Few people read election slogans, there are even fewer who perceive their meaning, and almost no one ponders them in the long evenings. It tends to be a carrier of emotions “for the first time”, nothing more, nothing less. This is also why political slogans (and retouched youthful faces) are becoming less and less distinguishable from advertisements for insurance, real estate and consumer goods. “I am fighting for lower costs for the people of Prague” is de facto the same as “You will save money with us”.
Instant appeals such as “Something together” or “Vote ours” are becoming more and more popular. You really can’t get into that with an electronic pencil, analyzing the credibility or treachery of the content, because it’s not possible. As a result, the content ceases to matter, to which a true marketing cynic would add: and that’s the way it should be.
Petr Pavel, new to election campaigns and the current bet favorite for the presidential election, is a special case after all. On Tuesday, he introduced himself with the coat of arms motto: “Let’s return order and peace to the Czech Republic”. And before it – like any other political slogan – fades away, it is decided what the candidate wants to say with it and which voters it will or will not appeal to. Let’s not doubt that the choice of “order” and “peace” was thoroughly thought out in advance. And now it’s out there and it’s causing something.
Order and peace have one possibly unwanted quality in Paul’s motto – they exclude in advance the connection with the verb “to fight” or even “to fight” (to tear the body apart). “Fighting for peace” would be a contradiction in terms. And in the case of a candidate-general, it is probably tactical to use the word “fight” sparingly. In addition, fighting against and for (from taxes to the costs of the people of Prague to the Apple Store for our people) has been chipped and emptied enough already in political communications.
According to Paul, “order and peace” would be the answer to the fact that “we are troubled by chaos, uncertainty and fear of what is to come”. The conscious and subconscious fears of many people are underlined by current events. The demand for “keeping the peace” (in the sense of securing peace from the outside, as well as in the sense of the individual’s desire for inner peace) has increased even more. However, different voters may imagine a diametrically different practice under “tranquility”, as well as vastly different ways to reach it and how to care for it.
“Order and peace” are adequate, universal ambitions for the time – the problem is that perhaps too much. After all, basically everyone could put them on a poster after not too much language tuning. And if not straight, then upside down, as a warning against “chaos” that the politician will “stop” and “prevent”. Whether it’s the alleged chaos of traffic or the less alleged sense of chaos of this world – making a politician a beacon in a stormy sea is the most common “idea” of political campaigns today. Even if the surface were as flat as a mirror.
The obvious downside to the political promise of “calm” is the historical burden. Both the protectorate and the communist power worked with the motto of “peace” and especially “peace at work” in various variations. The population was supposed to “keep calm” when occupying armies invaded the country (1939, 1968). “Peace” as the opposite of “chaos” or “disruption” has become a pillar of the normalization ideology. “Calm in society” can easily be associated with greyness, lethargy, indifference, stagnation. We also have the diminutive of “calm”: does anyone want it in the campaign? Švejk does not say the phrase “It wants peace” in the novel, but national kitsch attributed it to him – and that is a warning message.
Solid politicians must handle the desired commodities of order and peace with caution – all the more so when it comes to the elections of the head of state, associated with the expected hailstorm of values. Abstract qualities easily turn into concrete mistakes when used irresponsibly.
“Peace” upon closer examination – during long autumn evenings – can even evoke the idea of homely, rustic well-being. His colleague “order” – in the general’s motto logically ranked first, the default – is more active from the point of view and with a lot of meanings and connotations it even provokes to imagine something under him. As long as the politician on the billboards does not announce order instead of order, or does not start babbling something to the effect that a regular citizen has nothing to fear, the voter can play this game without any worries.
Philosophers (from Antiquity to Havel) and authors of fire, school, administrative, visitor and career regulations have the order in their job description. There is – take poison for that – a higher order of being and a 2021/2022 timetable. Having, or rather looking for, order in things is important, as well as distinguishing order from order (I think Václav Havel’s famous love of order was not a connection between the two). Not to confuse one for the other – or the rules of procedure for the meeting order – is a task for politicians and voters, they should work together on it.
Biology, Jedi, and October 28th cannot do without order. It will also rain on him on election posters.