Philosophy and Ideas

Three Cheers for Leszek Kolakowski

Leszek Kolakowski, the world-renowned Polish intellectual, died at the age of eighty-one on July 17. This is not another obituary, but an excuse to return to a minor theme of his, which has been occasionally gnawing at my mind for about twenty years. Kolakowski has an enormous and wide-ranging oeuvre and his academic fame rests mainly on his magisterial three-volume examination (and rejection) of Marxism (Main Currents of Marxism), while his moral and political stature is largely due to his courageous involvement with the liberation of Poland from the Soviet yoke. He was also a devastating and penetrating critic of…

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