Rudolf Chmel

    is a literary scholar and politician. He teaches Central European literature at Charles University in Prague, is the Editor-in-Chief of the literary journal OS and author of several books on Slovak literature and Slovak-Hungarian relations. He is a member of Slovak parliament for the Slovak-Hungarian party Most-Híd and chairman of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights and National Minorities. He has served as Czechoslovak Ambassador to Hungary, Slovakia’s minister of culture and from 2010 to 2012 as Deputy Prime Minister for National Minorities. He is the recipient of a joint Slovak-Hungarian award for Understanding and Good Neighbourly Relations. “What alternatives can we offer from the perspective of our own Slovak post-communist experience? We certainly have episodes in our history that could be invoked, such as the struggle against Mečiarism and the continuing struggle of solitary Don Quixotes against nationalism and national populism. Although we are far from having won this fight, it doesn’t mean we can give it up. Right now it’s probably the neo-liberal populists – of the national and economic as well as of national-economic hue – who need to be defeated. For them, an accountant’s concern for their own savings and inflation rates outweighs everything else, even fear of Islam. Parties capitalizing on this mass fear, or rather hysteria, have already sprung up, not just in Slovakia but also in Germany. Slovakia is so far the only country where they have succeeded in breaking up a government that started working on the basis of a European consensus. So, for the first time in ages, we have our ‘claim to fame’: as destroyers of governments, perhaps even of Europe. It remains to be seen whether we have something more constructive to offer, something more appropriate to our specific geo-political weight.”