CZECHOSLOVAKIAN EXPERIENCE OF NATIONAL IDENTITY
The end of Cold War brought into World agenda two political events: first, drastic changes at national frontiers in Eastern Europe and Central Asia including the creation of new states, and secondly the replacement of official ideologies with more liberal capitalist ones, leading to a transformation in reallocation and ownership of economic resources, in a reversal Marxist way where this time superstructure shapes the infrastructure. The first issue was the abolishment of a Post World War I heritage (Versailles Treaty and the end of Habsburg Empire) and the second one was making extinct Yalta’s ‘Spheres of Influence’ agreement. On the other ...view middle of the document...
That destruction signifies also the end of all non-ethnic nationalities in the Second and Third World (Interestingly, First World seems immune to such changes) with the globalization.
Historical Evolution of Czechoslovakian Nationalism
The First Republic
The First World War brought an end to the multinationalistic empires of Central and Eastern Europe. Though not allied with the Axis Russia provided land and population for the birth of five states: Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland (half of the latter’s territory came from Germany). From the multinational Habsburg Empire hatched the Yugoslav kingdom (a multiethnic entity itself), Czechoslovakia (unification of two nation states with considerable minority populations of German and Hungarian origin), Hungary, and Austria. As Leff points out “The new countries remained multinational – large numbers of minorities were trapped in the ‘wrong’ state, with Poles or Germans or Hungarians separated from ethnic kin next door serving as a standing invitation to external intervention”. However these ‘trapped’ ethnic formations did not present themselves as a problem unless the continental stability is endangered by powers outside the boundaries, a situation quite controversial to the one after 1990s.
Historically Bohemia had a bi-cultural nature, Czech and Slovak ones. Although after 1919 there was a resentment against the idea of a two-nation state the Peace Treaties signed after the First World War urged Czechs to live in a country of which the boundaries were drawn according to criteria different than the ethnic boundaries. The postwar settlement of Versailles was generous to the newborn state of Czechoslovakia: it retained German Sudeten regions, the disputed Silesian territories with their Polish population, and a large Hungarian minority in Slovakia. The Czech side, the more advanced one, was embracing more the concept of one Czechoslovak nation. Unable to develop a unifying literary language (Extreme Slovak nationalists, and to some degreethe Marxists today, recognize a distinct Slovak language and literature in Great Moravia itself ) the Slovak side was hesitant fearing that such a unification would result in giving up their identity. Facts of lesser industrialization rate and constituting only 15% of the Czechoslovak population provided sound bases for Slovak hesitation. On the other hand tense relationship with Hungary urged some of the Slovaks to seek a tighter link with the Czech side. At October 30th, 1918, Slovak side declared they were pro for a Czechoslovakian state. In October 1929, Slovak autonomists were out the government for good.
First two decades will be remembered with the dissatisfaction of everyone, with the exception of Czechs, from a unitary state of two nations and different minority groups. With the economically settling Slovak side the urges for more autonomy put under pressure the politicians who were pro for a centralized system. According Leff, a more...