Martin Bútora

Martin Bútora (1944) is a sociologist, writer and translator, based in Bratislava. Following the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia he became persona non grata; he worked as sociologist and therapist in alcohol abuse counselling, while being active on the independent intellectual scene. In November 1989 he helped found the movement Public Against Violence. From 1990 to 1992 he advised Czechoslovakia’s President Václav Havel on human rights issues, and from 1999 to 2003 he served as Slovakia’’s Ambassador to Washington. Currently he is honorary Chairman of the Institute for Public Affairs (which he founded). His most recent publication is Odklínanie (Breaking the Spell).

Who’’s the Deviant Here?

Photo: Roman Vondrouš / ČTK In expressing the ambition to be the voice of the bottom ten million of the unprivileged in his inaugural speech, Miloš Zeman has provided a classic demonstration of an artificial split sought by all politicians of a populist bent, who like to divide society into the virtuous, uncorrupted pure people on the one hand and the corrupt elites on the other. The latter have been variously described as dinosaurs ([journalist and current Chairman of the Czech party Public Affairs Party] Radek John), thieves (Igor Matovič, Chairman of Ordinary People, a Slovak political party), or a […]

A new beginning – and not just for America

The new US President is an exceptional politician the like of which is seen once in a lifetime. His election is also a response to three of America’’s worst legacies. It is no exaggeration to say that Barack Obama’s election as US President is a historic event. Apart from anything else it is a response to three of America’’s worst legacies, its burdens from past and more recent history. While his victory does not automatically transcend them, it presents a way of coming to terms with them. The first legacy is skin colour, the race issue. The second is 11 […]