Saturday, March 03, 2018

Czech communists' self-confidence has just skyrocketed

Czechoslovakia has removed most of the communists from power quickly and peacefully in late 1989 and early 1990, in the so-called Velvet Revolution. Throughout the decades, communists were getting some 10-15 percent in the Czech parliamentary elections which wasn't enough to think about the re-conquering of the government.

And no other party in the Parliament really wanted to cooperate with them in these 28 years. So while they were allowed to be represented in the Parliament – a choice that our politicians made after 1989, and I don't think that it was the only imaginable one – they were a dead chunk of meat. Coalitions had to be formed within the remaining 80% of the deputies. At most, the social democratic party discussed "how dogmatically" their resolution not to cooperate with the communists should be interpreted. But they've never found a majority to actually start to return the communists to the power.

Paradoxically, now, in the wake of the October 2017 elections in which the communists scored the worst result in their history (7.5%), they came out of the isolation and, in fact, became the essential party in the establishment of the new coalition.

Yesterday, communist lawmaker Comrade Zdeněk Ondráček was elected as the chief of the parliamentary committee that supervises GIBS. GIBS itself is the "police going after the policemen". It seems obvious that the acting [without confidence from the Parliament] prime minister Babiš – who has been charged with some serious crimes – wants to replace the boss of GIBS with his own person. That person is supposed to fire all the policemen who dare to investigate Babiš (probably especially Mr Nevtípil).

Zdeněk Ondráček, the main lawmaker supervising the law enforcement forces, isn't just a communist (he joined the communist party in August 1989, what a timing). He was a "puncher" or "bruiser" (for Czechs: "Mlátička"), a cop with a baton who was sent to beat the participants of the pro-democratic rallies in 1989.

It seems that he wasn't just a random guy among these 20-year-old guys. He was chosen for an interview in late 1989 in which he defended the need to act against the antisocialist elements. His election is weird even for the Pakistanis.

Some people say that a young person who is 20 may err, is naive, and so on. A problem is that we have a proof that this guy hasn't fixed himself in any way. The current Bolshevik lawmaker Zdeněk Ondráček "isn't sorry of a single thing" he has done. He has basically explicitly said that he would happily obey those orders to beat the pregnant women – who threatened him by spitting in his face – again. In fact, it seems he is constantly bragging.

Batons are far from his family's worst acts or opinions. In a 2017 interview, Ondráček's father has opined that the Warsaw Pact armies came to defend socialism, Ms Milada Horáková (murdered by the commies around 1950) deserved to be hanged because she has "confessed", and in 1989, when socialism was threatened, a fence should have been built around Prague and its inhabitants should have been starved to death! That's the guy who has educated the current top supervisor of the Czech police.

The son needed several attempts to be appointed and he was elected by the smallest possible margin – which also depended on the (irresponsible) absence of some 20 democratic lawmakers in total. But he finally got it. The guy who symbolizes a classic moral failure of the Czech police during communism has become the most powerful lawmaker when it comes to the supervision of the police's supervisors.

How is it possible? Why would the Parliament make such an insane choice? Well, sadly, the truth is worrisome and simple. A majority of the lawmakers in the Parliament are "mostly anti-democratic" ones. Among 200 lawmakers, KSČM, SPD, and ANO have 115 votes in total – close to a constitutional majority – and they're largely considered non-democratic parties. KSČM is the unreformed communist party (Czechia was almost the only post-communist nation where the commies chose to keep the old name and many symbols); SPD is the Czech counterpart of Le Pen's FN; and ANO is the billionaire Andrej Babiš's would-be political party whose purpose is to expand the personal wealth and power of Mr Babiš, a former communist rat, himself. So far, ANO has worked beautifully. For example, Babiš's wealth doubled (to $4 billion) during his 4-year-long tenure as the finance minister.

The remaining (whopping) six parties, the democratic ones, have 85 votes (a bit over 40%). The largest one is ODS that I voted for, the party founded by Václav Klaus that got much more centrist over the years but that is still the party closest to Klaus, at least to what he used to represent in the early 1990s; then there are 3 center-right and somewhat ambiguous CDU-like parties, namely TOP, KDU-ČSL, and STAN the mayors (all of them face the risk to drop from the Parliament in the next elections – their inability to unify is amazing), the social democrats (who led the previous government and which suffered a historically bad result as well); and the Pirates, a new "cool" party with mostly young voters and the corresponding amount of the revolutionary spirit (combined with confused ideology). Those Pirates could be considered a "youth organization of ANO" by themselves but I want to be a bit optimistic and generous so I included them in the democratic wing – otherwise the numbers would be really hopeless.

So you may imagine, the division to the democratic and non-democratic parties unavoidably became the most important dividing line in the Parliament. ANO (KGB/STB/oligarchy), KSČM (commies), and SPD (sometimes nicknamed NSDAP) are the actual "voting coalition" in the Parliament. It's not hard to see that the combined image of these political parties isn't terribly good. Especially in Western Europe, SPD and KSČM aren't too salonfähig. So ANO's Andrej Babiš tried to persuade some democratic parties to team up with him.

But they refused it – they don't want to support a criminal as the prime minister and they're convinced that they would have no power, anyway. Such a cooperation with ANO was very harmful for the social democrats and it's believed that another democratic party cooperating with Babiš would basically commit suicide. They would be abused to legitimize Babiš's government that won't actually be legitimate and that is likely to violate lots of democratic traditions and probably explicit laws, too. Babiš would use his dailies etc. to sell all successes as his own and blame all the perceived failures on the coalition partners. He's done it for years.

The main problem is that the largest party in the Parliament, Babiš's ANO, looks like an unreadable mixture of all political (and especially apolitical) attitudes you may think of. But in reality, it's really dominated by people who loved the communist regime more than the post-1989 capitalism – and Babiš himself is the textbook example of that. He's often presented as an extreme pragmatic who only cares about his personal wealth and power. But StB rightfully wrote that he was both "ambitious" as well "loyal to the principles of socialism". He may impress some non-communist or Western-oriented voters with his wealth, the knowledge of French and English, or the Michelin star restaurant in the French Riviera. But when it comes to things he really cares about, he really wants basically everything to be organized just like during communism, except that the governance should be more authoritarian than what it used to be. The Senate and perhaps the Parliament and surely the debates in the Parliament are a waste of time; opposition in city halls is a waste of money; the government has the right to get arbitrarily intimate data about every citizen, especially entrepreneur; and so on and so on.

Because he has reconciled himself with the idea that the communists and SPD are the only ones that will really provide his government with the illusion of legitimacy, he started to intensely work on befriending these two other anti-system parties and their voters. Babiš formally said to be uncertain whether Ondráček, the puncher, is the right guy to supervise GIBS (police's police). But when one studies the facts behind the scenes, it's absolutely obvious that Babiš was a key driver that pushed Ondráček where he is.

Communist lawmakers and their voters are incredibly grateful to Babiš for placing them under the sunshine again – which is the main motivation of Babiš to do such things. Lawmakers of SPD have also been isolated in previous years and they're already grateful for the leader Okamura's being a vice-chairman of the Parliament, and so on. The network of gratitude among these non-democratic parties (well, mostly gratitude to the new would-be Führer Babiš) has become thick and this terrifying coalition – something that I was only imagining as a horrific science-fiction novel just a year ago – is becoming a nearly unavoidable reality.

It's far from clear whether the social system and civic rights are going to deteriorate to a comparable extent as they did after the 1948 communist coup. I am in no way certain and indeed, I want to believe that it won't happen – that we won't come anywhere close to it, in fact. But the similarity to the events of 1948 looks shocking (the total communist power was also preceded by their naming communist people into the chairs of various police directors) and the change of the "spirit of the opinions" that we hear from some politicians in the media is stunning.

For the first time since 1989, we hear influential media where the politicians ultimately defend the new "default" opinion that it was just fine to beat the pregnant participants of pro-democratic rallies with batons right before the Velvet Revolution. OK, I will never subscribe to that. These punchers and bruisers were top "physical" defenders of a totalitarian system that has crippled our country in so many ways and that was retroactively defined as a "criminal epoch" for very good reasons. And they should be grateful up to the end of their life for our immense generosity – that we didn't execute them in late 1989. They should silently walk through the sewerage system and avoid the temptation to influence politics again. They have already screwed a lot for one life, indeed. 300,000 Czechoslovak citizens (2%) who were pushed to emigration and the reduction of the GDP by an order of magnitude relatively to the previously "equal" Western European countries are just two parts of this devastation.

The Parliamentary Letters is the main Internet server which attracts the mostly pro-communist voters – and more generally, pro-authoritarian, pro-Russian, anti-capitalist voters. I could have agreed with some significant fraction of the views on (especially) foreign policies. But at the end, those aren't the things that matter most. When it comes to the political issues that I still consider most consequential in the context of the Czech Realpolitik, the arrogant and combative voices by the commenting communist filth and rabble on that server is terrifying. They are clearly feeling that their communist clique is reconquering the power in Czechia.

This terrifying impression may be an artifact of a few hundred or a few thousand communist trolls who are just more active right now than they have ever been. They probably don't really represent the opinion of a majority of Czechs. But you know, even if they're a rather small minority, they simply matter these days – just like the Islamic terrorists matter for Islam more than the average Muslims do. It's their new glorious days and they know it.

I have often thought about possible alternate histories – could the good guys decide in better ways to direct the evolution of my country in a better direction? In 1938 and 1939, we just had no chance to defend ourselves against the Nazis – and I think it was ultimately right that we basically surrendered to Hitler. However, I think that the French and Britons shouldn't have surrendered in 1938, of course.

On the other hand, the conditions were tough and the "working class" was immensely brainwashed in 1948 but I feel that the pro-democratic forces should have tried to defend democracy with weapons etc. Someone should have tried to physically remove communist boss Mr Klement Gottwald and perhaps a greater part of the Stalinist leadership. I can't promise you a victory in my alternate victory. But I do think that the average benefits would have exceeded the average costs. Well, I think it's fair to say that great people such as Dr Ms Milada Horáková did try to prevent the rise of totalitarian communism using some powerful methods (she was trying to negotiate some U.S. intervention in Czechoslovakia etc.) but the problem was that the number of the warriors on the right side was too low.

If it had looked reasonably certain that we're on a similar path as we were in 1948, I think the same recommendation would apply. The reasonable people should try to use any available weapons against the totalitarian communist rabble.

I have mentioned that the billionaire's ANO party is "mostly communist". Its votes have been crucial for the election of the puncher as the parliamentary police's supervisor. In the discussion prior to the vote, some ANO lawmakers have made it clear that they love communist punchers. But there were also important exceptions. Dr Robert Pelikán – the justice minister whose father was, ironically, an important comrade at a university focusing on Marxism-Leninism or what was that (and an agent of StB, too) – denounced the election of Mr Ondráček, and so did Mr Tomáš Macura, the mayor of Ostrava, Czechia's 3rd largest city (ahead of 4th Pilsen).

In recent months, ANO has lost some important folks, e.g. the member of the European Parliament and an ex-member of the European Commission Mr Pavel Telička – who didn't like the teaming up of ANO with President Zeman and/or communists etc. The lack of unity within the ANO movement owned by the oligarch himself may ultimately be the most important "crack" to observe. Babiš himself screams that he will be the "only candidate for the Führer up to the end of his life" but I am not 100% sure whether he can enforce this desire in ANO, despite his ownership of the movement.

On Thursday, there were the first questions asked by the lawmakers to the acting prime minister Babiš. The pro-democratic lawmakers mostly concluded that it was the first time in the history of modern democratic Czechoslovakia and Czechia when the prime minister didn't even try to give tangible explanations or answers to most questions – instead, most of his "answers" were some superficial insults directed against the authors of the questions. The content (or the absence of it) is deeply disappointing but so is the style. Mr Babiš is obviously completely unable to speak in a meaningful way, participate in a debate. He can only indefinitely parrot some slogans – which were mostly written by his PR expert Mr Marek Prchal, anyway. It's pathetic but his supporters find it enough. Some people, including ex-president Klaus, want to say that voters who support this kind of politics shouldn't be labeled idiots. I beg to differ.

I've despised these people's political instincts for 30 years, I will almost certainly despise them forever, and the idea that they're "equal" to the average voters of ODS and perhaps others is just a politically correct lie. They're primitive scum that has understood nothing about the pillars of the Western civilization. If these are the last weeks or days when I can denounce this scum without a physical punishment, I want to maximally enjoy these weeks or days.

By the way, I have used – and many other people have used – the term "communism" in various generalized meanings. But here we don't talk about any generalized communists. We talk about people who explicitly want to return most aspects of the system that existed through late 1989. It's rather clear that this is becoming a genuinely important question. You can see which people get the worst treatment in the media whenever these self-confident communists participate. Well, a victim who is treated really badly is Mr Marek Benda – who was a kid from a dissident family (he is a quiet, modest son of the prominent late dissident Mr Václav Benda) and whose work in the Parliament has been a symbol assuring us that we're still living in the new post-1989 democratic system.

The hateful attacks against this life-long politician are basically identical to what they used to be in the pre-1989 communist propaganda press. Acting PM Babiš loves to attack Benda all the time – he nicknames him "Benda the Legend[a]" which rhymes in Czech. The typical self-glorifying revolutionary working-class loves to hate such people from special families who differ from them. Mr Ondráček, the puncher and the new supervisor of GIBS, has given Benda an even worse treatment than Babiš. Needless to say, I still largely consider Mr Benda to be a guy who more or less represents me in the Parliament so these communist-style attacks against this modest person are something that I consider a declaration of war.

Communists are being bought by Babiš's government without confidence by many other acts. For example, the government has approved the income taxes imposed on the assets (stolen by the communists and) returned to the church. Babiš has admitted that he realizes that this taxation of the stolen and returned assets is probably unconstitutional but in order to befriend the communists and their voters, he approved that shameful law, anyway.

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