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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. The missing pieces in researching the Czech environmental movement: The populist legacy of non-political politics.

The various authors offer a fairly wide range of factors explaining why ecological activism has not developed a form of a social movement s as we know it from studies of the Western movement since the s. It stresses rather a difference in imagining of politics and civil society that prominent dissidents developed since the s to oppose state socialism and its productivism and technocratism. Considering them is especially important if we take into account a current upheaval of climate movement s.

Introduction Environmentally-motivated activism in the Czechoslovakia of the late s was one of the main dimensions of the increasing mobilisation of civil society against the regime of state socialism. NGOs had obtained political influence at the top echelons of political power but had little to say to society at large.

This development falls under the general patterns observed on civil society in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe CEE. Western commentators in the late s and early s had hoped for the genesis of a new, hardy civil society in Central and Eastern Europe CEE. Those hopes were dashed by low levels of political participation and relatively weak civic activism in the region Bernhard , Nelson , Smolar This pattern of diminishing returns is often explained as a specific characteristic of CEE transitions strongly influenced by international actors cf.

Carmin and Vandeveer , p. Particularly western aid agencies were of big influence the region, especially in the transformation of ecological activism from a form of populist protest into the establishment of environmental NGOs staffed by pragmatic, goal-oriented professionals Jancar-Webster Environmental activism grew more professionalized in the second half of the s, mostly because of the EU accession process, which while bringing greater opportunities and capabilities for influencing policy-making on a national and European level Bell also established a demand for technical expertise Hallstrom , Hicks In certain respects, the post history of environmental activism in CEE reaffirmed rather than challenged the patterns of reliance of political actors on a culture of expertise that had prevailed in former one- party regimes of the Eastern block and bred societal complacency Vandeveer and Carmin , p.

This is explained mainly by the lack of participatory alternatives, which implies that civil society in this region is behind its western counterpart.

Gagyi Once we look past these misunderstandings, important questions come into focus: What was the self-conception of environmental activists as political actors during their observed professionalization and deradicalization? And how is this self-conception linked to the history of civil society in the Czech oslovak ia?

As a suitable complement to classic sociological theories of social movements, I shall thus then present the interpretatively-oriented approach inspired by the morphological theory of Michael Freeden, which puts an emphasis on the highlighting the spatial and temporal variations of ideological dimensions of political thought. Brannan At some level, it is more precise, than talking about depoliticization and deradicalization connected to professionalization and technocratization as an effect of insufficient participation, to talk about a different kind of politicization which was in fact induced by relatively radical ideas.

This is a fundamental challenge for the new wave of environmental activism, such as the Limity jsme my! We are the limits! Held et al. Fagan himself went on to focus on the asymmetric impacts of globalization in the form of the foreign financing of environmental NGOs.

A keenness to finance projects that tended to be uncontroversial and to have demonstrable results led, moreover, to gradual cooptation — the originally radical imagination of Czech environmentalists was coopted by the ideology of ecological modernization Fagan In this, he followed his own works based on the theory of the new social movements.

Day Nevertheless, although this research moves the whole debate much closer to the pole of sociological understanding from the pole of explanation , the application of anarchist direct action in Britain as a comparative model limits it in the sense that it merely shows what Czech environmentalists could have and should have become, but did not become.

What is then the common denominator of above-outlined contributions? By following the canonical tools of the SMS they reduce the specific intellectual context in which the movement had been formed. In this article I build on this latest contribution which I consider also as the most compatible with the original intention of Cox and Fominaya, who suggest that SMS should take into an account other important public intellectuals, who have not made social movements the exclusive object of their research, but who were significant actors in these movements.

The western-centered bias in terms of the ideal of civil society is explicitly expressed by Fagan. All previous studies of the Czech environmental movement have thus been based, in one way or another, on the perspective of what Czech civil society — in the form of environmental activism — is lacking compared to the western context.

In this paper I shall, on the contrary, focus on what normative assumptions of civil society were taken on by the Czech environmentalists themselves and how they situated themselves in the tradition of dissident intellectuals. This tradition was already proven to be of significant importance for the general development of civil society in CEE post-socialist context Ivancheva In order to appreciate the particular understanding of civil society by environmental activist in Czech oslovak context, I shall use a morphological approach to the analysis of ideology, according to which ideological thought is a necessary dimension although it should be stressed that not the only one of political action.

While, therefore, previous authors have worked with concepts based on US social and political sciences, and, more recently, with concepts close to the sociology of thought, the aim of this paper is to expand the debate so far by means of what is known as interpretative realism in political theory. Ivancheva Morphological approach as a research framework The basic methodological framework of the work is the morphological analysis of ideologies that was introduced by Michael Freeden The essence of the morphological approach is an interpretation of concepts in their mutual relationships, specific configurations of ideas that the actors themselves create, whether as political philosophers, public intellectuals or activists.

Freeden starts from the assumption that ideologies are a bridging mechanism between the essence of political concepts undecidability among a plurality of meanings on one hand and the essence of the political process the need for binding decisions on the other.

In other words, ideology is the expression of the process of thought-action, in which with the aid of relationships between individual political concepts, the unavoidably pluralistic range of their possible meanings is transferred into a monolithic certainty that is a necessary assumption for the political decision-making as well as for the formation of political identity.

This ideological ascription of meanings to political concepts takes place not only by means of the cumulative traditions of discourse or of differing cultural contexts, as is assumed by approaches that concern themselves with conceptual history e. Kosseleck or the history of ideas e. Skinner , but also through the particular location within a constellation of other political concepts.

To the two basic dimensions — time and space — he thus adds a third dimension, the morphology of interlinkages through which political concepts obtain their meaning Freeden , p. The morphological approach is thus suited to a synchronic interpretation and the reconstruction of conceptual relationships which in the given time and space make the political world easier to follow for the individual actors and thus offer them one of the basic guidelines for making political decisions.

These synchronic networks may be then usefully subjected to diachronic comparison cf. Talshir If therefore, we are to ask how environmental activists imagined their political role in the context of a specific understanding of civil society, we have, according to Freeden, to focus on the conceptual configurations in which these ideas were formed.

The choice of these periodicals thus suitably reflects the dominant position of HD in the national movement. Moreover, these periodicals did not represent an ideological platform only for members of this organisation, but for the wider environmental milieu. It was also seemingly the most open and most-read platform, one which hosted numerous polemics about the meaning and aim of the environmental activism, where participated also activist from other organizations and environmentally-oriented public intellectuals.

The choice of the change of title as the dividing line between these two periods is not arbitrary. The choice was further narrowed down so as to include above all articles that reflected on the movement and its possible role in the future.

I eliminated from the selection educative texts, translations, interviews and articles by occasional contributors from an intellectual milieu other than the environmental one, which could have shown considerable divergence from the predominant configuration of concepts. From the viewpoint of the time from the viewpoint of overall post development, and above all from the viewpoint of the environmental activists themselves, since Klaus held explicitly anti-ecological views this year was seen as a watershed one.

At the other end, the period under analysis finishes in , which may also be seen as a watershed year, since it was then that a number of environmental activists decided to join the Green Party, largely taking over its leadership and thus steering the movement into a new phase.

We do not consider acceptable either the strange social experiment of the communist parties or any other form of consumer society. The transformation of society is not possible without a transformation of the values that its members have created.

The quotations above reveal the ideas that were connected with the title Last Generation, and suitably illustrate the tone and intensity of the concepts articulated during the first half of the s. This was a period labelled by most of the previous research, in the context of HD, as the most radical. However, analysis of the ideological morphology suggests that this radicalism concerned merely those concepts that were connected to negative aspects of contemporary society.

The positive programme was also articulated in Last Generation, however, the path to change in this area was considerably vaguer and formulated more in terms of the liberal reform of ways of thinking.

These two tendencies created a certain amount of tension, and required a synthesis that was neither clear nor necessarily defined by external conditions — it also issued from the internal dynamics of the dispute over meanings.

Negative concepts during this period relate above all to criticism of the industrial society. The subjects of this centralisation of political and economic power — and thus the chief opponents of the environmental movement — are both political parties and transnational corporations, who with the support of international financial institutions accumulate economic and political power. From this sketch of the criticism, it can be seen that a fundamental feature of a radically alternative society was to be the decentralisation of political and economic power.

It starts from the assumption that suitable solutions to the environmental crisis will not be found on the political, economic or technological level, and so it turns to the need for a transformation of people's lifestyles, their values, and needs p. Although he rejects the accusation, instead of answering the question of how such a complex decentralisation might be achieved on the formal political level, he merely stresses that changes in the area of human values are a necessary part of this process.

A notional way of overcoming this dispute laid above all in the implication of the concept of non-violence, which was seen as a founding principle of direct action, both in the sense of a rejection of physical violence and its banishment from the repertoire of action and in the sense of the actualisation of the principles of the desired.

In connection to this, there are visible attempts to build up clear ideological boundaries with the anarchists, and the concept of non-violent direct action is no longer developed. He is also considered to be, next to the others symbolic intellectuals-politicians K. Under the rule of the communist party in the end of the s, Havel developed the stream of this tradition that was considerably resembling the western ideal of radical democracy cf.

Branan Havelka It is thus important to keep in mind not only the morphology of the concept from a synchronic perspective but also from a diachronic one. The first is represented by above-mentioned texts from the late s and early s and may be labelled as anti-political.

There then follows a shift in the second half of the s that is at the same time a return to his opinions of the late s. The third phase comes after when Havel, now as a president, is still trying to act as an advocate of moral civic virtues, and thus brings anti-political sentiments into the highest level of politics cf.

This latest position is what Mudde labelled as a form of populism on the level of the elites. According to him, it was symptomatic for the post-socialist countries of CEE, because the formative experience of the dichotomic differentiation between the moral, non- communist people, and the corrupt, technocratic communist elites, was very easy to transfer to the dichotomy between moral civil society and the corrupt state.

In the following part, I shall show how the shift in the ideology of Seventh Generation from "ecological democracy" to "neodemocracy" to a large extent copied this trajectory in Havel's political thought. At its core, the metaphor of the seventh generation is nothing other than a poetic expression of the principle of responsibility in which we firmly believe, convinced that without it, attempts to overcome the current ecological and social crisis cannot find more solid support.

If other researchers are connecting this period with deradicalisation and technocratisation of activists, it is important to note that the morphological analysis paints a somewhat different picture.

How should we then approach the evident change depicted by other researchers? Humanist and democratic values based on the legacy of K. In this, it followed the ideational development of Havel into his third position, above all in the emphasis on the cultural and moral potential of civil society against the technocratic and corrupt elites that were seen as an enclave of the former regime, keeping Czech society from its longed-for position alongside the modern democracies of the West.

The ideological morphology thus turned over, by following the non-political tradition, from anti-politics to moral populism. Between good and evil. Havel, in a similar context, said the technocratic arrogance and corrupt nature of the post elites was a reflection of their continuity with the previous regime. From this, he inferred that the Velvet Revolution had not been completed 12 As part of the "Green Fifty" enrolment drive, later continued by the "Dark Green Appeal", environmental activists entered the Green Party in large numbers.

As a result, they managed to gain a majority in the party and to gain practically all the leading positions.

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