Thursday , May 13 2021

Zaorálek: Funerals are like class struggles. We should be more mature

Minister, how do you think the Czech society was divided by the death of Karel Gott? You even got into a dispute with Tomáš Halík about the state funeral.

First of all, the state funeral in our country is undefined, has no clear outline. By Karel Gott, I meant that the state should show that this is extraordinary, not just private, and that the family should be given a state-honored funeral. Carriages and military parade would seem unnatural to me. Burial with state honors means that the state takes over sponsorship and offers family participation. Including state symbols, involvement of state institutions and participation of constitutional officials.

What did Gott deserve?

He was able to connect the past to the future. Some argue that he was a flower of normalization, but at the time we considered it more like someone behind politics. Normalization probably fits, that's true, but it's the maximum. He was not interested in politics and if he could have avoided it. He was obsessed with music, doing his work with incredible dedication and honesty. At that time, society did not have much to unite.

To me, Gott is how many people are joining him

When I was young at the construction site, we all heard Gott from the transistor. With all misery, he belonged to the best, reminding us of a world that was so far away for us. Instead of an ally of socialism, he was our ally against socialism. And most importantly: Gott is to me how many people sign up for him.

When I organized a press conference for Karl Gott's death, I noticed two girls crying among journalists. Then say something about normalization.

Is it a sufficient counterweight to Tomáš Halík's arguments that those who actively fought against the previous regime should have a "national" funeral at St. Vitus Cathedral?

I called Cardinal Duke and he told me it was Gott's wish. You have to take it seriously. Karel Gott was in contact with the priest before his death, asking for the last anointing. From the church's point of view, it was simple. I know people who got married in St. Vitus Cathedral, not a forbidden place. So what do we want to discuss? That he didn't deserve this?

We must show respect. Do not judge us not to be judged.

We saw Gott as little more, people feel that way. The state must respect that. He became so much a part of our history that when he died it was worth remembering.

But the death of actress Vlasta Chramostová a few days later sparked debate over who deserves a funeral with state honors. Is there any danger that we will have these future disputes with other artists?

This raises some concern when not only the funeral, but everything else becomes the object of "class struggle." We have waged similar wars around anyone. It bothers me because I feel the company must stay together. We must prepare for what lies ahead and not dig in the past and examine who was better and who was worse. We must show respect. Do not judge us not to be judged. At the moment, we can forgive ourselves that life is a competition and make graphs. It's not so hard to say that this and that actor deserves a funeral at the National Theater.

I wish not to write better rules for state funerals, but to say that when someone dies in a cultivated environment, we agree that they deserve respect and respect. It's a sign that society is becoming mature and mature, and this is where I have a problem with thirty years after November 1989.

We lived free for a long time, we should be more mature. Disputes belong to a democratic society, but we don't have to kill ourselves for everything. We must take a more sophisticated approach to things that relate to the past. Be it Gott, China or Konev.

When you ask Mr. Halík, it seems paradoxical that, like him, who criticizes the division of society in such a situation, he pours oil into the fire. I was frankly impressed that a Catholic priest – figuratively speaking – would almost execute someone respected by hundreds of thousands of people. The intellectual elites must be the first to go against this 'class struggle'. I see their certain failure.

Why are there trenches among people thirty years after the November Revolution?

In fact, I understand the conflict. I am fascinated by the contradictory requirement that culture implies: on the one hand, it says that we must preserve traditions, on the other, it wants to redefine things in the name of modernity. It is evident everywhere: on the stage of the National Theater and the dispute over whether it is more important to look after monuments or living art.

The arrogance of a culture that is "elite" that pretends to be something else because others don't understand it bothers me.

It is more complicated in the Czech Republic for barriers to be created. The barrier between culture and politics has grown and started in the 1990s. I am a stubborn advocate of politics because it belongs to everything. Cannot be deleted. When we talk about ecology today, it's similar, there are obstacles between scientists and politicians.

The lineup you are asking is related to all our past gullies and mistakes. It was said that a culture that does not earn itself has no right to exist. We are reaping the fruits of these simplifications today. It does not make me happy.

Society in this country is like a team planted somewhere on an unknown continent to cross. Our chance is that we will not argue that the rules and certain principles will be respected. We must resist together what is to come. We do not know how Europe will change in the next ten years, but it is good to have a role in that. But we have to be able to make that point. If these barriers exist, we need to do something about them.

What can the Minister of Culture do to them?

I argue that culture should not be limited to the capital. There are still millions of people who have cultural needs. Let's focus on the regions. The post-communist countries today and according to the OECD, the most threatened by the fact that skilled young people are disappearing. And we have to make our country culturally attractive to keep them here.

Why is culture behind the public interest?

We made several mistakes after November 1989. We entered it, no one was ready. I myself was expelled from the Federal Assembly, where I met Milos Zeman, who ate a flannel shirt croissant and explained what the state budget was.

But there were people who pretended to know the board. I remember Miroslav Mack, who said we needed to get rid of all the sixties, that this was a joke that wanted to restore communism. Let's go out for a moment, he said, and when it lights up, everyone will have what they have. It was a group of angry young people, led by Václav Klaus, who wanted to get rid of all those Rychetský and move on.

By that time we were already beginning to walk against the wall that had to be inevitably hit. We often began to implement Marxist-Leninist lessons only after 1989. We had not believed them before, but had penetrated our blood, and only with the advent of capitalism did we begin to live what the Communists had taught us all the time on the ground. and superstructure. Václav Klaus never realized that he was repeating the philosophy of the past. He was as dogmatic as his predecessors.

Are you one of the critics of the post-revolutionary years?

I don't want to discard it completely, I'm the heir on November 17th. The revolution was a rescue for me, I don't know what I would do without it, they didn't want to let me do it anymore. So I am not an advocate of the old order, but I am unhappy that we want to build something new – and we fall for much of what it was before.

I feel a little responsible for that, I should have been smarter. I felt that everything was changing and did not realize that little was really changing. Now, after thirty years, it's time to mature. But we are still in the beginning.

The fact that the country is divided certainly has social roots. You must offer young people a cultural and economic perspective. How do you perceive the social element?

We will not understand culture unless social debate is included. It must be accessible to everyone. That's why I like libraries because they are also in small villages and usually the place where people meet. The arrogance of a culture that is 'elite', which pretends to be something else because others don't understand it, bothers me. We have to find a way to attract those who would not otherwise enter the culture. This openness is the only way not to repeat the mistakes we made before.

You can read the entire interview with Lubomír Zaorálek in the Saturday edition of LAW Daily.

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