Ernest Gellner: The Price of Velvet: Thomas Masaryk and Vaclav Havel https://www.ssoar.info/ssoar/bitstream/handle/document/5373/ssoar-1995-1-gellner-the_price_of_velvet_thomas.pdf: 'Masaryk’s 1925 book was in due course translated into English as The Making of a State, whereas the Czech title means World Revolution. The English version can be justified on the grounds that it gives the reader a far more accurate account of the actual contents of the book, which is a fascinating description of Masaryk’s activities and thoughts during the First World War period, and which eventually led to the establishment of the Republic. A subsidiary reason for the English title is that the Western publishers did not like the Bolshevik-sounding stress on revolution in the title. But in a deeper sense, the English title is an appalling mistranslation: the Czechs weren’t creating their own state out of some capricious wilfulness or opportunism; they were, on Masaryk’s account, doing it because this was part of an overall trend which was both global and deeply moral. Masaryk wanted it clearly understood that he would not be seen indulging in state-creation, unless it was manifest that it was morally right to do so and history had decreed that it should be done–and these two conditions were linked to each other, for history did not do things lightly or without good cause. Like the men who drafted the American Declaration of Independence, he was not going to indulge in state-creation lightly, without due cause and deep philosophic reflection. No State Formation without Philosophic Justification! The victory of their nationalism was the victory of democracy, reason, sobriety, scepticism, individualism. It was not something to be undertaken lightly. But, and this is the second theme in Masaryk’s interpretation of the great transformation, the Czechs weren’t merely jumping onto a bandwagon, belatedly and without having made much of a contribution to it. They had once, in the late Middle Ages and early modern times, been at the very heart and forefront of that movement which they were now re-joining: that was the deep meaning of Czech history...


#noted #2019-12-26

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