Final Word from Thursday, January 2, 2003

Gordon Comstock, the main character in George Orwell's novel Keep the Aspidistra Flying, tried to kill his aspidistra by starving it of water, grinding hot cigarette-ends against its stems and mixing salt with its earth, but the aspidistra is nearly an immortal plant. The CR, too, seems impervious to the worst abuse. Politicians have seemingly tried to kill it with 40 years of Communism and a further decade of plundering and waste, but the Czechs have refused to give in. Instead, to paraphrase Václav Havel's New Year speech, they've survived corruption, organized crime and floods, and have been invited into fine society (Nato, the EU). As Czechs enter a new year - one marked by higher taxes to pay for the past theft and waste - they might keep in mind that Gordon Comstock's immortal aspidistra did, at one point, finally succumb to the abuses of its master.


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