How democracies perish…


How democracies perish: Never was the title of Jean-François Revel’s 1983 book more appropriate than in these dark times for liberal values. Far from living the end of history, nonchalantly predicted by a a bright Straussian political thinker in 1989, we witness the vindictive comeback of reactionary (I measure my terms) forces and ideas belonging to the age of tyranny (the title of Elie Halévy’s famous lecture in the 1930s). This is is Havel post-communist nightmare coming true. And all this debacle is happening under Western eyes…


Comment les démocraties finissent par Revel

History, Memory, Forgetting: Emmanuel Macron and Paul Ricoeur


He was Paul Ricoeur’s editorial assistant: This is where Emmanuel Macron comes from. He’s a member of the editorial board of the influential monthly “Esprit”, friends with Olivier Mongin, the author of an important book on the invention of the democratic intellectual. Some try to diminish the link to Ricouer. Yet, Macron insists on this intellelectual debt and profound affinity.

“J’ai beaucoup appris auprès de lui. A lire la philosophie. Parce que c’est un hasard de la vie, presque un malentendu. C’est François Dosse, qui a été son biographe, qui était historien, qui a été un de mes professeurs, qui m’a conduit jusqu’à lui parce que Ricoeur cherchait quelqu’un pour faire ses archives. Donc c’était vraiment une tâche très manuelle, très ancillaire. Et nous nous sommes rencontrés, et nous ne nous sommes plus quittés.”

In 2004, Paul Ricoeur (1913-2005) received the Kluge Prize from the Library of Congress. It is one of the most prestigious intellectual awards in the world. It is meant to include areas in the humanities not covered by the Nobel Prizes (philosophy, theology, history, etc) On that occasion, the distinguished Russia scholar and then Librarian of Congres, James Billington, wrote: “Paul Ricoeur is a philosopher who draws on the entire tradition of western philosophy to explore and explain common problems: What is a self? How is memory used and abused? What is the nature of responsibility? He is a constant questioner – always pressing to understand the nature and limits of what constitutes our humanity.”

In 1945 Ricoeur began his teaching career at the international Protestant College Cevenol (where he met American Quakers, who invited him to Haverford College 10 years later) and moved in 1948 to the University of Strasbourg. In 1956 he was appointed to the chair of general philosophy at the Sorbonne. For the next decade Ricoeur wrote continuously as a professional philosopher. He was also an activist, both against the French war in Algeria and as a reformer of the French university system. In 1967 he left the Sorbonne to assume the deanship of the new experimental university at Nanterre. Student and community disruption and unrest forced him to resign in 1969. He then taught for two years at Louvain in Belgium before moving to the United States, first to Yale and then to the University of Chicago. There he succeeded Paul Tillich as the John Nuveen Chair in the Divinity School and was jointly appointed to the Department of Philosophy and the Committee on Social Thought.…/aux-sources-des-idees-demman…

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The birth certificate of political modernity…


Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen

Approved by the National Assembly of France, August 26, 1789

The representatives of the French people, organized as a National Assembly, believing that the ignorance, neglect, or contempt of the rights of man are the sole cause of public calamities and of the corruption of governments, have determined to set forth in a solemn declaration the natural, unalienable, and sacred rights of man, in order that this declaration, being constantly before all the members of the Social body, shall remind them continually of their rights and duties; in order that the acts of the legislative power, as well as those of the executive power, may be compared at any moment with the objects and purposes of all political institutions and may thus be more respected, and, lastly, in order that the grievances of the citizens, based hereafter upon simple and incontestable principles, shall tend to the maintenance of the constitution and redound to the happiness of all. Therefore the National Assembly recognizes and proclaims, in the presence and under the auspices of the Supreme Being, the following rights of man and of the citizen:


1. Men are born and remain free and equal in rights. Social distinctions may be founded only upon the general good. …


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The Fifth Republic is not the Weimar Republic!


We are not in the 1930s, the Fifth Republic is not the Weimar Republic, and it’s crucially important to remember that France is the country that gave to the world, in August 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen,a fundamental document of the French Revolution and in the history of human and civil rights. Whereas Marine Le Pen is an unswerving exponent of the populist Far Right, Emmanuel Macron symbolizes the resurrection of the Center in Franch politics. Marine Le Pen’s all-consumming xenophobia reminds us that Nicolas Chauvin, from whom the term “chauvinism” derives, was French. Macron comes from a republican tradition that includes Gaullists, liberals, and democratic socialists.


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The French Dilemma


Will the parapet resist? This is the French dilemma these days…

Parapet: A low protective wall along the edge of a roof, bridge, or balcony.

Image: Georges Seurat, “Man leaning on a parapet,” 1879 – 1881. Thanks, Andrei Octav D


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Havel’s Lesson…


In these dark times, let’s remember the luminous words of a man who refused to live within a lie and fearlessly opposed any form of human humiliation! Václav Havel’s address to the European Parliament, Strasbourg, March 8, 1994. “I have come from a land that did not enjoy freedom and democracy for almost sixty years. You will perhaps believe me when I say that it is this historical experience that has allowed me to respond at the deepest level to the revolutionary meaning of European integration today. And perhaps you will believe me when I say that the very depth of that experience compels me to …express concern for the proper outcome of this process and to consider ways to strengthen it and make it irreversible. Allow me, in conclusion, to thank you for approving the Europe Agreement on the association of the Czech Republic with the European Union two weeks after it was signed. In doing so, you have shown that you are not indifferent to the fate of my country.”


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To The Castle and Back- VACLAV HAVEL (Translated by Paul Wilson)

La Mulți Ani, Horia Patapievici!


Pe 18 martie 2017, Horia-Roman Patapievici implinește 60 de ani. Este o sărbătoare a societății deschise, a spiritului liberal, a culturii democratice din România si din Europa de Est. Sunt mândru, fericit si onorat că-l pot numi unul dintre cei mai apropiați prieteni din viața mea. Ii doresc tot binele lumii, ani frumoși si insoriți, impliniri cât mai multe, noroc si sănătate pentru el si cei dragi lui. Adică, intr-un cuvânt, fericire!

Scrierile anti-totalitare ale lui H.-R. Patapievici au fost si rămân repere ale gandirii democratice românești, analize percutante si riguroase ale patologiilor comuniste si post-comuniste. Reacțiile negative, calomniile venite din zonele neo-comuniste si șovin-naționaliste nu au făcut si nu fac decât să confirme meritele lui H.-R. Patapievici ca remarcabil gânditor liberal si ca intelectual critic. Pentru mine si pentru mulți alții, gândirea lui H.-R. Patapievici este emblematică pentru patriotismul luminat, acel patriotism civic, cinstit si curat pe care populistii xenofobi il urăsc de moarte.

Horia-Roman Patapievici este un gânditor original, un spirit viu si nobil, ale carui lucrări dovedesc erudiție, creativitate conceptuală, angajament moral si o veritabila deschidere spre dialog. Mă refer in primul rand la “Omul recent”, la “Ochii Beatricei”, la cartea despre Ioan Petru Culianu, contribuții esențiale la explorarea originilor, tensiunilor, dilemelor si provocărilor modernitătii. Perioada cât a condus ICR-ul, impreună cu Tania Radu si Mircea Mihaies, a fost una fastă din toate punctele de vedere: al eficienței instituționale, al sincronismului axiologic, al probității si onestității. Este sansa noastra că ii suntem contemporani. Să o prețuim cum se cuvine!


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