Vilnius Gediminas Tower pictured in spring © Mantas
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Vilnius and Warsaw: Our Common Cause

Upon receipt of the Freedom Prize

Mrs. President, Mrs. Chair of the Parliament, Mr. Prime Minister,

I am moved and embarrassed by this honor bestowed by the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania on a Pole — a Polish journalist and editor of Gazeta Wyborcza. I treat it as a sign of recognition for my friends and colleagues who supported Lithuanian strivings for independence and democracy from the very beginning — and this includes people from the era of democratic opposition and those who later came together around “Gazeta.” The Polish democratic opposition always wanted a sovereign and democratic Lithuania to be a friendly neighbor of a sovereign and democratic Poland. …

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Book cover of Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination by Stefan Ihrig © Belknap Press | Amazon
Essays

Review: Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination

Of all the 20th century strong men of Europe, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk [MKA] is the only remaining one whose authority and charisma is still a culturally, politically and even legally, unquestionable component of the public discourse in his country. Yet his influence on Hitler and 20th century fascism has gone unexamined. That will change with Stefan Ihrig’s chilling book, Atatürk in the Nazi Imagination. His research into more than two decades of mainstream, right-wing and Nazi publications in Germany following World War I demonstrates how the founder of Modern Turkey was actually a muse and a role model for the Nazis and Hitler. …

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"The Apotheosis of War," oil on canvas, 1871, by Vasily Vereshchagin © AlexSoft | Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow
EssaysLiberal Democracy in Question

Can I be a Pragmatic Pacifist?

This is a gently updated version of a post I originally published in Deliberately Considered. I post it now, thinking about the latest chapter of the never ending story of the war on terrorism.

I remember struggling with this question as a young man. Subjected to the draft during the Vietnam War being a very early and precocious opponent to the war, I tried to convince myself that I was a pacifist. Wanting to avoid conscription, I read the writings of Gandhi and A.J. Muste. I looked into the pacifist activities of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Although I realized that making the claim of being a Jewish pacifist would be practically difficult, I wanted to explore possibilities. …

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Brush drawing of Martin Heidegger after a photo by Fritz Eschen © Herbert Wetterauer | Wikimedia Commons
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: Extreme Silencing

The Black Notebooks (Die Schwarzen Hefte), containing Martin Heidegger’s assorted thoughts from the 1930s and 40s, throw new light on the self-aggrandizement into totalitarianism of the most German of all philosophers.

The Freiburg professor of philosophy was not yet 50 years old when, in 1937 and 1938, he retraced his way of thought (Denkweg): He conjoined manuscripts of his various books, talks and lectures in a factual (sachlich) and discerning manner, with a view to ascertaining how all of it should be continued, including a publication strategy. Buoyed by the feeling that he had already achieved the “authentic” breakthrough by 1936, as he wrote to his brother Fritz in 1948, he was henceforward convinced of his ability to lead Western philosophy into a form of “thinking” purified by a history of being and event (or enowning) (seins-und ereignisgeschichtlich geläutert) and thus freed …

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Anti-government protest in Kiev, Dec. 29, 2013, showing flags of The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and All-Ukrainian Union "Svoboda" parties © maksymenko oleksandr | Fickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

The War on Fascism

By my title,“The War on Fascism,” I do not mean the war between the US, the Soviet Union and Great Britain, on the one hand, and Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and imperial Japan on the other, the war that took place between 1939 and 1945. Rather I mean an unspoken war on the concept of fascism that increasingly characterizes our understanding of World War Two and informs discussion of contemporary problems, such as Ukraine. Although the term “fascism” is still in use today, it generally refers to real or supposed dictatorships, such as those of Saddam Hussein or Vladimir Putin, and has lost its original connotation, that of an authoritarian but still capitalist state. Because the original meaning of “fascism” was aimed not at dictatorship, but at the relation between dictatorship and private property and market power, the term had a critical or self-reflective character. Understanding the loss of this character can help us understand the history by which present political discussions, for example those concerning Putin, have become impoverished. …

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