- November 17th, 1939, when Nazis closed the Czech universities in response to the anti-Nazi activities by the students, especially during the funeral of Mr Jan Opletal who was fatally injured during the previous October 28th (1918 anniversary) rally. For this reason, this day became the International Student Day, the only widely celebrated international holiday fully inspired by the modern Czech history. Communists celebrated that day as well – which is why it became softly but perhaps unfairly connected with their regime.
- November 17th, 1989, when students of the Charles University in Prague (my Alma Mater) reminded themselves of the 50th anniversary of the event above. They were also dissatisfied with many things about the totalitarian regime, they were beaten by the police, and the protests against the police action kickstarted the Velvet Revolution i.e. the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia.
Some really good 2017 time lapse video of Prague, by a Russian.
In the Parliament that arose from the most recent elections, about 1/2 of the lawmakers represent parties that openly prefer the communist regime over the post-1989 capitalism. As recently as one year ago, I was torturing myself with the nightmare of a coming government of the communist party (which hasn't participated in any government since the June 1990 elections, not even indirectly) and ANO, an anti-capitalist party led by a communist apparatchik and a communist secret agent who also became a billionaire because of his communist-era contacts, special knowledge, and his predator status based on the absolute absence of any morality (and because he escaped Slovakia before they would put him to jail for a long time).
Well, it's November 17th, 2017, and the nightmare has basically become the new reality. The changes look fast and striking – perhaps fast enough so that we could call the recent transformation a counter-revolution. Babiš is building a minority government that will be supported by the communists because he promised to "tax the assets that the churches got back as a restitution" (this is a popular demand among the fanatically anti-religious old voters of the communist party – most of them basically agree with the policy of sending the priests to uranium mines around 1950, they're true scum) and by nationalist Okamura who will get some promises and job in the Parliament or elsewhere. The Pirates already sadly act as Babiš's youth organization, too (I guess that Babiš could have easily bought this whole equally P.R.-based party for a pound of marijuana) but they will probably be less directly connected with the government than the communists and the far right. So we are going to be governed by a coalition of the non-democratic or the least democratic parties in the Parliament.
Also, when you listen to official events, there is a lot of talk that we should be "brave and celebrate the 1939 event only" again. Clearly, lots of people who became very powerful in recent months or years have a serious problem with the Velvet Revolution again.
The commercial sector and some of the media celebrate the anniversary appropriately, decently, and sometimes wittily. For example, as a minor shareholder of O2, the strongest Internet provider, I applaud to their Czech version of the Great Firewall of China. If your Internet comes from O2 and you open a foreign website today, what you get is the following picture instead:
It says "Beware: the state border. Don't enter!" At the end, it does reveal that freedom isn't for free and you may click the blue button saying that "I want to freely continue". So the firewall doesn't quite work. ;-) But it could. O2 has sent some text messages, too. But the official events organized by politicians have been tainted.
Andrej Babiš's presence at the Velvet Revolution events is just shocking because this guy represents more or less everything that the Velvet Revolution fought against. Some Western leftists don't like Kaczynski or Orbán and these men are called authoritarians etc. But there's nothing wrong about their presence on events commemorating the fall of communism. They were obviously parts of it. They represent the new, non-communist regime. They're unquestionably important parts of the Parliamentarian, pro-democratic, and free landscape.
What about Andrej Babiš? Where was he on November 17th, 1989? He was a director of Petrimex, or a branch of it, and traded with Arabs. He was comfortably living in Morocco and, as he literally brags, he didn't even know that something like the Velvet Revolution started in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. Holy cow. And he was reporting people who were considered unwelcome to the regime. As the agent of StB, he could have focused on the "economic crime against the socialist state" but I don't personally think that it makes his behavior much more justified. (We just learned about an amusing report by Babiš – he once reported Austrians who were importing videorecorders to Czechoslovakia. It's funny but it harmed us, too. We wanted to have videos and be exposed to the world culture etc. etc. So he was hurting both Austrians and Czechoslovaks by those activities.)
What did he say during the events today?
People expected freedom – freedom to travel and do business, and we basically got that. But the society is divided, more divided than we expected, and full of hatred. It's divided to fans and foes of President Zeman, fans of his movement, and the so-called democratic parties that allowed everything in our country to be robbed and tunneled out.I almost vomited when I completed listening to this monologue.
First, yes, we expected freedom, we got it. The GDP and its growth are comparable to what I expected. In 1989, I was sure we would get comparable to the West around 2017 and I also expected that there would still be a visible residual gap between us and the West. And I agree that the society is divided.
But aren't the reasons for the divisions sort of obvious? Note a bizarre detail in his description of the "groups" inside our polarized society. He mentions fans and foes of Zeman but only fans of his movement. Wow. What about foes of himself? Have they been censored or eradicated? Like some millions of Czechs, I am an enemy of his movement and of himself personally. I will (hopefully) celebrate wildly if and when someone shoots him dead. Why weren't people like me mentioned at all? As the prime minister designate, does he want to institutionally hide that millions of Czechs viscerally hate him?
And why do we hate him? Just look in the following sentence. The holiday today is mainly a celebration of November 17th, 1989, almost certainly the day that kickstarted the most positive changes in our country at least in the recent 70 years. We restored democracy, democratic parties and their competition. It's spectacularly obvious that these 28 years were a success and right now, Czechs are better off than they have ever been in the Czech history. This guy describes the democratic parties as "the so-called democratic parties" and the whole democratic era so far as an era of robbery. What the hell?
Democratic parties are "so called" because they're democratic, indeed. Each of us likes some of them and dislikes others – but they're surely not bad just because they're democratic. Who defines the bad parties as the democratic ones is an anti-democratic šithead. Where does he find so much arrogance to sling mud at all democratic parties by adding insulting words such as "so-called"? Clearly, democracy itself is a huge problem for this communist jerk. And what about the robbery? Some people have hijacked lots of assets – he's surely among the top 5 people in the illegitimately acquired assets so he should exploit his opportunity to shut up – but this concentration of the capital is unquestionably a part of the success, a major component of the path towards a wealthier and more effective society.
A stunning older timelapse video with some Czech landscapes.
All the propaganda demonizing business people and economically successful people (Babiš himself gets an exemption from himself and his brain-dead fans) is nothing else than the very same anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist propaganda we were forced to hear up to 1989. All the capitalists are evil and they exploit the working class. Give me a break with this garbage. People who repeat garbage like that should have gone extinct sometime in 1953 along with Stalin and Gottwald. Why are these Bolshevik scumbags still oxidizing in our world? You don't belong to the 21st century, jealous commie rabble! Go away.
The strength of Babiš's pro-communist beliefs must be incredible given his hatred towards the recent 28 years. His net worth got from zero to $4 billion. How many TRF readers would hate 28 years in which this growth became possible for you? But Babiš hates those 28 years, anyway, because in those years, communist cadres from the Proletariat and attached to the communist party's core by glue weren't celebrated as the leading group of the best people – instead, various people from the culture etc. became more hip. Those billions of dollars couldn't have compensated that loss for this hardcore Bolshevik.
We wanted to get rid of the state that owned and controlled everything and that constantly intimidated the people who had a problem with the collectivized system and who felt constrained or harmed by it. This guy, supported by 1.5 million of the jealous and parasitic bottom of the Czech society and indirectly by another million that voted the communists and partly Okamura's nationalists, openly wants to demonize and reverse all the main achievements of the Velvet Revolution. And he has the chutzpah to appear on such an event that should normally celebrate the event that led to these glorious recent 28 years?
It's disgusting and it's scary. I hope that the Pilsner rally tonight will still be alright. By the way, Babiš met some foes on the National Avenue who were yelling at him it was a shame for a communist agent to desecrate the historical place. But it was just a few dozens of loud critics. Why? Babiš came there at 7:30 am. Obviously, he had to. The degree of anger would be unbearable if he came during the day. He has said several other things that are rather distasteful to say during the "holiday of the fight for freedom democracy". For example, even today, we heard that "we need to establish the majority election system and the discussions will finally stop". What? It's the point of democracy to have discussions. But explain such things to a hardcore Bolshevik apparatchik. Impossible.
In 1989, I was a teenage idealist who was proud about the velvet format of the revolution that was picked. Today, I think it was a mistake. The dirtiest people linked to the totalitarian regime starting from the likes of Babiš up should have been either executed or jailed for decades or expelled from the country. It was irresponsible to act otherwise and something we're witnessing probably had to happen at some moment. With a more principled and harsher approach, we could have prevented it, however.
We still have the freedom and at least formally democracy. The economy works etc. But the atmosphere in the society has become terrible – and a sign of negative changes that may come soon. Honestly, 28 years ago, I did expect that the majority of the people in 2017 would realize that almost all the wealth comes from (and especially freedom is what should be credited for that) and the drivers of the Velvet Revolution – and indeed, I mean even folks at the lower level as your humble correspondent – would be generally praised. Instead, we have this apparent cult of personality of a man who should have been hanged in 1989 and who openly spits on all the vital principles that drove us to the streets at the end of 1989. It's surreal.