Occupy Prague: We must ask ourselves if we want this kind of capitalism

Politics & Policy|Economy|Society
Petr Matějček | 02.04.2012

Q: Is your movement symbolic or do you believe you can achieve concrete results?

CEMPER: We would at the very least want to push through that law on general referenda. Under public pressure politicians will have to put that into law. Moreover, there is talk about a new economic crisis, and I strongly believe that movements such as Occupy will increasingly see their numbers boosted as a result. People will soon realize that growth for the sake of growth won’t lead anywhere. Soon the moment will arrive that we'll have to ask ourselves as to whether we at all desire capitalism in its current form, and also which changes to implement to prevent the system from completely collapsing. If this fails to happen it will lead to civil war or another such catastrophe. ‘[There] is talk about a new economic crisis, and I strongly believe that movements such as Occupy will increasingly see their numbers boosted as a result.’ 

Q: As of late, you’re by no means the only movement claiming these things. How do you for example perceive the Holešov Appeal and the group surrounding Mr Ponert?

CEMPER: Some of our members attended the opening discussion of the Holešov Appeal. We are of the view that there was a purely undemocratic atmosphere at that meeting. They want to install a new government, tell everyone who'll be in it and are already creating a network of their own experts. This, we think, rather smacks of some kind of corporatism or a dictatorship of experts under their control. It certainly is nothing spontaneous – I sense lobbyist interests of some big companies here.

Zdeněk Ponert was present at some of our assemblies. Although I view some of his opinions positively, I believe it is the kind of person with whom it's impossible to enter into a discussion. He's simply always conducting a monologue. This character reminds me of [far-right leader] Miroslav Sládek. Although, unlike Sládek, he is not a racist, his rhetoric is exactly the same.

Initiatives such as ProAlt and Alternativa Zdola are more prepared to listen to the man on the street. We are therefore closer to them. We think, however, it’s regrettable that many people from the [parliamentary] opposition turned up at ProAlt meetings. We believe that ProAlt should, on the contrary, show a much more critical approach towards the opposition.

Q: Why is it, you think, that at this point in time so many of these groups and initiatives have sprung up?

CEMPER: A huge number of problems have accumulated here and people are not prepared to put up with it anymore. On top of that, thanks to the media, people are now able to reflect what is happening around the world. I’d compare this time with what was going on before 1968. People desire change and so there's a period of revolts of sorts impends where the citizens will not content themselves with a mere change of government but demand more profound changes.

Q: Some critics compare you to teenagers who are in love. Don't you think your demands are just naïve exclamations and that none of you have come up with some specific solutions?

CEMPER: I can’t see any naivety in the citizens revolting as a result of being totally ignored by the government for over twenty years. A discussion regarding more radical change is an absolute necessity; otherwise we’ll end up like Greece. There, moreover, certainly are also some concrete proposals. I would for example compose the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies from representatives of parties which managed to secure more than one percent of the vote and complement their ranks with personalities, who aren't nominated by the parties, as well as experts. Professional chambers, students, the unemployed, trade unionists and the like would all be represented there.

Q: Can you imagine what a shambles this would produce? Such a “government” would never be able to operate and, moreover, it would be full of extremists and oddballs.

CEMPER: This indeed is a certain disadvantage. But now we have a big party monopoly which needs to be broken up. If there'll be one racist ranting there no-one will take any notice anyway – it is, after all, of no consequence. Now there are Stalinists there such as Marta Semelová and no-one is bothered by it either. 

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Biased Interview, Bad Journalism

I am surprised to see how biased the interviewer is toward the ideas endorsed by Jan Cemper. The interviewer's questions presuppose "experts" are better than informed citizens, which often is not true. And judging from his questions, the interviewer also obviously thinks Cemper's movement should not be taken seriously. That is plainly bad journalism.  An interviewer should be more objective.

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