For everyone, home is a basic existential experience. What a person perceives as home (in the philosophical sense of the word) can be compared to a set of concentric circles, with one’s “I” at the center. My home is the room I live in for a time, the room I’ve grown accustomed to and have, in a manner of speaking, covered with my own invisible lining.
I recall, for instance, that even my prison cell was my home in a sense, and I felt very put out whenever I was suddenly required to move to another. The new cell may have been exactly the same as the old one, perhaps even better, but I always experienced it as alien and unfriendly. I felt uprooted and surrounded by strangeness, and it would take me some time to get used to it, to stop missing the previous cell, to make myself at home. My home is the house I live in, the village or town where I was born or where I spend most of my time. My home is my family, the world of my friends, my profession, my company, my workplace. My home, obviously, is also the country I live in, and its intellectual and spiritual climate, expressed in the language spoken there.Order now
The Czech language, the Czech way of perceiving the world, the Czech historical experience, the Czech modes of courage and cowardice, Czech humor-all of these are inseparable from that circle of my home. My home is therefore my Czechness, my nationality, and I see no reason at all why I shouldn’t embrace it since it is as essential a part of me as, say, my masculinity, another stratum of my home. My home is not only my Czechness, of course; it is also my Czechoslovakness, which means my citizenship. Beyond that, my home is Europe and my Europeaness and-ultimately-it is this world and its present civilization and for that matter the universe. But that is not all: My home is also my education, my upbringing, my habits, my social milieu. And if I belonged to a political party, that would indisputably be my home as well.
Every circle, every aspect of the human home, has to be given its due. It makes no sense to deny or forcibly exclude any one stratum for the sake of another; none should be regarded as less important or inferior. They are part of our natural world, and a properly organized society has to respect them all and give them all the chance to play their roles. This is the only way that room can be made for people to realize themselves freely as human beings, to exercise their identities. All the circles of our home, indeed our whole natural world, are an inalienable part of us, and an inseparable element of our human identity.
Deprived of all the aspects of his home, man would be deprived of himself, of his humanity. I favor a political system based on the citizen and recognizing all fundamental civil and human rights in their universal validity, equally applied; that is, no member of a single race, a single nation, a single sex or a single religion may be endowed with basic rights that are any different from anyone else’s. In other words, I favor what is called a civil society. Today, this principle is sometimes presented as if it were opposed to the principle of national affiliation, as if it ignored or suppressed the stratum of our home represented by our nationality.
This is a crude misunderstanding. On the contrary, the principle of civil society represents the best way for individuals to realize themselves, to fulfil their identity in all the circles of their home, to enjoy everything that belongs to their natural world, not just some aspects of it. To establish a state on any other basisan the principle of ideology, or nationality, or religion, for instance-means making a single stratum of our home superior to the others, and thus detracting from us as people, and detracting from our natural world. The outcome is almost always bad.
Most wars and revolutions, for example, come about precisely because of this one-dimensional concept of the state. A state based on citizenship, one that respects people and all levels of their natural world, will be a basically peaceable and humane state. I certainly do not want to suppress the national dimension of a person’s identity, or deny it, or refuse to acknowledge its legitimacy and its right to full self-realization. I merely reject the kind of political notions that, in the name of nationality, attempt to suppress other aspects of the human home, other aspects of humanity and human rights.
And it seems to me that a civil soceity, based on the universality of human rights, can best allow us to realize ourselves as everything we are not only members of our nation, but members of our family, our community, our region, our church, our professional association, our political party, our country, our supranational communities-because it treats us chiefly as human beings whose individuality finds its primary, most natural and most universal expression in citizenship, in the broadest and deepest sense of that word.The sovereignty of the community, the region, the nation, the state – any higher sovereignty, in fact-makes sense only if it is derived from the one genuine sovereignty-that is, from the sovereignty of the human being, which finds its political expression in civil sovereignty.