Egalitarianism, Welfare Policies and the Legitimation of Political Regimes. The Case of the Czech Republic Cover Image

Egalitarizam, socijalne politike i legitimizacija političkih režima. Slučaj Republike Češke
Egalitarianism, Welfare Policies and the Legitimation of Political Regimes. The Case of the Czech Republic

Author(s): Jakub Rákosník
Subject(s): Customs / Folklore
Published by: Institut za etnologiju i folkloristiku
Keywords: Czechoslovakia; Czech Republic; Social Rights; Full Employment; Distributive Justice; Welfare State

Summary/Abstract: Economic and social rights have been effectively used for the legitimation of the political regime both by pluralist democracies and, in their own way, by fascist or communist movements during the 20th century. These rights provide a basis for a type of distributive justice in the modern society. Sociological studies have indicated relatively strong egalitarian tendencies in the Czech society during the post-communist transformation after 1989, which were not easy to explain. In this article we will argue that the explanation should not be sought only by putting forward the obvious argument of the persistence of communist stereotypes or some kind of Czech Ostalgie.1 Rather, we will try to demonstrate that such egalitarian tendencies could be rooted deeper in the collective experiences shaped by the confrontation with the world wars and the particularities of the formation of the modern Czech nation. We may formulate this statement even more radically. Egalitarian tendencies in the present-day Czech society are not merely a result of the fact that the country was under socialist dictatorship between 1945 and 1989. On the contrary. The birth of a socialist dictatorship after the Second World War made these egalitarian tendencies easier, however the tendencies themselves are historically older, and they formed a strong consensus for the need for social reform in the Czech society, enabling the Communist Party to monopolize power much more easily. This article is divided into three thematic sections. The first one traces the formation of a post-war consensus for reform, which was the basis for the rapid growth of social expenses on both sides of the Iron Curtain, as a result of industrial crises and conflicts following the Second World War. The second part elaborates on the specific issues arising in the implementation of social rights under the conditions of the socialist dictatorship, whereas the third and final part concentrates on the formation of public opinion among the Czech population related to guaranteeing social rights in a transition economy.

  • Issue Year: 50/2013
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 146-162
  • Page Count: 17
  • Language: English