Lessons for Freedom from Czechoslovakia

The history of former Czechoslovakia provides lessons about both the fall to communism and the escape from it that we would do well to learn from in the west. Communist historian Jan Kozak described the device used by the Reds to capture control of Czechoslovakia as “pressure from above and pressure from below”. Journalist, Gary Allen, summarised the same technique being used in the USA: “The pressure from above comes from secret, ostensibly respectable Comrades in the government and Establishment, forming, with the radicalized mobs in the streets below, a giant pincer around middle-class society. The street rioters are pawns, shills, puppets, and dupes for an oligarchy of elitist conspirators working above to turn America’s limited government into an unlimited government with total control over our lives and property.’ (‘None Dare Call it Conspiracy’, Gary Allen)

It happened then in Czechoslovakia, and we see attempts to make it happen now in the west through the winked at mobs of various factions from XR and Antifa to the more radical BLM supporters. “The naive radicals think that under Socialism the “people” will run everything. Actually, it will be a clique of Insiders in total control, consolidating and controlling all wealth. That is why these schoolboy Lenins and teenage Trotskys are allowed to roam free and are practically never arrested or prosecuted. They are protected. If the Establishment wanted the revolutionaries stopped, how long do you think they would be tolerated?” (Ibid.)

Sadly too many are falling for the old trick, and believing the radicals represent a revolution for a better, freer, world. In reality they are the useful fools of the very kinds of people they think they are tearing down. So much for what Czechoslovakia teaches us about how communism seeks to take control. Yet, there are other lessons too.

Václav Havel, anti-communist dissident who served as the first President of the liberated Czech Republic, is among those who described how communist totalitarianism in Czechoslovakia was eroded and undermined by a strategy called Parallel Polis – parallel structures in society that exist and are developed without the permission or support of public authorities. These parallel structures tend towards an independent society not oppressed by the laws and decisions of public authorities but rather a society based on its own values not enforced by central authorities. In other words the people, as part of their normal activities, in their social groups, clubs, societies, all moving in a different direction to that of the totalitarian state, become an unstoppable force.

As Larken Rose put it: “When enough people understand reality, tyrants can literally be ignored out of existence. They can’t ever be voted out of existence.”

No doubt XR, Antifa and radical BLM supporters see themselves as free agents acting in their own Parallel Polis, and perhaps some few are, but by their fruits we may know them. Which is why understanding the objective, and seeing clearly the methods being used, the sources of funding, gives us clues as to who is who. When violence and coercion are the tools used against ordinary people, we can be pretty certain that this is not the Parallel Polis of people moving away from totalitarianism but towards it. We must not be duped.

Parallel Polis may sound a hippy and unrealistic strategy, but tyrants hate what they didn’t invent and cannot control. Gandhi proved that Parallel Polis, peaceful non-cooperation with tyranny, ultimately slays the tyrant. Throughout history wannabe ‘world rulers’ have sought to take over and control whatever structures the people followed and believed in, precisely in order to use them as a means of control. Parallel structures, whether they be knitting clubs, allotment associations, model railway enthusiasts, independent campaign groups, or independent political candidates, which insist on being themselves, retaining their independence, getting on with life as normal, are at odds with totalitarians. With that in mind we might be wary of any government push to have once independent organisations ‘register’ in order to continue their activity, especially in exchange for ‘funding’ – such a change of status heralds imediate loss of independence – they are Parallel Polis no longer. This is how the controllers fight to retain control.

As John Jay Chapman put it “Refuse to learn anything that implies collusion, whether it be a clerkship or a curacy, a legal fee or a post in a university. Retain the power of speech no matter what other power you may lose. If you can take this course, and in so far as you take it, you will bless this country.”

To maintain or regain freedom in this way requires the independence of mind of many people. It’s the opposite of being a government informer. In a world that is ever more controlled, in propaganda, in regulations, in registrations, this independence of mind is more important than ever. Just maybe enough of us can learn from the lessons of Czechoslovakia, how not be duped into falling to totalitarianism, and how to establish free and independent structures that block it, and undermine it when it tries.