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The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Reflecting Vladimir Tismaneanu's personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, "The Devil in History" is about political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering.

Date & Time

Nov. 6, 2012
3:30pm – 5:00pm

Location

5th Floor, Woodrow Wilson Center
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The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century

Vladimir Tismaneanu, professor of comparative politics at the University of Maryland College Park, will discuss his latest book The Devil in History: Communism, Fascism, and Some Lessons of the Twentieth Century which examines the relationship between communism and fascism.

Reflecting Vladimir Tismaneanu's personal experiences within communist totalitarianism, The Devil in History is about political passions, radicalism, utopian ideals, and their catastrophic consequences in the twentieth century’s experiments in social engineering. Tismaneanu compares communism and fascism as competing, sometimes overlapping, and occasionally strikingly similar systems of political totalitarianism. He examines the inherent ideological appeal of these radical, revolutionary political movements, the visions of salvation and revolution they pursued, the value and types of charisma of leaders within these political movements, the place of violence within these systems, and their legacies in contemporary politics.

The Devil in History explores thinkers who have shaped contemporary understanding of totalitarian movements—such as: Hannah Arendt, Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Albert Camus, François Furet, Tony Judt, Ian Kershaw, Leszek Kolakowski, Richard Pipes, and Robert C. Tucker. As much a theoretical analysis of the practical philosophies of Marxism-Leninism and Fascism as it is a political biography of particular figures, The Devil in History deals with the incarnation of diabolically nihilistic principles of human subjugation and conditioning in the name of presumably pure and purifying goals.

Ultimately, Tismaneanu argues that no ideological commitment, no matter how absorbing, should ever prevail over the sanctity of human life. He comes to the conclusion that no party, movement, or leader holds the right to dictate to the followers to renounce their critical faculties and to embrace a pseudo-miraculous, a mystically self-centered, delusional vision of mandatory happiness.

Joining Tismaneanu on the panel is Wilson Center Fellow Charles King and former CWIHP Senior Scholar Dennis J. Deletant.

Nida Gelazis, Senior Associate with the European Studies Program, will chair the event.

To purchase the book visit theUniversity of California Presswebsite.

 


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Cold War International History Project

The Cold War International History Project supports the full and prompt release of historical materials by governments on all sides of the Cold War. Through an award winning Digital Archive, the Project allows scholars, journalists, students, and the interested public to reassess the Cold War and its many contemporary legacies. It is part of the Wilson Center's History and Public Policy Program.  Read more

History and Public Policy Program

The History and Public Policy Program uses history to improve understanding of important global dynamics, trends in international relations, and American foreign policy.  Read more

Global Europe Program

The Global Europe Program addresses vital issues affecting Europe’s relations with the rest of the world through scholars-in-residence, seminars, international conferences and publications. These programmatic activities cover wide-ranging topics include: European energy security, the role of the European Union and NATO, democratic transitions, and counter-terrorism, among others. The program also investigates comparatively European approaches to policy issues of importance to the United States, including migration, global governance, and relations with Russia, China and the Middle East.  Read more

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