All the articles posted on this website can be found here, organised in chronological sequence according to their date of writing or first publication.
Hardware store, Marfa, Texas, 22 January 2004
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In the summer of 1990, I visited Slovakia, then still part of Czechoslovakia, to watch preparations for the first general election since the Velvet Revolution. Jan Budaj had recently emerged as leader of Public Against Violence (VPN), the Slovak sister organisation of Civic Forum, but I had previously met him in the Communist era. Having been much impressed by the courage with which he had then lived as a persistently harassed dissident, I was shocked when I heard, just after my return to Britain (and the publication of this article), that he had been forced to resign after the closure of the polls. He was the victim of a ‘lustration’ process involving the manipulative publication of information from secret police files in Prague. Having won the election through Budaj’s campaign, Public Against Violence split in 1991, and power went to the breakaway Movement for a Democratic Slovakia, lead by the populist Vladimir Meciar. This article was published as ‘Gesture Politics’ in New Statesman and Society, 1 June 1990, pp. 16-20