Charles Brown: FIRST IMPRESSIONS—LASTING MEMORIES: “AS I REMEMBER”

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This essay is divided into two parts. The first part is an account of my own very personal impressions and memories of my encounter with Janusz Kuczynski’s vision of a “new form of universalism.” I focus on Kuczynski’s attempt to interpret “the meaning of recent history” in his day and times. This account does not aim at a definitive account of Kuczynski’s thinking but rather at my interpretation of what I consider to be the most promising and defensible version of his ideas. This is an account of my impressions as I remember them filtered through personal experiences over the past three decades. Other interpretations are possible and perhaps even necessary for a more complete account. The second part attempts to articulate what I consider to be the lasting relevance of those ideas. I attempt to say something about the meaning of “this moment in history,” unfolding in my place and in my times. I hope to point toward the lasting relevance of Kuczynski’s thinking by relying on those ideas to say something insightful about the ecological, social, and political events occurring as I write this essay, events that are shaped by a historical pandemic as my country erupts into massive political demonstrations seeking social and racial justice in my country. Keywords: the meaning of recent history, new form of universalism, the great ethos of dialogue, Solidarnoss [Solidarity], Right Livelihood Awards, Iron Curtain, Marxist— Christian dialogue, ecological and social monocultures, end of history, ethnic nationalisms, exclusionary forms of identity politics, creeping nihilism, neoliberalism, natural and social pathogens, virulent mutations of fanaticism and authoritarianism, pandemics, herd immunity, Barack Obama’s Presidency, America First, Black Lives Matter.