Martin Palouš: Totalitarianism, its past and its presence


nternational Seminar (in English, without interpretation), organized jointly by Vaclav Havel Library and Florida International University . The goal of a seminar hosted by university pedagogue and philosopher Martin Palous (in his current capacity of Director of Vaclav Havel Program for Human Rights and Diplomacy at Florida International University) is to open a comprehensive debate on totalitarianism – a key phenomenon in world politics of the 20th century, the emergence of which on the European soil in the form of Nazism and Communism, has manifested a profound both spiritual and political crisis of modern European civilization. The inconvenient truth is that this phenomenon has not only its past, but it is still present with us today, at the beginning of the 3rd decade of the 21st century - still endowed with a dangerous political potential for contemporary consumerist mass society, and thus representing a fundamental threat to our common freedom. SEMINAR PROGRAM: Part I - 16:00 – 17:00 Topics: - The questions concerning the education of the new generation about the tragic past of the 20th century, in the first place about the Jewish Holocaust - The articulation of experience with totalitarianism in literature and art, its role in the efforts to resist it. The discussants: Oren B. Stier, Professor of Religious Studies and Director, Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program, FIU Jiří Holý, Professor, the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Jewish Literature at Charles University Jan Roubínek, Director of the Terezín Memorial Part II - 17:00 – 18:00 Topics: - The European experience with totalitarianism in the 20th century (in form of German Nazism and Soviet Communism) and the lessons learned from it - The basic questions related to the “presence of the past” in human life: the role of individual and collective memories of people exposed to totalitarianism during their lives in the public discourse today The discussants: Ondřej Matějka, Deputy Director of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes Amb. Andrew Bremberg, Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation

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