Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic

Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic

The Environmental Movement in the Transition Process

Adam Fagan

Environment and Democracy in the Czech Republic offers a radical perspective on the democratisation process, revealing the extent to which the consolidation of a politically efficacious and diverse civil society is far more complex than the earlier generation of commentators acknowledged. The environmental movement has not flourished under political democracy; its radical activists have been marginalized and targeted by the state, their ideologies and strategies compromised and their critical voice silenced. Yet the book concludes that whilst the mainstream environmental movement has become institutionalised and appears incapable of representing community interests, the environmental issue retains the capacity to mobilise, this time against the neo-liberal agenda of the democratic government.

Chapter 3: Origins of the Czech Environmental Movement: From Conservation to Political Opposition

Adam Fagan

Subjects: politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


This chapter will begin the empirical study of the Czech environmental movement by tracing the historic roots of the present movement through the pre-communist and communist periods. Particular emphasis will be placed on the role played by environmentalists during the second half of the 1980s and in the lead-up to the collapse of communism in 1989. In essence, this chapter will offer a basis for considering the extent to which pre-1989 traditions of environmental protest have shaped post-communist development. The discussion will begin by outlining the early manifestations of environmental protest during the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the First Czechoslovak Republic. The roots and traditions of associational activity, as well as the ideology and discourse of Czech environmentalism, will be traced and examined. The second half of the chapter will focus on the specific role of environmentalists during the communist period up to its end in the autumn of 1989, and will outline the type of movement that existed on the threshold of political democratisation and economic transformation. The key question here is whether this amounted to a foundation on which the present movement has been built, or a redundant and expired legacy of opposition to authoritarian rule. As will become evident in subsequent chapters, the key to understanding the evolution of the present movement since 1990 is to appreciate the extent to which it has had to reform and adapt its political role while retaining characteristics of its previous incarnation as submerged opposition movement. THE HUSSITE LEGACY AND TRADITIONS OF...

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