Parallels of Prague spring and 1968 invasion? Rather, let’s look at what came after
References to 1968 anniversary in today’s Czech Republic public debate are not only marked by remembrance to victims of violent invasion, but also by promoting of current political agenda. Which is sometimes pretty ugly – in context of 137 victims of an invasion.
Russia, via communists, their vocal allies in Czech parliament, brought a fresh narrative to the story of 1968 invasion. Country which we should blame for an invasion is Ukraine, because then-USSR leader Leonid Brezhnev was born then.
Xenophobic politicians around Tomio Okamura’s SPD party are eager to provide parallels of losing sovereignty in 1968 and today’s “dictate of Brussels” by EU. Invasion of millions of muslims migrants is much worse than invasion by Soviet troops, claimed Okamura, embarrassing families who has lost someone in 1968 events.
Even some progressives consider Prague spring and its economic reforms as an inspiration for today. So called “third way” between rigid socialism and greed of free market is still appealing to some part of the political left – although in practice in Yugoslavia it neither proved itself as a viable alternative, nor answers main economical issues of today’s globalized world.
Maybe the most useful parallels are those, which does not describes Prague spring itself, but the period of so called “normalization” in 70s and 80s. Suppression of civic society, centralization of power and tightening the grip in today’s Hungary, Poland and Czechia resembles the normalization in many ways. Will we have to bear it for 20 years again, or will we be able to act against it soon enough?
Michal Berg is former IT entrepreneur, now member of EGP committee and local councillor of Czech town Vsetin. His fathers’ family has been prosecuted after 1968 by denying the access to the university education and demotions at work.