Text: Jaroslav Drahoš | Photo: Lukáš Duspiva
Next year it will be 35 years since the so-called “Velvet Revolution” took place.
The anticipation after many years of unfreedom, central control of the economy and restrictions on the personal activities of individuals was enormous at the time. Borders were opened and it was possible to travel anywhere and anytime. Now we take many things for granted. But we have very quickly forgotten what it was like before. An example of this is the hilarious situation told to me by a friend whose child travelled east to the countries around Georgia as part of the ERASMUS programme. The experience of travelling and the obstacles between countries was something he could not understand. At the same time, it was a huge learning experience for him that 35 years ago it was similar, perhaps even worse, in our country. We have freedom and democracy in our country. But I feel that we do not appreciate the opportunities it has brought. What we take for granted is not, and perhaps never will be, in many parts of the world.
A lot of things have certainly gone right in those 35 years, but I dare to say even more things have gone wrong. The neighbouring countries, and especially Poland, have leapfrogged us in many areas, despite many problems of their own. At the same time, it is almost certain that these differences will continue to increase very rapidly. I think that the fact that we are now in such a dismal state is closely related to the fact that, at the same time, democracy has not gone hand in hand with responsibility for the future and long-term directing of the Czech Republic. The responsibility of the politicians who have influenced and are still influencing it. This applies not only to politics itself, but also to the economy, the social sphere, culture and other areas of social life.
Instead of a long-term strategy, short-term actions with a priority on personal gain have prevailed. It is not possible to change the system and still have the former socialist rules of ‘who does not steal, steals from the own family’, ‘don’t solve what does not burn you’ and other similar ‘clever reasoning’ as a mantra, the consistent application of which in effect undermines the basic principles of democracy itself. It threatens the social harmony that is necessary for any successful functioning of democracy. When this fails, a large part of the population is gradually driven into the arms of the extreme left or right. I have the feeling that there is no willingness to change this situation in any fundamental way. When I try to describe the current situation as I perceive it, it is difficult to find the right formulations and there is a lack of decent words.
In our republic, budgetary “irresponsibility” is passed from one government to the further one like an imaginary baton. There is inefficiency and incredible waste in the health, social, education and pension systems. Tens of thousands of people have been sucked out of the labour market by previous governments and into many offices. They have essentially secured votes by giving fat and comfortable salaries to civil servants. This is nothing but pure corruption paid out of the state budget. It costs us tens of unnecessary billions of crowns a year, which are then missing elsewhere, or the state has to borrow dearly to pay for them. However, these are not only unnecessary billions, they are also extremely harmful billions. In order to justify their position, officials invent unnecessary and incredibly damaging regulations, which are then followed by lots of checkings. This policy then makes people missing from the places where the real value is created. At the same time, the cost of this inefficient sphere is intensely devastating the incomes. We have completely forgotten that what creates value is an entrepreneurship and the work of creating products that are in demand. These are the only sources of possible wealth. The former central banker Pavel Kysilka, whom I respect enormously, has described this very clearly in his article. I have to agree with these ideas. Like him, I think that we need to address the current status quo and then start again and better. However, I fear that the current government, as well as the past governments, does not have the courage or the will to do this.
We do not live in easy times. Already more than 15 years ago, I personally pointed out in lectures how badly I perceived the incredibly harmful trend being promoted in the European Union. A trend that is leading to a loss of competitiveness and of the ability to secure Europe’s future for our children and grandchildren. Instead of changing this wrong orientation, however, people are gradually continuing to come to power who are already quite openly and very uncompromisingly promoting neo-communist or neo-socialist ideas that would certainly not have made Lenin, Marx or Engels ashamed.
That is why we need to stand up to the illogical, nonsensical and destructive demands of the EU. The entire economy is at risk, including the car industry and other areas of social life. The senseless prioritisation of unnecessary and very peripheral things and the neglect of important things must be stopped. The incredible corruption must be stopped. And start using common sense again, which is now, for most politicians, at least on the blacklist. We need to oppose everything that goes against our interests and common sense. Even so, future generations will be very surprised at the nonsense we have done under this new left-wing ideology.
Why did I take up this difficult subject?
I lived through 1989 and was an active participant. I had my dreams and great expectations. Personally, many things came true for me. However, as a citizen of this country, my expectations have not been fulfilled. It bothers me that we are now living at the expense of future generations. Just to give you an idea, we will pay 20 million more in energy bills next year alone because of this crazy strategy. This money could have gone into new investments, but it could also have gone into wage increases. Meanwhile, companies that do not produce anything and therefore do not add any value are benefiting from high energy prices. Europe is thus losing its competitiveness in an extreme way compared with the rest of the world.
For us, this will mean a reduction on investments. It will certainly also generate enormous pressure for cost savings in all areas of company life.
I have always said that we can take care of ourselves. I’ve always said that I don’t want anyone to help us. All I’ve ever wanted is for no one to throw sticks at us. I believe that even now we can cope with these often artificial, unnecessary obstacles and costs that our state and the EU are creating for us. The question is how long this can be sustained and what else our government and the European Parliament will come up with to complete this successful destruction of Europe. Let us hope that there will again be someone at the top who will not lack common sense and will have the courage and also the responsibility towards our people and, above all, towards future generations.
And how do you evaluate the 35 years since the revolution?
I will be very happy if we ever have the opportunity to talk about it in person, perhaps at one of the “Coffee Talk” communications.