Little Prague is something that is all around us, but we think it is Prague.
Little Prague is the area of Žižkov, Karlín and Holešovice. The three separate cultural-administrative units that together make up the Free City of Little Prague are currently still oppressed by the authoritarian hand of Prague and the Czech Republic.
Holešovice was annexed to Prague as early as 1884, making it the first village ever to be annexed to Prague. Žižkov and Karlín retained their independence until 1922, when they became part of the so-called “Greater Prague”.
Little Prague (Free City of Little Prague) is a cultural project of and independent anarchist “state” whose aim is to improve the quality of life of the citizens of Žižkov, Karlín and Holešovice by liberating these districts from more than a century of dictatorship by the City of Prague and the Czech Republic.
A map of the Free City of Little Prague, including a graphical representation of its urban districts (Holešovice, Žižkov and Karlín), can be found at the following URL link (it can also be downloaded as an HTML file).
The red circle shows the location of the Parallel Polis.
Little Prague is a place of freedom. All human interactions (the totality of which constitutes the society of Little Prague) are based on voluntariness. No government is present in Little Prague and no laws of the Czech or any other state apply there.
(The inhabitants of Little Prague are also not obliged to accept any state currency and are not subject to any financial obligations in connection with it.)
Voluntarism, the sharing economy, and a decentralized system of economic interactions based on a reputation system is the only path to a free society, but it is also the only path through which the cultural heritage of the inhabitants of Žižkov, Karlín, and Holešovice (collectively; the inhabitants of Little Prague) can once again be liberated from the clutches of Prague’s centralism, whose political dictates are absolutely disrupting the habitat of the indigenous residents of Little Prague.
Each of us inhabitants of Little Prague has, first and foremost, our own culture and language. We are not a nation and we have no religion of our own. We are individual human beings.
Václav Benda & Paralelní Polis
In 1978, in connection with the Charta 77 movement, Václav Benda created the political-social concept of Parallel Polis, on the basis of which he noticed some signs of an organisational social structure that had begun to emerge in artistic and intellectual circles as a means of breaking free from the totalitarian regime’s clutches.
I am trying to suggest a third way to repair the conditions in the village. Most of the structures that relate in one way or another to the life of the village (i.e. the political life) is either completely inadequate or even harmful. I therefore propose that we join together in an effort to gradually create parallel structures capable of replacing, at least to a limited extent, the missing useful and necessary functions where possible, it is necessary to use existing structures and ‘humanise’ them.Excerpt from Benda’s Parallel Polis. The complete literature can be found at this link.
To some extent, this plan meets the demands of both ‘reformists’ and ‘radicals’. It does not necessarily lead to a direct conflict with political power, but it is not is not burdened with illusions of a way out of the situation through “cosmetic modifications”. It leaves the key question of the viability of the system open: it is certain that its even partial success would expose the official structures under pressure, under which they would necessarily either disintegrate or usefully restored (depending on whether one accepts the diagnosis of the radicals or the reformists).
Benda recognized the following pillars of this new ” village”:
- Constant monitoring and verification of the extent of civil rights and liberties that the state tends to restrict – the parallel polis is made up of people who actively defend and protect their rights.
- A parallel “other” culture – underground, independent culture and various arts are practiced and developed without the permission and support of public authorities.
- Parallel education and science, which represent the realization of the right to free education and the development of scientific research (residential seminars, various educational associations, academies, etc.).
- Parallel information system as an expression of the right to free dissemination of information (samizdat publication of printed matter, unofficial journals, proceedings, etc.).
- Parallel economy – “The political power considers this sphere as a decisive means for arbitrary control of citizens and at the same time regimenting it as strictly as possible.” The system of the dissident economy was based on reciprocity and trust in individuals, i.e. it was the natural germ of the principle of reputation and the search for means of exchange that would not depend on centrally controlled monetary instruments.
- Creating parallel political structures and encouraging their development. Shadow political structures are to develop in the incubating environment of the parallel polis into a functional form capable of replacing the ruling authoritarian regime.
- Parallel foreign policy is to be a tool of the parallel society to stabilize and anchor the movement in the international context and to seek potential material and ideological resources.
Totalitarianism lurks everywhere and it lurks in Prague as well. At 43 Dělnická Street in Holešovice (Little Prague) there is a building called Paralelní Polis, which is based on an idea of Václav Benda and which is somehow full of people whose actions in response to the totalitarian regime were described by Václav Benda in his text on Parallel Polis.
But let us take Václav Benda’s idea further and ritualise it with the concept of Little Prague! Parallel Polis is in our heads and in our relationships. And it is about time that Prague’s parallel polis is physically visible to the people complicit in the totalitarian regime on a larger scale than just as a black building on a map of the city. Let our black building be an important cultural and historical memento, but not the only dimension and the only dictate of the form of the parallel society.
Long live Little Prague and the Parallel Polis!
As a Littlepraguer:
- I minimize the use of Prague’s centralist fetishes
- I use the format “Little Prague” or ” Free City of Little Prague” when stating my address
- I do not use the symbolism of the city of Prague or the Czech Republic, because I do not identify with it; I express my separatism with the flag of Little Prague or the symbolism of Parallel Polis
- I minimize the use of state-enforced currencies to only necessary interactions (in any case, I prefer to use Bitcoin or Monero).
- I don’t follow dogmas and I don’t have to follow practically anything in my life, including the things written in this manifesto.
Please remember that in Little Prague you share a common space with other individual beings. Please do not force anyone into anything and do not ask for rights to which you are not entitled. You own your body and the products of your labor, which you have acquired by spending the energy of your own body or by consensual transfer of property (with the consent of another body). And it is only through non-violence and voluntariness that we Littlepraguers can live in peace and in freedom. Enjoy your liberation and enjoy your new city!