Incoming human rights advisor to Czech PM praises authoritarianism, Pinochet
Czech PM Petr Nečas, defending his choice of human rights advisor, Roman Joch, has characterized him as a “paleo-conservative”. In comments to the press made during a visit to Berlin yesterday, the daily Právo reported Nečas as saying he does not always agree with Joch’s unvarnished opinions.
“Intellectually Mr Joch is a well-grounded person, very highly educated, very erudite. I value his intellect enormously and his point of view is very refreshing, which is why I work with him. That does not mean I always have to identify with all of his opinions - I represent my own opinions first and foremost,” Nečas said. When asked whether Joch would become his advisor, he responded: “Yes, naturally, there is no reason he should not. In the Czech social context, which tends slightly to the left and to liberalism, he is a paleo-conservative, and I say that in a positive sense. That is what makes the point of view of people from the Civic Institute necessary and unusual.”
According to Nečas, even opinions such as those Joch presents should be heard. “I am not saying we should always share them. That is why I consciously chose Mr Joch, because his opinions are inspiring. There is no reason for me to allow the left-wing liberal establishment to push me into shutting someone up,” the PM said. He also emphasized that Joch will not perform any executive functions.
This past week approximately 100 predominantly young people dissatisfied with Joch’s human rights concepts demonstrated outside the Government Office in Prague against his working there. At the demonstration they quoted some of Joch’s previous remarks, such as his statements exalting Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet. Before the demonstration, organizers drew up a petition taking Joch to task for his ignorance regarding human rights because of the following:
Joch claims all human rights and freedoms can essentially be transformed into various property rights.
He has repeatedly spoken out against the Anti-Discrimination Act which has become a part of the Czech legal order and that of all other EU countries. He has written that “the ban on discrimination in the private sector is a trampling of freedom and is totalitarian in its logic.”
He has published homophobic opinions, as can be seen in this statement: “The only things that are normal are those that follow the natural order. In the natural order, men are supposed to be attracted to women and women to men. Everything else is a deviation from the norm, a deviation from nature, in Latin, deviatio. Those who suffer from this aberration and deviation are – without insulting them – deviants.”
Joch believes that when youth who reject the values of the majority society demonstrate that rejection by breaking shop windows, the police should shoot the demonstrators (with rubber bullets): “Instead of calling on them to disperse, these messed-up young people should hear a different sound, the sound of police rifles loading.”
Joch is against democracy. In one of his works, conceived as a political utopia taking place in the year 2110, he speaks of the “Dark Ages of Democracy” when everyone had the right to vote. In the new, improved society, only those who give more to the state in taxes than they receive from the state in benefits have the right to vote. The right to vote has other conditions as well: “Men must voluntarily serve in the military and women must be willing to have children.”
Joch is an adherent of the opinion that the right wing has the right to “establish an authoritarian right-wing regime” if “as a result of the intellectual and political impotence of the left, Western civilization would be threatened with extinction.”
The demonstrators are not the only ones who dislike Joch. The Public Affairs party, a partner in the coalition government, is also opposed to him. In an interesting article entitled Nečas Goes Too Far: Martin Barták, Roman Joch, which Public Affairs has published on its website, the following can be found:
“On his blog at iDNES.cz [Joch] has dazzled us with words such as ‘Fascism is National Socialism.’ Given that Joch is interested in political philosophy and even teaches it at the University of Economics, this stance is truly bizarre.”
From the political science point of view there is a clear difference between National Socialism (Nazism) and fascism. However, this is far from Joch’s most remarkable statement. A self-interview published by Joch on his blog reaches Monty Pythonesque dimensions of absurdity. In that text, Joch criticizes left-wing discourse from the position of a neoconservative who has long known “the truth”. Joch also displayed this in his reaction to those demonstrating against his appointment: “If they would only devote as much energy to their own education as they do to demonstrating, they would have the same opinions as I do now.”
Given Joch’s statements about fascism, these words are truly an inappropriate and unflattering form of self-praise. While Public Affairs has been criticized by the media and its coalition government partners over a possible conflict of interest related to its deputy ministers who used to work in private security, the appointment of Joch begs the question not only of the seriousness of the debate between the coalition and opposition parties, but to what extent Czech society is losing its capacity for human decency, respect for others’ opinions, and tolerance.
So much for Public Affairs on Roman Joch - who wants to recommend that Nečas abolish the Office of the Human Rights Commissioner, now led by former Human Rights and Minorities Minister Michael Kocáb. Joch says the office itself is unnecessary.
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