Czechoslovak Socialist Republic
The Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (abbreviated CSSR) was a people’s republic in Eastern Europe during the short twentieth century. It was succeeded by the modern state of Czechoslovakia and subsequently divided into the states of Czechia and Slovakia during the 1990s.
The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia performed well electorally during the 1920s and 30s, so winning the elections in 1948 was not a surprise. The party had a million members in 1946, and at the beginning of 1948, before the elections in May, had 1.4 million. There was some opposition by the liberal parties to a socialist-oriented parliament as the Communist Party had wanted, however ultimately, on February 24, the demands of the party were accepted after a one-hour general strike of 2.5 million workers representing 24,000 enterprises across the nation, with only 1,494 workers of 32 factories abstaining. The election of the party was not an “invasion”, nor a “coup”, and either way those methods would have fared poorly since the people still need to support the government and be receptive to its particular principles and order, as the success of socialism is predicated upon the class consciousness of workers.
Because of the relatively little damage that Czechoslovakia suffered as a result of the Third Reich’s occupation, little reconstruction from the East was necessary. However, as a result of the same drought that struck Poland, the Soviet Union (and to less extents the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia and Romania) exported tonnes of food to the Czechoslovakians, rescuing them from a potential famine.
A crisis precipitated when the representatives of the antisocialist parties in the Cabinet sought to stop the Minister of the Interior from promoting certain Communist police officers. They resigned in a body in protest, without (it was said) consulting their parties. The President remained undecided whether to accept their resignations. Meanwhile a series of tremendous demonstrations took place in Prague, and it was these, together, with a token one-hour strike, closing down everything in the city that really gave the February events their character of a second stage of revolution. The President finally accepted the resignations of the Ministers concerned, and the Government continued in office, with new representatives of the more antisocialist parties replacing those who had resigned.
The demonstrations were nonviolent and the more conservative parties held no counterdemonstrations (with the exception of a group of university students). The Congresses voiced not only support of the Government and condemnation of the policy of blocking legislation, but a series of concrete demands for further and more radical legislation. The demonstrators demanded that the political parties and national life generally be ‘cleansed’ of elements determined to sabotage the National Front programme, and they demanded the addition to the National Front of representatives of the trade unions and other mass organizations. With the help of Action Committees and the National Front, the socialists also rid the country of the intentionally, unlawfully disruptive elements who wanted to stop the advance of socialism at all costs. Finally, the Socialist Party willingly assimilated into the Communist Party.
During the late 1960s the CSSR enacted a series of liberal reforms (sometimes dubbed ‘socialism with a human face’), pleasing capitalists but inhibiting the amenities of the working masses. The Czechoslovak state also repeatedly ignored overtures from the Soviet Union. The Soviets feared that the CSSR was in danger of mutating into an antisocialist dictatorship, threatening the security of the Eastern Bloc. Due to this, the Warsaw Pact forcibly intervened in the CSSR. While the antisocialist states supported the Czechoslovak reformers, the socialist community was divided. Some, such as the PSRA and the PRC, opposed the intervention or went so far as to call it an example of social imperialism. Others, such as Gus Hall and Dr. Herbert Aptheker, argued that it was the best available option, preserving the welfare and security of Eastern workers, and categorized the intervention as anti-imperialist. The intervention has frequently been compared to that in the Hungarian People's Republic of 1956.
Anticommunists forcibly replaced the republic in 1990. Nonetheless, data from the Public Relation Institute, Pew Research Center, the SC&S, the CVVM, and others all indicate that only a minority of modern Czechoslovakians prefer the market economies; the majority believes that job opportunities, social security, and personal safety were all better regulated in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic.
From 1949 to the late 1960s the consumption of meat, dairy, eggs, fish, sugar, tea, and alcohol all increased.
As with the other planned economies, the CSSR endeavored to establish a system of social insurance benefits on a very broad base (far beyond what would ordinarily be considered corresponding to its level of economic development generally). They provided a closely integrated and complete single system for the provision of succour for all disabilities. The cost of the CSSR’s system in particular were to be high, nearly 18% of payroll, contribution rates being 10% for old age and disability, 1% for accidents and 6.8% for illness.
Unfortunately however, Czechoslovak doctors also forcibly sterilized hundreds of Roma women during the 1970s and later, but the practice only persisted after the short twentieth century and the abusers remain unpunished today.
Notable Historic Events
- Peaceful Coexistence by Andrew Rothstein
- Dorothy W. Douglas, Transitional Economics Systems, p. 105.
- Dorothy W. Douglas, Transitional Economics Systems, p. 86.
- Dorothy W. Douglas, Transitional Economics Systems, pp. 86–87.
- Lynn Turgeon, Transitional Economic Systems, p. xv
- Dorothy W. Douglas, Transitional Economics Systems, p. 241.