It is not my intention to offer here a biography of my close friend Adam Michnik. I just want to offer some responses, hopefully informed, to the following question: Why does Adam Michnik matter? He matters because in times of infamy, he raised his voice and suffered for this. He matters because he has a moral compass and some of us regard it as persuasively indispensable. He matters because he does not yield to nativism, tribalism, clericalism, militarism, Orbanism, Putinism, LePenism, Trumpism, populism, and other political pathologies. I dedicate this thext to the memory of Leonidas Donskis.
Adam Michnik in Vilnius, Lithuania
Minima moralia: In “Shadows of the Forgotten Ancestors,” one of his most influential essays–and also one of my favorites–, Adam Michnik wrote about Piisudski, but in fact about himself: “…his is not simply a national but also a very human perspective. It is not patriotic and political concerns but my own concerns, my own good that inspire me to fight. This will rescue me from sinking into the anonymous, shapeless mass of the depraved, captive, and obedient.” (“Letters from Prison,” University of California Press, 1985, p. 210)
Image: Adam Michnik, Warsaw, December 1981
A friend is another self…
With Horia Patapievici and Vladimir Protopopescu at “La Tomate,” close to Dupont Circle (October 5, 2016)
One would have turned eighty on October 5. The other will turn seventy on October 17. One wrote “The Power of the Powerless,” the other one “The New Evolutionism.” These two essays defined the goals of East European dissident movements, their vision of liberty, and their ethos. They both deserve our gratitude. Their names: Václav Havel and Adam Michnik.
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”.
“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
God, please protect us from revolutionary saints! “Those who make revolutions by halves do nothing but dig their own tombs.” (January 1793) [Source: Oeuvres Complètes de Saint-Just, vol. 1 (2 vols., Paris, 1908), p. 414]