NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1 NEWS Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0200 en Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0200 L. Donskis: lobbyism and guild distribution should be avoided in the awards of National Culture and Art Prizes http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2296 <p>In brief: There is much of lobbyism in the world of culture too; therefore, creative organizations strongly fight for candidates offered by them when prizes are awarded, the head of the committee of the National Culture and Art Prizes Leonidas Donskis states. "Still, the creative organization or an artists&rsquo; guild is not public voice necessarily. It is a professional group, influential in many cases but it may be tendentious, it may offer some lasting chief or activist with a number of merits. Why are we sure that a promising young artist is offered?&rdquo; he asks.</p> Still, the professor emphasises that the committee of the National Culture and Art Prizes should see the entire cultural field, look at entire culture of Lithuania broadly and should not succumb to guild distribution. In the interview the professor speaks about mechanisms of transparency, publicity in the awards of prizes. In his opinion, the report of the chairman of the committee should be announced after every meeting, so that people would know what is happening. Meanwhile, now some of the information is classified, secrets are almost public as the majority know what is being spoken about. He is sure that the mechanism of awards should be improved. <p></p> <p>Still, the professor emphasises that the committee of the National Culture and Art Prizes should see the entire cultural field, look at entire culture of Lithuania broadly and should not succumb to guild distribution. In the interview the professor speaks about mechanisms of transparency, publicity in the awards of prizes.</p> <p>In his opinion, the report of the chairman of the committee should be announced after every meeting, so that people would know what is happening. Meanwhile, now some of the information is classified, secrets are almost public as the majority know what is being spoken about. He is sure that the mechanism of awards should be improved.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2296 Mon, 15 Dec 2014 00:00:00 +0200 L. Donskis received an Honorary Doctorate from Romanian University http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2293 <p style="text-align: justify;">From now on Professor, Vice-President for Research at ISM University of Management and Economics Leonidas Donskis is a proud holder of the highest appreciation rank - an honorary doctorate - at already two European universities. At the beginning of November honorary doctorate (Doctor Honoris Causa) regalia - a diploma and a medal - were handed to Mr. Donskis at Valahia University of T&acirc;rgovişte, Romania. Back in 2011 Mr. Donskis also received an honorary doctorate from Bradford University in Great Britain. <br /></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Valahia University of T&acirc;rgovişte has around 10 thousand students and is recognised for its dynamics, innovations and strong tradition in humanitarian sciences. The university made a decision to grant an honorary doctorate to Mr. Donskis for his contribution to European humanities and humanitarian sciences, bringing studies of Eastern Europe and Baltics to a higher level, multidisciplinarity and promotion of humanities ideals in politics.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">"I highly appreciate the attention my Romanian colleagues have shown to me. The honorary doctorate received from Valahia University I see also as my admission to the community of the university as well as Romanian academia. I feel close to them in terms of perspective, as I see myself as a person of Western mind, but with Eastern European existential and political experience. The same is with Romanian intellectual experience. During centuries it was oriented to Western world and only geopolitical perturbations of XX century tried to re-orient Romanians towards East&rdquo;, - states Leonidas Donskis.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">ISM Vice-President for Research also sees the received honorary doctorate as an instrument and human bridge which would facilitate introduce Lithuania to young Romanians, who could consider choosing Lithuanian university for their studies or academic research.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Leonidas Donskis is not a new name in the Romanian academic world. T&acirc;rgovişte publishing house "Editura Cetatea de Scaun&rdquo; has published in Romanian two his books: "Power and Imagination: Studies in Politics and Literature&rdquo; (2012) and "Forms of Hatred: The Troubled Imagination in Modern Philosophy and Literature&rdquo; (2014), both of them were quickly acclaimed among Romanian readers. Currently, a book of L. Donskis aphorisms is being prepared for publishing in Romania. Close academic bonds connect Mr. Donskis with Romanian Association of Baltic and Nordic countries studies and its director professor Silviu Miloiu. Under their invitation Leonidas Donskis has given several public lectures at Romanian universities and academic organisations. During current visit, after the honorary doctorate ceremony Leonidas Donskis also gave a public lecture "Devil in Politics&rdquo; at the Romanian Science Academy in Bucharest.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">During his visit in Romania Leonidas Donskis was honoured by a company of the Lithuanian Ambassador in Romania, former Chief of Lithuanian Army Arvydas Pocius. Lithuanian Embassy in Bucharest contributed to the organisation of Mr. Donskis visit.&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">You can see photos from honorary doctorate award ceremony here.&nbsp;</p> Valahia University of T&acirc;rgovişte has around 10 thousand students and is recognised for its dynamics, innovations and strong tradition in humanitarian sciences. The university made a decision to grant an honorary doctorate to Mr. Donskis for his contribution to European humanities and humanitarian sciences, bringing studies of Eastern Europe and Baltics to a higher level, multidisciplinarity and promotion of humanities ideals in politics.&nbsp; "I highly appreciate the attention my Romanian colleagues have shown to me. The honorary doctorate received from Valahia University I see also as my admission to the community of the university as well as Romanian academia. I feel close to them in terms of perspective, as I see myself as a person of Western mind, but with Eastern European existential and political experience. The same is with Romanian intellectual experience. During centuries it was oriented to Western world and only geopolitical perturbations of XX century tried to re-orient Romanians towards East&rdquo;, - states Leonidas Donskis.&nbsp; ISM Vice-President for Research also sees the received honorary doctorate as an instrument and human bridge which would facilitate introduce Lithuania to young Romanians, who could consider choosing Lithuanian university for their studies or academic research.&nbsp; Leonidas Donskis is not a new name in the Romanian academic world. T&acirc;rgovişte publishing house "Editura Cetatea de Scaun&rdquo; has published in Romanian two his books: "Power and Imagination: Studies in Politics and Literature&rdquo; (2012) and "Forms of Hatred: The Troubled Imagination in Modern Philosophy and Literature&rdquo; (2014), both of them were quickly acclaimed among Romanian readers. Currently, a book of L. Donskis aphorisms is being prepared for publishing in Romania. Close academic bonds connect Mr. Donskis with Romanian Association of Baltic and Nordic countries studies and its director professor Silviu Miloiu. Under their invitation Leonidas Donskis has given several public lectures at Romanian universities and academic organisations. During current visit, after the honorary doctorate ceremony Leonidas Donskis also gave a public lecture "Devil in Politics&rdquo; at the Romanian Science Academy in Bucharest. During his visit in Romania Leonidas Donskis was honoured by a company of the Lithuanian Ambassador in Romania, former Chief of Lithuanian Army Arvydas Pocius. Lithuanian Embassy in Bucharest contributed to the organisation of Mr. Donskis visit.&nbsp; You can see photos from honorary doctorate award ceremony here.&nbsp; <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2293 Wed, 26 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Neither Friend nor Enemy: Israel in the EU http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2292 <p>This summer I finished a five-year term as a member of the European Parliament (EP), so I was not as shocked as I might have been when, in July, Italian celebrity philosopher and fellow Member of Parliament Gianni Vattimo said that he "would like to shoot those bastard Zionists&rdquo; and suggested that we Europeans ought to raise money "to buy more rockets for Hamas.&rdquo; This was extreme even by the standards of the European political and academic elites.&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2292 Mon, 24 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0200 An Imagined Dialogue on Several Clichés http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2291 <p>In the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war disguised as an internal conflict in Eastern Ukraine, several clich&eacute;s and misperceptions of reality widespread in the West have reappeared. In this light, the following questions could and should quite legitimately be raised. I will try to formulate them in such a way so the reader can feel a trajectory of thought. Everything is based on my own fairly recent interviews and discussions on Ukraine and Europe. (Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2291 Thu, 13 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0200 A Flashback of a Memoir: Witnessing High Treason http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2287 <p style="text-align: justify;">In the wake of the Russian-Ukrainian war disguised as an internal conflict in Donbass, the surge of ethnic minority political parties in the Baltic States calls for attention. That Russia has repeatedly launched a massive media and psychological attack against the Baltic States obvious to anyone not devoid of the sense of reality.Yet it would be simplistic to refer to Russia&rsquo;s political presence as the only factor that might explain the rise of the Russian and Polish minority parties in the Baltics. In fact, this tendency signals the arrival of the new phase in the political life of the Baltic States; nay, this tendency can be characteristic of the EU at large. On a closer look, it appears that the EU is increasingly becoming the new political battleground for major, mainstream, and even marginal political parties all over Europe. At the same time, I regard the existence of the ethnically formed political parties in EU countries as a profound misunderstanding, if not a political anomaly.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">As a former MEP (2009-2014), I remember the ways in which some MEPs from the Baltics eagerly and aggressively pursued their political interests trying to squeeze their hidden domestic agendas in the EP work. One of the reasons why this was and continues to be possible in the EU and its major democratic institution is a rather weak political interest in the EP among mainstream policy makers of Europe accompanied by a low turnout of the national electorate during the EP elections. In fact, small and marginal political parties may increase their chances to qualify for the European club, thus gaining the new arena and the new playground for settling their national accounts and finishing their unfinished businesses at home. Being the fifth column at home, these marginal figures can be instrumental and quite successful in dealing a blow to the reputation of the Baltic States in terms of human rights record and respect for minorities.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The easiest way to prove this to have been the case would be to recall some of the Members of the European Parliament from the Baltic States, who did not hesitate to overtly lobby Russia&rsquo;s strategic interests organizing the political seminars jointly with the Russian Embassy in Brussels or advocating Russia&rsquo;s human rights record which can compete now with that of China and Iran over who is second to North Korea in terms of the hell of earth for human rights defenders, dissenters, and conscious citizens. Some of them spoke out against their countries as if their interest lay solely in how to discredit their constituencies and countries whose state institutions, civil societies, and citizens they represented.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">I will never forget a most telling episode from the European Parliament&rsquo;s life, which can best expose the contrast between Russia&rsquo;s human rights defenders and the Kremlin&rsquo;s advocates from the Baltic States. In 2009, I participated in the hearings on Russia&rsquo;s human rights abuse record where the great and incomparable Sergei Kovalev was invited. After the official hearings, we have had a seminar where we continued our discussions focusing on some particular and well-known cases. What happened next there was an intervention that deserves to be quoted and thoroughly analyzed by the posterity.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Tatyana Zhdanok (Tatjana Ždanoka), a former MEP from Latvia, expressed her discontents over the hearings suggesting that Russia should not be singled out on the grounds of her violations of human rights, and that we should pay more attention to the violations of human rights in the Baltic States and especially in Latvia where, according to her, the Russian-speaking minority is increasingly persecuted, offended, and deprived of its dignity. Sergei Kovalev rose immediately to react. He commented on the aforementioned pearl of political wisdom in his calm and lowered voice, as usual. "No state on earth is ever going to be perfect,&rdquo; he said. "There are no perfect states, as we know. But to compare and even equalize a normal, albeit imperfect, state with present Russia is profoundly immoral.&rdquo; I thought that I hardly had anything to add to his words.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Yet we have our own lion&rsquo;s share of this disgrace and story of high treason in Lithuania. It suffices to recall Valdemar Toma&scaron;evski, a present Lithuanian MEP, the head of the ethnic Polish party in Lithuania, who consistently miscast his country ad who recently went so far as to wear Russian St. Gregory ribbon - well, what can one say about one&rsquo;s wearing this new swastika of our days after the state-sponsored terror of Russia in Ukraine? It does appear as an act that exposes the person in question to the full without any need to add something here.<br /><br />Another highlight of treachery and political cynicism would point at Viktor Uspaskich, one more MEP from Lithuania, who had long been prosecuted by Lithuania desperately trying to save his legal immunity via his office in the EP (he continues to do so now). In the ALDE (liberal group in the EP) hearings on Russia, Uspaskich began insinuating on Lithuania as allegedly persecuting him for ethnic and political reasons. He opposed the idea that Russia is worse than EU countries in terms of its human rights record. Gary Kasparov reacted immediately suggesting wittily that it appears as holy naivet&eacute;, to say the least, to compare a normal, albeit imperfect democratic European state, with Putin&rsquo;s Russia, and that it strikes him to hear this from an EU politician. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It does not take much wisdom to serve as the Trojan horse of the Kremlin in the Baltic States only due to some local discords and animosities. Especially when the naivet&eacute; or cynicism of some of West European colleagues in the EP leads them so far as to portray the fifth column of the Baltic States as human rights activists. Hopefully, Putinism has become an eye-opener. &nbsp;<br /><br />&copy; 2014 The Baltic times. All rights reserved.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2287 Wed, 05 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0200 Leonidas Donskis Appointed ISM Vice-President for Research http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2281 <p style="text-align: justify;">Prof. Leonidas Donskis, a former euro parliamentarian and prominent public activist, was appointed vice-president for research at ISM University. He will begin in his new position on 22 September.&nbsp;</p> Prof Donskis will be responsible for strengthening research and doctoral studies, improving strategy, and increasing the internationalisation of the two activities. He will also be responsible for networking in the research and doctoral student community and for the publication of research articles in professional literature. Another important area of his activity is strengthening contacts between academics and business, searching for new opportunities for cooperation, discovering creative potential in business, and employing it on a bigger scale. "I always admired the atmosphere of creativity and international spirit and the modern approach to higher education at ISM. I see this university as one of the best business schools in Eastern and Central Europe, a unique laboratory combining business and research,&rdquo; the new vice-president for research&nbsp; at ISM University of Management and Economics said.&nbsp; &nbsp; Prof Donskis acquired his doctoral degree at universities in Vilnius and Helsinki. He is an associate professor at the latter institution of higher education. Donskis is also an author and has compiled seventeen academic books in English and twenty-five in Lithuanian. His works have been printed by prestigious publishing houses in the United States and Europe and translated into fourteen languages. He has worked and given lectures at universities in the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Estonia and Hungary. He is a member of the editorial staff of academic magazines and is a prominent public activist. Prof Donskis holds honorary doctorates at the University of Bradford in the UK and Valahia University of Targoviste in Romania. &nbsp; "Prof Donskis is one of the most acknowledged and respected Lithuanian academics. His experience, work abroad, and a wide field of academic interests will help us to create an even more intensive academic life at the university and get researchers involved in new projects and even wider academic networks. The professor knows perfectly the Nordic academic culture that relates us to our founder, BI Norwegian Business School, and in which we conduct international doctoral studies and other academic projects with universities abroad. We will continue to expand our team with experienced specialists from Lithuania and other countries as we seek to become regional leaders in research and studies,&rdquo; Vilius Kontrimas, president of ISM University of Management and Economics, said. &nbsp; The main areas of academic research at ISM University of Management and Economics are strategic planning, marketing, organisational behaviour, entrepreneurship and innovations, economics, and political science. In association with the Baltic Management Development Association, academics from the Baltic countries, Norway and Russia, the university publishes the Baltic Journal of Management, the only academic journal investigating management trends in the region. The first international programme of doctoral studies in the field of management encompassing the entire Baltic region was started at the university. ISM University&rsquo;s activity is acknowledged and recognised internationally: ISM was entrusted to organise the main European conference on research in entrepreneurship, RENT (Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business), and the first session of the Association for Strategic Management in the Baltic countries took place at the university. There are such prominent academics among the ISM honorary doctors as Prof Geert Hofstede, Dr Ichak Adizes, Prof Peter Lorange, and Prof Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize winner in economics. &nbsp; <p style="text-align: justify;"></p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Prof Donskis will be responsible for strengthening research and doctoral studies, improving strategy, and increasing the internationalisation of the two activities. He will also be responsible for networking in the research and doctoral student community and for the publication of research articles in professional literature. Another important area of his activity is strengthening contacts between academics and business, searching for new opportunities for cooperation, discovering creative potential in business, and employing it on a bigger scale. "I always admired the atmosphere of creativity and international spirit and the modern approach to higher education at ISM. I see this university as one of the best business schools in Eastern and Central Europe, a unique laboratory combining business and research,&rdquo; the new vice-president for research at ISM University of Management and Economics said. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Prof Donskis acquired his doctoral degree at universities in Vilnius and Helsinki. He is an associate professor at the latter institution of higher education. Donskis is also an author and has compiled seventeen academic books in English and twenty-five in Lithuanian. His works have been printed by prestigious publishing houses in the United States and Europe and translated into fourteen languages. He has worked and given lectures at universities in the United States, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, Estonia and Hungary. He is a member of the editorial staff of academic magazines and is a prominent public activist. Prof Donskis holds honorary doctorates at the University of Bradford in the UK and Valahia University of Targoviste in Romania.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">"Prof Donskis is one of the most acknowledged and respected Lithuanian academics. His experience, work abroad, and a wide field of academic interests will help us to create an even more intensive academic life at the university and get researchers involved in new projects and even wider academic networks. The professor knows perfectly the Nordic academic culture that relates us to our founder, BI Norwegian Business School, and in which we conduct international doctoral studies and other academic projects with universities abroad. We will continue to expand our team with experienced specialists from Lithuania and other countries as we seek to become regional leaders in research and studies,&rdquo; Vilius Kontrimas, president of ISM University of Management and Economics, said.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The main areas of academic research at ISM University of Management and Economics are strategic planning, marketing, organisational behaviour, entrepreneurship and innovations, economics, and political science. In association with the Baltic Management Development Association, academics from the Baltic countries, Norway and Russia, the university publishes the Baltic Journal of Management, the only academic journal investigating management trends in the region. The first international programme of doctoral studies in the field of management encompassing the entire Baltic region was started at the university. ISM University&rsquo;s activity is acknowledged and recognised internationally: ISM was entrusted to organise the main European conference on research in entrepreneurship, RENT (Research in Entrepreneurship and Small Business), and the first session of the Association for Strategic Management in the Baltic countries took place at the university. There are such prominent academics among the ISM honorary doctors as Prof Geert Hofstede, Dr Ichak Adizes, Prof Peter Lorange, and Prof Robert Shiller, Nobel Prize winner in economics. &nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2281 Thu, 11 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0300 Wag the Dog. Russian Style http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2282 <p style="text-align: justify;">The extreme power of manipulation, in terms of public opinion and imagology, and its political and moral implications are well revealed by one film that has contributed to the critique of today&rsquo;s controlling political structures. This is Barry Levinson&rsquo;s film&nbsp;Wag the&nbsp;Dog. The film tells us the story of Hollywood producer Stanley Motss and Washington&rsquo;s spin doctor Conrad Brean, who are supposed to save the White House due to the President&rsquo;s scandalous romance.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The duet of Dustin Hoffman and Robert De Niro reveals with skill a world of people who are talented, but also amoral and value disoriented. At any rate, the revelations of instrumental mind and instrumental morality are not the only merits of this great film. This film, created in 1997, foreshadowed a military campaign in Yugoslavia (the film mentions Albania) during the height of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky&rsquo;s sex scandal. Of course, it would be silly to claim, wearing a serious face, that the war in Yugoslavia was required because of U.S. domestic politics, and as a means of smothering the scandal. "Pacifist&rdquo; Western Europe wanted this war perhaps even more than "militaristic&rdquo; America. The U.S. was the wand that was used to solve the problem.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">But this film leaves an impression due to its emphasis on something else - it just so happens that a war can be fabricated. Just as, as it turns out, one might direct public opinion in such a way that a war would be wanted or even much desired. Create an artificial crisis, sacrifice a few dozen innocent lives to a political Moloch, increase people&rsquo;s sense of insecurity - and, everyone, in a flash, almost overnight, will want both a firm controlling hand, tough rhetoric, and, perhaps, even war. In short, something similar to being beyond good and evil.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In fact, the film in question predicted something even more dangerous and sinister than it was able to articulate and address along the lines of its characters&rsquo; monologues and dialogues.&nbsp; In the contemporary world, manipulation by political advertisement is not only capable of creating people&rsquo;s needs and their criteria of happiness, but also capable of fabricating the heroes of our time and controlling the imagination of the masses through successful biographies and success stories. These abilities make one pause for thought about a "velvet&rdquo; totalitarianism - a controlled form of manipulating consciousness and imagination that is cloaked as liberal democracy, which allows the enslavement and control of even the critics.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Yet the question remains whether these forms and methods of manipulations, brainwashing and conditioning can be used by dictatorships, thuggish regimes, and rogue-states more successfully than by democracies with all their marketing techniques and paraphernalia.&nbsp;Wag the Dog, like other similar productions of cinematography, rests on the assumption of infinite manipulations as an offshoot or a side effect of mass democracy. In so doing, it missed the point that military regimes can have much more success in this than their democratic adversaries. In fact, this is high time for the West to wake up and see the world around us for what it is. We are witnessing the resurgence of real rather than velvet or imagined totalitarianism in Russia. Public opinion was made and remade there as many times as the regime wanted it to be, and hatred for Ukraine was manufactured in accordance with the need for an enemy. Ukrainian "fascists&rdquo; become the appropriation of the term that best describes its user, for the more Russian propaganda speaks about the Ukrainian fascism, the more family resemblance Russia itself bears to Nazi Germany with all its hatred as a method to approach reality, Goebbels-type propaganda, and toxic lies.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Never before has George Orwell&rsquo;s&nbsp;1984&nbsp;and its vocabulary been as relevant as it is now, due to the sliding of Russia into barbarity and fascism with incredible speed and intensity. A series of interrogation scenes between O&rsquo;Brien and Winston Smith with all allusions to the Communists and the Nazis as the na&iuml;ve predecessors of Oceania, who had an ideology and who allowed their victims to become martyrs, sound now as the best eye-opener since Putinism entered the phase of war and terror: the Newspeak, two minute hate, and the jackboot trampling on the human face for the sake of unlimited power have finally acquired the points of reference.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It is a fascism with no real ideology, for a set of tools to boost the morale of its thugs and terrorists consists of the worn-out clich&eacute;s and recycled slogans largely borrowed from the Italian and Hungarian fascisms with some Serbian additions from the times of Slobodan Milosevic, and with Nazi cherries on top. Irredentism, the need to reunite the disunited nation, the world turned against the righteous people, the necessity to defend history for the sake of its reenactment - these are all ghosts and specters of twentieth century fascism.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The tragedy of Russia is that its population falls prey to the Kremlin&rsquo;s spin doctors with their ability to create virtual and TV hyper-reality that had hidden reality from the masses. Ukraine for the Russian incarnations and successors of Goebbels, such as Vladislav Surkov, has become exactly what Albania was for Barry Levinson and his film - a piece of virtual reality fabricated for the sake of domestic policies. The funny thing is that the excessive and obsessive use of the term "fascism&rdquo; appears as a form of cognitive dissonance of Russian fascism: be quick to apply your own name or title portraying your enemy - then you will appropriate the name and will absolve yourself from it.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2282 Mon, 08 Sep 2014 00:00:00 +0300 Moral Blindness and Ukrainian Lessons http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2278 <p>In 2013, I have written conjointly a book with Zygmunt Bauman, one of the greatest thinkers of our times. It is a book of an intense philosophical dialogue on the loss of sensitivity. The title of our book,&nbsp;Moral Blindness, was Bauman&rsquo;s idea, and it came out as an allusion to the metaphor of blindness masterfully developed in the Portuguese writer Jos&eacute; Saramago&rsquo;s novel&nbsp;Ensaio sobre a cegueira&nbsp;(Essay on Blindness). Yet the subtitle of the book,&nbsp;The Loss of Sensitivity in Liquid Modernity, came out from my own theoretical vocabulary, albeit with Bauman&rsquo;s touch - his books would be unthinkable without the adjective "liquid,&rdquo; be it liquid modernity or liquid fear or liquid love. Much to my delight, this book will have a second life in the Ukrainian language and culture. (Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2278 Fri, 15 Aug 2014 00:00:00 +0300 And Then There Was a Team http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2272 <p>Sitting in downtown Wrocław and raising a glass of wine, my friend, cultural attach&eacute; of Lithuania in Poland, and I both found ourselves absorbed by an exciting chat about Polish football. All of a sudden, a sharp historical association crossed my mind. Exactly forty years ago, in 1974, the then seemingly unbeatable Brazil was defeated twice - first by Holland and then by Poland. 1974 was not the time of Brazil. It signified the arrival of a different epoch.&nbsp;(Continue...)&nbsp;<br /><br />This text was originally published by "Gazeta Wyborcza" in Polish.&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2272 Wed, 09 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0300 A Unique Parliament http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2268 <p style="text-align: justify;">14 July 2009 appears to have been an historic date that indicated two hundred and twenty years from the beginning of the French Revolution. One would have expected a celebration of the date trying to embrace the new reality of Europe, first and foremost, its unique and historically unprecedented solidarity.One would have thought that that day marked the reconciliation of Europe, the Old and the New, to use Donald Rumsfeld&rsquo;s parlance - especially in the light of the election of the Polish MEP Jerzy Buzek, the former prime minister of Poland and one of the heroes of the Solidarity movement, President of the European Parliament. A unique chance opened up to put many things behind us, including frequent clashes of the moral and political sensibilities of "two Europes,&rdquo; meaning the Old Europe&rsquo;s liberal and tolerant attitudes to human diversity, and the New Europe&rsquo;s old-fashioned infatuations and reactive conservatism.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">The 2009-2014 European Parliament seems to have been at a crossroads of the EU. The Euro crisis, the slowdown of European economies, and drastic austerity policies accompanied by difficult and noisy national debates both in EU parliaments and in the European Parliament - all these were a significant part of the European Parliament members&rsquo; life and work. Everything began with the 2009 summer of the contractions of austerity, and everything culminated with the 2014 winter of our discontent as a failure to sign the Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine resulted in the EuroMaidan Revolution in Kiev. This metaphor is a paraphrase of the title of a famous novel. As we know,&nbsp;The Winter of Our Discontent&nbsp;is the title of John Steinbeck&rsquo;s last novel published in 1961. The title is a reference to the first two lines of William Shakespeare&rsquo;s&nbsp;Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.&rdquo;</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In fact, we had the springtime of our discontent which followed the winter of our discontent, although the latter gave us hope that the world may have changed for the better. The EuroMaidan Revolution in Kiev appears to have been a genuine anti-criminal revolution which dealt a blow to the Kremlin and scared its Master. Criminalization of politics and, conversely, politicization of the criminal world was and continues to be the sword and the shield of the political system created by Vladimir Putin and his regime. Wherever they go leaving a frozen conflict and an ethnic conflict that they manufacture we see criminal gangs in power. This was the case in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and this is the case in Crimea now.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">This is to say that the 2009-2014 European Parliament witnessed a major change in world politics and also in the entire system of international relations. The new world which we embraced and celebrated after the fall of the Berlin Wall is over now. The European security system is nearly finished after severe and cynical violations of international law and of the 1975 Helsinki Accords by Russia. The world we live in will never be the same. July 2009 promised us a difficult time of &nbsp;the Euro crisis and austerity, yet it appears now to have been just a beautiful overture to a dramatic and gloomy opera.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">In addition, the 2009-2014 European Parliament bore family resemblance to all classical and deeply conventional European and national institutions - with the Christian Democrats, Socialists, and Liberals in the lead, and with the radicals of all shades safely relegated to the margins. The 2014-2019 European Parliament is highly likely to become a different ball game, though. The 2014 elections to the European Parliament did make a difference. We cannot pretend any longer that far right voices and Euroskeptics are still a tiny minority that is easily to relegate to the margins of EU politics. The shocking victory of UKIP in the UK (27 % of votes) coupled with the triumph of Le Front National (FN) in France (one fourth of all votes). Coupled with genuine fascist parties, such as the Golden Dawn of Greece, and Jobbik of Hungary, the far right and anti-immigration parties, such as UKIP, FN, and Geert Wilders&rsquo; Party of Freedom in the Netherlands will make up quite a noisy minority of around 140 voices in the newly elected European Parliament.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">These forces are not only anti-EU - they are essentially anti-European and pro-Kremlin. Suffice it to recall their praise up ton the skies for Vladimir Putin as a supposed defender of conservative, family-based, and traditional values, which allowed Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen to close ranks with Jobbik - a miserable and disgraceful alliance, to say the least. Even more so was the moment of truth and self-exposure when Farage in one of his recent interviews went so far as to suggest that two grave mistakes made by the EU were the adoption of Euro and the accession of Eastern European countries to the EU with all their social mobility and dignity they got (not to be embarrassed anymore by Western European immigration officers with their intrusive questions and poorly concealed disdain for Eastern Europe, I would add).</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">All the aforementioned details may throw more light on the 2009-2014 European Parliament where I have had a privilege to serve as an MEP on behalf of Lithuania. I acted as a member of ALDE-Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, one of the most pro-European political families in the European Parliament whose members were such prominent legislators and European policy makers as Andrew Duff and Guy Verhofstadt, to name just a few. ALDE has also seen such celebrity figures of European culture and politics as the former Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek, a hero of the Solidarity, and also a worldwide famous historian, and Gianni Vattimo, one of the most celebrated philosophers in Italy and Europe. I have been working with colleagues whose dedication to human rights, civil liberties, liberal values, and Europe left me fascinated and inspired.<br /><br />This piece was wriiten by Leonidas Donskis on the request by the former British MEP and ALDE colleague Bill Newton Dunn, who will use the text for his 2009-2014 term European Parliament memoires volume.&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2268 Tue, 08 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0300 I stała się drużyna http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2267 <p style="text-align: justify;">Pewnego wieczoru, siedząc przy kieliszku wina na wrocławskim Rynku, dyskutowałem z moją przyjaci&oacute;łką, attach&eacute; ds. kultury ambasady litewskiej w Polsce, o polskiej piłce. Rozmawialiśmy, a jakże, w kontekście brazylijskiego mundialu. Nagle dotarło do mnie, że oto r&oacute;wno przed 40 laty rzekomo niepokonana Brazylia przegrała dwa razy - najpierw z Holandią, a potem z Polską. (Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2267 Fri, 04 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0300 A wake-up call for Europe http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2276 <p>"We are coming,&rdquo; says Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP (United Kingdom Independence Party), and co-chair of the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the European Parliament. As if to say that this is just his time, Farage comes up with the punch line directed straight to Martin Schulz, president of the European Parliament: "Please don&rsquo;t pretend that nothing has happened. You know perfectly well that it has. And the day is nigh when all your EU institutions will be plain dead.<br /><br />"We are coming.&rdquo; I am paraphrasing his phrase, yet I can vouch for its credibility and content. So the message is clear - if we are to believe the most theatrical and eloquent political clown I have seen over the past five years that I spent as his fellow member of the European Parliament (2009-2014), that&rsquo;s the beginning of the end of the EU. Needless to say, the news about the death of the EU is slightly exaggerated. Christian Democrats, Socialists, Liberals, and Greens will outweigh an increasingly visible minority of the far right led by Marine Le Pen and Nigel Farage. When the time comes, conventional and pro-European groups will easily achieve a decisive and crucial majority over pivotal issues of the EU. Yet at one point we willy-nilly have to agree with Nigel Farage.<br /><br />The 2014 elections to the European Parliament did make a difference. We cannot pretend any longer that far right voices and Euroskeptics are still a tiny minority that is easily relegated to the margins of EU politics. The shocking victory of UKIP in the UK (27 percent of votes) coupled with the triumph of Le Front National (FN) in France (one fourth of all votes). Coupled with genuine fascist parties, such as the Golden Dawn of Greece, and Jobbik of Hungary, the far right and anti-immigration parties, such as UKIP, FN, and Geert Wilders&rsquo; Party of Freedom in the Netherlands will make up quite a noisy minority of around 140 voices in the newly elected European Parliament. First and foremost, these forces are not only strongly anti-EU oriented - they are essentially anti-European and overtly pro- Kremlin. Suffices it to recall their praise for Vladimir Putin up to the skies as a supposed defender of conservative, family, and traditional values, which allowed Farage and Marine Le Pen to close ranks with Jobbik - a miserable and disgraceful alliance, to say the least.<br /><br />Even more so was the moment of self-exposure when Farage, in one of his recent interviews, went so far as to suggest that two grave mistakes made by the EU were the adoption of the euro and the accession of Eastern European countries to the EU, with all their social mobility and dignity they got (not to be embarrassed anymore by Western European immigration officers with their intrusive questions and poorly concealed disdain for Eastern Europe, I would add). Well, what can you say after this? Let us make no mistake: not only do Poland or the Baltic States appear as the stronghold of European value orientations as opposed to pro-Kremlin and Putinesque farce of UKIP and FN; in this context, Ukraine and its anti-criminal revolution with the EU on the lips of Maidan protesters come as a powerful antidote against the political grotesque of populism in EU countries.<br /><br />At the same time, it becomes increasingly obvious that the times when the Kremlin had its useful idiots in the West primarily among leftist intellectuals with all their misguided politics and self-imposed moral and political blindness are gone; instead, the new useful idiots of the Kremlin come straight from the far right - theses are people who choose to believe that Vladimir Putin is the hope of European neo-conservatism. I have already described elsewhere this phenomenon in terms of the new Fascist International with its headquarters in Moscow. However tempting, we cannot reduce the entire analysis of the 2014 elections to the EP to the moral shock. True, it is something like a heavy hangover and a wake-up call for the EU, yet this is the right time to find the answer to the question: What happened? What happened was easy to expect, especially in the light of a difficult rivalry between Jean-Claude Juncker and Martin Schulz over the post of president of the European Commission, where Juncker&rsquo;s high profile as a confessed federalist made it impossible for the UK to back him.<br /><br />Add to this domestic nuances in the fight between British conservatives and UKIP (as the latter tries to fish in the same waters of British Euroskepticism and exceptionalism), and you will have, if not a cul-de-sac, then at least a difficult predicament for British politics. The 2014 elections should serve as a wake-up call and reminder that Euroskepticism is far from a force majeur or natural disaster: instead, it is a collective sentiment of European citizens skillfully exploited by populist parties and translated into a warcry, a quasi-program, and a pseudo-vision of the future.<br /><br />It suffices to beat the drums of threat and portray the EU as a specter of velvet totalitarianism, or else demonize Brussels, and behold the mandate - you can win the elections to the despised European Parliament, an institution which Mr. Farage hates and holds in contempt, even refusing to attend the meetings of his committee, yet this does not prevent him from being well paid by it. No program or vision is needed - just an imagined monster onto which you project all your discontents and worries caused by modern politics and life. The EU is at a crossroads, and the time is up. We are at the peril of failing Europe. If we needed a clear signal, we got it after these elections.<br /><br />&copy; 2014 The Baltic times. All rights reserved.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2276 Thu, 03 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0300 L. Donskis Starts his Activities as Honorary Consul of Finland http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2266 <p style="text-align: justify;">On July 1, 2014 Finland&rsquo;s Honorary Consulate was opened in Kaunas, which will be overseen by newly appointed Honorary Consul Leonidas Donskis. Linas Linkevicius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, stated during the opening ceremony the importance of the consulate for the cultural interchange. According to him, the new honorary consul, a well-known academic, public figure and former Member of the European Parliament will contribute considerably to bring Finnish and Lithuanian cultural and academic societies together. (Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2266 Wed, 02 Jul 2014 00:00:00 +0300 L. Donskis at the International Lithuania Congress in Wroclaw http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1806 <p style="text-align: justify;">On May 29-30 Leonidas Donskis took part at the second international Lithuania Congress in Wroclaw. At the event, academics and experts discussed Polish-Lithuanian relations, the first decade of the Polish and Lithuanian membership in the European Union, Lithuanian history, culture and language. Here you can find an interview with L. Donskis, given during the congress.&nbsp;</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1806 Mon, 09 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0300 The springtime of our discontent http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1800 <p>The title of this writing is a paraphrase of the title of a famous novel. As we know, The Winter of Our Discontent is the title of John Steinbeck&rsquo;s last novel, published in 1961. The title is a reference to the first two lines of William Shakespeare&rsquo;s Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.&rdquo;<br /></p> In fact, this is the springtime of our discontent, which follows the winter of our discontent, although the latter gave us hope that the world may change for the better. The EuroMaidan Revolution in Kiev appears to have been a genuine anti-criminal revolution which dealt a blow to the Kremlin and scared its Master. Criminalization of politics and, conversely, politicization of the criminal world was and continues to be the sword and the shield of the political system created by Vladimir Putin and his clique. Wherever they go, leaving a frozen conflict and an ethnic conflict that they manufacture, we see criminal gangs in power. This was the case in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and this is the case in Crimea now. It is too obvious to need emphasis that Russian ambitions in Ukraine went beyond Crimea, but here in Kaunas there is a strong sense of how history tends to repeat itself. A feeling of being back in time with such code names as Munich, the Sudetenland, Hitler, Daladier, and Chamberlain is much stronger than it would have been any time earlier after the fall of the Berlin wall. We bid farewell to the holy naivete of Francis Fukuyama&rsquo;s vision of the end of history, as if to say: "Welcome back to the twentieth century!&rdquo; We are parting with Fukuyama just to be on the way to Putiyama, as Andrei Piontkovsky, a brilliant Russian political analyst and essayist, once put it with his wit and elegance. It must have been five years ago when I came up, in a seminar with high-ranking EU and American officials, diplomats, politicians, and academics, with a comparison of Putin&rsquo;s Russia and post-Weimar Germany. I insisted on the rise of a revisionist state in Russia with a strong sense of injustice seemingly done by the West to the USSR and with the resulting wave of chauvinism, neo-imperialism, and fascism. Some colleagues took this remark quite seriously, yet others (especially Germans) thought that it was overstretched and overblown. I leave it to my gracious readership to decide who was right and who was wrong at that time. Kaunas is a city deeply embedded in the twentieth century with its cult of power and cruelty, violence, criminal regimes, and politics of forgetting, as Milan Kundera would have it. Kaunas was the provisional capital of Lithuania before the Second World War. In this city, the history of prewar Lithuania ended with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1940. Kaunas was much hated and feared by Soviet authorities throughout the Soviet period - first and foremost as a symbol of independent Lithuania and as the stronghold of Lithuania nationalism. Kaunas is a city with several planes of identity and historical memory, yet most important is its sensitivity to the vulnerability of small Eastern and Central European nations. It is a city where the Republic of Lithuania stopped existing. However, one thing makes a crucial difference here. For now, Kaunas is an academic town where Vytautas Magnus University, closed down by the Soviets after WWII and then reestablished by Lithuanian emigres from the USA, became a symbol of present Lithuania. Two presidents of this university were American scholars of Lithuanian background, and the university itself is a bilingual institution where English is the second language of instruction. Since this liberal arts university, reestablished in 1989, was an anticipation of Lithuania&rsquo;s independence which came one year later, we have a good reason to regard its American component as deeply symbolic for both Kaunas and Lithuania. (Incidentally, Vytautas Magnus University has recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its resurrection - the event took place on April 25, 2014). Back in those tragic days in 1940, Lithuania was a fragile state with no loyal and committed friends in Europe. The Baltic States were not "a European necessity,&rdquo; as one British diplomat put it once. Present Lithuania, like the two other Baltic States, finds itself in a different world. The country&rsquo;s accession to NATO and the EU in 2004 seems to have been the pivotal event in its modern history. Even now when Russia threatens the world order challenging the system of international relations, Kaunas and Lithuania are as safe and secure as they have never been before. Yet we know that "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.&rdquo; The spark of genius and sensitivity shared by John Donne and Ernest Hemingway is as relevant for humanity today as never before. The same applies to William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck, whose words and pronouncements of wisdom can best serve as the reminder that our yesterday will be tomorrow, and our tomorrow was already yesterday. <p style="text-align: justify;">In fact, this is the springtime of our discontent, which follows the winter of our discontent, although the latter gave us hope that the world may change for the better. The EuroMaidan Revolution in Kiev appears to have been a genuine anti-criminal revolution which dealt a blow to the Kremlin and scared its Master. Criminalization of politics and, conversely, politicization of the criminal world was and continues to be the sword and the shield of the political system created by Vladimir Putin and his clique. Wherever they go, leaving a frozen conflict and an ethnic conflict that they manufacture, we see criminal gangs in power. This was the case in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and this is the case in Crimea now.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It is too obvious to need emphasis that Russian ambitions in Ukraine went beyond Crimea, but here in Kaunas there is a strong sense of how history tends to repeat itself. A feeling of being back in time with such code names as Munich, the Sudetenland, Hitler, Daladier, and Chamberlain is much stronger than it would have been any time earlier after the fall of the Berlin wall. We bid farewell to the holy naivete of Francis Fukuyama&rsquo;s vision of the end of history, as if to say: "Welcome back to the twentieth century!&rdquo; We are parting with Fukuyama just to be on the way to Putiyama, as Andrei Piontkovsky, a brilliant Russian political analyst and essayist, once put it with his wit and elegance.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">It must have been five years ago when I came up, in a seminar with high-ranking EU and American officials, diplomats, politicians, and academics, with a comparison of Putin&rsquo;s Russia and post-Weimar Germany. I insisted on the rise of a revisionist state in Russia with a strong sense of injustice seemingly done by the West to the USSR and with the resulting wave of chauvinism, neo-imperialism, and fascism. Some colleagues took this remark quite seriously, yet others (especially Germans) thought that it was overstretched and overblown. I leave it to my gracious readership to decide who was right and who was wrong at that time.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Kaunas is a city deeply embedded in the twentieth century with its cult of power and cruelty, violence, criminal regimes, and politics of forgetting, as Milan Kundera would have it. Kaunas was the provisional capital of Lithuania before the Second World War. In this city, the history of prewar Lithuania ended with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1940. Kaunas was much hated and feared by Soviet authorities throughout the Soviet period - first and foremost as a symbol of independent Lithuania and as the stronghold of Lithuania nationalism. Kaunas is a city with several planes of identity and historical memory, yet most important is its sensitivity to the vulnerability of small Eastern and Central European nations. It is a city where the Republic of Lithuania stopped existing.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">However, one thing makes a crucial difference here. For now, Kaunas is an academic town where Vytautas Magnus University, closed down by the Soviets after WWII and then reestablished by Lithuanian emigres from the USA, became a symbol of present Lithuania. Two presidents of this university were American scholars of Lithuanian background, and the university itself is a bilingual institution where English is the second language of instruction. Since this liberal arts university, reestablished in 1989, was an anticipation of Lithuania&rsquo;s independence which came one year later, we have a good reason to regard its American component as deeply symbolic for both Kaunas and Lithuania. (Incidentally, Vytautas Magnus University has recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its resurrection - the event took place on April 25, 2014).</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Back in those tragic days in 1940, Lithuania was a fragile state with no loyal and committed friends in Europe. The Baltic States were not "a European necessity,&rdquo; as one British diplomat put it once. Present Lithuania, like the two other Baltic States, finds itself in a different world. The country&rsquo;s accession to NATO and the EU in 2004 seems to have been the pivotal event in its modern history. Even now when Russia threatens the world order challenging the system of international relations, Kaunas and Lithuania are as safe and secure as they have never been before.</p> <p style="text-align: justify;">Yet we know that "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.&rdquo; The spark of genius and sensitivity shared by John Donne and Ernest Hemingway is as relevant for humanity today as never before. The same applies to William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck, whose words and pronouncements of wisdom can best serve as the reminder that our yesterday will be tomorrow, and our tomorrow was already yesterday.<br /><br />&copy; 2014 The Baltic times. All rights reserved.&nbsp;</p> vel. As we know, The Winter of Our Discontent is the title of John Steinbeck&rsquo;s last novel, published in 1961. The title is a reference to the first two lines of William Shakespeare&rsquo;s Richard III: "Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this sun of York.&rdquo; In fact, this is the springtime of our discontent, which follows the winter of our discontent, although the latter gave us hope that the world may change for the better. The EuroMaidan Revolution in Kiev appears to have been a genuine anti-criminal revolution which dealt a blow to the Kremlin and scared its Master. Criminalization of politics and, conversely, politicization of the criminal world was and continues to be the sword and the shield of the political system created by Vladimir Putin and his clique. Wherever they go, leaving a frozen conflict and an ethnic conflict that they manufacture, we see criminal gangs in power. This was the case in Transnistria, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, and this is the case in Crimea now. It is too obvious to need emphasis that Russian ambitions in Ukraine went beyond Crimea, but here in Kaunas there is a strong sense of how history tends to repeat itself. A feeling of being back in time with such code names as Munich, the Sudetenland, Hitler, Daladier, and Chamberlain is much stronger than it would have been any time earlier after the fall of the Berlin wall. We bid farewell to the holy naivete of Francis Fukuyama&rsquo;s vision of the end of history, as if to say: "Welcome back to the twentieth century!&rdquo; We are parting with Fukuyama just to be on the way to Putiyama, as Andrei Piontkovsky, a brilliant Russian political analyst and essayist, once put it with his wit and elegance. It must have been five years ago when I came up, in a seminar with high-ranking EU and American officials, diplomats, politicians, and academics, with a comparison of Putin&rsquo;s Russia and post-Weimar Germany. I insisted on the rise of a revisionist state in Russia with a strong sense of injustice seemingly done by the West to the USSR and with the resulting wave of chauvinism, neo-imperialism, and fascism. Some colleagues took this remark quite seriously, yet others (especially Germans) thought that it was overstretched and overblown. I leave it to my gracious readership to decide who was right and who was wrong at that time. Kaunas is a city deeply embedded in the twentieth century with its cult of power and cruelty, violence, criminal regimes, and politics of forgetting, as Milan Kundera would have it. Kaunas was the provisional capital of Lithuania before the Second World War. In this city, the history of prewar Lithuania ended with the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1940. Kaunas was much hated and feared by Soviet authorities throughout the Soviet period - first and foremost as a symbol of independent Lithuania and as the stronghold of Lithuania nationalism. Kaunas is a city with several planes of identity and historical memory, yet most important is its sensitivity to the vulnerability of small Eastern and Central European nations. It is a city where the Republic of Lithuania stopped existing. However, one thing makes a crucial difference here. For now, Kaunas is an academic town where Vytautas Magnus University, closed down by the Soviets after WWII and then reestablished by Lithuanian emigres from the USA, became a symbol of present Lithuania. Two presidents of this university were American scholars of Lithuanian background, and the university itself is a bilingual institution where English is the second language of instruction. Since this liberal arts university, reestablished in 1989, was an anticipation of Lithuania&rsquo;s independence which came one year later, we have a good reason to regard its American component as deeply symbolic for both Kaunas and Lithuania. (Incidentally, Vytautas Magnus University has recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of its resurrection - the event took place on April 25, 2014). Back in those tragic days in 1940, Lithuania was a fragile state with no loyal and committed friends in Europe. The Baltic States were not "a European necessity,&rdquo; as one British diplomat put it once. Present Lithuania, like the two other Baltic States, finds itself in a different world. The country&rsquo;s accession to NATO and the EU in 2004 seems to have been the pivotal event in its modern history. Even now when Russia threatens the world order challenging the system of international relations, Kaunas and Lithuania are as safe and secure as they have never been before. Yet we know that "never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.&rdquo; The spark of genius and sensitivity shared by John Donne and Ernest Hemingway is as relevant for humanity today as never before. The same applies to William Shakespeare and John Steinbeck, whose words and pronouncements of wisdom can best serve as the reminder that our yesterday will b NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1800 Wed, 04 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0300 The New Fascist International http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1729 <p>In his book of correspondence with the noted French writer Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies, the French journalist, activist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote on present Russia: "Not only does this Russia inspire no desire in me, it fills me with horror. I&rsquo;d go so far as to say that it frightens me because I see in it a possible destiny for the late-capitalist societies. Once upon a time, during your postwar &lsquo;glory days,&rsquo; the middle class was terrorized by being told that Brezhnev&rsquo;s communism was not an archaism restricted to distant societies but rather a picture of our own future. We were wrong: it was not communism but postcommunism, Putinism, that may be the testing ground for our future.&rdquo;&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1729 Sat, 17 May 2014 00:00:00 +0300 The New Fascist International http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2043 <p>In his book of correspondence with the noted French writer Michel Houellebecq, Public Enemies, the French journalist, activist and philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy wrote on present Russia: "Not only does this Russia inspire no desire in me, it fills me with horror. I&rsquo;d go so far as to say that it frightens me because I see in it a possible destiny for the late-capitalist societies. Once upon a time, during your postwar &lsquo;glory days,&rsquo; the middle class was terrorized by being told that Brezhnev&rsquo;s communism was not an archaism restricted to distant societies but rather a picture of our own future. We were wrong: it was not communism but postcommunism, Putinism, that may be the testing ground for our future.&rdquo;&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2043 Sat, 17 May 2014 00:00:00 +0300 The Failed Lingua Franca of Eastern Europe? http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1721 <p>The Russian language may have failed as an imperial project of becoming a lingua franca in Eastern Europe, but many brilliant minds of the region are inextricably linked to the language. Today, Russian is increasingly seen as a tool of political domination over the former republics of the Soviet Union.&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1721 Mon, 05 May 2014 00:00:00 +0300 The Failed Lingua Franca of Eastern Europe? http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2044 <p>The Russian language may have failed as an imperial project of becoming a lingua franca in Eastern Europe, but many brilliant minds of the region are inextricably linked to the language. Today, Russian is increasingly seen as a tool of political domination over the former republics of the Soviet Union.&nbsp;(Continue...)</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/2044 Mon, 05 May 2014 00:00:00 +0300 Last EP plenary session in Strasbourg http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1717 <p>Last week, the 2009 - 2014 term European Parliament held the last plenary session in Strasbourg and bid farewell to one of the EP seats, Strasbourg, which they visited more than fifty times in the last five years. With this plenary session, the usual work of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) finished. After the Eastern, the politicians will not return to their offices in Brussels and will instead stay in their countries. Some will prepare for the EP elections in the end of May and some will finalise their career in this institution and prepare for the future challenges.</p> <p>However, the last plenary session agenda did not signalise the end of the term. Four days in Strasbourg were filled with numerous questions representing the whole spectrum of the tasks of the EP, from foreign policy and banking union to the use of plastic bags.</p> <p>From Ukraine to the North Korea </p> <p>From the very beginning of the events in Maidan, the question on Ukraine is one of the crucial questions on the EP agenda. In every plenary session, MEPs discussed the situation in the most important EU eastern neighbour with representatives from other EU institutions and in most cases adopted resolutions which include much stronger wording compared to that of the EU Council, the Commission or the European External Action Service. The April plenary session was no exception. On Wednesday, just before the Geneva talks between Ukraine, EU, US and Russia, the MEPs discussed the situation with the Commissioner for Enlargement &Scaron;tefan F&uuml;le. On Thursday, the EP adopted a resolution on Russian pressure on Eastern Partnership countries and in particular destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.</p> <p>The resolution with was tabled also by Leonidas Donskis on behalf of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), urges the EU Council to be ready for the economic sanctions, calls for measures against Russian companies and their subsidiaries, particularly in the energy sector, as well as Russian investments and assets in the EU, and for all agreements with Russia to be reviewed with a view to their possible suspension, and to swiftly apply an arms and dual-use technology embargo for this country.</p> <p>Although during the last months the EP paid a lot of attention to Ukraine, it also still continues observing and publicly denouncing human rights abuses around the world. One of the most effective ways to do it are urgency resolutions which are adopted during every EP plenary session. Tabling these resolutions and deciding on their relevance is one of the tasks of the members of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, because they have the latest information and are constantly in contact with non-governmental organisations and independent observers. In the last EP plenary session, as usually, three urgency resolutions on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law were adopted. The countries concerned this time are Pakistan, Syria and North Korea. The resolution on North Korea, tabled also by the ALDE coordinator for human rights, Leonidas Donskis, reacts to the report on violations of human rights released by the UN Commission of Inquiry in February. As usually, the Democratic People&rsquo;s Republic of Korea (DPRK) refused all cooperation with the UN officials drafting this report. The MEPs support the findings of the UN Commission that &lsquo;systematic, widespread and gross human rights violations have been and are being committed by the DPRK, and in many instances, the violations found constitute crimes against humanity based on State policies&rsquo;. These crimes entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation. The EP believes that it is time for the international community to undertake concrete action and to end the perpetrators&rsquo; impunity. It also demands that those most responsible for the crimes against humanity committed in the DPRK be held accountable, brought before the International Criminal Court and subjected to targeted sanctions.</p> <p>Towards the stronger banking union and more transparent lobbyism </p> <p>The European Parliament continues work on good functioning of the banking union and instalment of checks which would help to avoid painful consequences in the case of a crisis. In April, the EP adopted new rules which ensure that the future problems of banks are solved using their own resources and not taxpayers` money to bail them out. During the economic crisis, many banks&rsquo; losses were transferred onto the taxpayer. The new system ensures that bank owners (shareholders) and creditors (primarily bondholders) will be first in line to absorb losses the bank could incur. In addition to that, countries in the banking union (all the Eurozone and possibly opt-ins) will share a bank-financed &euro;55 billion single resolution fund, to be established gradually over 8 years. MEPs made sure that the banking union is created as soon as possible and is used in a justified way. All these rules have already been negotiated with the EU Council, and will therefore enter into force immediately.</p> <p>During the last EP plenary session, MEPs also repeatedly dealt with the necessity to draw very clear rules for the lobbying organisation active in Brussels. In its resolution, the EP urged other EU institutions to make the Transparency Register set up in 2011, compulsory. To date, an estimated 75% of all relevant business-related organisations and approximately 60% of NGOs operating in Brussels have signed the register. Although the Parliament has always wanted the register to be compulsory, it has proved difficult to find a suitable legal basis for this in the EU Treaty. Therefore now the EP asked the Commission to table a proposal for this, by the end of 2016. MEPs also called for incentive measures to encourage lobbyists to sign the register. They include facilitating authorisation to organise or co-host events on EP premises for registered lobbyists, allowing participation of registered lobbyists as speakers in committee hearings. At the same time, the non-registered organisations should face restricted access to EP premises.</p> NEWS http://www.donskis.lt/p/en/1/1_/1717 Wed, 23 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0300