Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Moravia declares independence!

Just about every country in the world has a region that is (or perceives itself as) overlooked. In the Czech Republic that would be the east; Moravia, (and the small parts of historic Silesia that ended up within Czech borders in the 20th century).

It hasn’t actually declared independence from the Czech Republic though; it’s just one of those eye-catching headlines they teach you about at blog school.

As far as I can tell, there’s not even a weak movement for Moravian independence; probably most people think it’s a bit of an absurd notion. My friends here don’t think of themselves as Moravian, they say they’re Czechs from Moravia; and that they are both Moravian and Czech. In the same way that Southerners are both Southerners and Americans, and Scots are both Scottish and British.

I think that’s kind of a pity though. Moravia and Moravians deserve more recognition for their homeland and the role they’ve played in Czech and European history. If you’re not convinced that it’s overlooked, talk to any five Praguers; I can almost guarantee that two of them have never been to Moravia and at least four of them consider it a rundown backwater, far inferior to Bohemia.

Whereas in reality nothing could be further from the truth. Moravia has a long and rich history, particularly when considered within the bounds of the Slavic world. The Great Moravian Empire was the first organized nation-state of Slavic peoples, Greek missionaries introduced Christianity to the Slavs here and it was the birthplace of the Cyrillic alphabet.

Even today, it’s more historic and better preserved than Bohemia. Despite being half the size Moravia has 7 UNESCO world heritage sites, compared to Bohemia’s 5. Open any guidebook though and you’ll see Bohemia gets five pages to every one for Moravia. Why? Because the writers tend to base themselves in Prague, and when they ask around about the best places to visit, guess what they’re told…?

Unlike breakaway hopefuls in some countries, an independent Moravia would be more than capable of supporting itself. The nuclear power plant at Dukovany, wind farms and hydro plants in the Jesenik mountains supply more than enough power for Moravia’s needs.

Mining, chemicals, building materials and manufacturing would remain Moravia’s economic mainstays, and with 95% of the Czech Republic’s vineyards, winemaking for export would play a steadily increasing role in the new country’s economy

Mr. Topolanek or Mr. Paroubek could govern Moravia at least as capably as they governed the Czech Republic. Proabably better without having to deal with Mr. Klaus. Vacláv Havel would return to public life to vehemently oppose the split, but faced with massive indifference in Bohemia, would give up and accept the honourable post of first ambassador to Moravia.

Culture would thrive. Moravia would inherit three quarters of the Czech Republic’s prominent musicians; Jaromír Nohavica, Čechomor, Hradišťan, Preissnitz, Kryštof, Buty and Mňága a Ždorp would still be popular and Karel Plíhal and Iva Bittová would sit down with Michal Viewegh to convert a traditional Moravian ballad into a new national anthem.

Moravian high school students would study Viewegh’s literature along with that of Bohumil Hrabal and, if Moravia doesn't have to be in the same country as Prague anymore, even Milan Kundera might decide to come home.

Tomáš Garrigue Masáryk, František Palacký and Comenius (the father of modern education) are already on the Czech banknotes and they might be joined by Leoš Janaček, Tomáš Baťa, Prince Svatopluk and in a controversial design, both Sigmund Freud and Gregor Mendel. Postage stamps would temporarily revert to the old Alfons Mucha layouts until new ones could be designed.

Somehow I think it would be a solid little country that its people could be proud of. What do you think? And what would you put on the new Moravian postage stamps if they entrusted the job to you?

4 comments:

Fanda said...

I don't really agree. Why should Moravia be seperated or considered in a special way? I live in Moravia and I don't see the ned for recognition.

Michael said...

Honestly, you Republican Aussies and your separation mania ;)
And imagine what kind of impression having Brno as a capital city would make on people.

Captain Oddsocks said...

Hehe! I'd say Brno would make about as good an impression as Canberra ;-)

And maybe you're right, Fando. I don't know. But if you don't see a need for this kind of recognition, would you say that the Austrian Empire, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia should get themselves back together too...?

Francie said...

Great post Oddsocks.

Fanda, I think you missed the point of the post. It was to draw attention to everything that Moravia has to offer, thanks to its present day qualities as well as its historical past. And that's a lot!

Moravia is definitely unfairly overlooked by many tourists and Czechs. Bohemians tend to think of it as an entirely rural area where the sun always shines and everyone is a farmer. Oddsocks' post just proves how much Moravia has to offer the whole Republic and how much Bohemia would stand to lose if it were to break away.

As for the new stamps, I'd have a series of items to immortalise. Probably starting with the Cyrillic alphabet and maybe ending with a pair of mis-matched socks ;)