17. LIVING VALUES OF MASARYK'S CZECHOSLOVAKIA
Applicable Even in the 21st Century
1. Destroy ignorance, lest ignorance destroys you. (J. A. Comenius – p. 11)
2. Politics prides on morality and its foremost task is to educate citizens to be moral. The purpose of states is peace, not war. (Plato, 427-348 BC, p. 20)
3. If you live in corrupted business, you live in despotism. The only way out of the current crisis is to go back to true morality and democracy. (G. Vidal, writer, USA, 2008, p. 25)
4. The chaos on the eve of the 21st century caused progress without morality, a moral chaos. Almost all traditional values fell apart. The ethos of consumption poses as a substitute for ethical rules. Disintegrating forces create a lifestyle of individual self-satisfaction without moral scruples. (Zbigniev Brzezinsky, Out of Control, p. 25)
5. The inner strength of the nation lies in its education, wealth, diligence and moral intactness. (K. Havlíček Borovský, p. 66)
6. The seven deadly sins of modern civilization: 1. Wealth without work. 2. Pleasure without conscience. 3. Knowledge without character. 4. Commerce without morality. 5. Science without humanity. 6. Worship without sacrifice. 7. Politics without principles. (Mahatma Gandhi, 1869-1948, p. 69)
7. Sometimes I have the impression that a model of global totality is being created, a model that has one distinctive result: utterly purposive and programmed dumbness ...it is a “betrayal of the intellectuals” … (Z. Mahler, Právo 31/12/1999, p. 72)
8. Out of the broader ideal influences on Masaryk, we shall mention his deep faith in elementary Christian principles, his critical approach to the irrational religious ballast heaped on these principles and his enlightened understanding of the importance of moral, spiritual and intellectual potential of people that remained undeveloped in many due to the lack of education. Our experience shows that liberalism accentuates different values than democracy and that it basically does not need democracy for its existence. The liberal perception of life and progress (similarly to the Marxist one) is mainly based on economic, materialistic and philosophic foundations and overlooks and utterly ignores the moral, spiritual and cultural dimension of the quality of human life. Masaryk always acknowledged the importance of democratic institutions (parliament, common right to vote, political parties, free elections, well-formed laws, free press etc.). However, he considered them to be insufficient and prone to misuse for effective democracy. The desirable way of thinking is the one that includes respect for spiritual and moral potential of both individuals and collective, principle of equality, principle of responsibility for oneself as well as for the others and social sympathy. Humanistic ideals are oriented to such social and political relations that allow positive (our note: i.e. leading to the ideals of democracy) development of most individuals as well as the whole society. It is unacceptable in democracy to have a majority as the means of the interests and privileges of a minority. The principle of justice, which is in the core of democracy, also includes social justice. The state should also be a guarantee that the wealth created by joint work over generations will not be appropriated by private or foreign interests and that everything, or almost everything, will not be reduced to goods. Politics should be primarily based on moral foundations. (From the contribution by Marie L. Neudorflová Ph.D., Realism of the Concept of Humane Democracy, p. 87-93)
9. If we want to speak about progress, we should not boast about the number of cars or telephone line, but about the value that a human life has for us and our civilization. (K. Čapek, 1929, p. 93)
10. Democracy is not only right, but also liability. Carefully elect your leaders whom you entrust your destiny. (A. Švehla, triple prime minister of CSR)
11. E. Beneš was convinced that a democratic society considers a human being to be primary and fundamental, while the state and social collectivity to be secondary. A politician is and should be a philosopher and his or her politics should be a philosophy. Beneš always adhered to the concept that democracy basically has a spiritual character, that democracy strives to link its theoretical and philosophical bases, a synthesis between the spiritual and material processes and that is has to reject one-sided emphasis on material and economic factors. E. Beneš never abandoned the opinion that humanity, besides the idea of God, is the greatest value that the world has and can have. (Prof. PhDr. Jaroslav Hroch, CSc., p. 101-105)
12. We have to realize that the “purpose of humankind is to reach true humanity that lies in education and morality”. Building a national state is a part of the procedure of democracy, true democracy is subjected to humanity, it is a tool (method) for cultivating human life and world. According to T. G. Masaryk, democracy, as well as politics, should have an ethical basis. T. G. Masaryk thought that the precondition for future United States of Europe would be democratization of the European society. The foundation of the integration process is the regional cooperation of small nations, particularly between the east and west, in central Europe, where the most significant matter starts: the internal revival of a human. E. Beneš accepted Masaryk’s humanism as the objective of the national and world history. Humanity is the highest value in democracy. E. Beneš pointed out already in 1920s that democracy cannot be secured by some institutions. Democracy is people, their way of thinking, their democratic leaders. (PhDr. Marta Goňcová, CSc., T. G. Masaryk, E. Beneš and Projects of International Integration, p. 106-110)
13. Education is the foundation of the universal development of cultural life in every modern society, or state. (PhDr. Ivan Kamenec, Csc., p. 118)
14. “The things that are taking place on the Czech political scene are throwing our country into an abyss. Recently, we have registered a substantial growth in dishonesty, irresponsibility, ruthless predation, aggression and vulgarity. Values that have been considered existent for centuries are put aside. Insufficient education and lack of general knowledge degrades the population to a non-thinking crowd of consumers of everything possible and impossible, creates a ground for various criminals, extremists and is a source of ignorance and aggression.” (From the appeal of more than 150 prominent personalities, university lecturers, scientists and artists published in February 2008, p. 131)
15. Bureaucracy in the positive sense is understood as a rational method of management and administration. “The future of the republic and our nation lies in the internal policy, in how we are able to manage the state ... The state is not the last and highest goal of human effort but a necessary mediator of cultural and social life. Clerical staff should be an example for the citizens.” (TGM in 1922). Beneš’s words were more critical: “What should be truly democratic in democracy is mainly bureaucracy. Corruption has always been the greatest disaster of bureaucracy. High level of corruption is related to economic criminality. Regimes, governmental combinations and party constellations take turns as a result of the election process. Weaker characters can very easily become subjects to characterless turning according to the political weather. They most often politicize themselves by running through the political parties in order to get promotion. At another time political parties politicize bureaucracy by placing their people on the “positions”. Democracy needs to be enlightened, objective, unconditionally non-partisan, fully loyal to the state and to the government as a temporary regime but distinguishing between permanent tasks and interests of the state and the temporary needs of the temporary regime. It needs brave democracy – new democracy.” (Masaryk and Beneš on bureaucracy, JUDr. Milan Navrkal, CSc., p. 132-133)
16. The sociologist of intelligence Arnošt Bláha emphasises the task of reason, culture and morale as well as the significance of school and education. Culture in the state is expanded mainly by educational facilities that carry it over to future generations. These facilities especially include schools. However, only social and cultural maturity may be the ideal of a good school. This should also apply to the effect of mass media that fulfil the basic need of good orientation. Moral conscience is not only an ethical common sense, but also moral emotions, will and deeds. A lot of laws, as have been said before, do not create morality. Laws can only support it. Morality in society weakens and ceases to exist when there is no methodical education at school and in the family. (Inocenc Arnošt Bláha – Czech sociologist of intelligence. PhDr. Ivan Holý, p. 138)
17. According to TGM, the aim of a democratic school is not only knowledge, but development of the whole personality including socialization. Education should create a harmonic organism uniting general, professional as well as philosophical education and it should deal with overall orientation and meaning. Ethical subjects, education to patriotism and moral education based on humane ideals should be important. In 1930 TGM said in his speech addressing teachers: “You as teachers refer to Comenius. He ... saw school and education as remedy against the evils of his times and those times were really bad. Today, we also decide between violence and discussion, guidance, agreement. Either Comenius or some Genghis Khan, we do not have anything else in the politics.” (The Formation of the First Czechoslovak Republic School System. (Mgr. Radim Štěrba, DiS. P. 139-142)
18. There is no independent public medium with a wider sphere of activity in our country that would endeavour to provide objective information. The main achievement of the velvet technologies of 1990s was a general signal that everything is allowed and that frauds, crimes as well as treason are not punished but that they are profitable. People who have abused their privileged power positions represent the “elite”. Our society still lacks the necessary moral and intellectual authorities. As a result we have a state for which no one is responsible. The national as well as civil debts are terrible; however, our moral debts are even greater. (Č. Hofhanzl, Member of Parliament after November 1989. Conscience, 07/06/2006, p. 153)
19. The term “sovereignty” of the nation and state used to help withstand the central papal and imperial power. Today, a sovereign state is the last defence against the wrecking effects of globalization on humane democratic society and the last hope for preservation of the existing human civilization and culture based on a democratic self-determination. (JUDr. Jan Pinz, Ph.D., p. 200)
20. What I consider important is the issue of education, school system and something that we can – and should! – call the order of humane thinking. (Prof. PhDr. Zdeněk Beneš, CSc., p. 216)
21. Contemporary history is becoming a competition between education and catastrophe. (H. G. Wells, p. 218)
22. Masaryk acknowledges spontaneity and natural law, democracy and humanity, appreciates work and progress, humaneness and popularity, and refuses any family or proprietary privileges. He is oriented towards cultivation of the Czech and Slovak nation, Slavic and human solidarity. He considers a future federation of nations. (p. 219) Plato quote: “Misery will never disappear unless philosophers become rulers or rulers become philosophers.” Masaryk did not experience the current crisis of the Euro-American civilization, growing imbalances between people and nations and between nature and people. But he already fought against liberal economic irresponsibility, promoted firmness in moral principles and understood democracy as a management of public matters by people and for people, not as a service of the unpredictable and “invisible” hand of the market. Masaryk knew that indifferent liberalism threatens the idea of justice and humanity. Today, Masaryk does not address those who opportunistically incorporate themselves into the system managed by European or global oligarchy, who participate in the continuous campaign for devalorization of national values whether in the direction of the revenge-seeking Sudeten Germany, intolerant Europeization or dismissive globalization. What is the present time like? A phase of insecurity, unpredictability, uncertainty, invalidity, controlled and uncontrolled chaos, anarchy and confusion, negation and nihilism. There is less of harmonizing powers, more of arrogance, disintegration, corruption, expediency, brutality, crime and militancy. The former social centrism has been replaced by egocentrism. (p. 222) No regime can do well and succeed if it settles for forcible hold of power, if it does not give citizens any level of free self-realization and social participation, if it does not respect critical reason and incorrupt conscience. Masaryk was concerned especially with uplifting the spirit by education and culture. He knew that we do not need to have palaces, unlimited consumption, self-indulging luxury and morally trashy culture to be happy. He knew that happiness requires ideals that satiate the soul and uplift human spirit. (p. 223)
23. Prof. PhDr. Bohumír Blížkovský, Csc. Decisive Masaryk’s Values in 21st Century.
Many events show that what has been happening since November 1989 does not really follow Masaryk’s legacy. There have not always been supporters and followers of T. G. Masaryk, M. R. Štefánek and E. Beneš in power, but their opponents and objectors. True democracy was replaced by endless liberalization and efforts to restore conditions long gone. The absence of democratic education is self-destructive. Even the ombudsman of the Czech Republic, Otakar Motejl, warned against further barbarization of the society by deepening the crisis of values. The most dangerous is the growing spiritual deprivation. It is time for reformation. The whole world probably has the last chance to grow wiser. It is also up to us whether the winner will be hope, “revolution of heads and hearts” or unprecedented global existential risks of the mammon and the cult of power.
The centre of Masaryk’s critical realism is formed around the value of truth, solid professionalism and seeking wisdom for general use. The procedure is simple and effective: it comes out of a critical evaluation of what is and leads to what should be, what is needed and what is possible. Our lag behind advanced countries in the area of moral decline is dangerously extending and growing. Our present time is characterized by insufficient support of common good and excessive tolerance of evil.
Masaryk’s humane democracy is one of the top universal ideals and self-preservation values of contemporary humankind. However, the prevailing contemporary contradictions rather empty democracy than broaden it. In this century, democracy is probably going to go through the most difficult test. The greatest risk is the unprecedented concentration as well as menacing monopolization of insufficiently controlled global mega-power. Wise and efficient democracy is the greatest or maybe the last hope for the 21st century. I will mention several suggestions for remedy.
- Masaryk emphasises the humanizing mission of democracy. Democracy should be a continuous cultivation of the external and internal world of each human being, a continuous optimization of the whole human world.
- Our democracy after November 1989 lacks the most important element: true democrats, more mature and active citizens and reliable and honest politicians. Without them, there is no democracy. Democracy therefore requires efficient education and systematic education to democracy. The “revolution of heads and hearts” is more or less replaced by an explosion of advertisements, instincts and fallacies.
- If the democratic administration is to be meaningful and efficient, it has to be wise and responsible. If we lose our head and character, all is lost – Masaryk used to say. The current trafficking with audits and expert opinions has little in common with it.
- Searching for optimal solutions presumes free objective discussion, not permanent hollow waffling. Objective commentaries in media are rare, “censorship by silence”, holding back the foundation is most frequent. The risk of media manipulation is so dangerous in our country that it is necessary to pass a legislative ban on majority ownership of major media by foreign capital (as France, Canada and USA have done) as soon as possible. Everything deteriorates without education!
- Enforce direct democracy: public initiatives, self-government, direct election of mayors and the president; push through general local as well as national referendum on fundamental issues.
- Allow dismissing those who do not fulfil their pre-election promises and programmes.
- Take care of common good. Eradicate opportunistic confrontation politicking, corruption and other mafia practices, false demagogical leaders, servile henchmen as well as the passive apathy and submissiveness of citizens.
24. Some thoughts of T. G. Masaryk: (p. 250)
- The only way out of the crisis is to return to true morality and democracy.
- Indifference and unconcern are worse than ignorance.
- Today’s problem is not only economic and political, but mainly moral.
- There is no democracy without democratic education.
25. The cult of mammon and power is the most dangerous one; it existentially threatens everyone and everything. (p. 254)
26. On the scale where zero represents zero corruption and 5 the highest corruption, the Czech Republic was rated 4.3 in 2008. It was the third worst position in the chart of 26 countries. (Transparency International, p. 254)
27. CNB informed that the foreign debt of the state amounted to CZK 1.5 billion in 2008, i.e. almost CZK 150 thousand per each citizen. The interest itself represents up to CZK 50 milliard. (p. 255) Alcoholism in the Czech Republic is sharply growing. Drug addiction in the Czech Republic is the highest in Europe. In 2006, almost CZK 100 milliard was spent on lotteries and betting games. (p. 257) Negative effects are belittled ... we are experiencing the crisis of values ... barbarization of the society is imminent. (O. Motejl, Czech ombudsman, p. 259)
The extracts from the collection from conferences to the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Czechoslovak Republic in Brno on 22nd and 23rd October 2008 were selected and arranged by František Venzara in July 2009.