Posedații bolșevici au fost urmașii lui Serghei Neceaiev și ai colegilor acestuia. Neceaiev a fost prototipul care l-a inspirat pe Dostoievski pentru construcția personajului de o infinită amoralitate Piotr Verhovenski din romanul „Demonii”. Asemeni posedaților dostoievskieni, bolșevicii erau fanatici convinși că fericesc umanitatea, indiferent de metodele utilizate. În plus, ei erau înarmați cu o doctrină ce se pretindea infailibilă. Tocmai această aroganță epistemică l-a ferit pe Lenin de îndoieli și l-a făcut imun la orice considerente „sentimental-burgheze”.

Theses and antitheses: W. H. Auden on the invasion of Czechoslovakia (August 1968


“The ogre does what ogres can
Deeds quite impossible for man.
But one prize is beyond his reach
The ogre cannot master speech.

About a subjugated plain
Among its desperate and slain
The ogre stalks with hands on hips
While drivel gushes from his lips.”

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The streets of Prague during the invasion, photo pe Josef Koudelka

Surreal history…


Lena Constante (1909-2005) was a Romanian graphic artist, a left-wing intellectual and a free spirit. She was married to Harry Brauner (1908-1988), a brilliant ethno-musicologist, surrealist painter Victor Brauner’s brother, and no less of a free spirit. They were both close friends with the Marxist intellectual and Communist luminary Lucretiu Patrascanu and his wife, Elena (Hertha). This was their misfortune: they were arrested, tortured, and sentenced to long jail terms in the Patrascanu trial, the last Stalinist frame-up in Eastern Europe (April 1954, Albania was the exception). All the defendants pleaded guilty, minus Patrascanu. who spat upon the false witnesses.

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One year after Stalin’s death, his Romanian protege, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, feared that the former minister of justice could represent an alternative to his autocratic power. All the Politburo members approved the death sentence. In April 1968, theree years after Dej’s demise, Lucretiu Patrascanu and the alleged members of a the fictitous conspiracy were rehabilitated. In his case, posthumously…

Lena’s memoir titled “The Silent Escape” came out in French in the early 1990s, then in Romanian from Humanitas and in English, from the University of California Press with a preface by UCLA professsor Gail Kligman. In my essay broadcast today by Radio Free Europe I explore Lena Constante’s life and fate…

Eternul eretic Panait Istrati


“Bunăstarea umanității nu mă interesează decât din clipa in care incetează de a mai fi criminală și devine morală” (The well-being of mankind concerns me only from the moment when it ceases to be criminal and is becoming moral)–Panait Istrati (1929) One of the first to expose the God that failed, Istrati was close friends with Victor Serge and Boris Souvarine. He wrote the foreword to George Orwell’s first book translated into French.

Born: August 10, 1884, Braila, Romania

Died:  April 18, 1935, Bucharest, Romania


Even in darkening days…


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 decisively 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)


Dialectica desvrajirii: Imre Lakatos si Cercul Petőfi (Budapesta, iunie 1956)


Dialectics of disenchantment: In the spring of 1956, Imre Lakatos joined the Petőfi Circle where he delivered a vitriolic, devastating attack on Stalinism. In fact, his speech went further than the self-limited revisionism embraced by Georg Lukács. In the aftermath of the revolution’s crushing, he left Hungary and taught philosophy of science at the London School of Economics. He is widely regarded as as one of the most influential epistemologists of the twentieth century. Lakatos died suddenly in 1974 of a heart attack at the height of his powers. He was 51.

“The very foundation of scholarly education is to foster in students and postgrads a respect for facts, for the necessity of thinking precisely, and to demand proof. Stalinism, however, branded this as bourgeois objectivism. Under the banner of partinost [Party-like] science and scholarship, we saw a vast experiment to create a science without facts, without proofs.

… a basic aspect of the rearing of scholars must be an endeavour to promote independent thought, individual judgment, and to develop conscience and a sense of justice. Recent years have seen an entire ideological campaign against independent thinking and against believing one’s own senses. This was the struggle against empiricism [Laughter and applause].”

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.


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