Czechoslovakia after 1989 through Arendt’s Eyes: From Pariahs to Strong Men

Griffith J. E. C.

in: Modern and Postmodern Crises of Symbolic Structures, Peter Šajda, Editor, Brill, Leiden , Leiden, pp.125-157, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: Brill, Leiden 
  • City: Leiden
  • Page Numbers: pp.125-157
  • Editors: Peter Šajda, Editor


Dissident circles during the Czechoslovak communist regime were organized in semi-private islands of resistance. They saw themselves as a parallel polis in line with Arendt’s notion of political action by pursuing “life in truth,” authentic experience, and ultimately freedom. The heroes of these circles were that society’s pariahs. In their quest for authenticity, they turned to the past to find meaning, to understand the nature of their communities and the needs for political action towards the future. As such, they sought what Heidegger would label authentic public interpretations. After 1989, these heroes shaped and adapted to the constitutional design of the new polis and often experienced a transformation from pariah to inauthentic hero to at least the potential to become strong man, maintaining varying degrees of authenticity.