spring was that it was the very first time,
when there seemed to be something promising with socialism: there wasn't
police in every corner, military trucks didn't terrorized local Skodas,
young couples were kissing in the streets, people smiled. Under
socialism! It was beautifully marketed "revolution". Politics isn't only
content but also form. I'm afraid, that leftists haven't noticed that
clearly enough. The promise and failure of Prag didn't taught us much.
So, the next possibility is canceled to 22st century?

Not good answers, but that's what I got out of myself.

Jukka Laari


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