Elsewhere on this site I mentioned that I sometimes have the impression Slovaks are perhaps a little too enthusiastic about their much vaunted nature. I personally get depressed from looking at landscapes, unless it’s the sea and a beach with no humanoids on it.
Veronika, Slovak lady who tends to leave wonderful comments in this site that deserve to be articles in their own right reacted:
‘Incidentally, yesterday I travelled all the way from Spis to Bratislava, going through the center of Slovakia (we drove around B. Bystrica as well), and I must admit that, even though I am a local, I was impressed by some of the landscapes and views. I fully agree we should not hide our shortcomings or low ambitions behind beautiful nature, but still, there is something about it. I wonder whether the nature has impact on the nation’s mentality. I saw, for example, two small villages separated by high hills covered with thick forest. Maybe such landscapes also helped to shape mentality of Slovak people, which tends to be conservative with a strange inability to cooperate beyond a small group (see politics).’
I’m not sure if a strange inability to cooperate is a unique trait of Slovak politicians. It seems to me that people in general are incapable of doing anything else than looking out for themselves and possibly their children and some friends.
If people can have lots of autonomy, a common goal and lots of motivation plus some structure that keeps everything fair, so that nobody disproportionately benefits from the collective effort, then stunning results are possible. Like Wikipedia for example.
In general we bumb into ‘Dunbar’s number’. A theory that says that people can’t have more than 150 meaningful connections, because our brains are simply not the developed enough to be able to be intimate with more than 150 people. It gets tough if you are charged with the well-being of not 150 individuals but millions of people you have never even met in person.
When I look at Slovak politics however it does seem to be even worse here than elsewhere. Slovaks are quite like defensive goat herders who dominate their part of the mountain valley and are largely incapable of any serious debate.
Slovak men seem to experience a different opinion as a personal attack on their own identity. Again, the same is true for almost all men, but it seems more pronounced here than in Belgium or the Netherlands for example.
It’s also an art to voice your own opinion without coming accross as hostile, and debating is certainly not a skill taught in Slovak school. Slovak schools are fine when it comes to teaching mathematics and technical subjects, but the humanist subjects, let’s call them that, are sorely lacking in quality. Yes, they blame this on communism. They blame everything on communism over here.
I think Slovakia isn’t as developped as Belgium or the Netherlands because it didn’t have huge colonies like Congo or Indonesia it could rob blind.
It’s not rich in mineral resources, and pressed between powerful neighbours it doesn’t have the most ideal location either.
Given all that I must say that Slovakia is doing extraordinarily well, economically speaking.
It will take a while before that material wealth translates into intellectual finesse, and the risk is that it will lead to soul rot, nihillistic, lazy, apathetic decadence, like in Flanders, for example, where life is usually one big party for anyone under 40.
The west of Europe is decadent, strangely without much values beyond an addiction to comfort and also self-righteous, and the east is developing, but scared and insecure, and also confused.