In the face of an increasing number of bloody dissolutions of states around the world, the "velvet divorce" between Czechs and Slovaks has often been cited as evidence that such excesses can be avoided. This article, written before the October 1998 elections that saw the end of the government of Vladimir Meciar, seeks to explain that the peaceful split of these two nations is not an instance that can be replicated elsewhere but grows from the unique nature of Slovak nationalism. The article traces the historical evolution of Slovak nationalism and challenges the view that it has ever been a dominant sentiment in Slovak society. The author argues that autonomy and democratic freedoms long appeared to be mutually exclusive in the Slovak experience and that it was the typical Slovak characteristics of resignation and obedience to authority that kept them from concerted rebellion. These same facets lay behind the quiet nature of the split with the Czechs in January 1993, which was never advocated by the majority of the population.



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