The Origins of Postcommunist Elites: From Prague Spring to the Breakup of Czechoslovakia

By Gil Eyal | Go to book overview

Three
The Power of Antipolitics

The two leading Czech politicians in 1993 neatly represented the paradoxes of elite formation in the Czech Republic. The president, Václav Havel, was a former dissident who had spent years in communist prisons, and a celebrated playwright. The prime minister, Václav Klaus, was a neoliberal economist who had spent the years of communism working in an obscure job at the state bank. Not only did their biographies differ, so did also their tempers and lifestyles: one was an artist, a bohemian, a child of the sixties; the other was a social conservative and defender of "family values." The fact that these two individuals, who did not like each other much, have managed to create one of the most stable political regimes in post-communist Europe poses the puzzle for this chapter. Havel and Klaus both stood at the head of respective groups of like-minded individuals with similar backgrounds. Between them, these two groups composed the ruling Czech elite from the "velvet revolution" in 1989 to the "velvet divorce" in 1993. They partly divided the political spoils between them, and partly functioned as revolutionary leaders and revolutionary successors, with Klaus's group of monetarist economists deposing Havel's dissidents and taking their place after the initial revolutionary euphoria died down. The first task of this chapter will be to describe the typical career patterns and life experiences of these two groups. In the preceding chapter, I

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The Origins of Postcommunist Elites: From Prague Spring to the Breakup of Czechoslovakia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Contradictions ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgements ix
  • Abbreviations xi
  • Introduction xiii
  • One - The Idea of the New Class 1
  • Two - The 1968 Purges and Their Consequences 35
  • Three - The Power of Antipolitics 59
  • Four - Games of the Upper Class 93
  • Five - The Making and Breaking of the Postcommunist Political Field 135
  • Conclusion 197
  • Appendix - The Elite and General Population Surveys 205
  • Notes 209
  • Index 231
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