Alfabetul extremismului


Caruselul ideilor, angajamentelor și patimilor politice în veacul XX este amețitor. Mai ales când vine vorba de radicalisme, de pasiuni, iluzii și minciuni, spre a relua titlul cărții postume a lui François Furet. Hitler ar fi spus că dintr-un comunist poate face un bun nazist, niciodată însă dintr-un social-democrat (apud Hermann Rauschning). Tot Hitler, imbătat cu propriile obsesii, spunea că isi urmează destinul cu certitudinea unui somambul. Salturile mortale de la o extremă la alta se explică tocmai prin similitudinea fanatismelor ce le motivează. Jacques Doriot (1898—1945), fascistul francez, lider al asa-zisului „Partid Popular Francez”, fusese membru al CC al PCF și deputatul circumscripției roșii, St Denis. Mussolini a pornit ca socialist radical, chiar internaționalist. A fost idolul tinerilor Antonio Gramsci și Palmiro Togliatti. In ale sale „Caiete din inchisoare”, Gramsci îsi amintea de vremurile când peripatetiza în compania lui Mussolini…

Ideologul fascist Nicola Bombacci a fost inițial comunist, dar a murit împușcat, în aprilie 1945, ca ideolog al odioasei Republici de la Salò, socialistă, fascistă și exterministă, înfrățit cu amicul său Benito, reîntors la fantasmele roșii ale juneții sale, sub patronaj nazist. Chiar A. C. Cuza, antisemit epidermic, era, în junețe, un fel de socialist. August Bebel a spus, și nu greșea, că antisemitismul e socialismul proștilor. Stalin l-a definit, în anii 30, drept canibalismul epocii noastre, doar că nu a ezitat să devină el însuși un canibal. In ultimii ani de viață, dictatorul sociopat lansa acuzații delirante la adresa medicilor evrei și pregătea deportarea în masă a evreilor, cei pe care propaganda oficială îi stigmatiza drept „cosmopoliți fără rădăcini”, spre viitoare lagăre de concentrare (în curs de pregătire). Denigrat de stânga, Friedrich Nietzsche a fost criticul cel mai virulent al antisemitismului. L-a disprețuit visceral. Îl considera vulgar, resentimentar, abject. Nu însă și contemporanul său, Karl Marx, cel care echivala, asemeni lui Richard Wagner, Banul cu Evreul, iudaismul cu capitalismul, cu sistemul bancar. Chiar si în corespondența sa privată cu Friedrich Engels și alți camarazi de idei, Marx nu ezita să utilizeze „argumente” de acest gen, dacă despre argumente vorbim.

Anticapitalismul, antiliberalismul și antisemitismul unesc cele două extreme (nu doar ele, dar în primul rând ele). Crimele în masă ale secolului XX s-au produs în numele acestor trei „anti”. Exemplele abundă. Noile populisme apelează la vechile clișee etnocentrice și xenofobe, nu pregetă să exploateze, cinic și manipulativ, temeri, fobii și resentimente individuale și colective. Extremismul funcționează ca un alfabet: spui a, urmează b, și c, și d, etc.


Text transmis la postul de radio Europa Libera.

Le jour de gloire…


And when man faces destiny, destiny ends and man comes into his own. (André Malraux)

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Le Pari français


This post is dedicated to the memory of two Andrés: Malraux (1901-1976) and Glucksmann (1937-2015). To be or not to be European? This is question. The French elections are about modernity versus traditionalism, inclusion versus exclusion, civic patriotism versus atavistic xenophobia, hope versus fear, confrontation with the ignoble pages of the past versus revisionist denial, tolerance versus intolerance, Enlightenment versus Counter–Enlightenment, the France of Jean Jaurès, Léon Blum, Jean Moulin, Jean Monnet, Pierre Mendès-France, René Char, and Albert Camus versus the France of Charles Maurras, “L’Action Francaise,” Drumont, Vichy, les collabos, Doriot, “Je suis partout,” and the neo-Poujadisme. The very fact that Emmanuel Macron is a member of the editorial board of the monthly journal “L’esprit” indicates a political philosophy committed to the open society. I definitely support him and I do hope that he will be the winner!


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Sapere aude!


In our dark times, let’s remember Immanuel Kant’s enlightening words, a manifesto for moral and political autonomy: “Enlightenment is the human being’s emergence from his self-incurred minority. Minority is inability to make use of one’s own understanding without direction from another. This minority is self-incurred when its cause lies not in lack of understanding but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another. Sapere aude! [dare to be wise] Have courage to make use of your own understanding! is thus the motto of enlightenment.

It is because of laziness and cowardice that so great a part of humankind, after nature has long since emancipated them from other people’s direction (naturaliter maiorennes), nevertheless gladly remains minors for life, and that it becomes so easy for others to set themselves up as their guardians. It is so comfortable to be a minor! If I have a book that understands for me, a spiritual advisor who has a conscience for me, a doctor who decides upon a regimen for me, and so forth, I need not trouble myself at all. I need not think, if only I can pay; others will readily undertake the irksome business for me. That by far the greatest part of humankind (including the entire fair sex) should hold the step toward majority to be not only troublesome but also highly dangerous will soon be seen to by those guardians who have kindly taken it upon themselves to supervise them; after they have made their domesticated animals dumb and carefully prevented these placid creatures from daring to take a single step without the walking cart in which they have confined them, they then show them the danger that threatens them if they try to walk alone. Now this danger is not in fact so great, for by a few falls they would eventually learn to walk; but an example of this kind makes them timid and usually frightens them away from any further attempt.” (Immanuel Kant, “An Answer to the Question: What is Enlightenment?”, 1784)

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Am I pleased? You bet I am…


A great day for Adam Tismaneanu (Atlantic Council blog piece), Jordan Luber (high honors), and Marius Stan (Hoover/Stanford workshop on authoritarianism). Warm congrats! Am I pleased? You bet I am, as father, as professor, as friend…🙂

Image: Tydings Hall, University of Maryland at College Park (my office is in this building)

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Will Ukrainians Ever Trust the Press? An article by Adam Tismaneanu


Journalism has changed since the Euromaidan, but most Ukrainians still don’t trust the media. Oligarchs continue to own a majority of the major outlets. Since 2014, reformers have established a public broadcasting service and are in the process of privatizing several hundred state-owned newspapers. Those steps may not be enough. The media suffers from a lack of transparency—something that government regulators, nongovernmental organizations, and citizens can help address.

That was one of the main conclusions reached at a National Endowment for Democracy (NED) panel on Friday, April 28. Organized by the NED’s Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), panelists included Tetyana Lebedyeva, chair of the supervisory board of the National Public Broadcasting Company; Katerina Myasnykova, executive director of the Independent Association of Broadcasters; Roman Shutov, program director at the watchdog Detector Media; and Joanna Rohozinska, senior program officer for Europe at the NED. Mark Nelson, CIMA senior director, moderated the discussion.

While Ukraine’s media environment has “significantly improved” since 2014, according to Freedom House’s just-released 2017 Freedom of the Press report, the country is still categorized as only “partly free.” Some experts, like Myroslava Gongadze, who leads the Voice of America’s Ukraine service, have called it “free, but not independent.” What needs to be done to make Ukraine’s media independent?

More information about ownership was the government’s answer. While broadcasters must give detailed information about the identities of their owners to a state regulator as of October 2015, enforcing this legislation and even unearthing this information is tricky. Panelists agreed that transparency of ownership is fundamental to fostering trust in the media. Until the government proves that it is committed to enforcing the legislation on media ownership, oligarchs will continue to control it, they said.

Shutov said the problem is that there is no way for the government regulator to investigate ownership information. “They don’t have the capacity to check the information for all the broadcasters; it’s impossible,” he said. “Some oligarchs are hidden in Moscow now and they don’t have any interest in disclosure.”

Myasnykova said that the regulators face serious financial challenges as well. “If an oligarch claims someone owns a company and even if we know it’s not true, you have to go offshore and pay money to check, but the [regulator] doesn’t have this money,” Myasnykova said. “The most crucial problem for me: according to our legislation, media companies have no requirement to provide information to the [regulator].”

Most people still struggle to identify which sources are the best and most reliable.

“Media literacy is much more in focus than it used to be a few years ago,” said Myasnykova. “I think it’s the right thing to do.” Schools have started media literacy courses and the press work with teachers, she said.

Media transparency can also be boosted by increasing citizens’ access to genuinely independent media through public broadcasting.

A 2014 law created a national public broadcasting service in Ukraine. “This is a key reform: we are able to get rid of state media, something we inherited from the Soviet Union with all its negative characteristics,” Lebedyeva said.

While passage of this law was a giant step forward, Lebedyeva emphasized that there needs to be a wait-and-see approach until the ownership legislation is enforced.

Ukraine’s media climate will only thrive with the assistance of outside parties, Myasnykova counseled. “One very important issue. . . is for us and international media developers and donors to be more active.”

Adam Tismaneanu, an intern at the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance, is a fourth-year journalism, media, and screen studies major at Northeastern University.


Testudo likes espresso…


McKeldin Library, University of Maryland, College Park, May 3, 2017


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