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Vladimir Golstein: Welcome to Brezhnevite America

So there was a period called Prague Spring. When a socialist reformer, Alexander Dubcek, hoped to create “socialism with a human face.” Crushed by the Soviet winter and its tanks.

Equally short lasting was the “feel the Bern” movement that gave people some hopes of restoring human face to a democratic party. Crushed by the arctic air produced by Democratic machine which didn’t not even need tanks.

Generation of young people in Czechoslovakia and all over the eastern blok was left disappointed and withdrawn. The brutal power carried the day. But not for long. Brutal power incapable of accommodating its citizens never wins in the long run. It eventually crumbles down like a house of cards.

Welcome to Brezhnevite America in which no amount of female charm or Armani outfits can change its senility and decomposition.

“Dubček remained convinced that the political system could be reformed from within even as the Soviet Union put growing pressure on Prague to reverse the process of change. He was completely shattered when his friend and comrade Leonid Brezhnev broke his word and sent tanks into Czechoslovakia on the night of August 20. The entire Czechoslovak politburo was immediately swept off to Moscow and bullied into coming to terms with the invasion. They returned a few days later, but when Dubček went on air on August 27, he was a broken man.”

Vladimir Golstein is a Associate Professor of Slavic Studies, Brown University

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