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Operation Žofín, or: A Czech Voina
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Operation Žofín, or: A Czech Voina

Umělec 2011/2

01.02.2011

Ivan Mečl | editorial | en cs de

“The state will not help slackers and delinquents who abuse government handouts,” said the Prime Minister. If his position was not filled by an idiot without talent or feeling, he might have said: “We will help those who have been pushed to the margins of society by twelve years of irresponsible politics, who have been pushed to the self-destructive use of already low welfare payments, or who have been abandoned to their desperate fate, often with no way out other than crime.” Is your prime minister also a fat, stupid idiot? These prime ministers run governments that harm us maladjusted delinquents and slackers. In return, we will harm them, too. We will paralyze the functioning of the state and murder the prime ministers.
We saved up for Operation Žofín by pooling our welfare payments. After midnight on June 16, we put on our borrowed upper middle class outfits (i.e., formal wear) and set out for Žofín Island. Pretending to be a group of aging intellectuals in our forties, we copied the behavior of nostalgic university graduates at their 25-year reunion. The kind of sentimental people who stroll, hand-in-hand, along Žofín. Five women and three men joined this dangerous enterprise.
Why Žofín? Because we had learned that the Prague 1 municipal district had decided to ban after-dark strolls along this famed Prague location: In order to save money, the city could no longer pay to light this expensive property, now in private hands, and so it was more efficient to enclose the entire locale in barbed wire and to lower a boom gate across the bridge. Inspired by the fascists’ advance into the Sudetenland, the two men—Filip Turek and Petr Urban—and I demonstratively tore down the gate while the women cut through the barbed wire. Then we quickly headed to the island’s edge to set a private boat rental station on fire. In the meantime, the island’s security guards—who had hidden in the bushes in the face of our superior numbers—managed to contact the municipal police. The officers caught up to us in several cars by the stone railing above the river, where we again pretended to be confused culture workers and pedagogues, although internally we were ready for battle. All the twelve police officers had to do was reject our offer for consultation. Of course, I managed to personally pour fuel on the fire when I twisted my hands behind my back against two police officers and roughly dragged them several dozen meters to their police cars. They probably still have dislocated shoulders. There, I forced them to put me in handcuffs, and refused to say a word so that the others could play their parts. Filip Turek pulled out his pre-1989 activist number known as “I’ll eat my ID,” and—under the pretence of testifying to my preceding actions—had three police officers jump on his back. On the way to the station, both of us handcuffed detainees taught the police officers the liberal cry of “Were you on Wenceslas Square twenty years ago? Well here’s your democracy—this is how it is!” in several versions (some of them obscene). Then we had them handcuff us to poles in the corridor of the Bartholomew Street police station for eight hours. We cunningly provided them with our fingerprints and listened to their well-intentioned advice, the occasional humorous story, and a couple of philosophical lectures about the value of civic life. At around eleven in the morning, the police let us go without filing a report, having realized that the whole thing was a kind of put-on on our part.
This time around, we managed not to die and thus confirm our superiority forever. But we still managed to humiliate the black-clothed bogeymen from the municipal police—that extended dildo of Prague power—in front of god and the world. Our next excursion is to the North Bohemian coalfields, where the president has his own flower-adorned excavator snorting the friendly coal. We might just properly fertilize those flowers.

Translated from Czech by Stephan von Pohl.




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