S-a stins din viata un marturisitor: In memoriam Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)


Motto: “Eu cred că orice exilat trebuie să se identifice cu Elie Wiesel.”–Ioan Petru Culianu

A stiut ce inseamna agonia, durerea, jalea. Si-a pierdut familia in Holocaust. A supravietuit pentru a depune marturie. A stiut ca garantiile civilizatiei moderne sunt mereu amenintate de barbarie. A inteles ca barbaria poate lua chipul progresului tehnologic. Nu a nutrit iluzii despre niciuna dintre intruchiparile totalitarismului. A scris un roman despre noaptea poetilor asasinati in urma simulacrului de proces impotriva Comitetului Evreiesc Antifascist organizat de Stalin si clica sa. A facut din apararea memoriei o datorie existentiala. In 2003, Elie Wiesel a prezidat Comisia Internationala privind Holocaustul din Romania. Institutul aflat in subordinea premierului Romaniei care se ocupa de originile, dinamica si efectele Holocaustului din Romania ii poarta numele.

Venea din mica burghezie a evreimii transilvane. O categorie sociala si etnica anihilata de nazism. La Sighet, am vizitat acum cativa ani Casa Memoriala “Elie Wiesel”. Este la doi pasi de Muzeul Memorial al Victimelor Comunismului. Locuri de memorie pe o harta insangerata. Aparator al tuturor prigonitlor, un umanist dintr-o specie tot mai rara, Elie Wiesel a primit Premiul Nobel pentru Pace. L-a binemeritat. Sa-i fie memoria eterna! Omenirea ii va fi de-a pururi indatorata…

Totalitarismul sub lupa: Hannah Arendt si Sigmund Neumann


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 memoria lui Mircea Ivanescu: Despre Hannah Arendt, Sf Augustin si problema libertatii


Lecturi esentiale:”Originile totalitarismului” de Hannah Arendt, traducere din engleza de Mircea Ivanescu si Ion Dur, in colectia “Istorie contemporana” pe care o coordonez la Humanitas impreuna cu Cristian Vasile. Aceasta este cartea de baza daca vrem sa intelegem natura dominatiei totalitare, raportul dintre ideologie si teroare, problema Raului radical, afinitatile si convergentele dintre cele doua incarnari ale Diavolului in Istorie, comunismul si fascismul.

In pofida legitimului pesimism generat de experientele infernale ale veacului XX, cartea se incheie cu o adiere de speranta. Hannah Arendt, care si-a sustinut doctoratul cu Karl Jaspers despre conceptul iubirii la Sf Augustin, reia, in 1952, ideea ca “Beginning is the supreme capacity of man . . . initium ut esset homo creatus est” ‘that a beginning be made man was created,’ said Augustine. This beginning is guaranteed by each new birth; it is indeed every man.”, odata cu venirea pe lume a fiecarui om, se mai naste o data sansa libertatii (citez din memorie). Pe 26 martie 2016, marele poet Mircea Ivanescu, care a trait in doua totalitarisme si le-a detestat in egala masura, ar fi implinit 85 de ani…

Milena’s Dream


In June 1921, Milena Jesenská, the Czech journalist and writer whom Franz Kafka loved passionately, had a foreboding dream, frighteningly anticipating her own fate. She died in KZ Ravensbrück on May 17, 1944: “I was infinitely far from my homeland–in America? in China?–somewhere at the other end of the world, when a war or the plague broke out across the globe, or perhaps it was a deluge. I hadn’t heard any details about the catastrophe. But I was torn away by a mad hurry—-haste and excitement. I didn’t know where we were fleeing. Nor did I ask why. Endless trains pulled out from a station into the world, one after the other, all of them overloaded. Panic seized the railroad employees; no one wanted to be the last one left behind. People fought for seats as if they were fighting for their lives. Immense crowds stood beteen the station and me, and it was pointless trying pushing through, I was desperate. ‘I’m young, I can’t die,” I cried.” It is impossible not to sense the terrible premonition. It is impossible not to be shaken by this text…




Svetlana, the Vozhd, and His Clique


To the surprise of many cognoscenti, a few months ago, historian Richard Pipes gave in “The New York Review of Books,” a highly favorable review to Sheila Fitzpatrick’s refreshing and engagingly written new book “On Stalin’s Team” (Princeton UP, 2015) Now, in TLS (March 4, 2016, pp. 3-5), Rachel Polonsky reviews, in a gripping essay featuring on the front page Svetlana and her father (see picture below), professor Fitzpatrick’s book together with Rosemary Sullivan’s “Stalin’s Daughter” (Harper, 2015) In fact, she writes, Sheila Fitzpatrick migrates, in this volume, from her traditional focus on groups to the exploration of the top Soviet elite, the inner circle around the vozhd. She thought, and definitely was right in so thinking, “that there was a book to write about Soviet high politics that put political science models aside and focused on the individuals and their interactions.” This is an important statement from one of the most adamant critics of the totalitarian model. Her focus here is not on the dictator, but rather on his team, those who caried out, for dacdes, his strategic goals.

As for Rosemary Sullivan’s book, I agree with Rachel Polonsky: it is truly absorbing. Writing myself about two sisters in dark times (a book project, co-authored with political scientist Marius Stan about my mother and her sister), I share Rachel Polonsky’s interrogation: “The genre of biography can involve a different kind of mercilessness. How much are we entitled to know?” The review reads like a Kremlinological thriller: Malenkov, Mikoyan, Khrushchev, Zhdanov, Molotov, Beria, Max Hayward, Andrei Siniavsky, George Kennan, and many others walk within this historical labyrinth and what links all of them is Svetlana, or rather Svetlana’s father…



Andrzej Wajda at 90


There are no words to say how much East European cinema owes to Andrzej Wajda. The Polish director was born 90 years ago. Happy birthday to a great artist whose works represent the felicitous encounter that Romanian anti-totalitarian thinker Monica Lovinescu called East-ethics. In more than one way, Pawel Pawlikowski’s “Ida” is a tribute to Wajda’s path-breaking films…



Glonţ în ochi, glonţ în frunte şi glonţ în rărunchi: In memoria lui Osip Mandelstam


Un poem scris la sfarsitul anului 1933, intrat in istoria politica si literara drept “Epigrama despre Stalin”, l-a costat viata pe Osip Mandelstam. Citit intr-un grup restrans de prieteni, textul a ajuns rapid la NKVD si, de-acolo, pe biroul satrapului. Povestea e mai lunga, o rezum doar in acest tribut pentru un poet-martir. Alături de Anna Ahmatova, Marina Tvetaieva si Boris Pasternak, Mandelstam reprezintă varful absolut al poeziei ruse in veacul XX. Prima strofă este motto-ul cărtii “Dosar Stalin. Genialissimul generalissim”, scrisă impreună cu Marius Stan si publicată in 2014, in colectia “Constelatii”, la Curtea Veche Publishing.

Vieţuim, dar sub noi ţara tace mormânt.
Când vorbim, nu se-aude măcar un cuvânt.
Iar când vorbele par să se-nchege puţin,
Pomenesc de plăieşul urcat în Kremlin.

Are degete groase şi grele,
Sunt cuvintele lui de ghiulele.
Râd gândacii mustăţilor strâmbe
Şi-i lucesc a năpastă carâmbii.

Are-o turmă de sfetnici cu gâturi subţiri –
Semioameni slujindu-l umili –
Care şuieră, miaună, latră câineşte,
Numai el, fulgerând, hăcuieşte.
Potcovar de ucazuri, forjează porunci:
Glonţ în ochi, glonţ în frunte şi glonţ în rărunchi.
Orice moarte-i desfată deplin
Pieptu-i larg de cumplit osetin.

(Traducere de Emil Iordache)