Burning self-scrutiny, old Cioran on young Cioran: “We were a band of desperate individuals in the heart of the Balkans. And we were doomed to fail; our failure was our only excuse… [The Iron Guard] was the only sign that our country could be anything but a fiction. It was a cruel movement, a mixture of prehistory and prophecy, mystique of prayer and of revolt. And it was persecuted by all authorities, and it wanted to be persecuted … It had been founded on ferocious idea…s: it disappeared ferociously. Whoever between 20 and 30 does not subscribe to fanaticism, to rage, to madness is an imbecile. One is a liberal only by fatigue, and a democrat by reason.” (E.M. Cioran, “Mon pays,” cited in Alain Finkielkraut, “Cioran mort et son juge,” Le Messager Européen, no. 9, Paris: Gallimard, 1996, pp. 66–67)
This passage is included in my essay titled “The Metapolitics of Despair: Romania’s Mystical Generation and the Passions of Emil Cioran,” and will be appear in the volume “Ideological Storms of the Twentieth Century,” co-edited with Bogdan C. Iacob
At Hannah Arendt’s funeral, December 8, 1975, her close friend for decades, philosopher Hans Jonas, spoke about the immense biographical significance of her coming to the US. True, her politicization had started in Parisian exile, but ti was here, in the US, that she developed her vision on what “beginning anew” means: “Still, what would have become of that, had she not come to these shores–who knows? It was the experience of the Republic here which d…ecisively shaped her political thinking, tempered as it was in the fires of European tyranny and catastrophe, and forever supported in her grounding in classical thought. America taught her a way beyond the hardened alternatives of left and right from which she had escaped; and the idea of the Republic, as the realistic chance for freedom, remained dear to her even in its darkening days.” (Quoted by Richard H. King, “Arendt and America,” University of Chicago Press, 2015)
On his FB page, political scientist Marius Stan publishes a picture with two major students of totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, accompanied by an excellent commentary: “Neumann’s groundbreaking book “Permanent Revolution: The Total State in a World War” (1942) deals with the structural framework which distinguishes modern dictatorship from the 19th century state. He was among the first scholars to discuss the role and the figure of the political lieutenant (or, in his own words, “the forgotten man”). SN was fully committed to the comparative study of politics (His credo: “To know thyself, compare thyself to others.”) Nowadays, the city of Dresden, this powerful symbol of destruction and war, has the privilege to host two important institutions: Hannah Arendt Institute for the Research on Totalitarianism & Sigmund Neumann Institute for the Research on Freedom and Democracy. Neumann tackled the concept of “totalitarianism” quite early (“always on a march that never ends, incessantly at war with a world that it can not possess,” therefore its character of “permanent revolution”), Arendt added a much needed philosophical touch and turned it into a key-concept for the modern political science…”
Hannah Arendt and Sigmund Neumann, Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT.
In memory of all those who opposed Benito Mussolini’s totalitarian dictatorship: Liberation Day is a national holiday in Italy that is annually celebrated on April 25. It marks the fall of Mussolini’s Italian Social Republic and the end of the Nazi occupation in Italy in 1945, towards the end of the second World War.