Against Fear and Panic: In Memoriam Leonidas Donskis

09/07/2018

Lithuanian political philosopher Leonidas Donskis on populism, fear, and courage. I publish here a fragment from the first chapter of a book of dialogues we were writing together when he suddenly passed away. I received it on September 6, 2016. Leonidas died on September 21. One can read it as this critical intellectual’s testament: “The question arises as to fear of what? The answer is quite simple: It is fear of someone who comes as personification of our own insecurities and uncertainties, who get their first and last names of facial features due to excessive sensationalist media coverages, tabloid editorials, and conspiracy theories. Fear of Islam and Muslims, fear of immigrants, fear of gays and lesbians, fear of godless pinkos, fear of new Jewish world conspiracies, fear of Jews and Banderovites – that is, fascists in the way in which the Kremlin propaganda depicts them – in Ukraine.

Together with privacy exposed in the public, fear has become most precious political commodity. At the same time, it serves as the key to success for every tabloid. For we live in a world of self-generating and self-sustaining fear, panic-mongering, fake images and information, compulsive self-exposure, constant attention-seeking, conspiracy theories, suspicion, hatred, and bullying conflated with critique.

This is not to say that courage bid farewell to this world. Ukraine could serve here as the best proof of courage, bravery, sacrifice, willpower, and magnanimity without which the country would never have had the strength to mobilize and defend itself against Russia’s aggression and political terrorism.

And it becomes the reminder of what it means no to succumb to panic and fear both being the most desirable outcome for the Kremlin and Vladimir Putin. To find the strength to resist nuclear blackmail, toxic lies, and hate crimes committed inside and outside Russia means to be on the winning side nowadays. The more fear we generate in our media, the more success we bring to the Kremlin.”

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In Memoriam Karen Dawisha (1949–2018)

13/04/2018

Who own Russia? This is the question, my friends, and Karen Dawisha gave the correct, definitive, unequivocal, incontrovertible answer to it: The KGB/FSB mafia…

My Karen Dawisha Memorial lecture on Thurday, April 12, class on the rise and fall of communism, University of Maryland at College Park…

Photo credit: Andres Garcia

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Pentru Horia Patapievici: La Multi Ani, cu noroc, sanatate si minunate impliniri intelectuale!

18/03/2018

Nobletea spiritului: Unul din marile daruri pe care le-am primit in viata este cel al unor prietenii de neclintit. Intre acestea, cat se poate de intensa, fraterna legatura sentimentala, morala si intelectuala cu Horia Patapievici. In a mea umila opinie, Horia este cel mai important intelectual (ganditor politic) liberal al zilelor noastre in Romania. Ura impotriva lui Horia este ura in raport cu ceea inseamna ideile sale. Vreau sa o spun cat pot de clar: fara Horia n-as fi rezistat in 2006, in timpul cand lucram impreuna in cadrul Comisiei Prezidentiale pentru Analiza Dictaturii Comuniste din Romania. Vorbeam zilnic la telefon. El si Mihnea Berindei tineau permanent legatura cu Monica Lovinescu si Virgil Ierunca. Sunt coplesit de amintiri. Voi spune doar ca, fara Horia, viata mea si a noastra ar fi infinit mai saraca. Am trecut si vom trece prin multe impreuna, dar niciodata, sub nicio forma nu ne-am indoit de inoxidabila noastra solidaritate. A fost, este, va fi! La Multi Ani, cu noroc, sanatate si minunate impliniri intelectuale!

 

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Catholics on the Barricades

12/11/2017

Gaudium in veritate: It is my pleasure to recommend in superlative terms this book by my friend and U-MD colleague, Piotr Kosicki. Superbly written and truly illuminating, this is comparative intellectual history at its very best! Congrats, Piotr, see you on Thursday and Friday at our conference on “One Hundred Years of Communist Experiments.” Thanks for the great inscription!

 

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https://yalebooks.yale.edu/…/978030022…/catholics-barricades


A avut, are si va avea dreptate…

05/11/2017

A century after the Bolshevik revolution: Raymond Aron was, as Allan Bloom wrote shortly after the philosopher’s death in 1983, “the man who for fifty years . . . had been right about the political alternatives actually available to us. . . . [H]e was right about Hitler, right about Stalin, and right that our Western regimes, with all their flaws, are the best and only hope of mankind.”


Meanings of the twentieth century…

08/09/2017

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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Secolul lui Lenin…

05/09/2017

The twentieth century was dominated by Lenin’s institutionalized inventions: vanguard party, agitation and propaganda (Agitprop), secret police (Cheka), censorship (Glavlit), central state planning (Gosplan), state controlled unions (Profsoyuz), Communist Youth Union (Komsomol), Communist International (Comintern), Political Bureau (Politburo), collective farms (kolkhoz), concentration camps (Gulag) etc The precondition for all these to operate was the moral blindness and the absolute commitment of the party cadres to the sacralized cause. Lenin’s officers were professional revolutionaries, they dedicated their lives to the Party 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…

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