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Monday September 27
|Josef Škvorecký (b. 1924) – Czech/Canadian novelist – Ordinary Lives (2010)|
Visit Josef Skvorecky’s website
From “A Revolution Is Usually the Worst Solution”
FRANKLY, I FEEL frustrated whenever I have to talk about revolution for the benefit of people who have never been through one. They are — if you’ll excuse the platitude — like a child who doesn’t believe that fire hurts, until he burns himself. I, my generation, my nation, have been involuntarily through two revolutions, both of them socialist: one of the right variety, one of the left. Together they destroyed my peripheral vision. When I was fourteen, we were told at school that the only way to a just and happy society led through socialist revolution. Capitalism was bad, liberalism a fraud, democracy bunk, and parliamentarism decadent. Our then Minister of Culture and Education, the late Mr. Emanuel Moravec, taught us this, and then sent his son to fight for socialism with the Hermann Goering SS Division. The son was later hanged; the minister, to use proper revolutionary language, liquidated himself with the aid of a gun.
When I was twenty-one, we were told at Charles University that the only way to a just and happy society led through socialist revolution. Capitalism was bad, liberalism a fraud, democracy bunk, and parliamentarism decadent. Our then professor of philosophy, the late Mr. Arnost Kolman, taught us this, and then gave his half-Russian daughter in marriage to a Czech Communist who fought for socialism with Alexander Dubcek. Later he fled to Sweden. Professor Kolman, one of the very last surviving original Bolsheviks of 1917 and a close friend of Lenin, died in 1980, also in Sweden. Before his death, he returned his Party card to Brezhnev and declared that the Soviet Union had betrayed the socialist revolution. In 1981 I am told by various people who suffer from Adlerian and Rankian complexes that the only way to a just and happy society leads through socialist revolution. Capitalism is bad, liberalism a fraud, democracy bunk, and parliamentarism decadent. Dialectically, all this makes me suspect that capitalism is probably good, liberalism may be right, democracy is the closest approximation to the truth, and parliamentarism a vigorous gentleman in good health, filled with the wisdom of ripe old age.
Read translator Paul Wilson’s summaries of six of Skvorecky’s books
Read a book review of Ordinary Lives
Listen to a 1984 interview of Skvorecky