The Counter-Enlightenment critique of liberalism was based partly on politics and partly on religion. With regard to politics, Counter-Enlightenment thinkers denied that it was possible to run a stable and tranquil spolitical order on the basis of liberal ideas. Implicitly and quite often explicitly, contemporary counter-Enlightenment votaries of what Albert Hirschman called the rhetoric of reaction draw from the tradition explored by Isaiah Berlin.
Image: Sir Isaiah Berlin by Richard Avedon, 1993
He was among the first to predict, in a series of articles published in NYRB, the rise of the ethnocentric populist wave in Europe and not only there. As a Berliner (i.e., a disciple of Isaiah Berlin) he knows very well what the sources of nationalism are. He deserves our gratitude for the adamant resistance to Viktor Orbán’s efforts to get rid of the Central European University in Budapest. At this moment, when so many scoundrels compete for the limelight, Michael Ignatieff epitomizes what it means to be a good, honorable man, a mensch…
Constantin Noica a fost unul dintre cei mai urmăriți oameni din Romania dictaturii comuniste. Nu pentru fapte politice, ci pentru idei culturale. Cum foarte inspirat scria Andrei Pleşu: “Urmărit nu oricum, nu rutinier, ci ca un obiectiv militar, ca un personaj important şi primejdios. Securitatea il cunoştea mai bine decat adunătura de lătrători vigilenți din presa noastra contemporană”. În raport cu care, ispitiți fiind uneori a polemiza cu trimişii neantului, poate că n-ar strica să ne amintim cuvintele lui Noica, născute dintr-o cumplită experiență: “Cu derbedeii nu se stă de vorbă”.
Will Viktor Mihály Orbán deliver? Will his zealots calm down? Can these individuals be trusted? Let’s wait and see. This strikes me as the wisest approach at this juncture. Without giving up the pressure in defense of academic freedom. On the contrary! Kudos to Michael Ignatieff for his dignified, determined, and tenacious stances throughout this critical period. His actions are exemplary for what political theorist Judith Shklar called the liberalism of fear. One which knows who the enemies of the open society are and acts accordingly…
Bethesda, Maryland, after seeing Pablo Larrain’s film “Neruda”: superb cinematography, great performances, amazing score, nothing about Neruda as a Stalinist intellectual…