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Digital Archive International History Declassified

November 24, 1989


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    Draft thesis of the program of the civic forum, Prague advocating a market economy to help remedy the ‘vassal’ system of the Communist Party and the crisis facing Czechoslovakia
    "Draft Thesis of the Program of the Civic Forum, Prague," November 24, 1989, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, USD AV CR, KC OF Archive, file OF Documents—copy of the computer print A4, 2 p. Translated by Caroline Kovtun.
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Czechoslovak society is going through a deep crisis. This crisis is displayed primarily:

1. In the disregard of several human rights, especially the right of free assembly and association, the right of free expression of opinion, and the right to partake in the decisions of public affairs.
2. In the continuing disillusionment of society, the unsteadiness of moral values, the erosion of the meaning of truth and knowledge, education and rationality, dialogue and tolerance, that is values which have been in European culture for thousands of years; this process is accompanied by actual or internal emigration, corruption, orientation towards consumerism and other undesirable phenomena.
3. In the emptiness of a great part of official culture.
4. In the decrease in the level of culture and education, which is especially pronounced when compared internationally.
5. In the rapidly worsening quality of the environment, connected to the devastation of natural resources, the contamination of drinking water and comestibles by parasitic, harmful substances; through this the most basic human right, the right to life, is violated.
6. In the worsening state of health of the Czechoslovak population and the endangerment of its ability to reproduce.
7. In the backwardness of Czechoslovak science in many scientific fields and applied areas.
8. In the decline of the total innovational activity in the society.
9. In the decreasing effectiveness of the Czechoslovak economy and the growth of foreign and especially internal debt.
10. In the rising alienation between individual and social groups; the alienation between ordinary citizens and the ruling group is reaching Kafkaesque proportions.
11. In the abuse of the means of force against the citizens, which we were reminded of once again with the intervention of "disciplinary forces" on 17 November 1989, in Prague.
12. In the worsening of the overall position of Czechoslovakia in the international community.

All these introduced, deeply disturbing phenomena bear witness to the impairment of the ability of our society to control effectively our development; [they] are testimonies to the unsuitable current political and economic system. In the society almost all corrective feedback, which is essential for effective reaction to the fast-changing internal and external conditions, has been impaired. For long decades, the simple principle of the symmetry between authority and responsibility has not been respected: those in the state who attribute every executive authority to themselves, do not feel themselves to be responsible for the effected and missed decisions and refuse to settle accounts with the nation for their actions. All three fundamental powers of the state: legislative power, executive and judicial (regulatory), have come into the hands of a narrow ruling group, composed almost exclusively of CPCz members. This struck at the very foundations of a lawful state. The ruling group does not respect its own laws and international agreements not only in the area of human rights, but not even in other, wholly non-political spheres - an example of this can be the systematic violation of laws on environmental protection.

The practice of the nomenclature of the CPCz, consisting of the placement of leading workers in all important places, creates a vassal system which cripples the entire society. The citizens were thus degraded to the position of a common mob, who are denied basic political rights.

The directive system of the central leadership of the national economy has reached the limits of its potential. The promised reconstruction of the economic mechanism is without results and proceeds slowly. It is not accompanied by political changes, which undermines its effectiveness. A solution to these problems cannot be the simple exchange of seats in the positions of power or the resignation of several of the most compromised politicians from public life. It is necessary to make fundamental, effective and lasting changes in the political and economic system of our society. The basis of this must be newly created or renewed democratic institutions, which would enable real - not just proclaimed - citizen participation in the management of public affairs and simultaneously establish an effective system to prevent the abuse of political and economic power. A condition for this is the creation of such a climate in the society that would provide equal opportunities to all existing political parties and newly established political groups to prepare and hold free elections with independent candidate lists. A self-evident condition is the resignation of the CPCz from its constitutionally ensured leading role in our society and in its monopoly of the control of public media.

In the national economy we consider it essential to support the activity and productivity of the widest strata of society through the quick development of a market economy during the demonopolization of our economy, and by a significant increase in the responsibility of the state institutions for the regulation of economic processes, e.g., in the areas of healthcare and social welfare, science, education, culture and care of the environment. A key problem is the reevaluation of proprietary relations in the society.

We are pressing for our country to once again take its honorable place in Europe and in the world. We are not asking for change in Czechoslovakia's current membership status in the COMECON and Warsaw Pact. We are assuming that the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact countries which participated in the military invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 will condemn this intervention, by which the indispensable reform process of socialist countries was pushed back for decades.