Martin Myant: The future of the Czech economy doesn't need to be bleak

26. 2. 2010

◄ An interview with Professor Martin Myant on the Czech economy

We have recorded a series of informative interviews in English on Czech history, literature and politics for Humbox, the British academic repository of cultural and political resources about European countries. Above, Professor Martin Myant of University of the West of Scotland, speaks about the Czech economy since 1989.

An interview on Czech history is HERE

an interview on Czech 20th century literature is HERE
an interview on 19th century Czech literature is HERE

The Impenetrable Walls of a Shameful Silence - Our media ad usum delphini?

24. 2. 2010 / Karel Dolejší

During Norman Finkelstein's visit to Prague I expected all kinds of things: hysterical campaigns against him and the event, accusations of supposed connections with the Neo-Nazis, the juggling with the mandatory deference towards the victims of concentration camps, which won't allow the delivery of critical words about the subject even in a thousand years. But that other than an awkward interview for mainstream television I would see literally nothing - really nothing -, well, that I was not ready for. I'm actually in a way glad for the outcome of it all, though: it shows everyone who wants to see, clearly and above all doubt, that the Czech mainstream media is not at all here to inform the public about the important and relevant affairs, but to manipulate and entertain with celebrity scandals, while in fact extracting us out of the real world.

Why the Czech media does not have great journalistic personas?

24. 2. 2010 / Ivo Šebestík

Our middle and older generations have an understanding of journalism and journalistic practices lightly coloured by the traditional image of a good and decent craft found somewhere in the anteroom of literary creations. Stately men over a typewriter under incandescent lamps and with pipes on their mouths quickly and only by pen writing their essays. Messengers running around them with fresh proof copies of their newspaper pages and the latest handwritting with which in a short while they will fly to the typesetter, from whom sweat flows out by the Linotype. And keeping ward the whole thing is the eye of the Editor-in-Chief, honourable persona, whose word holds as if had been sculpted into stone.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK in Britske listy HERE

Problems of Czech citizens on the border with Germany or are we not part of Schengen?

24. 2. 2010 / Daniel Strož

The Czech public are more and more worried about the way in which many Czech citizens have been treated for already quite some time not only at the Czech-Bavaria and Czech-Saxon borders, but in the end even after entering dozens of kilometers into the German territory. They happen very often and mainly without any reason disrupting the well-being of Czechs through controlling steps and it does not depend on whether we are travelling by public transportation or by own private means, in own car. Controls on top of it are mostly not performed by uniformed policemen or customs inspector, but largely by men in civil clothes, without whatever evident label or indicative of being the authorized person for that.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK on Britske listy  HERE

We will have ethnic conflicts in Czech Republic

24. 2. 2010 / Štěpán Steiger

Attention, this is not some conspiracy theory - even if only a few people know about it. Concretelly, two female and four male members of the Czech Parlament, as well as also members of the organizational committee in the lowe House, which approved the trip of this group of six. Where to? Well, to Peru, because there, in that official visit, this delegation will find out how to overcome ethnic conflicts.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK  in Britske listy  HERE

Czech Telegraph

24. 2. 2010 / Fabiano Golgo

The Defence Committee from the Czech lower house of Parliament opposed a plan to increase the number of Czech soldiers in Afghanistan. The government wants to send 55 more troops to the over 500 Czech soldiers already there. 

The Czech army spent CZK 8 billion on weapons and airplanes without having launched tenders for the contracts. The MPI Group, owned by a friend of Defence Minister Martin Barták, supplied the army with ammunition for almost CZK 1 billion.

Nearly 10 percent of agricultural land in the Czech Republic is now used for organic farming. Around 400,000 hectares are practicing organic farming, 2,700 farms are using those ecofriendly techniques, in a year-on-year increase of about 20 percent.

The famous auction site eBay launched a Czech version (, but their PayPal system will not be available in Czech until the end of March. 

Czech Republic's Health Minister announced he is reducing an order for swine flu vaccine shots to 700,000 because not as many people as expected want to get vaccinated. The initial plan was to vaccinate about 1 million people.

Insider's Info: Rebel (paradoxically for being an Orthodox Constitutional and Tax Conservative) Republican former White House contender, Ron Paul, coming to Vienna in May for a seminar about his belief that the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes should be forgotten and substituted for those of the Austrian School (Friedrich Hayek, Murray Rothbard, Carl Menger, Israel Kirzner, among others)...

For This Time...

24. 2. 2010 / Pavel Kopecký

Former premier Mirek Topolánek, who was a hard-working student of the Military School during the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic days, is getting old. In the media we can see him grumpy, injuriated, agressive. He permanently is not able to control himself (certainly because of the insuficient preferece of voters for the Civic Democrats/ODS and his personal problems), but in the Sunday television political show, during the chat "at Moravec's", that was not so obvious. For a while he even tuned up with another rather talkative politician. With (leftist) populist Miloš Zeman, who, discarded the envious and the spiteful, also pretends to not have finished at the public affairs arena. The flippant randy Man from the People basically found a way into the huckle backed also randy local (pseudo) intellectuals. After all, they both have the same enemy.

An Czech version of this article in CLICK  in Britske listy HERE


Has the Czech Science Academy succumbed to the government's pressure?

24. 2. 2010 / Štěpán Kotrba

The Governing Body of the Czech Academy of Sciences decided to NOT allow Norman Finkelstein and other lectors to lead the Seminar "Current Situation and Possibilities for Solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Goldstone's UN Report about Gaza", which was supposed to have happened at the building of that institution on Narodni street, n. 3, in Prague this February 23rd (2010) from 10am, organized by the Center for Global Studies, a cooperative work of the Czech Philosophy Institute and the Prague's Charles University. The news of the cancelation reached the Seminar's guests during the previous day's afternoon. Organizers are still "trying to find out about the not yet confirmed information, why the seminar would have been cancelled".

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK on Britske listy  HERE

Czechs Flooding Polish Pharmacies to Acquire Pseudoephedrine Drugs

24. 2. 2010

Czechs are even more often buying at Polish pharmacies, even if it is more expensive. That has been happening because it is still possible to buy certain pills that contain the pseudoephedrine needed to produce some narcotics, pills which can be bought in the Czech Republic only with a doctor's prescription, Ewa Furtak wrote for newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. The news first appeared on Głos Ludu, a Polish publication in Czech Republic and with reference to the newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza also daily newspaper Britské listy.

Michael Moore's films "will not be allowed to irritate US tourists in Prague"

5. 2. 2010

Michale Moore's film Capitalism: A Love Story (2009) is being screened in Prague's Slovanský dům Palace Cinemas multiplex from 4th February 2010. There is only one showing per day, at 6 pm.

The same treatment was given in 2008 to Moore's film Sicko (2008), which was screened in the Slovanský dům Palace Cinema multiplex also only once a day and only for a week.

The decision when to screen films and for how long is the prerogative of the cinema manager, it was explained to Focus on the Czech Republic. In the view of the Slovanský dům Palace Cinema multiplex, Michael Moore is "a highly controversial person". The number of screenings of his films are limited to a minimum because "they could irritate American tourists in Prague". Also, "there is minimal interest in Michael Moore's films in the Czech Republic," says the management of the Slovanský dům Cinema multiplex. "It is undesirable that Moore's films should irritate US tourists even in Prague."

More information in Czech is in CLICK HERE

Czech electricity supplier blackmails consumers using a combat unit

2. 2. 2010

ČEZ, the monopoly supplier of electricity in the Czech Republic, uses a "special forces" combat unit to take action against those Czech citizens who use electricity without paying for it.

The Czech police department for dealing with organised crime has now charged 32 members of the ČEZ combat unit with the offence of illegally entering private property and forcing non-payers of electricity bills to pay high financial sums for their "illegal consumption of energy". The targeted citizens were placed under strong psychological pressure. They were blackmailed by the members of the combat unit to sign documents admitting their debts to ČEZ.

One video made by ČEZ records a visit of the members of the combat unit at a man's property in the town of Poděbrady, in Central Bohemia, which ended in the man committing suicide.

The global economic crisis and the future of "remainder democracy"

2. 2. 2010 / Karel Dolejší

I don't deny that in the First World there are still considerable personal liberties and people are being treated according to the law and decently while this isn't the case in the Second and in the Third World. But these liberties are no longer supported by an economic and political system in which people live, and so they stand on very thin ice which can give way during the first chaotic or psychotic social situation.

Egon Bondy, Neuspořádaná samomluva (A disorderly monologue), Brno, L. Marek 2002, p. 102

The editorial in the London Times on 1st February, entitled "Which Capitalism?" points out that over the past fifty years, the image of the world has turned upside down.

There is no difference between current Czech politicians and the politicians of the communist era, says an opinion poll

27. 1. 2010

According to an opinion poll carried out by the Prague-based STEM polling agency in January 2010, 84 per cent of the Czechs are convinced that the privileges enjoyed by current Czech politicians are the same as the privileges that used to be enjoyed by the politicians of the former communist regime in Czechoslovakia. 87 per cent of the Czechs feel that Czech government and Czech politicians do not take citizen's views into consideration when making decisions.

Only 20 per cent of the Czechs believe that current Czech politicians are more honest than the representatives of the former communist regime. 40 per cent of the Czech voters strongly believe that current Czech politicians are less honest than the politicians in the communist era.

The opinion poll was carried out by STEM between 2nd and 11th January, 2010. 1297 individuals were interviewed.

Source in Czech HERE

Czech culture in the current issue of the Edinburgh Review

25. 1. 2010

The Edinburgh Review, a well-known literary magazine with a long tradition (it was founded in 1802 and its contributors included for instance Sir Walter Scott, Thomas Carlyle a William Gladstone) has just published a Czech issue, devoted to Czech literature and culture. The issue includes, among other things, an excerpt from Miloš Urban's novel Seven Churches, an excerpt from Jáchym Topol's novel Gargling Tar, a text by Hana Sklenková, graphic works by Michal Macků and articles by Jiří Trávníček and Jan Čulík. A sample text by Jan Čulík on current Czech politics, literature and cinema is HERE. Individual copies of the Edinburgh Review can be ordered from HERE.

What is the Czech Republic about?

25. 1. 2010 / Jan Čulík

On the November 2009 anniversary of the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, the Czechs were subjected to saturation coverage of the events of twenty years before. Media celebrations of the `1989 Glorious Revolution' presented the stereotype of `heroes of the Revolution' courageously defeating the `monster of communism', in a way that recalled the ideological and dogmatic style of political celebrations during the communist regime.

Originally published in The Edinburgh Review, January 2010..

Prostitution and human trafficking in the Czech Republic?

20. 1. 2010 / Karel Dolejší

BBC 3 has broadcast a one-hour documentary by Simon Boazman Stag Weekends: The Dirty Secrets. The programme deals with trips of British men to Prague for paid sex. The Czech Republic was presented in the BBC documentary as a transit country for the international trafficking in women. This is a gross distortion of facts, says Irena Konečná, the director of the Prague-based La Strada organisation which systematically analyses the problems of human trafficking and prostitution in Central Europe.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Czech Wikipedia is not impartial

11. 1. 2010 / Fabiano Golgo

Who deserves to be an entry on Wikipedia? What does a person have to do to be considered important enough to be an article in that democratic virtual encyclopedia?

One of the major problems in Czech culture is its tribal tendencies. It is not an exclusive Czech problem, but it is a disease very widespread in this nation. Small and homogeneous, with a tradition of repressing the different (= that which does not conform to "our" concept of civilized behaviour - ironically, a codex obviously imprinted by the Habsburgs), where only those with similar opinions are allowed in the same group and strong manifestations in public are discriminated against, not to mention that whoever dares to divert from the provincial views of the majority is labelled a troublemaker and as such "we" have the right to safeguard ourselves against them as the accepted norm... When all moms beat their kids, no mom can dare to say that that is unhealthy...

How the Czech internet daily Britské listy has become a slave to T-mobile Czech Republic

29. 12. 2009

The widely read Czech-language internet daily Britské listy signed a contract with T-mobile Czech Republic in December 2007 to use a "4G" mobile modem to access the internet in the Czech Republic. The contract is valid until December 2010. It costs 1189 Czech crowns (66 US dollars) monthly. As a matter of comparison, Britské listy is using an identical mobile internet modem service in the United Kingdom, provided by the British "Three" company. The "Three" mobile internet service costs 24 US dollars monthly in the UK.

Planet Earth, PLC

19. 12. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

Two years ago, during the climatic conference in Bali, a plan to replace the 1997 Kyoto protocol was approved. One of the main flaws of the Kyoto protocol was the fact that the quickly industrialising countries in the former colonial sphere of the West were not included amongst those states who were obliged to limit their emissions. The other main flaw was the fact that many countries, for instance the USA, until recently the largest world polluter, stood outside the Kyoto process for many years and basically blocked it (until Russia joined the Kyoto protocol in 2004).

Prague firm BNV Consulting talks of sacking employees in its Christmas party invitation

8. 12. 2009

Prague firm BNV Consulting has included a comic in its Christmas party invitation in which two of its employees apologise for being late coming to the party because "they still needed to carry out the sackings in Dopravní podnik, the Prague Transport Authority".

The comic also features one of the sacked employees of the Prague Transport Authority. He says: "Thank you for inviting me to your party. Even though I have just lost my job, you are great, mates!" He tries to embrace the woman director of BNV Consulting, who reacts with disgust and irony: "Huh! This is what I call a satisfied customer!"

Employees in the Hyundai plant in the Czech Republic strike against inhuman working conditions

4. 12. 2009 / Aleš Uhlíř

Employees of the Hyundai car factory in Nošovice, near Ostrava, in the Czech Republic, went on an unofficial strike on Wednesday 2nd December, 2009. They can no longer stand what they allege are inhuman working conditions in the car factory. The inhuman conditions are caused by the Czech middle management, not by the South Korean owners, say observers.

Working at Hyundai in Nošovice is "modern slavery. It is like in a labour camp here," said former employee Ondřej Franěk to the local newspaper

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Baroness Ashton "took Soviet money"

24. 11. 2009

Catherine Ashton, the new "Foreign Secretary" of the European Union "closely collaborated with the Soviet regime against the interests of her own country", says the right wing Czech newspaper IDnes. In the 1980s, she was the treasurer of the UK "Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament", which allegedly "accepted Soviet money".

Former Czech Vice-Premier for European Affairs Alexander Vondra sees this as a matter of concern. Czech EuroMPs for the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party will apparently vote against the nomination of Catherine Ashton for the post of the EU Foreign Secretary, says IDnes.

"There can be no doubt that the Kremlin supported the CND activities," IDnes quotes Czech EuroMP Hynek Fajmon. "CND was the fifth column of the Soviet Union in the West." Ashton is also criticised by the UKIP EuroMP Gerard Batten, says IDnes.

Source in Czech HERE

"Small country" complex: stop telling Klaus not to bother the EU

5. 11. 2009 / Fabiano Golgo

If France could spend years fighting to forbid Germany to call tartar sauce "mayonnaise", during the pre-history days of the European Community, why cannot Klaus dispute national sovereignty issues?

What is this understanding in Europe -- accentuated in the countries of the former socialist bloc -- that there is the need for a One Voice? Klaus is right to go against such frighteningly reminder of Kremlin-inspired puppet voting in the satellite countries.

A Czech version of this article in CLICK HERE

Czech Consul General in Los Angeles criticises "anti-Czechoslovak book"

29. 10. 2009

In his speech at the reception celebrating the National Day of the Czech Republic in Los Angeles yesterday, the Consul General of the Czech Republic, Daniel Kumermann, strongly criticized Britské listy, and namely its editor, Jan Čulík, for publishing positive reviews of Mary Heimann's book "Czechoslovakia: The State that Failed". He said, with reference to the founding of Czechoslovakia, that "calling it a mistake is only one step away from calling it a crime against humanity". In his 5 minute-long speech for the representatives of the Los Angeles city, county, and Czech citizens living in the area (maybe some foreign diplomats as well), he spent the first two minutes dissing Britské listy for being anti-Czech, anti-American, etc.).

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Jan Fischer, Head of Czech caretaker government, commits the Czech Republic to the US missile base system without having a political mandate

23. 10. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

The Czech Republic does not have an elected government at the moment. The general election will take place in the spring of 2010. Since the Czech government fell this spring, the country has been ruled by a non-elected caretaker government of Jan Fischer.

Today, 23rd October 2009, Jan Fischer has lost the moral right to represent the Czech Republic as Prime Minister, argues Karel Dolejší. He became the Prime Minister of the caretaker government after the fall of the previous government of Mirek Topolánek. Topolánek was deposed in the spring of 2009 primarily so that he could not push through two agreements dealing with the US missile defence which he had negotiated with the US government of George Bush in spite of the fact that two thirds of the Czech citizens are opposed to the project.

A Czech version of this article in CLICK HERE

Moscow asks for clarification of the new anti-missile defence configuration

12. 10. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

During the three-day visit of the American Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Russia three topics are on the agenda: The coordination of both countries'approach to the Iranian nuclear programme, a new treaty on strategic nuclear missiles, which should be signed before the end of this year, and the issue of the new configuration of the US anti-missile system in Europe.

A Czech version of this article is available in CLICK HERE

Ne Základnám and Moving the Goalposts

13. 10. 2009 / Sam Graeme Beaton

As a supporter of the Ne Základnám (No Bases) initiative during my brief stay in the Czech Republic this year, I have been reading with interest the ongoing debate that has featured in Britské listy concerning the effectiveness of the organisation in achieving its aims and broadening out of the `Czech Sphere' into the international community.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Where is the problem of the Charter of Fundamental Rights

12. 10. 2009 / Jana Bobošíková

In case the Lisbon Reform Treaty enters into force it will open the international legal space to re-discuss the validity of the Decrees of President Beneš and the uncertainty of property relations in the Czech Republic. The problem lies in the Charter of Fundamental Rights, which is a part of the Lisbon Reform Treaty. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg followed the Charter when it confirmed the acquisition of property on the basis of the Decrees of President Beneš. After the ratification of the Lisbon Reform Treaty, which will have the strength of the founding treaty, the ownership disputes will move on to the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg. And it is clear that in advance we cannot exclude that the EU Court of Justice under which the Treaty of Lisbon will fall, will come to a different conclusion than that reached by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

A Czech version of this article is available in CLICK HERE

Prague firm humiliates Romanies

9. 10. 2009

Romany workmen from Slovakia, repairing pavements in the centre of Prague, are wearing yellow T-shirts with the inscription "I should have worked harder at school" implying that the job they are doing is socially inferior.

The T-shirts are a part of a commercial advertising campaign by the server, which emphasises the importance of education. The T-shirts were given to the employees by the Šlehofer company. The workmen agreed to put them on in return for beer and cigarettes. They do not think it is humiliating to wear these T-shirts.

"They don't mind, they are not particularly intelligent, anyway," says the employer of the workmen Frantisek Šlehofer.

Further information in Czech (with a picture) HERE


How deposed president Zelaya got inside the Brazilian Embassy in Honduras

23. 9. 2009 / Fabiano Golgo

A Brazilian diplomat who is part of my family has just told me how the deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and his wife got to the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa. It was close to 11am on Monday when someone called saying he was from the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE). He asked for an urgent meeting with the diplomat in charge of economic affairs at the Brazilian mission, Mr Francisco Catunda. He said the meeting should take place immediately, if possible 5 minutes later.


Obama's new anti-missile project will destabilise the international security system

19. 9. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

Obama's New Missile Defense Plan says expressly that in its projected fourth stage of development, around 2020, the Missile Defence System will be capable, as a result of the use of the SM-3 Block IIB missile interceptors, of controlling better the threat of short and intermediate range missiles as well as the future potential threat of intercontinental missiles, aimed against the United States (underlined by KD).

In this connection it is necessary to remind ourselves of the main Russian objection to the original US missile defence project for Europe, supported by George Bush. The Russians have always been afraid that Bush's missile defence shield would neutralise the Russian strategic deterrent because it would be capable of shooting down intercontinental missiles launched from the Russian territory.

The United States "to scrap the East European anti-missile project"

17. 9. 2009 / Jan Čulík

Barack Obama's government has indicated that it will scrap the "Star Wars" anti-missile project for Eastern Europe, since the threat of long-range missiles from Iran is now deemed to be small. The US government is however leaving open the option to re-activate the project, should the threat of Iranian long-range missiles against Europe become real.

The US missile defence has become an extremely controversial and divisive issue in internal Central European politics since the time when the Czech-language internet daily Britské listy broke the news in the Czech Republic, in July 2004 HERE, (Britské listy quoted by the Guardian newspaper HERE), that George Bush's government planned to build US military bases in Central Europe and was talking to the Czech government about this.

The Czech general election "won't take place until spring 2010"

15. 9. 2009

The early general election in the Czech Republic, which was to take place this autumn, will now probably not take place until the spring of 2010. The Czech Social Democratic Party decided on Tuesday 15th September not to support the motion to disolve parliament. The dissolution of parliament would have made it possible the general election to take place now.

The Social Democrats are afraid that more complaints could be presented to the Czech Constitutional Court, questioning the legality of the decision made by Parliament, which would lead to more delays.

A night in the police cells in Prague

14. 9. 2009 / Olivie Brabcová

< Olivie Brabcová

I sympathise with squatting because I want the derelict building in Apolinářská Street to become an independent cultural centre, says Prague sociology student Olivie Brabcová (24). Because of this, I have been punished by 14 hours of humiliation by the police.

On Saturday 12th September, people were pushed out by the police from the house in Apolinářská Street to the pavements on the opposite side of the street. Sympathisers with the squatters constantly crossed the street along the zebra crossing, but they didn't bloc the traffic (they allowed a tram to pass through). Later, the street was closed by the police.

Suddenly, everyone was pushed out of the whole street. People were being hit by long police truncheons. The police attacked even those individuals who were sitting in the street. The police also attacked journalists.

A Czech version of this article is in CLICK HERE

Czech police has dropped the charges against the apprehended journalist

14. 9. 2009

On Monday 14th September, 2009, the Czech police dropped the charges against Pavel Eichler, reporter of the Czech internet server iDnes, who was arrested, along with 24 squatters in the vicinity of a derelict house in Albertov, Prague, on Sunday morning. Eichler was charged and held for 15 hours in spite of the fact that he had shown the police his PRESS id cards repeatedly. He was held incommunicado for 15 hours. The police refused his requests to be allowed to contact his solicitor. Detaining a journalist for 15 hours is tantamount to harrasment, says Britské listy reporter Štěpán Kotrba.

Czech police arrests  journalist Pavel Eichler

Czech police arrests a journalist

13. 9. 2009 / Štěpán Kotrba

In the early hours of Sunday 13th September, Czech police arrested Mr. Pavel Eichler, a reporter working for the widely read Czech internet daily Eichler was monitoring the activities of squatters who had occupied a house in Apolinářská Street in Prague. He was arrested along with the 24 squatters on whose activities he was reporting.

Czech Constitution Court has cancelled the early election

10. 9. 2009

In response to a complaint by Czech Member of Parliament Miloš Melčák, the Czech Constitution Court has abolished the Constitutional Act which had shortened the current Parliament's term of office after a parliamentary vote of non-confidence, in preparation for an early general election which was supposed to have taken place on 9th and 10th October 2009.

It is the first time in Czech legal history that the Constitutional Court has abolished a Constitutional Act which had been adopted by a three-fifth majority of MPs. By doing so, the Constitutional Court has re-asserted its authority over Parliament. It emphasised that it has the right to examine, and, if need, be, to strike off the register even Constitutional Acts, if they are adopted "against the spirit of the Law" by Czech Parliament.

The Act was abolished because it was a retrospective and ad hoc decision, said the Constitutional Court. "Not even lawmakers are free to promulgate "laws" which do not have the required characteristics of a law, said the Constitutional Court.

The Czech Parliament has, in the meantime, been working on re-drafting the Constitution to lead the country out of the constitutional crisis. The re-drafted Constitutoion will probably be approved by Parliament on Friday. This would make it possible for the general election to take place on 6th and 7th November 2009.

Czech Republic infringes the Lisbon Agenda:

International corporations are being subsidised from public resources

7. 9. 2009 / Jan Matonoha

Matěj Šuster of the Prague-based "Liberal Institute" has recently, on the basis of a few titles of my academic articles, courageously rejected the relevance of the whole subject of literary theory. His courage is admirable, and I will try to repay the favour by writing a few impressions regarding the current effort of the Czech authorities to liquidate the Czech Academy of Sciences. I admit that I am not a qualified economist, yet I would like to discuss here what I see as the very strange paradox of economic relations between the private and the public sector in the Czech Republic today.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Czech Republic has given a suspended sentence to an internet journalist for "denying the holocaust"

8. 9. 2009 / Jan Čulík

Vladimír Stwora, a Czech journalist who lives in Canada and publishes a controversial Czech-language webzine Zvědavec, has just been given a suspended sentence in the Czech Republic of two years' imprisonment for committing "a crime of supporting a movement aiming to supress the rights and freedoms of man" according to Article 261a of the Czech Penal Code. Mr. Stwora has been found guilty by a "court order".

The Czech general election "may not take place in October"

2. 9. 2009 / Jan Čulík

The Member of Parliament Miloš Melčák has complained to the Constitutional Court saying that the decision to hold a premature general election in October, after the Topolánek government lost a vote of confidence in Parliament in the spring, is non-constitutional. Melčák argues that "he has been elected for a four year term of office" and no one should legally be entitled to shorten this term. He argues that the decision of the Czech Parliament, after the vote of non-confidence, to shorten its term of office and to declare an extraordinary general election in October, is unconstitutional. The MPs have allegedly used "extraordinary" means and this is not justified, argues Melčák. The political situation in the Czech Republic isn't extraordinary.

The Czech Constitutional Court issued a "preliminary decision", in response to Melčák's complaint, whereby it has suspended the planned general election until it has made a decision about his complaint.

On Wednesday morning, Czech President Václav Klaus, the provisional premier Jan Fischer and the heads of both main Czech political parties as well as the heads of both chambers of Czech Parliament met at the Prague Castle to discuss the constitutional "crisis". They have set up a "group of experts" who are to propose a quick, permanent change to the Czech constitution so that the general election can take place on 9th and 10th October 2009 after all. Mr. Melčák's legal council said that he will submit a complaint against such a change as well, since it is wrong to change the Constitution "on a whim".

The fact that twenty years after the fall of communism the Czech Republic doesn't have a regular procedure how legally to organise a general election after a vote of non-confidence in Parliament is surely remarkable.

Občasník vydávaný v angličtině, shrnující nejdůležitější články z BL FOCUS ON THE CZECH REPUBLIC

Havel, Hegel and New Age philosophy:

Hauser doesn't know what he is talking about

7. 9. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

Michael Hauser finds it important to criticise Václav Havel's philosophical legacy. A criticism of his philosophical argumentation, written by a member of the Czech academic establishment, is surprising. It wouldn't be surprising in the times when Havel held the post of the Czech president and the media were interested in his various whims. But now Havel, the representative of the de-legitimised and moribund tradition of the "Velvet Revolution", is in political retirement. So it is difficult to understand why it is worth while to criticise his ideas. Is Havel well-known these days for anything other than his political influence from behind the scenes, which is based on his private connections?

A Czech version of this article is HERE

The Czech Republic as a Paedophile Paradise

2. 9. 2009 / Věra Říhová

Sexologists have filed a study on the sexual behaviour of Czechs, which shows that today's younger generation is less promiscuous than their parents` generation and that they are not rushing into their first sexual experience. The results of the study were revealed on television and in the press. At first glance the study looks good for Czechs, even sexologist Petr Weiss is speaking about a sexual counter-revolution amongst young people.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Chief Executive of Czech Public Service Radio has been dismissed

23. 7. 2009

The regulatory Council for Czech Public Service Radio has dismissed Václav Kasík, the Chief Executive of Czech Radio. The reasons given for Kasík's dismissal are not very convincing. The Council for Czech Radio is seen by many as incompetent and politically biased. Critics point out that the Council for Czech Radio has been, over the years, systematically trying to limit the activities of Czech public service Radio, in line with the interests of private broadcasters, constraining anyone who would wish to develop a versatile, flexible and modern public service radio broadcasting in the Czech Republic.

The official reasons, given for Kasík's dismissal are these:

Havel, Schwarzenberg and other East European politicians: Why did they write to Obama?

17. 7. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

The sycophantic letter which a group of Central and East European politicians and intellectuals have just sent to Washington is an extremely interesting document. Straight at the beginning, the signatories say that they are greatly indebted to the United States and they want the US government to fulfill certain tasks, especially about European security. The signatories must however be very well aware in what precarious state the American economy finds itself at the moment and that the United States are seriously overstretched in many parts of the world. The signatories also know that the US Defence Department has just requested a temporary increase of the number of servicemen by at least 30 000 men. It is also expected that there will be complications in the relations between the US and Japan.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Are Brzeziński and Carter "anti-American extremists"?

18. 7. 2009 / Karel Dolejší

Mirek Topolánek, the head of the Czech Civic Democratic Party (ODS) has reacted to the Social Democratic politician Lubomír Zaorálek's criticism of the "letter to Obama", signed by the former Czech President Havel, who now supports ODS, and former Czech government ministers Schwarzenberg and Vondra. Zaorálek warned that in his view, the "letter to Obama" moves the Czech Republic to the margins of the European Union. Prior to that, Jiří Paroubek the head of the Czech Social Democratic Party, criticised the ODS for moving towards the extreme right and asked Topolánek to dissociate himself from "xenophobic, antisemitic and pro-Nazi views held by members of the European Conservative and Reformist faction (ECR) and initiate their expulsion."

A Czech version of this article is HERE

The process which turned Milan Kundera into an informer

8. 6. 2009 / Jakub Češka

This essay is written within the tradition of French structuralism. It has been inspired by the work of Roland Barthes, who more than fifty years began the semiotic analysis of modern myths.

I am going to discuss a mythology which is almost exactly like those that Barthes analysed. I think this is perhaps the only framework for the "scandal", which has been created around Milan Kundera by the Czech newsmagazine Respekt. Roland Barthes (Mythologies , 2004) shows convincingly how persuasive is the labelling which turns the natural into something artificial and which gives the artificial an irresistible polish of "being natural", "self-evident" and hence "inevitable".

This basic characteristic can be applied equally to the denunciatory texts in which their authors construct a narrative on the basis of a single ambiguous clue of doubtful authenticity as to the way in which the material is laid out in the Respekt newsmagazine. The cover features a frowning caricature of the author, over which a headline is superimposed "Milan Kundera's denunciation".

The Czech original of this article is HERE.

Petr Třešňák, Adam Hradilek, "Milan Kundera's denunciation", Respekt magazine HERE

The Crisis of Czech Literature

6. 3. 2009 / Štefan Švec

On 31st March 2008, we published Štefan Švec's seminal article "Krize české literatury", which has provoked a considerable debate in the Czech literary circles.

Jan Čulík's Czech Translation Honours class at Glasgow University has produced an English version of this dynamic and persuasive text. The work on was extremely stimulating both for the teacher and, it would seem, also for the students. The class consisted of several native English speakers and of a number of native Czech speakers. The ability to approach the text in class from the positions of native speakers of English as well as from the position of native speakers of Czech at the same time provided an excellent opportunity to produce a high class translation of an important essay, which we now proudly present to the public.

The authors of the translations are Hannah Dent, Michael Sangster, Andrew Wallace, Kacper Kuznicki, Michal Mráz, Martina Urbanová, Daniela Šebestová, Zuzana Malá, Jitka Rejhonová, Pavla Červená and Petra Procházková.

Štefan Švec, The Crisis of Czech Literature: Some Superficial Marketing Twaddle"HERE

Před rokem, v březnu 2008, jsme vydali zásadní esej od Štefana Švece "Krize české literatury", která vyvolala v českých literárních kruzích velkou kontroverzi. Překladový seminář Jana Čulíka na Glasgow University tento text postupně přeložil do angličtiny. Je to nesmírně dynamický, energicky a inventivně napsaný esej a troufám si říci, že totéž platí o anglickém překladu: vypracoval ho seminář rodilých anglických i českých mluvčích a jejich interakce při práci byla nesmírně inspirující. Autory překladu jsou Hannah Dent, Michael Sangster, Andrew Wallace, Kacper Kuznicki, Michal Mráz, Martina Urbanová, Daniela Šebestová, Zuzana Malá, Jitka Rejhonová, Pavla Červená a Petra Procházková. Blahopřejeme studentům k dokončení vynikajícího příspěvku k zpřístupnění inteligentní české veřejné debaty mezinárodnímu publiku.

Štefan Švec, The Crisis of Czech Literature: Some Superficial Marketing Twaddle"ZDE

Resources in English on Czech literature, film and politicsHERE

Von Trier's test

13. 7. 2009 / Ema Čulík

I didn't want to write anything about Antichrist . People are talking about it so much that I didn't want to get involved in it all. And I thought that everything I could say had already been stated many times. But today I had a worrying thought about it all.

I have to say that the film made me feel physically sick. I found at one point during the movie I was tensing every muscle in my body. And not only the violence bothered me. The rest of the film is undeveloped, the supposedly intellectual parts (about mythology and the history of gynocide...) are scanty and unlinked to anything.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Cold Souls is cold and soulless

10. 7. 2009 / Ema Čulík

A wise woman once said, "as time goes on, you come to seek out the authentic." The rubbish that people spout, falsity, fakeness- it's just not interesting. You start to look for Truth, with a capital 'T', in things.. because, after all, the rest is really just a waste of time.

However, in terms of art, including film, that doesn't mean that you necessarily have to limit yourself to Realism. In my opinion, because they draw attention to their forms and draw the everyday out of context and satirise it, post-modernism and fantasy can be even more realistic than 'Realism', where the viewer is required to suspend his disbelief and enter into the film often with eyes wide shut.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

An Attack On the Heart

9. 7. 2009 / Ema Čulík

If you say a film is boring, it doesn't make you sound good. In a film review you can't say just, "It's boring", as it just makes it seem like you have no attention span, or you're ignorant. Watching all these films I'm aware of the issue of entertainment vs intellectual value. If a film has deep meaning, can it also be entertaining? And can a film made primarily for entertainment be interesting, and appeal to our minds and souls, as opposed to only our short attention span?

Vassily Sigarev 's film Volchok / Wolfy (2009) was a really good film... for my brain. My heart disagreed. The heart, being the centre of emotion, can't take such wallopings as are doled out by this film. There aren't really any particularly shocking scenes, apart from maybe a woman pissing on the floor. But nevertheless you leave the cinema feeling somewhat tongue-tied. And not in a good way. You feel exhausted by misery.

A Czech version of this article is HERE

Another half-baked delight from the Czech film bakeries

7. 7. 2009 / Ema Čulík

I was raised on Czech fairytales. I didn't participate in a lot of British children' culture cause I was watching Broučci or Zahrada instead. For me this is still a fairy-tale country and if I hear Czech abroad it always makes me remember my childhood.. I feel like fairytales are done well here. Though I may, of course, just be being sentimental.

This morning I saw Marie Procházková's Kdopak by se vlka bál/ Who's afraid of the Wolf? . It's the story of family turbulence -- a couple (they are not named, but known only as Mum and Dad) almost divorce as their child's real father, the mother's former musical partner, returns from Japan and wants to meet up with her again. He has no interest in the child, Tereza, and yet she and her mother are supposed to go with him to Japan and start a new life as a "real" family.

Česká verze tohoto článku je ZDE

Vratné lahve and Štěstí

An "old" and a "young" view of the contemporary Czech Republic

24. 3. 2009 / David McCallum

While portraying modern life in the Czech Republic, Jan Svĕrák's Vratné lahve of 2007 and Bohdan Sláma's Štěstí of 2002 are very different films, as one is essentially a comedy, while the other a bleak portrayal of modern life. As they both explore ordinary existence in a post-communist society, both films will be looked at as an analysis to that society, and as a response to it. In this essay the films' interpretations of modern post-communist existence will be analysed in terms of thematic and cinematic content.

The author is a student at the University of Glasgow

Here come the Russian girls:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly...

5. 7. 2009 / Ema Čulík

This year Karlovy Vary has a whole section dedicated to female Russian filmmakers, entitled A Female Take on Russia/ Rusko v ženském rodě , dubiously subtitled Russian Mermaids, Ruské rusalky. The section itself is interesting to me not only in principle, as, as I am well aware, the concept of feminism has a weak effect, if any, on Russia, but also in practice, I am one of 29 girls in our year-group of 38 at film school in St Petersburg.

Resources in English on Czech film, literature and politics

1. 2. 2009

There is very little detailed information, available on the web in English on various aspects of Czech literature, culture and politics, as well as on the value system of contemporary Czech society. We have thought it useful to bring together on a single web page various articles in English, dealing with various aspects of life in the Czech Republic. Many of these have been written by Jan Čulík, editor of Britské listy, as material for his students at Glasgow University in Scotland.

Na webu je velmi málo podrobnějších informací o české literatuře, kultuře a politice v angličtině. Rozhodli jsme se na jedné internetové stránce dát čtenářům k dispozici soubor článků v angličtině právě na tato témata. Autorem většiny z nich je šéfredaktor Britských listů Jan Čulík; mnohé z nich vznikly jako materiál pro jeho studenty na Glasgow University ve Skotsku.


Miloš Pick: When Credit Crunch Becomes Capitalism Crisis

23. 12. 2008 / Miloš Pick

How the crisis has evolved

t is now quite obvious that, unlike the initial misapprehensions suggesting the turmoil was limited to mortgages in the US, what we are actually faced with is a global financial crisis typified by plummeting capital and money markets, dragging prominent banks down with them, and by the freezing of cash and confidence. The gambles taken by money market and capital market operators are not solely to blame. Their actions are a direct result of the extreme deregulation of these markets, facilitating the use of sophisticated, obscure gambling products such as multi-level derivatives (derivatives and derivatives of derivatives of securities) or entirely unregulated gambling institutions fronted in the main by hedge funds, long ago dubbed `casino capitalism' by European trade unionists.

Miloš Pick: Prague Spring versus the 1990s

22. 12. 2008 / Miloš Pick

The fortieth anniversary of the Prague Spring is more than an opportunity to commemorate one of the highlights of our history. First and foremost, it is an opportunity to reflect on how we can find inspiration today in the reforms of the time – and their suppression. To express this, I will use the term ‘lessons’, so sullied back then; these days we do not ‘draw lessons from a crisis’, as proclaimed by the government after stifling the reforms, but learn from both the reforms and their suppression.

Chavez and his religious followers

14. 8. 2009 / Fabiano Golgo

Being from the biggest Catholic country in the world, but from an atheist family, my father always warned me, before I went to my Jesuit school: never argue about religion. Not long ago I asked how come he never warned me to not risk criticizing our then military dictatorship. He answered that the generals were rough, but used logics, while football fans and religious fanatics do not. Ideology is just like religion, because once the person deeply believes in one, it is very difficult to show its flaws.

Can Obama lead the world out of the crisis?

Miloš Pick: Can Obama lead the world out of the crisis?

23. 3. 2009 / Miloš Pick

anglická verze článku, publikovaného v Britských listech pod titulkem "Miloš Pick: Vytáhne Obama svět z krize?"

It is now quite obvious that, unlike the initial misapprehensions suggesting the turmoil was limited to mortgages in the US, this was only the tip of the iceberg. Today another creeping illusion, that what we are faced with is “just” a global financial crisis typified by plummeting capital and money markets, dragging prominent banks down with them, and by the freezing of cash and confidence, is fading away. In addition, and in particular, the crisis of the real economy and its "icing-up" are emerging. In the USA and certain other countries, notably in Europe, the economic descent has already sunk into the icy waters of negative growth. Is this a consequence or cause of the financial crisis?

President Obama's Foreign Policy: The Change We Really Want?

27. 11. 2008 / Joanne Landy

With the election of Barack Obama, millions in the United States and around the world are hoping for relief from the dangerous arrogance and destructiveness of George Bush's foreign policy. President Obama is expected to take important positive initiatives -- like closing Guantanamo and lifting the rule denying international organizations receiving U.S. aid the right to let women know about abortion. When the inevitable right-wing reaction to these initiatives comes, it will be crucial for us in the peace movement to defend them. On some broader questions, there is a chance that with strong continuing popular pressure -- from both within and outside the United States -- the pre-election hopes of many Obama supporters can be realized on issues such as an end to the war in Iraq or stepping back from Bush's attempt to install "missile defense" in Poland and the Czech Republic.