Despre dialog, eticheta si etichete


Am scris pe aceasta pagina ca, pentru mine, o Europa incapabila de ospitalitate, solidaritate si compasiune isi reneaga valorile esentiale. Dreptul la azil este unul inalienabil. Nu sunt la curent cu fiecare cuvant rostit de Ana Blandiana si Gabriel Liiceanu. Se prea poate sa vedem chestiunea refugiatilor (arabi, etiopieni, musulmani, crestini) in chip diferit. Nu e sfarsitul lumii. Dar cand dispare ceea ce englezii numesc common sense, concept tradus, daca nu ma insel, de N. Steinhardt prin buna socotinta, cand se porneste pe drumul unor etichete gen “legionar” si “nazist”, mi-e teama ca eticheta, in sensul politetii si al proprietatii termenilor, al normelor de conduita civilizata dintr-o societate, s-a dus pe apa sambetei, iar sansa dialogului s-a naruit. Pacat…

Mario Vargas Llosa la 80 de ani


“Nothing better protects a human being against the stupidity of prejudice, racism, religious or political sectarianism, and exclusivist nationalism than this truth that invariably appears in great literature: that men and women of all nations and places are essentially equal, and only injustice sows among them discrimination, fear, and exploitation.”–Mario Vargas Llosa


In memoria lui Mircea Ivanescu: Despre Hannah Arendt, Sf Augustin si problema libertatii


Lecturi esentiale:”Originile totalitarismului” de Hannah Arendt, traducere din engleza de Mircea Ivanescu si Ion Dur, in colectia “Istorie contemporana” pe care o coordonez la Humanitas impreuna cu Cristian Vasile. Aceasta este cartea de baza daca vrem sa intelegem natura dominatiei totalitare, raportul dintre ideologie si teroare, problema Raului radical, afinitatile si convergentele dintre cele doua incarnari ale Diavolului in Istorie, comunismul si fascismul.

In pofida legitimului pesimism generat de experientele infernale ale veacului XX, cartea se incheie cu o adiere de speranta. Hannah Arendt, care si-a sustinut doctoratul cu Karl Jaspers despre conceptul iubirii la Sf Augustin, reia, in 1952, ideea ca “Beginning is the supreme capacity of man . . . initium ut esset homo creatus est” ‘that a beginning be made man was created,’ said Augustine. This beginning is guaranteed by each new birth; it is indeed every man.”, odata cu venirea pe lume a fiecarui om, se mai naste o data sansa libertatii (citez din memorie). Pe 26 martie 2016, marele poet Mircea Ivanescu, care a trait in doua totalitarisme si le-a detestat in egala masura, ar fi implinit 85 de ani…

Understanding Castro-Guevarism: In Memory of Carlos Rangel


In the picture below, Borges, Carlos Rangel, Sofia Imber: I owe my understanding of Castro-Guevarism to the great Venezuelan political thinker and commentator, Carlos Rangel. Together with his wife, Sofia Imber (my father’s fist cousin), Carlos ran for many years one of the most influential talk shows in Latin America, “Buenos dias, Venezuela.” His book, “Del buen salvaje al buen revoluticonario” is a classic of lucid interpretation of the love-hate relationship between Latin America and the giant in the North. Sofia founded the Museo de Arte Contemporaneo de Caracas which carried her name until Hugo Chavez decided to drop it off as a retatiation against her staunch criticisms of his demagogic policies, including support for Castro, PLO, Iranian theocrats etc Born in 1929, Carlos passed away in 1988. Sofia is still alive and, at over 90, active in the struggle for democracy. The photo is from the Sofia Imber collection donated to the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello in Caracas.


World Poetry Day: In Memory of Heberto Padilla


On the World Poetry Day, let me pay tribute to a poet who defended the honor of the Cuban letters in one of the world’s worst despotisms. Blessed be the memory of Heberto Padilla (Born: January 20, 1932, Consolación del Sur, Cuba; Died: September 25, 2000, Auburn, Alabama). As a reviewer in TLS memorably put it: “All Padilla’s qualities–irritability, skepticism, broad reading, intellectual curiosity, restlessness and a suicidal outspokenness–were bound to exasperate monomaniacs like Fidel and Raul Castro.”

Now I am determined to forgive everything
In order to cleanse my tired heart,
Open it only to love’s fatigue.
And so, those who are directly at fault
For my furies, the determined craftsmen of my sorrows
Are declared innocent once I finish this poem.
(“Sorrow and Forgiveness”)


En la foto estamos Heberto Padilla, Roque Dalton y yo (Guillermo R. Rivera). El mar que ves detrás es el de Varadero. Es febrero de 1967 y estamos conmemorando el centenario de Rubén Darío, con el auspicio de Casa de las Américas. Heberto tiene 34 años, Roque 31 y yo 23. No tenemos ni idea de lo que nos espera.


What country does president Obama visit?


Quote of the week, directly linked to president Obama’s “historic visit” to the Cuban totalitarian fortress: “A totalitarian state is in effect a theocracy, and its ruling caste, in order to keep its position, has to be thought of as infallible. But since, in practice, no one is infallible, it is frequently necessary to rearrange past events in order to show that this or that mistake was not made, or that this or that imaginary triumph actually happened.” (George Orwell)






Despre dadaismul politic


Ce inteleg prin dadaism politic, cu ironie si indulgenta. De pilda, convingerea ca tacand, vorbesti. Ori, aceea ca ideile nu fac doi bani, ca totul este aleatoriu, haotic, intersanjabil. Intronarea absurdului ca virtute patriotica. Capacitatea de a fi simultan liberal si anti-liberal, in functie exclusiv de interese pecuniare. Toleranta maxima pentru plagiat si plagiatori si minima pentru cei care cer transparenta si onoare. Credinta ca viata este un fel de cantina, nici.macar un birt ori o taverna, in care chiar nu conteaza cu cine te asezi la masa. Propun deci un concept, ma voi mai gandi la notele sale definitorii in weekend…

Pentru iubitorii dadaismului artistic, acest giuvaer urmuzian: “Cât despre eroul nostru, Stamate, pentru ultima oară cătând prin tubul de comunicaţie, mai privi o dată Kosmosul cu ironie şi indulgenţă. Suindu-se apoi pentru totdeauna în căruciorul cu manivelă, luă direcţia spre capătul misterios al canalului şi, mişcând manivela cu o stăruinţă crescândă, aleargă şi astăzi, nebun, micşorându-şi mereu volumul, cu scopul de a putea odată pătrunde şi dispărea în infinitul mic”.

Banci, SRI si drepturile omului


Banks and police, including intelligence services, are part of our lives, whether we like it or not. But they need to be monitored, as anyone who saw the movie “Big Short” realizes. Left alone, they can create havoc. Banks have a Gargantuan appetite for enrichment, police entities have a surveillance instinct that can reach dangerous proportions. In 2001, Adam Michnik published his seminal article “The Montesinos Virus”, translated by Elzbieta Matynia, in the journal “Social Reseach.” The argument is clear: when the secret police amasses inordinate powers, a democratic order is in danger. I am not going to engage in polemics with those who resent Michnik. It’s their right, as it is mine to appreciate him, even when we see some things differently. The Peruvian experience, my friends, is a good warning about the risks associated with too much unchecked power granted to intelligence services. Yes, I know, in order to get information, one needs thse eavesdroppings etc In other words, we fight the crooks with their own methods. Forgive me, I can’t endorse such a vision, and even less, such practices. Some people say that the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) is not the Securitate. Of course it is not. But all secret services have an irepressible desire to overstep their rights and boundaries. And this desire must be held in check. I respect the Constitutional Court and I would have expected others to do the same…

Unlikely Encounter: Trotsky and Dewey


Immensely interesting! In September 1937, the Dewey Commission exonerated Lev Trotsky of all the hallucinating charges concocted by Stalin, Yagoda, Yezhov, Vysihnsky etc At the same time, there was a clash of visions between the one whom Isaac Deutscher called “the prophet outcast” and the paradigmatic radical-liberal philosopher. Dewey believed in absolute moral values, Trotsky saw all moral norms as class–determined. Until the end of his life, Trotsky remained attached to the Leninist cult of terror. Only years later, his widow, Natalia Sedova, would mention to Victor Serge that, privately, Trotsky wondered, during the last months of his life, whether the whole Leninist revolutionary adventure was nothing but a disastrous commitment to an impossible cause.

At the very beginning of my American life, New School philosopher Richard J. Bernstein, who was then teaching at Haverford College, helped me publish my first article in English. Titled “Critical Marxism and Eastern Europe,” it came out in the journal he was then co-editing, “Praxis International.” I remember vividly my visit to his office and the conversation we had about the absence of a Marxian theory of morality. He showed me the chair in which Hannah Arendt used to sit whenever she was coming to lecture at Haverford. The relationship between means and ends is the crucial philosophical question in Arthur Koestler’s “Darkness at Noon.”…

“Hail, Caesar!” and phenomenological Marxism


Professor Marcuse, a tragically funny Hegelian-Marxist radical thinker and a self-styled revolutionary oracle, is a character in “Hail Caesar!”, the wonderful movie by the Coen brothers. He was an American German-Jewish philosopher who believed that the unhappy consciounsness, the downtrodden, the marginals, the wretched of the Earth, the pariahs, can save the world. Angela Davis was his student. I wrote my PhD thesis at the University of Bucharest focusing on the Critical Theory and its relationship with contemporary left-wing radicalism. In the times of Berni Sanders, the topic and the emotions do come back, as we see. Maybethey never died off. Marcuse ended his magnum opus, “The One-Dimensional Man” (1964), quoting Walter Benjamin: “It is only because of the hopeless that hope is given to us” (Nur um der Hoffnungslosen willen ist uns die Hoffnung gegeben). Like Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, and Karl Lowith, he had studied under Martin Heidegger in pre-Htiler Germany. He was, to use Jurgen Habermas’s term, a phenomenological Marxist…