Comments: The Spirit of Prague

Klima's words are darkly chilling.

I have read in many places about the darkness of modern totalitarian government, but never about the appeal such systems of government hold for the average citizen.

Clarity, energy, decisiveness--the strong hand to guide the nation out of darkness and indecision. The strong hand with a grip of iron, directed by a ruthless will that destroys any who oppose it.

It is only too late when the people discover the monster that had assumed the guise of savior and leader.

Posted by steve h at February 4, 2005 10:12 AM

Reminds me of a young Nazi supporter quoted by Eric Fromm:

"We Germans are so happy. We are free of freedom."

Posted by David Foster at February 7, 2005 05:44 PM

Crude screaming - animal noises - hey, he's got the Rolling Stones down, all right. And Nirvana! But I always thought Wagnerian opera was too noisy as well. The greyness of everyday life is an individual problem, never solved by collective "fun".

Posted by Robert Speirs at February 7, 2005 11:44 PM

Incidentally, this story offers an example of the opaque way in which EU decision-making goes on. The decision not to invite Cuban dissidents to diplomatic cocktail parties has been reversed, but only as an interim measure.

I think this explains the lack of fanfare over the Czech veto, but we can hope that when the policy comes under review (June, I think), the EU will understand what it means to people. Although its previous record leaves some doubt.

And now you've reminded me of Klima, who I haven't read in ten years. I didn't grasp what he was about at the time, but perhaps a re-read will be more rewarding now. Thanks.


Posted by DaveVH at February 11, 2005 08:30 AM


First, let me thank you for your wonderful blog. I read (or at least skim) the Washington Post and the New York Times every day, and try to check out the Financial Times at work, but I always find that you've picked the story of the day from Europe, and done a fine job of putting it into context.

Regarding Klima (it's more fun to talk about literature than politics), I was probably a little harsh on him. While the plot of "Judge on Trial" escapes me, I do recall quite well the wonderful tales of "My Merry Mornings" (I think that's the title of the U.K. collection), a bunch of short stories about a fictional, dissident author (let's call him Ivan K., no wait -- I. Klima) who is persecuted by the state, and, unable to earn his living with his brain, has to earn it with his hands, his back, his knees...

It's a charming book. Klima being Klima, he of course finds opportunities for drinking, for laughter, for goofing off, for philosophical speculation, for romance, eroticism, sex and death -- the book is a joyous affirmation of what it means to be human, and the mornings (and days that follow them) are merry indeed.

Highly recommended, as they say...

Posted by Bill at February 11, 2005 11:15 PM