The Trouble with History Morality, Revolution, and Counterrevolution Adam Michnik, Irena Grudzinska Gross, Elzbieta Matynia, Agnieszka Marczyk, Roman Czarny, James Davison Hunter

Politics and Culture
Publication date:
27 May 2014
Yale University Press
208 pages: 210 x 140 x 19mm
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A brilliant meditation on politics, morality, and history from one of the most courageous and controversial authors of our age

Renowned Eastern European author Adam Michnik was jailed for more than six years by the communist regime in Poland for his dissident activities. He was an outspoken voice for democracy in the world divided by the Iron Curtain and has remained so to the present day. In this thoughtful and provocative work, the man the Financial Times named “one of the 20 most influential journalists in the world” strips fundamentalism of its religious component and examines it purely as a secular political phenomenon.
Comparing modern-day Poland with postrevolutionary France, Michnik offers a stinging critique of the ideological “virus of fundamentalism” often shared by emerging democracies: the belief that, by using techniques of intimidating public opinion, a state governed by “sinless individuals” armed with a doctrine of the only correct means of organizing human relations can build a world without sin. Michnik employs deep historical analysis and keen political observation in his insightful five-point philosophical meditation on morality in public life, ingeniously expounding on history, religion, moral thought, and the present political climate in his native country and throughout Europe.

Adam Michnik is editor-in-chief of the Warsaw daily newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza. He is a recipient of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, the Imre Nagy Award, and the Goethe Prize, among many other honors. Irena Grudzinska Gross teaches East European literature at Princeton University.

‘Paradoxically the great inspirer and strategist, whose ideas and energy have done much to to help Poland become perhaps the most dynamic country in Europe while retaining a democracy, seems to see himself as a lonely fighter against both fanaticism and greed.’—Survival.

“This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking essay on the borderlines of history, politics, and literature by one of East Europe’s most brilliant and respected public intellectuals. Written with clarity, erudition and political incisiveness, it provides an unusual perspective on a highly sensitive subject.”—Jacques Rupnik, Professor, Sciences-Po, Paris