PRAGUE, NOV. 16 -- The first anniversary of Czechoslovakia's "gentle revolution" on Saturday promises to be a sober, even introspective affair. President Bush will be here to give a speech from a bulletproof podium on Wenceslas Square. But there will be no marching bands, no fireworks. Few people feel like celebrating.

Athletic coaches at Prague's Charles University learned this the hard way when they proposed marking the anniversary with a footrace along the route university students followed on Nov. 17, 1989, until police beatings stopped them and started the revolution.

The students quickly rebuked the coaches. "We refuse to regard this day as an occasion for celebration," they admonished in a statement this week. "There is no reason to call our revolution a 'gentle revolution' because it is a stolen revolution, stolen by our inconsistency, self-satisfaction and a dangerous softness. You can feel at every step the unrest and growing tension."

That judgment is not the students' alone. One year after the revolution that toppled the Communists, Czechoslovakia seems a small ship in a sea of troubles.

In place of the spine-tingling euphoria of the 1989 uprising on Wenceslas Square, gentle revolutionaries now display a weary pragmatism spawned by old ethnic tensions and new economic anxieties.

"It would be wrong to be too nostalgic, and to want to go back to the feeling of last November, because that atmosphere can't be repeated," Petr Pithart, a Civic Forum founder and now prime minister of the Czech republic, said Thursday. "What's clear is that our problems will take much longer to solve than we expected."

Even before serious free-market economic reforms begin in January, the country has been battered by the unexpected shocks of the Iraqi oil embargo, the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia's major trading partner, and the breakup of the old East Bloc trading organization, Comecon.

The imminent return of "haves" and "have nots" is proving hard to swallow for many segments of this deeply egalitarian society. There has been protracted debate in and outside the government of President Vaclav Havel over how quickly to dismantle the Communist-style economy and how much capitalism Czechoslovakia really needs.

At the same time, Slovak nationalists are threatening to rip in two the country they recently succeeded in rechristening the Czech and Slovak Federal Republic.

In the absence of the Communist era's police control, attacks on the Gypsy minority and Vietnamese workers by gangs of young skinheads are growing.

Perhaps the most symbolic change since last year has been the acrimonious splintering of the Civic Forum movement. Founded by Havel and a handful of other dissidents at the Magic Lantern Theater in the wee hours of Nov. 18, 1989, the Civic Forum pushed the country's hard-line Communists to a speedy collapse, and guided the nation through free elections this June.

Since then, however, the group has been beset by an identity crisis and widespread complaints that too many of its members, including some well-known former dissidents, are "crypto-communists" who have never really given up the idea of modified state socialism.

"The most critical point in every {social} transformation is when the revolution starts eating its own children," said Pithart. "We've tried to avoid this stage, but I'm not sure we can totally manage it."

There have been notable successes. Czechoslovakia recently won most-favored nation trading status from the United States and has seen most West European nations drop visa requirements for its citizens. Havel's high profile has put Czechoslovakia on the diplomatic map. Prague is chic, a magnet for heads of state, record numbers of Western tourists and public-policy types who flock to newly christened think tanks for East and Central European affairs.

But the economy is generating concern, especially among pensioners and older workers.

Worry about the effect of price increases and currency reform scheduled for January has led to panic buying and hoarding. There are routine shortages of everyday items such as potatoes, detergent, salt and confectioners' sugar. Consumers already have stripped stores of such goods as televisions, bed linen and athletic clothing.

A counterweight to the anxiety of the older population is a surprisingly strong tilt to the economic right by educated young people. While university students still seem to revere Havel, they sound impatient and even disgusted with the snail's pace at which his government and the Civic Forum-dominated parliament have enacted free-market reforms such as the planned privatization of small businesses, to be followed by large-scale industry.

Student editor Rebekah Krizanova and her 20-something colleagues at the university daily, Studentske Listy, say their heroes are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. They regard the Bush visit as a rare honor, and there were signs in Prague today -- American flags at the newly renamed Woodrow Wilson railroad station -- that his brief stopover would provide an opportunity for celebration on a day that the students' statement said should primarily commemorate "the beating up of Czechoslovakia, first by the Nazis and then by the Russians."

"The revolution isn't over," said Krizanova. "The majority of the nation are afraid they won't have enough to eat or a place to work. They say they want to sacrifice, but when it comes to the crunch, they'd rather not."

The students' native hero, and the unlikely new star of the Havel government, is the lantern-jawed finance minister, Vaclav Klaus, a dedicated free-market reformer.

Klaus distinguished himself early on by winning the policy battle with Havel's more cautious advisers over how fast to dismantle the country's Communist-style, centrally planned economy. His unwavering commitment to economic "shock therapy" also won him the chairmanship of Civic Forum over a well-known dissident who was seen as less firm in his capitalist beliefs.

Klaus, observers say, has a caustic wit and a talent for saying unpleasant things with a smile. He is the only member of the Havel government with his own fan club, and it is his picture that Civic Forum has chosen to place on its campaign posters for the Nov. 24 municipal elections.

Those elections are considered at least as important as the parliamentary elections held in June, because they will allow voters to toss out Communist mayors. But so far, the Civic Forum has been slow to organize for the election, and there is a palpable lack of excitement among the general population for the Forum or the 20-odd other parties that will field candidates.

But even if the revolution seems temporarily stalled, Czechoslovakia seems to have retained some of the high spirits and gentle humor that helped make last November's upheaval unlike any other in Eastern Europe that year.

The offending footrace has not been canceled. Instead, the runners will be dogged by anarchists who hope to snare them with oversized butterfly nets.