On October 28, 1918, as all Europe was in the bloody grasp of the last phases of a war that was to be called a world revolution, a group of men called on the Austrian governor in Prague. Their purpose was to inquire, as the illustrious journalist Ferdinand Peroutka later put it, "if perhaps, by chance, a revolution was not permitted." The governor, alas, had no instructions. In the absence of such guidance, he was politely advised by these "men of the 28th of October," as they were later to be known, that the Prague National Council was assuming authority and would conduct itself lawfully and avoid violence. Avoid violence it did. That evening, even as the Czechoslovak Republic was being proclaimed, the socialist leader, Frantigek Soukup, called not for revolution, but for "music in the streets."
The events that followed this bizarre moment in the state's birth were equally cautious, equally civilized, equally puzzling, equally examplary of what we will come to see as a characteristic