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Performing Silences

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Chapter Summary

At the level of political history, the Warsaw Pact military invasion of Czechoslovakia in August 1968 has already been thoroughly covered by international and Czech scholars. One of the most noticeable residua of market principles, which survived even in the environment of an otherwise centralised system of book distribution and sales, was the used bookstore, referred to in Czech as Antikvariát. This type of bookstore differed from the usual state shops in one important respect-customer were able to browse, search for, and touch the books. Havel specifically notes that while 'sovietologists' tend to overestimate the role of the individual in the 'post-totalitarian system', it is important to keep in mind that even those individuals who hold enormous power in the centralised structures are still just blind instruments of the system. Conceptual apparatus inspired by arts-related metaphors are not rare in the narratives of analyses of centrally controlled systems.

Keywords: Antikvariát; centrally controlled systems; Czechoslovakia; post-totalitarian system



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