Czechoslovakia: The Velvet Revolution and Beyond

By Robin H. E. Shepherd | Go to book overview

6
Civilising Society

Establishing the form of a liberal-democratic capitalist system engaged Czech society at the level of the intellect. In the broad sense there was no great mystery over what needed to be done, although, as we have seen, this task has proved difficult enough. A more challenging problem came with infusing the new society with the cultural substance appropriate to a changed environment. The patterns of behaviour suited to a socialist, totalitarian system would need to be remoulded to fit new political, economic and national conditions.

This chapter looks at the transition from communism as it engaged the passions of the Czech people. Would the politicians and with them the citizens develop the prerequisite dispositions for a democratic environment? How would legitimacy be secured and more firmly rooted? In terms of the political parties and the success of regular elections this has already been touched upon. Here we are concerned more with a brief discussion of the way in which civil society has developed, how Czechs have come to terms with the past and whether the crucial ethic of equal concern and respect has established itself as a guiding principle for interaction between the country's ethnic groups.

Running parallel to all of this was the need to develop a civil economy in which capitalist forms were filled with business practices appropriate to their proper functioning. The market economy needed an enterprise culture. The business world would also need to incorporate new definitions of probity. Legal safeguards alone, crucially important as they are, must be complemented by a general

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