Havel’s Lesson…

17/04/2017

In these dark times, let’s remember the luminous words of a man who refused to live within a lie and fearlessly opposed any form of human humiliation! Václav Havel’s address to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, March 8, 1994. “I have come from a land that did not enjoy freedom and democracy for almost sixty years. You will perhaps believe me when I say that it is this historical experience that has allowed me to respond at the deepest level to the revolutionary meaning of European integration today. And perhaps you will believe me when I say that the very depth of that experience compels me to …express concern for the proper outcome of this process and to consider ways to strengthen it and make it irreversible. Allow me, in conclusion, to thank you for approving the Europe Agreement on the association of the Czech Republic with the European Union two weeks after it was signed. In doing so, you have shown that you are not indifferent to the fate of my country.”

 

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To The Castle and Back- VACLAV HAVEL (Translated by Paul Wilson)


Cosmopolis: Leszek Kołakowski, CEU, and the Traditions of 1989…

16/04/2017

 

On October 26, 2006, Polish philosopher Leszek Kołakowski, one of the main intellectual inspirers of the independent, self-governed movement Solidarność, an emblematic citizen of the European Republic of Letters, received the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the Central European University in Budapest. I was invited to deliver the Laudatio. For personal reasons, I could not be there, but the text exists, I hope. A crisis had occurred regarding the status of a close friend of mine, a Romanian historian who had served as the CEU academic vice-rector. He was supposed to introduce both Leszek Kołakowski and me, but, the day before the event, he resigned. My book “The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century” came out from the University of California Press in 2012 (the paperback was published one year later). It is dedicated to the three scholars whose ideas have influenced me immensely: Tony Judt, Leszek Kolakowski, and Robert C. Tucker. The attack on CEU by the new Horthy and his minions is an onslaught on the values Kolakowski stood for–trust, truth, and tolerance. It is an aggression against the revolutionary tradition of the annus mirabilis 1989 and its legacies…

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Vestea cea bună

03/02/2017

În 1990, România a trecut cu maximă viteză de la starea de grație la aceea de greață. În 2017, în chip miraculos, România a trecut de la starea de greață la aceea de grație. Iar în această poveste, rolul gratiilor nu trebuie subestimat…


1 februarie 2017

01/02/2017

Cauze și efecte: Ce-au ignorat ei este că in România s-a format, in toți acești ani de năucitoare și de atâtea ori nevrozantă tranziție, ceea ce Max Weber numea o clasă național civică. Este momentul ca ea sa fie reprezentată politic. Vreau să o spun cât pot de clar: nu politicul a capotat in România, ci politicianismul corupt, veros și cinic. Politicul este spatiul libertății noastre, ne definește, o știm de la cei vechi. Să-l reinventam, așadar, fără temeri, cu imaginație, demnitate și curaj civic!

 

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Heroes: Václav Havel and Adam Michnik

05/10/2016

One would have turned eighty on October 5. The other will turn seventy on October 17. One wrote “The Power of the Powerless,” the other one “The New Evolutionism.” These two essays defined the goals of East European dissident movements, their vision of liberty, and their ethos. They both deserve our gratitude. Their names: Václav Havel and Adam Michnik.

 

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Cartezianismul lui Ilici…

03/09/2016

Regimul Iliescu s-a întemeiat pe minciună. Nu minciuni banale, deplorabile, firește, ci mega-minciuni. Uriașe, colosale, gigantice. Scandalurile falselor doctorate–pentru că un doctorat bazat pe plagiat este unul fals– ale unor Ponta, Oprea, Tobă și alții/altele ejusdem farinae nu sunt decât vârful unui aisberg al amoralității maladive născută din minciuna fondatoare a “emanației spontane”. Când scriu că Iliescu și cei proveniți din a sa lume interlopă sunt bolșevici, am în vedere faptul că ei practică minciuna precum un mod de viață. Pe scurt, deviza lor este: “Mint, deci exist!”


O veste minunata pentru prietenii societatii deschise

05/05/2016

Great news for the friends of the open society! Congrats to Michael Ignatieff, influential human rights scholar and admirable public intellectual: “Farewell to @Harvard @Kennedy_School. From September 1, I will be President & Rector of Central European University in Budapest @CEUHungary.” One of my first book reviews in English came out in the 1980s in the journal “Orbis” and praised Michael Ignatieff’s wonderful “Russian Album.” In the 1990s, I used in my classes his film and book “Blood and Belonging,” one of the finest analyses of the Yugoslav debacle.

 

 

I read with an immense interest his biography of Isaiah Berlin,. In the pages of the NYRB, Michael has published seminal essays, including the insightfully prescient ones, last year, on the new authoritarian wave. I met him in Amsterdam a few years ago when we were on the same panel on nationalism as at a conference organized by Rob Riemen, the indefatigable director of the Nexus Institute. We talked about civil society’s metamorphoses in post-communist Europe (he had published an utterly thoughtful review of Ernest Gellner’s “Conditions of Liberty”). For those who have not visted CEU, let ma say that there is, in addition to a “Popper Room,” a “Gellner Room,” as well.

As one who has published several volumes with CEU Press, who has frequently lectured there, participated in doctoral committees, and co-organized a major conference in 1999 to explore the revolutions of 1989 and their aftermath, I am particularly pleased and happy for Michael Ignatieff and for entire CEU community, professors, library staff, students and alumni!