Latest Posts





1968 around the world

In the most recent edition of our magazine, Thinking Minnesota, I have an article on 1968 and its political legacy in the United States. I talk a bit about the student unrest at the time, notably the protests against the Vietnam War.

Things weren’t quite so exciting everywhere. That year, in the song Street Fighting Man, The Rolling Stones sang

Well now, what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock n’ roll band?
‘Cause in sleepy London town
There’s just no place for a street fighting man

But elsewhere in 1968 the struggle was very real indeed.

In Czechoslovakia in January that year, Alexander Dubček, the country’s newly elected leader, enacted pro-democracy reforms, loosening state control and expanding individual rights. This was the ‘Prague Spring’ which the uprisings in the middle east a few years ago were fancifully named after.

But Czechoslovakia was a communist country, under the control of the Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders opposed Dubček’s reforms and summoned Czechoslovakia’s leaders to Moscow for discussions. As The Atlantic reports in an excellent photo gallery, fifty years ago this week the Soviets did to Czechoslovakia what they had done to Hungary in 1956.

By late summer, the talks were not going the way the Kremlin had wanted, so more than 2,000 tanks and thousands more Warsaw Pact troops were sent to invade and occupy the country on August 21. In the first weeks, occupying soldiers were met with protests and limited resistance, and more than 70 civilians were killed in the conflicts. Within the following year, resistance faded, Dubček was removed from office, his reforms were undone, and a more Soviet-controlled government was installed.

On August 26th, five days after the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, protesters gathered in Chicago to demonstrate the Democratic convention. Waving communist flags, these mostly middle class kids claimed to be living in a fascist state. One wonders what the Czechs would have made of that.

In my Thinking Minnesota article, I argue that the true legacy of 1968 for American politics was the rise of Ronald Reagan. And, in that sense, perhaps 1968 was also a key date in Czechoslovakia’s path to freedom. It was under President Reagan that the Cold War was brought to a successful and peaceful conclusion. The Soviet Union collapsed taking the rancid ideology of communism with it. The Czechoslovaks, along with hundreds of millions of others in the formerly communist world, were freed. The Czechsoslovaks called the events of 1989 ‘The Velvet Revolution’.

Image result for czechoslovakia 1989

In 2011, on the centenary of his birth, the Czechs named a street in Prague in honor of President Reagan. The signs on its walls in Prague are one more legacy of that tumultuous year half a century ago.

Image result for ronald reagan street prague

John Phelan is an economist at the Center of the American Experiment. 




Upcoming Events

  • Sick Seniors: Minnesota’s Failure to Protect the Elderly from COVID-19

    Location: Online

    Wednesday, July 22nd at 12:00 pm  High COVID-19 death rates are plaguing congregate care facilities across the nation. In some cases, COVID-19 positive patients are even being sent into congregate care homes to free up ICU beds, putting more seniors at risk. In Minnesota, where 80% of COVID-19 deaths are from long term care facilities (the highest percentage in the nation), Governor Walz’s sweeping statewide shutdowns failed to protect Minnesota’s vulnerable elderly population. Join Minnesota State Senator Karin Housley and Avik Roy, president of The Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, in a discussion about COVID-19 policies that are putting the elderly in…

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota: St. Cloud

    Location: St. Cloud

    Sign up HERE! Courtyard by Marriott St. Cloud 404 West Saint Germain Street St. Cloud, MN, 56301 Please join Center of the American Experiment on Tuesday, July 21 for breakfast with Center policy fellow and education expert Catrin Wigfall as she explains K-12 education in the state and its persistent disparities despite decades of increased spending. Following her presentation, Catrin will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude   Catrin Wigfall is a Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. She is also the director of EducatedTeachersMN and EmployeeFreedomMN. Catrin’s…

    Register Now
  • Morning in Minnesota: Marshall

    Location: Marshall Golf Club

      Sign up for this event HERE! Please join Center of the American Experiment on Thursday, July 16 at Marshall Golf Club for a breakfast with Center economist, John Phelan, as he discusses Minnesota’s economic future. Following his presentation, John will lead a Q&A session. 7:30 AM Check In and Breakfast 8:00 AM Presentation 9:00 AM Conclude John Phelan is a graduate of Birkbeck College, University of London, where he earned a BSc in Economics, and of the London School of Economics where he earned an MSc. He worked in finance for ten years before becoming a professional economist. He…

    Register Now