The Party has changed the education system disastrously a hundred times; the health service is of no use to the healthy or the sick. For forty years culture has been like a drowning man: it surfaces for a second and fills its lungs so that it can endure fatal minutes under water. Now they’ve allowed a few writers to be published, but for twenty years they insisted that none of them was banned. To be grateful for this relaxation is to accept the twenty-year ban. Now they say we [independent writers] “turned our backs on society”; but we are still standing exactly where we were in 1968: they are the ones in a spin. Who can give a single good example of Communist party leadership? Even if we recall something valuable in those years, we can only think how much earlier and easier we could have had it without the Party’s leadership.

Ludvik Vaculík
—from a feuilleton circulated in Prague during the summer of 1989
(translated by Barbara Day)

This Issue

December 21, 1989