Friday, March 20, 2009

"The Restoration of Order: The Normalization of Czechoslovakia" by Milan Simecka

People read George Orwell's "1984" to imagine the kind of inhuman state where individuals don't matter and the state's right to control all is paramount. Orwell's "1984" is fiction. Milan Simecka, a Czechoslovak dissident writing in the early 1980's explains for history what happened in Czechoslovakia following the people's attempt to "put a human face" on socialism.

How was the totalitarian country able to reinstitute a Stalinist-style state without violence after the Prague Spring in 1968? How did the government eliminate dissent in less than two years? In chilling detail, Simecka shows how the State used it's power over people's income, jobs, friendships, even their children's future to control each citizen's every move.

Approximately 10-20% of the Czech population still votes for the Communist Party. My Czech friends tell me that the people still voting for the Communist party look back with nostalgia at getting a job from the state, getting a flat from the state, and cheap bread. With everything "provided" life had "no worries."

Today's young people, especially, may not know the horrors of that time, because the Czechs are so sick of that period there hasn't yet been a national curriculum developed to teach young people what happened. Czechs want to let it go and move on (hence, they think we Americans are obsessed with it all!)

I recommend this book for every reader of any country who wants to understand the communist totalitarian period. It would be a great book for any Czech/Slovak or political book club. I also think it would be especially useful for every Czech and Slovak high school student to understand the choices their parents and grandparents had to make to survive.

Like "The Diary of Ann Frank," which most American kids read sometime during their education, this book makes the choices presented by the times very personal and imaginable.

You may be interested in another book about governmental abuse of power:

Understanding Iran: The Power of One Graphic Novel called 'Persepolis'

1 comment:

Karen said...

Because this book is out-of-print, your best bet to read it would be to order it through interlibrary loan through your local library.

Travel Sites Catalog All Traveling Sites Expat Women—Helping Women Living Overseas International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory expat Czech Republic website counter blog abroadWho links to me? Greenty blog