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A Hundred Years of the „Czech Question“ and "The Czech Question" a Hundred Years On

MILOŠ HAVELKA
Czech Sociological Review
Vol. 3, No. 1, A Hundred Years of "The Czech Question" (SPRING 1995), pp. 7-19
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41133073
Page Count: 13
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A Hundred Years of the „Czech Question“ and "The Czech Question" a Hundred Years On
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Abstract

In general, it can be stated that Czech political culture circles around certain semantic centres (national identity, political orientation, cultural self-consciousness, moral self-reflection, historical self-perception etc.), whose varying conception presents a theoretical foil at different points in time which makes the understanding of the most concrete socio-political phenomena possible. Masaryk's work, "The Czech Question", represents one of the first and most influential attempts to structure these ‚centres‘ within the framework provided by the philosophy of history. The analysis of Masaryk's conception in this article is linked with concrete socio-historical events (the quarrel over the authenticity of ancient Slavic manuscripts, the so-called civilisation crisis at the end of the last century, concrete national, political and social tensions, the asymmetry between the precapitalist and capitalist throughout Austro-Hungary etc.). In such a way, it is demonstrated how Masaryk's religious-humanistic conception of the meaning of Czech history would necessarily be subject to liberal-economic critique. Masaryk's interpretation of Czech history can be understood as a search for an alternative to political liberalism. It was the Czech politician, Josef Kaizl (Minister of Finance of Austria-Hungary, 1888-1889) who rejected both Masaryk's extremely one-sided view of the political economy and his highly compensatory conception of politics (which Masaryk called „apolitical politics“). The author presents the debate between Masaryk and Kaizl as the problematic relationship between pragmatics and principles in politics.

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