Tag: Czechoslovakia

‘It Was Worth It’: A Personal Tribute to Sir Roger Scruton


Sir Roger Scruton

At a certain age on the path to adulthood, we begin to realize not just that our heroes are human, but that they are mortal. In the last five years, we have said goodbye to Harry Jaffa, Kenneth Minogue, Rene Girard, Bernard Lewis, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and Forrest McDonald, among brilliant others, and I have watched each go with an increasing sense that I was seeing my pantheon of intellectual greats fade rapidly.

When Spring Ended in August


Fifty years ago today, 200,000 Soviet troops, with reinforcements from East Germany, Poland, Hungary and Bulgaria, invaded the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, and the so-called Prague Spring came to an end.

In January of 1968, Alexander Dubček, a Slovak, was elected First Secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, succeeding Antonin Novotný. The latter had been experimenting with a new economic model for a couple of years (Czechoslovakia had been continental Europe’s most highly industrialized country until overtaken by Nazi Germany in the late 1930s and was less adapted to the post-war Soviet model), and this attempt at easing the Communist system had spurred writers, such as Milan Kundera, to demand more social flexibility as well.

The Dubček government set about achieving what the new First Secretary described as “socialism with a human face,” abolishing censorship and easing travel restrictions.

First Lady Melania Trump has championed cyber-bullying as a cause, but Hoover visiting fellow Markos Kounalakis thinks she should broaden her horizons – to include a little diplomacy in her native Central Europe. It’s a portion of the world that’s drifted into angry nationalism, economic uncertainty and civil unrest, with one country (Poland) displaying troubling anti-Semitic tendencies. Kounalakis talks about all of that, plus he discusses Vladimir Putin’s Russia playing a meddling role around the world.

The Czechoslovak Underground Church (II)


I’m back in Prague and am finally getting around to fulfilling my promise to keep writing about religion in the Czech lands under communism. In my first post, I mentioned the extreme repression the Catholic church suffered under communism in the former Czechoslovakia and the ways the church and its clerics sought to maintain a vibrant faith community for lay people. Many formerly “official” priests risked imprisonment by participating in religious education and similar activities in private homes. Many had served terms in the labor camps adjacent to uranium mines in the 1950s. This camp, called Vojna, is the site of a memorial today.


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Academic-speak these days is quite easy to imitate. Here is a representative specimen that might well be found in your email in-box if you happen to work in American higher education: “As a community we must all rededicate ourselves to dialogue about inclusion, diversity, and social justice and, and to rejecting the hegemonic discourse of […]

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The Underground Church in the Czech Lands


Prague CastlePART I

I’ve been in the Czech Republic for the past two weeks: Prague, Brno, and the tiny little village of Železnice. I’m here doing research and conducting interviews related to the underground church under Communism.

The Communists were particularly brutal toward the Catholic Church here (and churches in general) — perhaps more brutal than anywhere else, with the possible exception of Albania.

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Zweig evoked an enchanted world, ordered toward comfort and high culture. He told me that I lived in a place where everything reliable and good had been twice destroyed, like pieces in a peaceful game of chess swept to the floor by the hand of some passing sadist. And he wrote of a spiritual force […]

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