Totalitarian brotherhood in action…

17/09/2017

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September 17, 1939: Every word in Vyacheslav Molotov’s infamous speech on that day was a shameless, blatant, egregious lie: “Events arising out of the Polish-German War have revealed the internal insolvency and obvious impotence of the Polish state. Polish ruling circles have suffered bankruptcy… Warsaw as the capital of the Polish state no longer exists. No one knows the whereabouts of the Polish Government. The population of Poland have been abandoned by their ill-starred leaders to their fate. The Polish State and its Government have virtually ceased to exist. In view of this state of affairs, treaties concluded between the Soviet Union and Poland have ceased to operate. A situation has arisen in Poland which demands of the Soviet Government special concern for the security of its State. Poland has become a fertile field for any accidental and unexpected contingency that may create a menace for the Soviet Union…Nor can it be demanded of the Soviet Government that it remain indifferent to the fate of its Blood Brothers, the Ukrainians and White Russians inhabiting Poland, who even formerly were nations without rights and who now have been utterly abandoned to their fate. The Soviet Government deems it its sacred duty to extend the hand of assistance to its brother Ukrainians and White Russians inhabiting Poland.” Extracts from Molotov’s broadcast speech on the Soviet invasion of Poland (17 September 1939) Mirovoe Khoziaistvo, 1939, 9, p. 13. In Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy. Volume I: 1917-1941. Jane Tabrisky Degras (ed.) 1953, Oxford University Press. Pages 374-5

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Meanings of the twentieth century…

08/09/2017

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).

 

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Secolul lui Lenin…

05/09/2017

The twentieth century was dominated by Lenin’s institutionalized inventions: vanguard party, agitation and propaganda (Agitprop), secret police (Cheka), censorship (Glavlit), central state planning (Gosplan), state controlled unions (Profsoyuz), Communist Youth Union (Komsomol), Communist International (Comintern), Political Bureau (Politburo), collective farms (kolkhoz), concentration camps (Gulag) etc The precondition for all these to operate was the moral blindness and the absolute commitment of the party cadres to the sacralized cause. Lenin’s officers were professional revolutionaries, they dedicated their lives to the Party 24 hours a day, 365 days a year…

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Zoe Petre RIP…

01/09/2017

Cred că pot spune că am cunoscut-o bine. Am fost oaspetele ei in repetate rânduri, m-a invitat să mă intâlnesc cu studentii de la Istorie pe vremea când, imediat dupa revolutie, devenise decan. Dincolo de divergente legate de perceperea unei personalităti ori a alteia, vedeam lumea post-comunistă in chip similar (nu identic). N-am făcut parte din cercul amicilor lui Emil Constantinescu, dar am rămas apropiat de Zoe, eram prieteni de familie. Zoe a fost devotată celui căruia ii fusese consilieră. Cred că il privea ca pe un ucenic, a preferat să inchidă ochii in raport cu stupefianta-i mediocritate. In răspăr cu multi dintre colegii ei politici, Zoe Petre a scris elogios despre Raportul Final al Comisiei Prezidentiale pentru Analiza Dictaturii Comuniste din România: “Raportul este cea mai consistentă contributie de până acum la istoria celor aproape 50 de ani de dictatură comunistă din trecutul apropiat al României”. (“Ziua”, 5 ianuarie 2007, text preluat, cu acordul ei, pe coperta a patra a editiei Humanitas). A venit anul 2012, Zoe a sustinut puciul parlamentar, s-a situat, cu arme si bagaje, in tabara uselistă. Nu ne-am mai revăzut. Mi-a fost dat să privesc uluit câteva emisiuni anteniste in care apărea alături de personaje abominabile. Aflu acum, cu tristete, că s-a stins din viată. A fost o adevarată profesoara, o persoană de o rară eruditie si un om generos. Să se odihnească in pace…


Darkness at Noon, August 21…

21/08/2017

Re-reading “Darkness at Noon” on August 21: “An inscription came into his mind which he had read on the gateway at the cemetery at Errancis where Saint-Just, Robespierre and their sixteen beheaded comrades lay buried. It consisted of one word: Dormir–to sleep.”

 

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Stalin’s Willing Executioner

20/08/2017

: On August 21, 1940, one year after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Catalan communist agent Ramón Mercader assassinated Leon (Lev) Davidovich Trotsky, Stalin’s nemesis. To carry out Stalin’s order, Mercader hit Trotky in the skull with an icepick. The Old Bolshevik fought back with desperate energy. He passed away one day later in a Mexico City hospital. Mercader was arrrested and sentenced to 25 years in jail. He secrelty received the Lenin Order and the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for services to the revolutionary cause. Mercader died, age 65, in Havana in October 1978. Altogether, a lurid story of crimes, deceptions, betrayals, manipulations, misplaced ardor, plundered illusions, espionage, hopelessness, and moral decay…

Image: The definitive Mercader biography that I bought in Barcelona in June 2015

 

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Hope, wonder, humility…

14/08/2017

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

 

Václav Havel a Olga Havlová