lunedì, dicembre 05, 2005

Robert Conquest su Luciano Canfora

A Luciano Canfora e' riuscito finalmente ad ottenere l'attenzione di un illustre intellettuale di caratura mondiale e la pagina editoriale di un grande ggiornale dell'anglosfera in un colpo solo.

Sfortunatamente per lui, l'intellettuale non e' qualche pacifinto collettivista, ma Robert Conquest e la pagina degli editoriali non e' quella di "Le Monde diplomatique" , ma quella del Wall Street Journal .

Canfora, ovviamente, ne esce a pezzi. L'editoriale si intitola, giustamente, Stalinophilia.
Yes, indeed: Stalin's Soviet Union. And today, A.D. 2005, a major public, and publishers', row is raging in Europe -- the Canfora affair. A 'distinguished' professor of classical philology at Bari University, Luciano Canfora, has produced a book in something like the worst of the neo-pro-Stalinist vein. 'La Democrazia: Storia Di Un'Ideologia' is part of the series 'The Making of Europe,' put out by publishers in five countries under the direction of French Medievalist historian Jacques LeGoff. It somehow sneaked through publishers' offices into print in Italy, France, Spain and (note title change) as 'Democracy in Europe: A History' in England last week, America next month.

But the German publisher, C. H. Beck, refused to publish it, returned the rights to the author, and offered 'gladly' to make the translation available. In Italy, the Corriere Della Sera printed Mr. Canfora's angry charges of 'censorship' -- a cry quickly taken up elsewhere. "

Censura? L'editore lo ha restituito gia' tradotto e lascia all'autore tutti i diritti di pubblivare tale edizione. Come si puo' definire questa una "censura" ?
Soprattutto dopo che una commissione indipendente aveva giudicato il libro "non scientifico".

It was the unanimous conclusion of five independent consultants that C. H. Beck would be well advised not to publish the book.
Lo storico - di sinistra - Wehler ha sostenuto che l'idiozia dogmatica di Canfora supera i livelli visti nella DDR degli anni '60 e '70. E almeno li' erano costretti a scriverle...
Even the well-known left-wing historian Hans Ulrich Wehler criticized it, noting that "In its dogmatic stupidity he [Canfora] exceeds the products of the GDR in the sixties and seventies."
Canfora rifiutata a priori le scoperte, i fatti, le conclusioni e la lezione di generazioni, per impiegare tutto l'armamentario della vulgata stalinista.

So, contrary to all civilized expectation, the lessons of the past three generations are rejected. Those of us who thought they had been learnt must, once again, face the non-facts. Thus we learn, from Mr. Canfora, of the negative role of Poland in failing to support Stalin. Katyn (like Gulag) does not figure in the index. We are treated to a Hungarian Revolution of 1956 in which the West is the main villain. And "hysterically anti-Soviet" opinion (particularly in Poland) is berated.(A useful guide to Stalinophilia is the use of "hysterical," "frenzied" and "rabid" to describe non-communists.)

Un altro problema e' l'abuso del titolo di "esperto" da parte di Canfora. Che e' un classicista, non uno storico contemporaneo (Canfora non insegna nemmeno storia antica, ma filologia)

To be called "distinguished" is not an adequate reply to the objections emerging from all sides of the political spectrum. Mr. Canfora's expertise as a classicist is in itself no qualification, or not one adequate to refute the facts of 20th-century Stalinism. But we get not merely a favorable, but an intellectually indefensibly favorable view of Gulag-denial in the form of Gulag-avoidance -- a lesson to all the David Irvings.

As to the charge that the rejection of this book amounts to censorship, it is a pity that the author did not cover the Soviet censorship machine -- Glavlit -- with 70,000 employees (whose approval stamps appeared on almost everything printed in the USSR, even including bus tickets).
Perhaps the book has perspectives not yet available to me -- though I doubt if it contains, for example, such irrefutable material as, say, theater's "distinguished" Vsevolod Meyerhold's account, from the NKVD prison, of his long tortures before execution. The English and American publisher Blackwell's catalogue blurb for Mr. Canfora's book notes that the scope of the series in which it appears "is broad, encompassing the history of ideas as well as of societies, nations and states to produce informative, readable and provocative treatments of central themes in the history of the European peoples and their cultures." Evidently "factual" does not come into it.
* * *

Meanwhile, have we anything to learn from this? Overt Stalinophilia is rare even in moderately informed circles. Still, one does find a remnant of the "revisionism" of a generation ago in some of the lesser by-products of academe -- in particular in some recent excellent Moscow historical studies dumbed down by old-style Western editors. But nothing to compare with what can be done by true Stalinophile veterans with distinguished reputations in other fields.

The Canfora row certainly shows that there are still "intellectuals" prone to unreality. But also that they fail to escape the vigilant skepticism so central to the open mind -- yes -- and the open society. Some of us prefer these to the alternatives.
L'unico errore di Conquest? Il suo stupore alla difesa del libro da parte di alcuni italiani. Conquest dimentica che alcuni comunisti italiani erano fra i destalinizzatori. Ma la stragrande maggioranza vi si adeguo' a malincuore. Canfora, evidentemente, era fra questi ultimi.
Some Italian voices are heard in some sort of defense of this book, a sad paradox when one remembers that the Italian left -- and even Italian communists -- were among the earliest exposers of Stalinism in the 1960s.

Template Designed by Douglas Bowman - Updated to Beta by: Blogger Team
Modified for 3-Column Layout by Hoctro. Credits: Daryl Lau, Phydeaux3