25 Years of Democratic Freedom

Tuesday, 10 March 2015, 6:00pm - 7:30pm, IWM library
prazska_desitka - zatceni_celenove_zdroj_VONS_1979_Libir_prohibiti_web

Dissidents (Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted) arrested by the State Security StB in May 1979

2014 marked the 25th anniversary of a series of revolutions in Central and Eastern Europe that have changed the landscape of European politics more significantly than any other event after the Second World War. In Czechoslovakia (later Czech Republic), the new democratic and civil freedoms seemed like the belated fulfillment of the visions of Prague Spring and Charter 77. Czech Dissidence, with its high-level philosophical, artistic and intellectual profile lent its unique character to the so-called Velvet Revolution. Václav Havel, as the emblematic figure for this change, became an internationally acclaimed hero of peaceful revolutions as well as “new politics” of morality and authenticity.


Velvet Revolution Memorial, Prague

Later, however, the moral pathos of “non-political politics” also turned out to be a burden for the well-functioning of political and democratic routines. This might be one explanation as to why the process of “normalization” following the revolutionary enthusiasm sometimes seemed to be more difficult for the Czech Republic than for its neighboring countries. This panel will reflect upon the fascinating, yet ambivalent intellectual legacy of dissident thinking and its meaning today, when the triumph of democracy seems to have been given way to profound challenges to democracy.

Life in Truth”. Patočka, Havel, and the Principles of Charter 77
Martin Cajthaml
Lecturer in Philosophy and Patrology, Theologic Faculty, Palacký University Olomouc; Jan Patočka Senior Visiting Fellow at the IWM

Non-Political Politics in the Czech Context
Jakub Homolka
Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Charles University, Prague; Jan Patočka Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM

Post-Socialist Nostalgia: Different Ways of Remembering 1968-1989
Veronika Pehe
Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies, University College London; Jan Patočka Junior Visiting Fellow at the IWM

Ludger Hagedorn
IWM Research Director, Polemical Christianity. Jan Patocka’s Concept of Religion and the Crisis of Modernity

This event is a cooperation with the Embassy of the Czech Republic in Austria and will be opened by a welcoming address of His Excellency Mr. Sechter.

Tschechische Botschaft Wien