Multiple Identities

04/06/2017
If I were to say who I am, my first response would be that I’m a democratic intellectual. In other words, one opposed to any form of collectivistic and totalizing “group thinking.” I’m proudly a non-belonger and I abhor all forms of regimentation. I enjoy and practice eclecticism. I dislike stigmas, labels, straitjackets, Procrustean beds. I don’t identify myself with abstractions such as tribe, nation, class, race, etc On the contrary, I regard them as insuperably and insufferably fallacious, conducive to ideological and political follies. They surreptitiously invade and cynically enslave our loyalties, allegiances, and emotions. I love the Republic of Letters, increasingly beleaguered and absolutely indispensable. I don’t idealize Reason, but I know that without it we are lost in the forest of superstitions, lies, and prejudices. So, I take Settembrini’s side in his struggle with Naphta. I dedicate this post to the memory of S. N. Eisenstadt (1923–2010), a great Weberian scholar, a mentor and a dear friend, the author of a most insightful essay titled “Multiple Identities”. I learned from him what it means to defend open spaces. Meeting Shmuel was one of the luckiest moments of my intellectual life. Blessed be his memory…

 

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Le jour de gloire…

07/05/2017

And when man faces destiny, destiny ends and man comes into his own. (André Malraux)

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Slavoj Žižek’s delirium…

05/05/2017

I will not give a link to Slavoj Žižek’s latter-day anti-liberal delirium. The man is out of control. He ridicules, disparages, and besmirches all the values some of us cherish. He shares Lenin’s contempt for “parliamentary cretinism.” There is no real difference between Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen? Maybe for you, Slavoj. For us it exists and it bears upon the survival of a democratic world threatened by populist xenophobes and Fascist mountebanks. Will you call me and my friends the liberal canaille? We will proudly accept what you think it’s an insult and what we take for a compliment… Remember, Slavoj, John Gray’s NYRB review of one of your most recent books. It ended with its title: “Less than nothing.” This is your legacy: irresponsibility, anger, intolerance. Very few people these days know as well as you the history of the Weimar Republic. You are aware that the refusal to see the difference between Fascism and what the Stalinists denounced as “social Fascism,” i.e,, Social Democracy, was tragically crucial for Germany not to fall into the abyss. People like you, Slavoj, contributed to the destruction of a problematic liberal democracy, yet one which would have never, absolutely never, built concentration camps…


Le Combat

04/05/2017

Marine Le Pen is the name of all the things I despise, dislike, and disparage. I will not post a picture with her. She’s evil. And, if the name of the newspaper Camus wrote for means something, I think that Combat is the call of the day. Therefore I post this. Maybe Marine Le Pen and her supporters have not found it out yet: Nazi Germany did capitulate!

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JFR (1924-2006)

04/05/2017

This book came out 25 years ago. Its author was one of the most lucid political thinkers of our times. I was privileged to be friends with him. I visited him many times in his appartment on Ile St Louis. I remember my first visit when I saw the names on the bell downstairs: Revel, Sarraute, Tzara. His wife, the journalist Claude Sarraute, was the daughter of novelist Nathalie Sarraute and the former daughter-in-law of poet Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the Dada Movement. “Le regain” is dedicated to Branko Lazitch, a democratic socialist historian, disciple of Boris Souvarine, Panait Istrati’s and Victor Serge’s great friend. I re-read yesterday chapter 8, “How Utopias Perish.” It reads as if written today. The epigraph is from St Augustine’s “Confessions” and speaks about man’s invincible love for truth…

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In praise of Michael Ignatieff

30/04/2017

He was among the first to predict, in a series of articles published in NYRB, the rise of the ethnocentric populist wave in Europe and not only there. As a Berliner (i.e., a disciple of Isaiah Berlin) he knows very well what the sources of nationalism are. He deserves our gratitude for the adamant resistance to Viktor Orbán’s efforts to get rid of the Central European University in Budapest. At this moment, when so many scoundrels compete for the limelight, Michael Ignatieff epitomizes what it means to be a good, honorable man, a mensch…

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/apr/29/michael-ignatieff-fight-academic-freedom-hungary-central-european-university-refugees


In Defense of the Central European University!

29/04/2017

Will Viktor Mihály Orbán deliver? Will his zealots calm down? Can these individuals be trusted? Let’s wait and see. This strikes me as the wisest approach at this juncture. Without giving up the pressure in defense of academic freedom. On the contrary! Kudos to Michael Ignatieff for his dignified, determined, and tenacious stances throughout this critical period. His actions are exemplary for what political theorist Judith Shklar called the liberalism of fear. One which knows who the enemies of the open society are and acts accordingly…

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-39757962