Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

Excerpt

In 1968, the world watched with wonder and disbelief developments in Czechoslovakia where many people, among them the top leadership of the Communist Party, were engaged in the fascinating experiment of transforming a rigid Communist rule into a "socialism with a human face." The experiment will go down in history as the "Czechoslovak Spring." History will also note, however, its consequences in the "winter" that followed: the Soviet invasion of the country and the capitulation of the architects of the Spring to brutal force.

The two experiences--of forging a concept of democratic socialism and of submission to outside intervention--were not new in Czechoslovak history. They only intensified my search for the answer to a question that has haunted me for many years: what can explain the puzzling phenomenon, so conspicuous in the nation's history, of a unique zeal for social advancement coupled with an equally unique record of defeat and failure?

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