Primary Sources

List of Goals by the Civic Forum

Description

From the beginning, Civic Forum had to balance two objectives: leading popular protests and negotiating with the regime. In its first week, the Forum concentrated on mobilizing public support for the upcoming general strike. November 26 signified a turning point. That morning, Forum representatives appeared at the first formal round of negotiations with only their original four demands; they had not had time to create a more substantial plan. While the demonstration that afternoon was the largest so far, it was also the most contentious and underscored the volatile nature of popular support. In order to progress, the movement would have to start producing real change through negotiations. That evening Forum members approved their first fully-articulated program, entitled "What we want". The program rejected the one-party state. It was less clear on what should follow, because the people who created it stood for very different interests and potentially conflicting agendas. For example, the program advocated a free-market, competitive system with no state interference, but it also emphasized the importance of equal opportunity and public welfare. Once in power, these conflicts would cause trouble for Civic Forum, but at this point it sufficed that the opposition had a concrete platform to advance in negotiations. It was the ability of the leaders of Civic Forum to successfully balance these two demands that explains how the Czechoslovakian communist regime fell so quickly and why the regime change was so peaceful.

Source

The Civic Forum, "List of Goals," 26 November 1989, Cold War International History Project, Documents and Papers, CWIHP (accessed May 14, 2008).

Primary Source—Excerpt

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Our country finds itself in a deep moral, spiritual, ecological, social, economic and political crisis. This crisis is the result of the inactivity of the current political and economic system.... All three fundamental powers in the state—legislative, executive and judicial power—have landed in the hands of a narrow ruling group, composed almost exclusively of CPCz members. Thus the principles of a legitimate state were overturned.

The CPCz monopoly on the occupation of all important positions creates an unfair vassal system, which cripples the entire society. The people are thus sentenced to play the role of mere executors of the orders of the powerful. A slew of fundamental human, civic and political rights are denied to them.

These problems will not be resolved by a substitution of persons in positions of power or by the departure of a few politicians from public life.

The Civic Forum is therefore pressing for these program goals:

1. Rights

The Czechoslovak Republic must be a legal, democratic state in the spirit of the traditions of Czechoslovak statehood and in the spirit of the internationally accepted principles, expressed above all in the Universal General Declaration of Human Rights and in the International Pact on Civic and Political Rights.

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2. The Political System

... We must create anew or renew the democratic institutions and mechanisms, which will enable the real participation of all citizens in public affairs and at the same time will become an instrumental barrier against the abuse of political and economic power.... It is assumed, however, that the CPCz, will relinquish its constitutionally ensured leading role in our society ...

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4. The National Economy

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We want to create a developed market, not deformed by bureaucratic interference. Its successful functioning is contingent on the breaking of the monopoly on the positions in today's big businesses, and the creation of true competition. The latter can only be created on the basis of a parallel, equal existence of different types of ownership and the gradual opening of our economy to the world.

The state will, of course, retain in the future a series of irreplaceable functions. It will ensure universal economic conditions equal for all, and undertake macro-economic regulatory policies ... Only the state can guarantee the indispensable minimum of public and social services and the protection of the environment.

5. Social Justice

Decisive for us, is that conditions be created in the society for the development and the assertion of everyone’s ability. The same conditions and the same opportunities should be provided for all.

Czechoslovakia must be a socially just country in which people receive aid in old age, sickness and difficult situations. An important precondition for such a society, however, is a prosperous national economy.

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7. Culture

Culture can not be only something for the artists, scholars and teachers, but a way of life for the entire civic society. It must be extricated from the chains of any ideology and must overcome the artificial separation from world culture....

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A democratic school system should be organized on humanist principles, without a state monopoly on education.... This is what we want. Our program today is concise, we are working, however, on making it more concrete. The Civic Forum is an open coalition of citizens. We therefore call on all who can contribute to this task to do so.

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How to Cite this Source

The Civic Forum, "List of Goals by the Civic Forum," Making the History of 1989, Item #513, http://chnm.gmu.edu/1989/items/show/513 (accessed October 23 2014, 6:09 am).

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