>Jan Zahradil: 21st century euroscepticism meets traditional Czech nationalism

> An interesting recent speech on the website of arch eurosceptic and Czech Civic Democrat MEP Jan Zahradil, who has taken time out from visions of a flexible multi-speed à la carte Europe to revisit one of the symbolic anniversaries of traditional Czech nationalist mythmaking – the execution of 20 Bohemian Lords following the Battle of the White Mountain in 1620 (‘Projev na shromáždění při 385. výročí popravy českých stavů’ http://zahradil.cz/cze/prispevek.php?ID=218). The battle established Habsburg domination over the Czech lands. Although giving a quick nod to the historical facts that the political context of the time was more complex than the proto-nationalist struggle between protestant Czechs and Austrian Catholics that it was traditionally interpreted as, Zahradil then goes on to defend precisely this interpretation (or at least Czechs right to such as interpretation and to interpret their history as they and not others foreigners see fit.

In Zahradil’s gloss 1620 is a form of regime change analogous to the imposition of communism in 1948 in cutting of a burgeoning early Czech capitalism that might have made Bohemia and Moravia a kind of Central European Holland, confiscating and transferring vast amounts of private property and driving political and cultural elites into exile.

Although fortunately in today’s Europe such regime changes are a thing of the past, Czechs – says Zahradil – also have a right to their own view on European integration and should resist its tendency try and force national diversity (including diversity of historical view) into a single template

A very interesting – and for Zahradil and ODS – not untypical attempt to link euroscepticism with a defence of traditional Czech nationalism, including an approving citation from Masaryk, not always a popular figure with the Czech right because of his ‘messianistic’ belief in the universal importance of Czechs as trailblazers for democracy and left-liberal leanings in domestic politics.

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