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Civic Forum, Public against Violence, and the Struggle for Slovakia

  • Author(s): Krapfl, James
  • et al.
Abstract

Standard narratives of 1989 in Czechoslovakia maintain that the revolution brought two civic associations into being: the “Czech” Civic Forum (OF) and the “Slovak” Public against Violence (VPN). Thorough examination of relevant archival and newspaper evidence, however, demonstrates that this belief is mistaken; in the beginning, Slovaks were just as likely to found chapters of Civic Forum as they were to establish branches of Public against Violence. This article documents this initial situation and explains how Public against Violence came to achieve hegemony over the Slovak civic movement. The author argues that this achievement was the result of a struggle between activists in Bratislava and their colleagues elsewhere in Slovakia, where the prize was the power to represent Slovakia. Ultimately, it was a struggle over rival visions of the proper political organization of Slovakia, with crucial implications for the future of Slovakia within the Czecho-Slovak federation.

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