Mystical socialism versus skeptical sarcasm

25/04/2017

Today in my class on Marxism, neo-Marxism, post-Marxism we discussed the intellectual origins of the Budapest School and the avatars of humanist dialectics. I mentioned this telltale story: When Georg Lukács said that even the worst socialism was preferable to the best capitalism, Leszek Kołakowski replied: “Ah yes, the advantages of Albania over Sweden are self-evident.”

Images: Georg Lukács (1885-1971) and Leszek Kołakowski (1927-2009)

 

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History, Memory, Forgetting: Emmanuel Macron and Paul Ricoeur

24/04/2017

He was Paul Ricoeur’s editorial assistant: This is where Emmanuel Macron comes from. He’s a member of the editorial board of the influential monthly “Esprit”, friends with Olivier Mongin, the author of an important book on the invention of the democratic intellectual. Some try to diminish the link to Ricouer. Yet, Macron insists on this intellelectual debt and profound affinity.

“J’ai beaucoup appris auprès de lui. A lire la philosophie. Parce que c’est un hasard de la vie, presque un malentendu. C’est François Dosse, qui a été son biographe, qui était historien, qui a été un de mes professeurs, qui m’a conduit jusqu’à lui parce que Ricoeur cherchait quelqu’un pour faire ses archives. Donc c’était vraiment une tâche très manuelle, très ancillaire. Et nous nous sommes rencontrés, et nous ne nous sommes plus quittés.”

In 2004, Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) received the Kluge Prize from the Library of Congress. It is one of the most prestigious intellectual awards in the world. It is meant to include areas in the humanities not covered by the Nobel Prizes (philosophy, theology, history, etc) On that occasion, the distinguished Russia scholar and then Librarian of Congres, James Billington, wrote: “Paul Ricoeur is a philosopher who draws on the entire tradition of western philosophy to explore and explain common problems: What is a self? How is memory used and abused? What is the nature of responsibility? He is a constant questioner – always pressing to understand the nature and limits of what constitutes our humanity.”

In 1945 Ricoeur began his teaching career at the international Protestant College Cevenol (where he met American Quakers, who invited him to Haverford College 10 years later) and moved in 1948 to the University of Strasbourg. In 1956 he was appointed to the chair of general philosophy at the Sorbonne. For the next decade Ricoeur wrote continuously as a professional philosopher. He was also an activist, both against the French war in Algeria and as a reformer of the French university system. In 1967 he left the Sorbonne to assume the deanship of the new experimental university at Nanterre. Student and community disruption and unrest forced him to resign in 1969. He then taught for two years at Louvain in Belgium before moving to the United States, first to Yale and then to the University of Chicago. There he succeeded Paul Tillich as the John Nuveen Chair in the Divinity School and was jointly appointed to the Department of Philosophy and the Committee on Social Thought.

https://www.franceculture.fr/…/aux-sources-des-idees-demman…

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Inalta aristocrație roșie

22/04/2017

Pentru a ințelege destine precum cel al Iordanei Borilă ori al lui Valentin Ceaușescu…

http://www.lapunkt.ro/2013/02/02/despre-lumea-secreta-a-nomenclaturii/

http://revista22online.ro/21063/.html

http://www.revista-apostrof.ro/articole.php?id=2188

 

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Despre Iordana Borilă (1946-2017)

22/04/2017

Am cunoscut-o in anii 60, eram coleg de clasă cu fratelei ei mai mic, Vasile (Vasia). Locuiau pe strada Herăstrău din Cartierul Primăverii. Apoi s-au mutat pe Bulevardul Aviatorilor in casa in care se află acum sediul PNL. Era frumoasă, tăcută, enigmatică. Iubirea dintre ea și Valentin Ceaușescu a provocat furia amblelor familii: Elena se opunea din răsputeri, cu “argumente” ridicole (varsta Danei, originea etnică “impură”), la fel și clanul Borilă. In pofida acestor piedici, cei doi s-au căsătorit, au avut un copil, pe Daniel Valentin, unicul urmas direct masculin al celor executati de Crăciun in decembrie 1989. Dana a studiat Istoria Artelor, a lucrat la Muzeul de Artă al RSR, apoi a plecat din tară, după divortul de Valentin. Venea dintr-o familie cu un impresionant palmares cominternist. Petre Borilă fusese comisar politic in Brigăzile Internationale din Spania, a revenit in Romania din URSS cu divizia “Tudor Vladimirescu”, a detinut functii de varf in partid si in guvern. Ecaterina Borilă, născută Abraham, a urmat cursurile Scolii Leniniste la Moscova in anii 30. Sora ei, Piri, a fost sotia celebrului militant comunist Bela Breiner. Dana si Daniel au revenit in Romania acum cativa ani, au refuzat să dea interviuri, au stat deliberat și justificat in umbră. Dana a fost o persoană modestă, a traversat decenii dificile si chinuitoare cu discretie, fără ostentatie. Să se odihnească in pace…

 

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Farewell to a Dear Friend…

19/04/2017

We got married in Miami, Mary and I, in November 1991. It was during the AAASS (American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies) Convention, we eloped, we were young, and we were joyful. Bill McPherson was there and at the dinner (just the three of us) he offered a most exquisite champagne. We considered him our wedding witness. He was a real gentleman, a great friend, a passionately perceptive writer, and a most generous human being. When Adam turned one, Bill gave him one of those books meant to last forever in our hearts: “Good Night, Gorilla!” His “Granta” article “What Went Wrong” about the June 1990 mineriada was not only superbly written, but also impressively documented. He went to the Jiu Valley to interview Miron Cozma. The trip resulted in a terrible food poisoning, most likely an atempt at his life. Bill was beaten by Iliescu’s miners and reported on the tenebrous nature of the National Salvation Front regime. He understood Romania better than most Romanians. And he loved her enduringly, discreetly, selflessly. Blessed be his memory…

Photos by William McPherson, Washington, DC, 1993

 

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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)


Un autocrat primitiv, monoman si meschin

17/04/2017
Tiraniile ideologice ale veacului trecut au fost inspirate de dogme cu pretenţii mântuitoare. Învăluite de haloul ideologiei, era greu de pătruns logica (sau ilogica) lor internă, iar luptele pentru putere ajungeau să fie ştiute doar când se mai prăbuşea câte un grupuscul de potentaţi. Eroii de ieri deveneau peste noapte renegaţi, trădători, deviatori. Aşa au stat lucrurile şi în România comunizată. Ceauşescu a fost beneficiarul unui cult deşănţat, iar informaţiile despre „Conducător” erau filtrate de cei pe care Monica Lovinescu i-a numit „trepăduşii de Curte Nouă”. Conversaţiile secrete în care se făceau şi se desfăceau adevăratele jocuri se purtau de fapt între doi, trei indivizi. La un moment dat, centrul puterii s-a redus strict la cuplul prezidenţial, susţinut fără crâcnire de mamelucii din ceea ce se numea Comitetul Politic Executiv. Basmul despre „conducerea colectivă” nu mai convingea pe nimeni. Tiranul şi soţia sa îşi puteau face mendrele în voie, fără să conteze în vreun fel opinia acoliţilor lor.

Colaj de Mihail Coșulețu din volumul 300 de ceauşesti liliputani” de Ciprian Macesaru si VT, Humanitas, 2016

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