Origins of Postcommunist Elites : From Prague Spring to the Breakup of Czechoslovakia
Gil Eyal's main argument is that Czechoslovakia's breakup was caused by a struggle between two factions of what sociologists call "the new class," which consisted primarily of intellectuals and technocrats. Focusing on the process of polarization that created these two factions-and two distinct political elites-Eyal shows how in response to the events of the ill-fated Prague Spring Czech and Slovak members of the new class embarked on divergent paths and developed radically different, even opposed, identities, worldviews, and interests. Unlike most accounts of postcommunist nationalist conflict, this book suggests that what bound together each of these factions-and what differentiated each from the other-were not national identities and nationalist sentiments per se, but their distinctive visions of the social role of intellectuals.
Gil Eyal is associate professor of sociology at Columbia University.