A Terrible Day for Putin


He never hid it, Novembr 9, 1989 was a dismal day. For podpolkovnik Vladimir Putin, the facto chief of the KGB station in Dresden, this was really the end of the world as he knew it. In his mind, as in those of his acolytes, the downfall of the Berlin Wall meant a personal tragedy.

For them, the West was the enemy, the embodiment of all what they resented, hated, and despised.. According to Madeleine Albright, he told her that he regreted the disbandment of the Soviet Bloc.What millions experienced as liberation, individuals like Putin lived as an unbearable humiliation. The war against Ukraine derives, in his self-image, from the imperatuve of recreating the “lost parardise.” The liberation of Kherson from the Russian occupation makes November 9, 2022 anothher suprenely depressing day.



Canaliile nomenclaturiste erau terifiate de explozia spontană a străzii și de renașterea societății civile. Tocmai din acest motiv au incercat mai multe variante de succesiune. Prima ar fi fost Constantin Dăscălescu, un fel Egon Krenz din Balcani, sluga lui Ceaușescu. A doua ar fi fost versiunea Ilie Verdeț, cu un guvern format din activiști marginalizați de către cuplul dictatorial, ilegaliști nemulțumiți de cultul lui Ceaușescu, dar devotati dictaturii comuniste ca sistem politic (Mihai Burcă, Vasile Vâlcu), criminali securiști precum “generalul” Iulian Vlad. In fine, al treilea scenariu, cel mai perfid și de aceea cel triumfător, a fost propus si realizat de Ion Iliescu, omul de incredere al Kremlinului, impreună cu o echipă de personaje cu care se aflase mai demult in contact (Virgil Măgureanu, Silviu Brucan, Nicolae Militaru, Petre Roman). Au urmat luptele, morții reali (peste o mie), propaganda delirantă, minciunile obscene…

Meanings of the twentieth century…


Understanding the twentieth century is mandatory for grasping the meanings of the twenty-first: Special thanks to Krisztina Kós and Central European University Press. It’s been a wonderful collaboration and I look very much forward into the next projects. These volumes owe a lot to the conferences organized in Washington, DC by the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars with support from the University of Maryland, Georgetown University and the Embassy of Romania (2007-2012).


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Memento: Adam Michnik and Mircea Mihaies…


25 years ago, April 1992, at the “Partisan Review” conference on “Intellectuals and Social Change in East-Central Europe” (Rutgers University, Newark campus) Among the participants: Doris Lessing, Joseph Brodsky, Czesław Milosz, Ivan Klima, Adam Zagajewski, Saul Bellow, George Konrad, Susan Sontag, Tatyana Tolstaya, Ralph Ellison, Richard Pipes, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Adriana Babeti, Vasily Aksyonov and the list goes on. I took the picture posted below and it remains one of those I cherish the most…


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Havel’s Lesson…


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…



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


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


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


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…


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!”