Historie – Otázky – Problémy

Extreme positions in the shaping of Slovak national society


Abstract: The study focuses on the process of creation of the Slovak national society in three stages: in the romantic stage from the twenties to the forties of the 19th century, the revolutionary and post-revolutionary stage from 1848/1849 until 1867 and the stage of modernization in 1867–1918. This process was characterized both by features typical of any nationalist movement as well as by certain specific traits: a slight delay in time, incompleteness of social structure, absence of an independent state. All these factors influenced the condition of Slovaks as a nation: they had to struggle for their language, for the recognition of their national territory as well as of the existence of an independent Slovak nation. Due to these circumstances, their struggle sometimes failed to meet the stated objectives. The repeated failures were further worsened by an insufficient adaptation to the changing circumstances and by dwelling on strategies which repeatedly proved as unsuccessful, for a variety of reasons ranging from isolation in a small centre to the idea of one’s uniqueness, often at the cost of elimination of those who did not perceive the national issue as something sacred and fixed and who did not agree to follow unconditionally the national leaders and their strategies. The national programme was thus becoming enclosed and was drafted outside those institutions which were competent to solve political issues. As a consequence, Slovak national leaders in the periods covered had to face not only the pressure exercised by the State, but also the criticism from their own ranks.

Key words: national self-identification, modernization, Slavism, Russophilia