Le Vingtième Siècle Oublié

BERLIN – Il y a 20 ans, l'Union soviétique était dissoute, ce qui pour beaucoup d'historiens marque la fin réelle du “court vingtième siècle” – siècle qui, à partir de 1914, s'est caractérisé par des conflits idéologiques alimentés par le communisme, le fascisme, et la démocratie libérale, jusqu'à ce que cette dernière sorte en apparence victorieuse de la bataille. Mais une chose étrange s'est produite alors que nous connaissions la Fin de l'Histoire (en tant que concept hégélien) : il semble que nous ayons voulu à tout prix tirer des leçons de notre histoire récente, mais nous n'y sommes pas encore parvenus.

De toute évidence, notre histoire se résume à l'histoire contemporaine ; les Européens ont tout particulièrement besoin de comprendre le pouvoir exercé par certaines idéologies extrêmes durant les périodes les plus sombres du XXe siècle – et la nature particulière de la démocratie européenne instituée à la fin de la Seconde Guerre mondiale.

À certains égards, les grands combats idéologiques du XXe siècle semblent désormais analogues et aussi pertinents que les débats scolastiques du Moyen Age – surtout, mais pas seulement pour les jeunes générations. Avec du recul, qui comprend – et a fortiori prend la peine d'essayer de comprendre – l'ampleur du drame politique vécu par des intellectuels comme Arthur Koestler et Victor Serge, des personnes qui ont risqué leur vie pour, puis contre le communisme ?

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