Scholar Interviews

How do you use the Charter Declaration and the anti-Charter together with students?


I’d ask them to read it blind first. I might juxtapose it with Charter 77.

This first paragraph which has national stuff. Does that surprise you? Workers are international, right? It’s not supposed to be a national debate. What sort of things strike you as being uncommunist about it? What kinds of things strike you as being terribly, terribly communist? The threat of world war brought on by imperialist war-mongers. Okay. That’s an easy one. And then I’d tell them this document is from January 28th 1977. Does that tell you anything?

And somebody might pick up, you know, that was not right after Charter 77 came out. Yes, what does that then tell you about the document? And then I might say, what if I told you that this document was read out at Prague’s National Theater? Why do you think that might have happened? And see if anybody figures out that this was something that people were called upon to sign and then I might say, well, what kind of people do you think. What kinds of language are there in here? What are they talking mostly about?

At the bottom, it’s signed by five artistic organizations, unions, the Union of Czechoslovak Writers, and so on. Why do you think these organizations are listed at the bottom of this document? And ask to try and get them to put it together. And when they see it whole, you can see light bulbs starting to off in people’s heads and it’s one of the joys of teaching that you can see that but I think that by giving out information in drips and drabs about it rather than laying it all for them is a much more fruitful experience for the students.

How to Cite

Bradley Abrams, interview, "How do you use the Charter Declaration and the anti-Charter together with students?" Making the History of 1989, Item #629, (accessed February 23 2020, 7:10 am).