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Post details: Brotherhoods of the Incompetent

Brotherhoods of the Incompetent

There are no pikes in the Czech political pond. No aquatic predators to thin out the herd. Consequently, the limp parliamentary waters are infested with oily, poorly adapted and anachronistic critters, whose mental fitness would give Darwin second thoughts about his theory.

Through the vagaries of post-communist evolution, the political spectrum in the western half of former Czechoslovakia gradually reduced to two major parties, the Social and the Civic Democrats, not counting a cohort of dwarfish also-rans. In the heady days following the dismantling of communist regime, the nation lifted its eyes to strong leaders with sparkle and erudition, and Vaclav Klaus and Milos Zeman at the helm of the two major parties seemed to fit that bill. Whatever their shortcomings were, they spoke in complete sentences and class and decorum were concepts not entirely alien to them.

But the euphoria of the velvet revolution soon evaporated, high flying ideals gave way to the teats of imported consumerism, and whatever remained of sound arguments on the political scene was quickly replaced with lowbrow bickering. The new leading tandem - Mirek Topolanek (Civic Democrats) and Jiri Paroubek (Social Democrats) - leaves much to be desired in the field of political finesse. The tone of their rhetoric has been relegated several floors down into the musty cubicles of the linguistic basement. Their causes are furthered by ideological peristalsis. And worst of all, they have gotten so enmeshed in their own web of politicking, petty demands, oozing provincialism, power haggling and personal attacks that at the end of one of the critical parliamentary sessions, on December 19, their parties maneuvered themselves into declining support for all foreign missions of the Czech Army, including those supporting NATO activities. Reneging on military obligations because of amateurish political miscalculation is so embarrassing that most major media dubbed their legislative boondoggles the Black Friday of the Czech politics.

It is a fact from elementary psychology that a brotherhood of the incompetent is the most enduring of all human fellowships. Industrious and capable people can make it on their own. It is the lazy and incompetent who have the strongest motive to bond and associate - because for them networking is a survival skill. Prime example was the Communist Party, which existed for long 40 years despite its nearly absolute economic ineptitude. The army of listless apparatchiks may not have been the sharpest collective knife in the drawer, but they stuck together so tenaciously that their massive cartel loomed over my college years with a distinctly perennial aura.

In the outcome befitting the Theater of the Absurd, almost twenty years after the collapse of the original Brotherhood of the Incompetent, the Czech lands are governed (or stifled) by a pair of kindred abominations. By two parties, on the surface entrenched in their respective dogmas, but in reality thoroughly amalgamated and infiltrated by maladroit, short-sighted and politically incestuous hermaphrodites. Their pre-holiday parliamentary disgrace was a sneering mockery of democracy. The land of Tomas Garrigue Masaryk and Vaclav Havel deserves better.

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