As I explained recently at a meeting of former political prisoners, most of whom were violently anti-communist, I am a Trotskyist and revolutionary Marxist and this is the driving force of my commitment. As I see it, there is no socialism without human rights. My Marxism certainly does not seem to have been seen by the authorities as an extenuating circumstance: witness all the time I have spent in prison over the past twenty years. Of course, it is always possible to treat it as an odd quirk or an aberration. But it is harder to say that for my activity—the pamphlets and agitational work among young people in the late sixties, then my involvement in Charter 77 and
But that is not true! They have not made the kind of clean break you mean. On the contrary, many of them are advocates of an authoritarian system. They want to calm the revolutionary upsurge, in order to put through their economic ‘reform’. There is also a race for ministerial or parliamentary posts, with the help of anti-democratic procedures. For the moment I criticize all this politely, as it were, because the old order is not yet defeated. But is this not the proof that my Marxism is more radical than their anti-communism? There is something very important at stake here: the emancipation of the individual, the transformation of object into subject, not just on the economic but also on the political level. I do not want to discuss the words ‘socialism’ or ‘Marxism’, but human emancipation as the precondition for social emancipation.
The bureaucratization of society has never gone so far in our countryas in the ussr. From that point of view, the situation may be more like in the gdr, but it is hard to say much more than this since the
Unfortunately, there is small sign in Czechoslovakia of any worked-out conception of economic and political self-management. So far as the opposite conception is concerned, however, which aims to privatize medium and large-scale production, although this has on more than one occasion been evoked obliquely, it has never been discussed head on. That will start during the campaign for the legislative elections and continue thereafter. All the recently established political parties will have to take up a position on this issue. As for the workers in the enterprises, I am convinced that they will oppose privatization and domination of the Czechoslovak economy by Western capitalism, if this attacks their standard of living and working conditions and produces social differentiation. I think this is where the struggle for socialism is finally going to begin.
The question of ownership of the means of production, and the power to dispose of them, is very important for me. The day after I got out of prison last time on 26 November 1989, there was a meeting of the Plenum of the Civic Forum’s Coordinating Centre in Prague (this was before the Coordinating Council existed) and a programme for Civic Forum was adopted. There were four of us who voted against it, five abstentions and sixty in favour. I opposed it mainly because of one sentence (you could have an argument about others, but they were not so important): the one stipulating that all forms of ownership of the means of production were equal. I asked myself whether the form of ownership in which the Politburo, or the Party or State leadership, decides everything and the working people have no power was equal to the form of a cooperative employing, say, twenty people deciding jointly about the product, their working conditions, etc. If these two forms are equal, then theft and crime are equal to honest work. I cannot agree with that. Of course, put that way, nobody in Czechoslovakia would agree that all forms of ownership were equal. The truth is that the formulation is there to legitimize private ownership.