Twentieth-Century Czechoslovakia: The Meanings of Its History

By Josef Korbel | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
Relations between Czechs and Slovaks

Though in 1918 the Czechs and Slovaks were united into one indivisible state, their continuing relationship soon emerged as a serious problem. It is a problem familiar to all students of nationalism, and it always seems to exist at some level wherever a state lacks complete ethnic and national homogeneity. In the course of their history, most states have acquired variegated populations within their borders. As long as a society retained a feudal structure, the factor of national identity was submerged. After the American and French revolutions, however, nationalism rapidly began to develop as a political force, and it has now become the most decisive element in world politics. During the nineteenth century, it was the driving power in the liberation of smaller nations; it shaped the political map of Europe after World War I; it brought statehood to many nations in the Third World after World War II; and it has reemerged today, even in such old societies as Great Britain.

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