isaiah Berlin: 1989


Granta makes available Isaiah Berlin’s thoughts on the revolutions of ’89. Kind of interesting to read now.

You ask me for a response to the events in Europe. I have nothing new to say: my reactions are similar to those of virtually everyone I know, or know of—astonishment, exhilaration, happiness. When men and women imprisoned for a long time by oppressive and brutal regimes are able to break free, at any rate from some of their chains, and after many years know even the beginnings of genuine freedom, how can anyone with the smallest spark of human feeling not be profoundly moved? One can only add, as Madame Bonaparte said when congratulated on the historically unique distinction of being mother to an emperor, three kings and a queen, ‘Oui, pourvu que ça dure.’ If only we could be sure that there will not be a relapse, particularly in the Soviet Union, as some observers fear.