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)

Mátyás Rákosi, the bald murderer


Eastern Europe’s little Stalins hated and despised Khrushchev for his attack on Stalin in February 1956. The most adamant was, by far, Hungary’s Mátyás Rákosi. Born on March 9, 1892, in Ada, Serbia, he died on February 5, 1971, in Nizhny Novgorod, then Gorky, in Russia. To please the sociopath in the Kremlin, he masterminded the Rajk affair. Infinitely ruthless, cynical, and perfidious, he symbolized the terrorist nature of the communist project. A Jew himself (born Rosenfeld), he didn’t hesitate to use anti-Semitism as a political tool. Hungarians referred to him as “Arsehead,” “the bald murderer,” or “the Toad.” Apostate Marxist playwright Gyula Háy recalled his “short, squat body, as if the creator had been unable to finish his work for abhorrence.”

Stalinism for All Seasons: Romanian Communists and the Secret Speech


The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union opened 60 years ago, on February 14, 1956, with the proposal to hold a minute of silence in memory of the militants who had passed away since the previous conclave (October 1952). They were listed alphabetically, Iosif Visssarionovich Stalin was not singled out in any special way. This was a signal that the “collective leadership” had decided to continue the politics of symbolic de-Stalinization. Yet no one could have anticipated the bombshell that was to explode during the nght of February 25 to the very end of the Congress, whenparty first secretary Nikita Khrushchev delivered the Secret Speech (“On the Cult of Personality and Its Consequences”) to a shocked audience.

Historian Stefan Bosomitu, the author of an outstanding biography of Miron Constantinescu, publishes now a photo with members of the Romanian Workers’ Party delegation. The head was the unrepentant Stalinist boss Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej. He does not appear in picture. At the left, probably, the interpreter (the photo is from a dinner, Dej and the other participants do not appear). Next to him, Iosif Chisinevschi, chief ideologue and responsible with secret police affairs during the worst Stalinist atrocities, the Romanian equivalent of Poland’s Jakub Berman. Next to him, Miron Constantinescu, deputy prime minster, head of the Planning Committee, a Marxist sociologist who would try to “draw the lessons” of the Secret Speech and apply them in Romania. Chisinevschi supported him. They were both purged in June 1957 uner charges of “right witng” deviation and unprincipled factionalism. At right, Petre Borila, another Politburo member, political officer druing the Spanish Civil War, Comintern veteran and Gheorghiu-Dej’s faithful supporter.

Iosif Chişinevschi, Miron Constantinescu, Petre Borilă Sursă foto: Arhivele Naţionale ale României


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