Revolutionary teenagers: Budapest, November 1956

30/10/2016

Hungarian teenagers enrolled in resistance units to defend the country’s legal government headed by the former Leninist turned democratic socialist, Imre Nagy. In twelve days, Hungary moved from an ailing totalitarian regime into a multi-party system supported by its citizens. Then came the Soviet tanks…

 

 


Budapesta, octombrie 1956: Despre statui si revolutii

26/10/2016

Genialissimo and generalissimo: The fate of statues during revolutions. Of Stalin’s glory, only the boots survived…


GLORIA VICTIS: THE BLOOD OF THE HUNGARIANS

22/10/2016

GLORIA VICTIS: THE BLOOD OF THE HUNGARIANS (LE SANG DES HONGROIS)

by Albert Camus (October, 1957, Paris)

I am not one of those who wish to see the people of Hungary take up arms again in a rising certain to be crushed, under the eyes of the nations of the world, who would spare them neither applause nor pious tears, but who would go back at once to their slippers by the fireside like a football crowd on a Sunday evening after a cup final.

There are already too many dead on the field and we cannot be generous with any but our own blood. The blood of Hungary has re-emerged too precious to Europe and to freedom for us not to be jealous of it to the last drop.

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But I am not one of those who think that there can be a compromise, even one made with resignation, even provisional, with a regime of terror which has as much right to call itself socialist as the executioners of the Inquisition had to call themselves Christians.

And on this anniversary of liberty, I hope with all my heart that the silent resistance of the people of Hungary will endure, will grow stronger, and, reinforced by all the voices which we can raise on their behalf, will induce unanimous international opinion to boycott their oppressors.

And if world opinion is too feeble or egoistical to do justice to a martyred people, and if our voices also are too weak, I hope that Hungary’s resistance will endure until the counter-revolutionary State collapses everywhere in the East under the weight of its lies and contradictions.

Hungary conquered and in chains has done more for freedom and justice than any people in the last twenty years. But for this lesson to get through and convince those in the West who shut their eyes and ears, it was necessary, and it can be no comfort to us, for the people of Hungary to shed so much blood which is already drying in our memories.

In Europe’s isolation today, we have only one way of being true to Hungary, and that is never to betray, among ourselves and everywhere, what the Hungarian heroes died for, never to condone, among ourselves and everywhere, even indirectly, those who killed them.

It would indeed be difficult for us to be worthy of such sacrifices but we can try to be so, in uniting Europe at last in forgetting our quarrels, in correcting our own errors, in increasing our creativeness and our solidarity. We have faith that there is on the march in the world, parallel with the forces of oppression and death which are darkening our history, a force of conviction and life, an immense movement of emancipation, which is culture and which is born of freedom to create and of freedom to work.

Those Hungarian workers and intellectuals, beside whom we stand today with such impotent sorrow, understood this and have made us the better understand it. That is why, if their distress is ours, their hope is ours also. In spite of their misery, their chains, their exile, they have left us a glorious heritage, which we must deserve: freedom, which they did not choose, but which in one single day they gave back to us.

 

LE SANG DES HONGROIS

par Albert Camus

(octobre, 1957, Paris)

Je ne suis pas de ceux qui souhaitent que le peuple hongrois prenne, à nouveau les armes dans une insurrection vouée à l’écrasement, sous les yeux d’une société internationále qui ne lui ménágera ni applaudissements, ni larmes vertueuses, mais qui retournera ensuite à ses pantoufles comme font les sportifs de gradins, le dimanche soir, après un match de coupe.

Il y a déjà trop de morts dans le stade et nous ne pouvons être généreux que de notre propre sang.  Le sang hongrois s’est relevé trop précieux à l’Europe et à la liberté pour que nous n’en soyons pas avares jusqu’à la moindre goutte.

Mais je ne suis pas de ceux qui pensent qu’il peut y avoir un accommodement, même résigné, même provisoire, avec un régime de terreur qui a autant de droit à s’appeler socialiste que les bourreaux de l’Inquisition en avaient à s’appeler chrétiens.

Et, dans ce jour anniversaire de la liberté, je souhaite de toutes mes forces que la résistance muette du peuple hongrois se maintienne, se renforce, et répercutée par toutes les voix que nous pourrons lui donner, obtienne de l’opinion internationale unanime le boycott de ses oppresseurs.

Et si cette opinion est trop veule ou égoiste pour rendre justice à un peuple martyr, si nos voix aussi sont trop faibles, je souhaite que la résistance hongroise se maintienne encore jusqu’à ce que l’Etat contre-révolutionnaire s’écroule partout à l’est sous le poids de ses mensonges et de ses contradictions.

La Hongrie vaincue et enchainée a plus fait pour la liberté et la justice qu’aucun peuple depuis vingt ans.  Mais, pour que cette leçon atteigne et persuade en Occident ceux qui se bouchaient les oreilles et les yeux, il a fallu et nous ne pourrons nous en consoler, que le peuple hongrois versât à flots un sang qui sèche delà dans lés mémoires.

Dans la solitude où se trouve aujourd’hui l’Europe, nous n’avons qu’un moyen (d’être fidèles   à la Hongrie), et qui est de ne jamais trahir, chez nous et ailleurs, ce pour quoi les combattans hongrois sont morts, de ne jamais justifier, chez nous et ailleurs, fût-ce indirectement, ce qui les a tués.

Nous aurons bien du mal à être dignes de tant de sacrifices.  Mais nous devons l’essayer, dans une Europe enfin unie, en oubliant nos querelles, en faisant justice de nos propres fautes, en multipliant nos créations et notre solidarité.

Notre fois est qu’il y a en marche dans le monde, parallèlement à la force de contrainte et de mort qui obscurcit l’histoire, une force de persuasion et de vie, un immense mouvement d’émancipation qui s’appelle la culture et qui se fait en même temps par la creation libre et le travail libre.

Ces ouvriers et ces intellectuels hongrois, auprès desquels nous nous tenons aujourd’hui avec tant de chagrin impuissant, ont compris  cela et nous l’ont fait mieux comprendre.  C’est pourquoi si leur malheur est le nôtre, leur espoir nous appartient aussi.  Malgré leur misère, leurs chaines, leur exil, ils nous ont laissé un royal héritage que nous avons à mériter: la liberté, qu’ils n’ont pas seulement choisie, mais qu’en un seul jour ils nous ont rendue!

Source:  1956 Gloria Victis, 1956-86,  Nemzetőr kiadása,  Bécs, 1986.


Why does Michnik matter?

17/10/2016

It is not my intention to offer here a biography of my close friend Adam Michnik. I just want to offer some responses, hopefully informed, to the following question: Why does Adam Michnik matter? He matters because in times of infamy, he raised his voice and suffered for this. He matters because he has a moral compass and some of us regard it as persuasively indispensable. He matters because he does not yield to nativism, tribalism, clericalism, militarism, Orbanism, Putinism, LePenism, Trumpism, populism, and other political pathologies. I dedicate this thext to the memory of Leonidas Donskis.

Adam Michnik in Vilnius, Lithuania

 

 


Not to sink into the mass of the depraved: Adam Michnik at 70

17/10/2016

Minima moralia: In “Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors,” one of his most influential essays–and also one of my favorites–, Adam Michnik wrote about Piisudski, but in fact about himself: “…his is not simply a national but also a very human perspective. It is not patriotic and political concerns but my own concerns, my own good that inspire me to fight. This will rescue me from sinking into the anonymous, shapeless mass of the depraved, captive, and obedient.” (“Letters from Prison,” University of California Press, 1985, p. 210)

Image: Adam Michnik, Warsaw, December 1981

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Despre onoare in timpuri sumbre: Adam Michnik la 70 de ani

16/10/2016

Cosmopolis: “By his actions, always nonviolent, Michnik established the unity of his premises and conclusions. I would draw your attention to a hypothesis: capable of seeing greatness in the past in people like Gandhi, we may fail to see what takes place in the present. If this hypothesis is correct, Michnik is one of those who bring honor to the last two decades of the twentieth century, even if a film on his life will not be produced soon.” (Czesław Miłosz, Foreword to Adam Michnik, “Letters from Prison and Other Essays,” translated by Maya Latynski, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985, p. XV)

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Philia…

08/10/2016

A friend is another self…

With Horia Patapievici and Vladimir Protopopescu at “La Tomate,” close to Dupont Circle (October 5, 2016)