Milkman, not Agent

Spřízněni volbou (r. Karel Vachek, 1968)/ Elective Affinities (dir. Karel Vachek, 1968)


  • Describe the atmosphere at the gathering.
  • What kind of people attended, and in what kind of space did it happen? What can you gather about where and why it took place?
  • What is the speaker talking about? What does he propose? What would it mean for communism in the Eastern bloc?


The documentary “Elective Affinities” captures the hectic period between 14 March 1968, when president and former senior representative of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia Antonín Novotný resigned, and 30 March, when new elections were held. For the first time in the history of Communist Czechoslovakia, the previous president resigned and a lively debate about successorship took place in the Communist Party and society in general. People understood that the resignation of the president was forced and signalled a generational change in the party and a change in policy. The clip shows a spontaneous gathering in which Prague university students actively supported the candidacy of Čestmír Císař, a member of the reform wing of the party. The speech by a man who participated in the demonstration shows how a major shift occurred in public debate during the several months of the Prague Spring. The speaker uses the word “they” to denote the Communist Party, thus reproducing the idea of a society divided into us and them, but also calls for as yet unthinkable disruption of “their” dominance – “they” are guilty and must leave public office, and politics should be taken over by independents — not Party members. It also openly refers to the atmosphere of fear created by the communist regime in the previous period. Public gatherings like this were only possible in the big cities, and they show how important the role that university students played was. The official representatives and many other people wouldn’t go as far in their opinions, and such radical changes never took place (Extraordinary times or Hot Debate).