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National Conflict in Czechoslovakia

National Conflict in Czechoslovakia: The Making and Remaking of a State, 1918-1987

Carol Skalnik Leff
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 318
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    National Conflict in Czechoslovakia
    Book Description:

    Czechoslovak domestic politics, including the long-standing policy dilemmas stemming from the so-called Slovak question, are usually approached from a historical standpoint. Here Carol Leff views the subject from a fresh analytic perspective. The Slovaks' dissatisfaction with their status in the constitutional order has dogged Czechoslovakia from the country's inception after World War I, and the substantial Slovak minority (now about one-third of the population) has recurrently complicated the state's struggle for selfy2Ddefinition, stability, and even survival. Professor Leff establishes a systematic analytic framework for the discussion of the Czech-Slovak relationship and how it has affected and been affected by state power and the political system.

    Czechoslovakia's history is virtually a museum for the major European political alternatives of the twentieth century, and this book is an experiment in applying the comparative methodology of political science not to cross-national studies but to the analysis of a single country over time. The author organizes consideration of policy making on the Slovak national question around three component elements and their impact on effective problem solving: the institutional structure of the pre-Munich republic and the postwar socialist state, leadership values and premises relevant to the disposition of the national question, and patterns of Czech and Slovak leadership interaction.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5921-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
    (pp. xi-2)
    (pp. 3-8)

    In its brief history, Czechoslovakia has suffered a series of abrupt political reconstitutions and restructurings. Emerging from one world war as a parliamentary republic, it was submerged in the next, divided into a Czech protectorate and a Slovak state under Nazi tutelage. In 1945, recapitulating the international odyssey of the First World War, Czech and Slovak exile leaders used the tools of diplomacy to resurrect the interwar republic. This renewed republic in turn underwent radical reconstruction as a Communist country after 1948, the model satellite. The liberalization of 1968 shattered this orthodoxy and was in turn shattered by invasion. In...

  6. Part I. The Emergence of the Czechoslovak State

    • CHAPTER ONE The Historical Preconditions for National Conflict: Slovakia and the Czech Lands Before 1918
      (pp. 11-42)

      The construction of the state of Czechoslovakia after World War I occurred under conditions that stamped all future patterns of ethnic relations. In the first place, Czechoslovakia shared with other new East European states a tempered artificiality. Emerging from the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian empire, its major components, the Czech lands and Slovakia, had never experienced common administration, still less common self-government. Slovakia was carved from the integral territory of the Hungarian crown;¹ within the empire there had been no identifiable political entity one could designate as Slovakia. The Kingdom of Bohemia and the Margravate of Moravia, on the other...

  7. Part II. Political Structure and National Conflict

    • CHAPTER TWO Political Structure and National Conflict: The First Republic, 1918–1938
      (pp. 45-85)

      Before turning to the way in which the interwar parliamentary republic managed to function despite inadequate preparation and burdensome complexity, I need to clarify that complexity somewhat with a general preliminary consideration of political structure and performance. Every political system has performance limits; when a government faces a problem to be solved, it will be constrained by its capacity to define and frame issues, its control over national and international environments, the size of its policy agenda, and the flexibility and efficacy of its decision-making process. A system’s problem-solving capacities and its processing of issues are usually somewhat generalized—because...

    • CHAPTER THREE Political Structure and National Conflict: The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, 1948–1968
      (pp. 86-130)

      The politics of the years between the liberation of Czechoslovakia in May 1945 and the Communist seizure of power in February 1948 have been analyzed frequently and well through scholarly studies and personal memoirs. The clearest truth to emerge from these efforts is that the postwar Third Republic was not, and could not be, a resumption of interwar politics under new management, but rather an experiment in restructuring Czechoslovak politics, society, economics, and international relations sufficiently to respond to the massive internal and external changes that had occurred since 1938. In the context of the Czech-Slovak relationship, this shift in...

  8. Part III. The Engineering of a State:: The Failure of Unification, 1918–1968

    • CHAPTER FOUR The Politician as Political Scientist: Values, Goals, and Premises
      (pp. 131-147)

      It is clear from previous chapters that both of Czechoslovakia’s most enduring political systems presented different types of institutional impediments to a stable resolution of the role of Slovakia within the state. It is equally clear, however, that taken alone, these structural obstacles offer only a partial explanation of the resistance to Slovak national claims. A resistance to such claims that spans a period of more than fifty years under such different systems arouses strong suspicions that elite and popular values must lie behind the institutional impediments. After all, in both cases, a core of central leaders could have chosen...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Political Cultures and Mutual Betrayal
      (pp. 148-178)

      In both the First Republic and the socialist state, the diagnosis and treatment of the national question foundered on a single common assumption: that socioeconomic development would serve to homogenize Czechoslovak society and exert a stablizing influence on Czechoslovak politics. This failure is significant not only as an exercise in faulty political analysis; the policies themselves bred further complications. Not only did modernization policies produce a more skilled and sophisticated nationalist opposition, but they inevitably aroused inflated expectations on both sides. The process of state building, in fact, involved a rhetorical revolution, holding out the promise to Slovaks of a...

  9. Part IV. Leadership Interaction and National Conflict

    • CHAPTER SIX Leadership Interaction and National Conflict: The First Republic, 1918–1938
      (pp. 181-211)

      In outlining the formulas by which diverse subcultures may coexist, Sidney Verba has suggested:

      In a political system made up of two closed camps with no overlapping membership, the only channels of communication between the two camps would have to be at the highest level—say when the leaders . . . meet in the governing chambers—and all conflict would have to be resolved at the highest level. Politics comes to resemble negotiations between rival states; and war or a breakdown of negotiations is always possible.¹

      In introducing an analysis of this same “closed camp” condition, Arend Lijphart offers...

    • CHAPTER SEVEN Leadership Interaction and National Conflict: The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic, 1948–1968
      (pp. 212-240)

      As I argued in chapter 3, institutional reconstruction of the state and party system after World War II posed some significant impediments to the reestablishment of a Czech-Slovak governing relationship. The need to adjust to a genuine power in Bratislava—the Slovak National Council—and to the new party alignment, shaped by the emergence of a separate Slovak entity—the Democratic party—unaffiliated with the Czech parties, is only part of the disruption generated by the wartime period. In fact, those two institutional factors are closely and causally related to the collapse of the personal framework of elite relations that...

  10. Part V. Federalization and the Czech-Slovak Relationship

    • CHAPTER EIGHT The Federal Solution?
      (pp. 243-273)

      How have the contours of Czech and Slovak politics changed under federalism? Has the new constitutional order resolved the political tensions accumulated during more than half a century of blighted Czech and Slovak hopes? In this chapter, I will utilize the categories of analysis that shaped my consideration of earlier periods to present some tentative answers to these questions, taking advantage of a long-term perspective, cues offered by official actions and pronouncements, and the pipeline into the country’s psyche offered by the postinvasion emigration and the domestic dissident movement. Any answers must be provisional, but there is considerable evidence to...

    • CHAPTER NINE Conclusion: Determinants of National Conflict and the Future of the Slovak Question
      (pp. 274-298)

      The “Slovak question” has beleaguered Czechoslovak politics ever since 1918, despite periodic assertions that it had finally been resolved. It may still be too early, even after almost two decades of federation, to know how well the “question” has been answered this time. Czechoslovakia has been “normalized,” but not reconciled to the current political system. Continuing protests against human rights violations evidence the latent dissatisfactions that may yet produce another accounting and reorganization of state power. This, of course, is contingent on the future configurations of Soviet power under the Gorbachev regime. Perhaps only when such a reckoning occurs can...

  11. INDEX
    (pp. 299-304)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 305-305)