A century after the Bolshevik revolution: Raymond Aron was, as Allan Bloom wrote shortly after the philosopher’s death in 1983, “the man who for fifty years . . . had been right about the political alternatives actually available to us. . . . [H]e was right about Hitler, right about Stalin, and right that our Western regimes, with all their flaws, are the best and only hope of mankind.”
In order to calm the crowd outside, the portrait of Lenin is rapidly being removed from the council room of the city hall by a freedom fighter. Gyor, Hungary. October-November, 1956. © Erich Lessing | Magnum Photos
Image: October-November 1956. Budapest. On Vaci Road was the Soviet Cultural shop, members of the insurrection looted it and destroyed the propaganda material. Photo by Erich Lessing (Magnum)
Why does Virgil Ierunca matter? Because in times of dishonesty and cowardice, he was honest and courageous. Because in times of capitulation, he refused to tremble, to waver, and to bow. Because he had a hierarchy of values which has turned out to have been the right one. He passed away on September 28, 2006. He was a member of the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Cmmunist Dictatorship in Romania. Together with his wife and closest friend, Monica Lovinescu, he was the voice of hour hope. Whenever people tell me that we did not have a Milosz, a Camus, or a Havel, I respond that they are wrong. We had Monica and Virgil. Blessed be their memory and may we live up to their legacies!
Understanding the twentieth century is mandatory for grasping the meanings of the twenty-first: Special thanks to Krisztina Kós and Central European University Press. It’s been a wonderful collaboration and I look very much forward into the next projects. These volumes owe a lot to the conferences organized in Washington, DC by the Romanian Cultural Institute and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars with support from the University of Maryland, Georgetown University and the Embassy of Romania (2007-2012).
Minima moralia: “August 14, 1982. Dear Olga, Orientation toward Being as a state of mind can also be understood as faith: a person oriented toward Being intrinsically believes in life, in the world, in morality, in the meaning of things, and in himself. His relationship to life is informed by hope, wonder, humility, and a spontaneous respect for its mysteries. He does not judge the meaning of his efforts merely by their manifest successes, but first of all by their ‘worth in themselves’ (i.e., their worth against the background of the absolute horizon).”– Václav Havel, “Letters to Olga,” 1982
Me duele Venezuela. We are all entitled to more than one fatherland. In my case, I love these countries dearly, I rejoice their happy moments and I lament their predicaments: Romania, where I was born and grew up; France, where I first experienced real liberty; Venezuela, where I understood the meanings of intellectual fraternity; and the US, this great republic of hope, tolerance, and inclusion. This is why I suffer for Venezuela and I raise my voice in support of those who, against terrible odds, defy the Maduro dictatorship. Let me also say that I’m still waiting for the enthusiastic minstrels of the Chavista “Bolivarian socialism” to spell out some regrets. Better late than never…