Page:The Bohemian Review, vol1, 1917.djvu/157

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The Bohemian Review

A great deal remains to be done. To prove it, let us review the principal obstacles with which your propaganda has had to contend, and let us see, if we can, how to overcome them.

The first of these obstacles is ignorance. It has grown less, as we have just said, but it has not disappeared. Those who know you are as a whole friendly to you, but there are still many who do not know you. Even among the fairly educated people views are maintained about your country which, while not altogether false, are true only superficially and approximately. People know, for example, that you are Slavs; but do they know, where to place you in the Slav world, what you have in common with the Russians, the Poles and the Serbians, and how you differ from them? These data of ethnic psychology will help to determine our idea of the Franco-Czech relations. People also know that you are one of the active, living constituents of the Habsburg monarchy; but do they know your real importance, the resources of your country, the number of your people, your industrial activity? It will be necessary that those who take interest in your commercial expansion should realize how much you count. Again, it is known that you desire the independence of your country; but why and how? What is your political situation in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, what are your relations with the Habsburgs and with the other nationalities of the dual monarchy? How is it that you attach so much importance to the “historical state right”? Do our people know all this and understand it? I would not dare to say yes; and so with many other problems, equally important, given by your national history.

What is the remedy for this? You, my dear friends, and we who are your coworkers, must lose no opportunity to bring out in firmer lines and clearer colors the hazy picture of the Bohemian nation, as it appears today to the French. Let us increase the number of tracts and small pamphlets. Whenever anything happens which gives an excuse to speak about Bohemia let us seize the opportunity. If a journalist with the best intentions commits an error in writing about Bohemian affairs, let us correct him. Let us organize conferences as frequently as possible and give no heed to the fear that we may be imposing on others and repeating ourselves. Someone said that tiresome repetition is the virtue of professors and of propagandists.

At the same time let us vary the means of our propaganda. We must adapt our message to the diverse spheres which we desire to influence. Before popular audiences let us draw the noble stories of the Bohemian history, the picturesque views of Bohemia and Slovakia. By telling the story and showing the pictures we overcome the inertia of the public. Before an assembly of business men one ought to speak of the economic resources of your country, as Mr. Beneš has so well done before the Franco-Czech Chamber of Commerce. Upon other occasions it may be necessary to emphasize the diplomatic questions, or the military or scientific side. Bohemia’s national life is so rich that you can pick out every time something that will hold the attention of a French audience.

Next to ignorance the most formidable enemy that you meet is perhaps indifference. Many times it has been the experience of your friends, after they had exhibited your cause as just, sacred, touching, to receive a response, not hostile, but evasive and languid, something like this: “Oh, yes, the Czechs are very interesting, and France has no reason to deny them her support. But really this does not concern us directly.” In the earlier part of the war people usually added: “That is Russia’s business; she must champion the Czech cause and we will support her, but we can not usurp her place.” Since the Russian revolution, whose leaders hold themselves aloof from foreign affairs, people dispose of the matter somewhat differently: “From the time that the Russians take no interest in the fate of Austrian Slavs, it is not up to us who are not Slavs to bother about it.” A journalist, carrying this slothful sophism to an extreme dared to write that since the resignation of Miljukoff the liquidation of Austria was no longer one the present-day problems.

I cannot conceive of greater stupidity, and it must be denounced aloud, not merely in the interest of the Czechs, but just as much in the interest of France. I get angry, when I come across writers with scanty intellect making distinctions between the question of the Rhine and the Bohemian or the Balkan questions, declaring that only the first named concerns us, or condescending to look upon the others with a gracious generosity. At the bottom of their reason-