After the Fall: The Pursuit of Democracy in Central Europe

By Jeffrey C. Goldfarb | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 8
The Problem of Nationalism: On the Road to Harmony with the Minister of the Interior

The day after my discussion with Jan Langoš, the Czechoslovak minister of the interior, we drove together to Harmonia, a retreat thirty kilometers outside Bratislava. During this trip, and in Harmonia, I started a fundamental reconsideration of the question of nationalism in the post-totalitarian world. My position had been one of tolerance. But I began to appreciate the pressing need for distinguishing between nationalism as a political pathology and nationalism as a normal political phenomenon. As a pathology, nationalism overwhelms the democratic politics of the left, right, and center; as a part of normal politics, it respectfully articulates the differences between various groups.

On the road to Harmony, Langoš and I no longer had the benefit of a translator. The Polish-Slovak conversation provided for a simple exchange of opinion, and quiet for reflection. Langoš had picked me

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