PhDr. Ivan Gabal

* 1951

  • "So, we discussed what questions there would be. One of the things I put in there was language proficiency. You could see on those results that less than two percent of the Czechoslovak population could speak and write anything but Russian, that is, German, English, French. That is to say, the awareness of what we were entering this Western world with was very much a constitutive element for me. On the other hand, many of the people in that dissent had no idea what state we were in. There was always a little bit of an idea of what an impeccable education we had and how some things worked well in our country. And we had nothing impeccable."

  • "But the main thing was that after Palach week... we started to write an academic petition for Havel's release." - "An extra petition besides the defence one?" - "That was an extra petition that I did with my friend Láďa Hlavatý, now a university professor, but with Pepík Vavroušek, Petr Kučera, and later also with Miloš Zeman and the whole society around the scientific and technical society and so on... we did a petition. And when the petition came out and everybody started to have kind of some problems, but not too many, the academics started to say: 'But we can't stay with this and we should start doing something.' So, we started discussing it in February and we created the Circle of Independent Intellectuals."

  • "Quite a lot of people are now calling for the Communists to be banned. I, because I happened to run the Civic Forum election campaign, thought it was far more important to defeat them in a head-on collision in an election as an existing political party, because that one ballot that people could cast against them, whether they gave it to the Civic Forum or whoever else, was a really important cathartic moment whereby every citizen had the opportunity to emancipate themselves from the terror of that backwardness, that demoralization and everything. That's why I think it was more important not to ban those communists, but to defeat them head-on."

  • "Back to the normalization. I think that a certain privilege that came out of it was dissent. Because these people were so pushed to the edge, marginalised and persecuted, that in a sense they gained a certain freedom to talk about things that Czechoslovak society and the rest of its academia hadn't thought of at all. I always give the example of the thesis from the dissent that without the unification of Germany there could be no unified Europe. So, we helped a lot actually to overcome the division and the Germans. And I think the Germans know that to this day. It was the thesis not only of Havel, but also of Dienstbier and other people."

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    Praha, 01.07.2020

    délka: 02:00:01
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    Praha, 19.08.2020

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    Praha, 02.11.2020

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Dissenters did not perceive the extent of the degradation of society

1973, Ivan Gabal, the case of the hopeless photographer
1973, Ivan Gabal, the case of the hopeless photographer
zdroj: archiv pamětníka

Ivan Gabal was born on 15 January 1951 in Prague. His parents were members of the Communist Party. In 1975 he graduated in sociology and theory of culture at the Faculty of Arts of Charles University, where he received his PhDr in 1978. From 1978 to 1989 he worked at the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, where he was engaged in empirical analyses of lifestyle, education and mobility. At the beginning of 1989, the State Security reclassified his file from a person under investigation to a hostile person. He became one of the founding members of the Kruh nezávislé inteligence (Circle of Independent Intellectuals), one of the civic initiatives that sought to undermine the existing power monolith of the Communist Party and its subordinate organizations. The Circle also initiated a petition for the release of Václav Havel. In November 1989, the witness became involved in the activities of the Civic Forum. In 1990, he led the Civic Forum‘s election campaign for the 1990 parliamentary elections and was a consultant for the election campaign of the Slovak partner organization Veřejnost proti násilí (Public Against Violence). In 1991 he worked in the Office of the President of the Czech and Slovak Federative Republic as head of the Department of Political Analysis. In 1992 he led the election campaign of the Civic Movement and then worked at the research agency AISA as a partner. Since 1994, he has worked exclusively for Gabal, Analysis & Consulting and GAC Ltd. He has also worked for several NGOs and foundations. In 1999-2003 he was a member of the Board of Trustees of Masaryk University in Brno. As a non-party member, he was an elected deputy on the KDU-ČSL candidate list in 2013-2017. He was responsible for the defence and security agenda. He has published numerous professional articles and commentaries in Czech and foreign newspapers and magazines. At the time of recording he lived in Prague (2020).