Utopie și Revoluție, Sinaia, Domeniul Regal, 22 – 25 iunie

Sorin Antohi nu stă o clipă locului, mai mereu face dezbateri, colocvii, susține conferințe. Pe 21 iunie, la Muzeul Municipiului București din ciclul de „dialog al ideilor”, are dezbaterea cu Gregory Claeys, deja anunțată pe blog, pentru ca, între 22 și 25 iunie, să modereze la Sinaia,  împreună cu acesta, colocviul Utopia and Revoluțion, sub Înaltul Patronaj al Casei Regale a României. Un eveniment cu o participare românească și internațională de mare calibru: în afara celor doi deja amintiți, Artur Blaim, Ștefan Borbely, Jean Harris, Moshe Idel, Mariano Martin Rodriguez, Eduardo Nolla, Tilo Schabert, Michael Shafir, Stelian Tănase.


Programul aici:

Thursday, June 22


Transfers to Sinaia

20:30 Dinner

Friday, June 23

8:00-12:00 Trip to Bran Castle

12:45 Awarding of the Cantemir Annual Award, Peleș Castle (Florentine Hall)

13:00 Lunch hosted by HRH Prince Radu of Romania at Peleș Castle (State Dining Hall). Followed by a tour of Peleș and Pelișor Castles.

16:15-18:30 Ideology, (Secular) Religion, and Fiction

Moderator: Sorin Antohi

Gregory Claeys, Utopia and Revolution: The Case of Karl Marx

Moshe Idel, Messianism: Between Evolution and Revolution

Artur Blaim, Utopian Fictions: Before and After Revolutions

18:30-18:45 Break

18:45-19:30 Revolution, Utopia, and the Novel

Stelian Tănase, Old Nick: A Fairy Tale of the Twentieth Century.  A novel translated into English by Jean Harris. Introduction by Sorin Antohi, reading by the translator, comments by the author, discussion.

19:30 Dinner

Saturday, June 24

9:00-11:00 Utopias (from the Land) of the Undead

Moderator: Artur Blaim

Ștefan Borbély, Utopian Thinking in Transylvania: German and Hungarian Case Studies

Mariano Martín Rodríguez, What If They Returned? Collective Human Resurrection as an Ambiguously Utopian Revolution in Modern Secular Speculative Fiction

11:00-11:30 Coffee Break

11:30-13:30 The 1989 Revolutions and  Their Aftermath 

Moderator: Stelian Tănase

Tilo Schabert, The German Revolution of 1989-1990: A European Experience

Michael Shafir, Return to Anti-Utopia in Post-communist East Central Europe

13:30-15:00 Lunch

15:00-16:30 Visit of Sinaia Monastery

16:30-18:00 Utopia, Revolution, and History

Moderator: Michael Shafir

Eduardo Nolla, Utopia Realized: Political Theory and Democracy

Sorin Antohi, Utopia and Revolution: (Failed) Escapes from History

18:15-19:00 Concluding Remarks

Moderator: Gregory Claeys

19:00 Dinner

Sunday, June 25


Rezumatele lucrărilor prezentate, aici

Sorin Antohi, Utopia and Revolution: (Failed) Escapes from History

Utopia and revolution, as well as their various subspecies, forerunners, alternatives, hybrids, and (dialectical) negations—from paradise to apocalypse, from millennialism to war, from ideology (which Karl Mannheim has tried to distinguish sharply from utopia) to reform (which Engels was seeing as a revolution from above)–, have run parallel courses since the beginning of civilization. Most of the time, they have been offered, theoretically and practically, as solutions to perceived problems, but they have frequently aggravated the latter and have created others. The paper addresses all of the above as (failed) escapes from history, i.e., from what could be construed, in opposition to History (which has sense, meaning, direction, etc.), as an inexorable, opaque, self-driven, course of events.

Artur Blaim, Utopian Fictions: Before and After Revolutions

The paper explores the ways of introducing the ideal order in utopian fictions prior to and after the French Revolution focusing on the surprisingly constant role ascribed to the figure of the founding father in successfully accomplishing this task (the founding mother being a relatively rare occurrence before the twentieth century).  The fictional pattern is then compared to corresponding discursive practices of revolutions and revolution-like activities that have managed to overthrow the existing socio-political systems.

Ștefan Borbély, Utopian Thinking in Transylvania: German and Hungarian Case Studies

The paper intends to recall two Transylvanian personalities from the beginning of the 20th century, who triggered–each of them in his personal, specific way–lifestyle and social revolutions within a typical bourgeois community embedded in cautiousness and conformity.

The protagonist of the quiet revolution was the „Wanderprediger” Gustav (Gusto) Gräser (1879 – 1958), „the Gandhi of the Western World” (as he was remembered), who is generally considered the „proto-hippy” of Europe. Born in Kronstadt (now Braşov), around 1900 he joined Henri Oedenkoven, his wife Ida Hofmann and other few pacifists in order to establish the Monte Verita hippy community near Ascona, in Switzerland, also visited by prominent intellectuals like Hermann Hesse.

The initiator of the noisy revolution was Bicsérdy Béla (1872 – 1951), who spent the first half of his life in Făgăraş, which happens to be the native town of the presenter. Struck by syphilis in the early years of his professional career, Bicsérdy decided to overcome the disease by taking up radical vegetarianism and by preaching the necessity of a spiritual asceticism, freely decanted from Zoroaster’s Avesta.  His lectures, attended by hundreds of frantic followers, ended up in initiating a huge mass hysteria in Transylvania and in Hungary, aimed at “defeating Death”, as one of Bicsérdy’s books has heralded. The Master (as he called himself) illustrated his bodily transformation by setting weightlifting world records at the age of 50, he edited books and leaflets in endless rows of several thousand copies (all sold out), and managed to promote his campaigns in a truly Hollywood style, before moving to the Ada Kaleh island in the middle of the Danube (where he founded a vegetarian community), and later to the United States, where he nevertheless died before reaching the age of 800, a vague upper limit he had promised to his ecstatic disciples.

Gregory Claeys, Utopia and Revolution: The Case of Karl Marx

The coincidence of three anniversaries, 1516, 1818 and 1917, provokes renewed reflection on the nature of the utopian component both in Marx and Marxism. This presentation introduces a Morean conception of sociability; then asks to what degree Marx accepted or built on it; then questions how far Lenin and Bolshevism conformed to or departed from Marx’s ideals. Finally it addresses the problem of Marx’s relevance to the 21st century, and concludes that if anything it is the utopian rather than the „scientific” components in Marx which remain pertinent in an era of advancing mechanisation and a „post-work” economy.

Moshe Idel, Messianism: Between Evolution and Revolution

Jewish messianism is a constellation of diverse religious ideas, which changed throughout generations. It influenced not just messianic movements, but also some form of political thought, Hegelianism, Marxism, Zionism, In scholarship, we may distinguish between two main lines: one represented by Martin Buber, that opted for an evolutionary process, and a more apocalyptic one represented by the scholarship of Gershom Scholem. The two giants of Jewish studies in the 20th century will be addressed in some detail.


Mariano Martín Rodríguez, What If They Returned? Collective Human Resurrection as an Ambiguously Utopian Revolution in Modern Secular Speculative Fiction

‘Revolution’ etymologically means a turn around. A complete turnaround would happen, for example, if death were defeated and the deceased returned to the world as they were, in the flesh and with their own individuality, instead of coming back as reanimated monsters (for example, mummies and zombies, sentient or not) or digital copies. This revolution has been promised by Christian millennialism as well as by transhumanists such as Frank J. Tipler. Between both soteriological ideologies prevalent respectively in past and present times, a secular approach to the resurrection of the dead in a town, a region or a whole world has also been imagined by some speculative writers in a utopian mode, as a collective (fictional) possibility with revolutionary societal effects. How could the living accommodate to the return of the formerly dead? What would be their demographic impact? How would the society of the living be transformed through the contact with them, especially if the returned are still human, but also have some physical and/or behavioural features distinguishing them from the ones already living when their resurrection took place? How could they be included in, or excluded from the pre-existing community? Societies resulting from collective resurrection have diversely been portrayed as eutopias or dystopias, but often with a high degree of ambiguity: do we really wish to see our dead return, among us, as a sizable alien population? An overview of resurrection utopias may show the main answers given to these issues by international writers, from Giacomo Leopardi to some modern classics, such as Tudor Arghezi, Érico Veríssimo, Marcel Thiry, Angélica Gorodischer and Robert Silverberg, as well as by others less well known, in a variety of often interesting fictional works on this matter.

Eduardo Nolla, Utopia Realized: Political Theory and Democracy

Political theory has been a discipline in crisis for decades. Its lack of identity has pushed it either towards the quantitative analysis of political events or the mere production of repertories of ancient political ideas and doctrines. This may be due to the fact of the deceptive simultaneous realization of all possible utopias and, as a consequence, of any urge or possibility to change the political world. Alexis de Tocqueville, a century and a half ago, had already studied this danger. He realized that democracies could become the worst political systems if citizens became convinced that they could individually and painlessly transform the world in which they lived. A contemporary reading of Tocqueville’s Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the Revolution could still teach us to avoid the defects of a world of realized dreams.

Tilo Schabert, The German Revolution of 1989-1990: A European Experience

Judged by the criteria of the classical theory of revolution the events in East Germany in the fall and winter of 1989-1990 have to be viewed as a revolution indeed. An ancien régime, petrified in the box of its ideological dogmas, proved to be incapable or unwilling to read the signs at the historical wall, and provoked through this blindness and refusal the people`s rebellion. Laid bare of its communist skeleton, East Germany remained just that: German. The East Germans no longer could join the West Germans only at night in watching West German TV news, they could now do it for real: The Wall had fallen, inadvertently, through an act of incompetent clumsiness that made the rotten state of the East German regime`s starkly obvious. The Germans in East and West could reunify.

There were European preconditions, though. The Breshnev doctrine given up by the leaders at Moscow and the refusal of those leaders to apply the “Chinese solution” to the revolt of the people in East Germany. The earlier and current movements of political liberation from Soviet rule in other states in Eastern and South Eastern Europe. The existence and attraction of the European Community. The presence of a functioning “workshop of world politics” within and through which in particular political leaders from Paris, London, Bonn, and Moscow, in combination with the government of the United States, could creatively absorb the elementary historical shocks caused by the revolutionary upheavals in Eastern and South Eastern Europe. In a way, Europe was prepared.

And Europe offered the response to the historical challenge of the German revolution. As it happens, Germany or, in earlier times, the political entities to which the label “German” had been attached, was – were –holding the place of the centre of Europe. The other nations in the East and West, North and South of that centre – hence “Germany” – had a natural interest in what happened to it and what the actor performing it – “Germany” – did or did not do.

Thus, the German revolution in 1989-1990 caused much apprehension in Europe. But then, in one of those rare moments in history marked by a prevalence of prudence and wisdom, the leaders in the “workshop of world politics”, not at least in consonance with the peaceful behaviour of the East Germans in revolt, achieved a masterful settlement of the consequences that the German revolution brought for the European world. It could be welcomed by everyone in Europe. A revolution had started in Leipzig and Dresden. And Europe experienced it as its own happy event.


Michael Shafir, Return to Anti-Utopia in Post-communist East Central Europe

Annus mirabilis 1989 has been described in many different ways, but keeping in mind such classics as Yevgeni Zamiatin’s We and George Orwell’s 1984, few would have challenged its depiction as the year when East Central Europe escaped from the utopia of Marxism transmogrified into “really existing socialism.”  Though still diffuse, at the end of the tunnel, the light of free market democratic liberalism shining over a unified Europe was perceived as the inevitable “only game in town.” Nearly thirty years on we are wiser, but also sadder. Europe is far from being unified, the free market has been devoured by globalization, and democratic liberalism is possibly about to be replaced by neo-populist illiberalism. What is more, there are two ends of the tunnel, and both are staunch dark.

My paper is centered only on one of those ends. It draws attention to the fact that despite common anti-utopian grounds, former communist states do not share a single legacy, but several. Mainly based on the distinctions made by Herbert Kitschelt, it strives to explain the involution of the two most advanced communist and post-communist states, Poland and Hungary, into “illiberal models” that stand a good chance of being emulated elsewhere. In this context, it also touches on the features of neo-populism in other former communist countries and the prominence of nativist populism combined with the anti-corruption drive common to populism everywhere. Finally, it asks to what extent neo-populism might not be the worst-case scenario.







Acest articol a fost publicat în Fără categorie. Pune un semn de carte cu legătura permanentă.

2 răspunsuri la Utopie și Revoluție, Sinaia, Domeniul Regal, 22 – 25 iunie

  1. mihaela grancea zice:

    Multumesc. Mor de ciuda ca nu pot sa audiez. Mai ales pe Moshe Idel. L-am auzit la Sibiu, in 2007. Atunci a vorbit si A Marga…si am vazut uriasa diferenta dintre MI (genial, modest, plin de caldura, carismatic) si suficenta celui care a lansat, acum ceva ani, o carte de „Discursuri rectorale”…

    Apreciat de 1 persoană

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