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Duplicity of the language and the post-violent conformism.

On the communist regime in Bucharest

It is for sure that it is not the statistics that are the optimum instrument which might offer a correct vision upon the current situation in a country that has permanently claimed its profoundly European vocation. The pro--European opinion trends from Romania have not yet been accompanied but by accident by a vigorous and coherent political action capable to make concrete a real wish of overcoming a past which the Romanians (in general) do not respect, but they cultivate it out of conformist reasons. The process of communism, officially finalized by a document presented in front of the reunited chambers of the Parliament was not able to clarify the ambiguous relationship which a part of the political elite from Romania keeps on maintaining with the inheritance of the old Regime. (1) (Politologist Vladimir Tismaneanu did not succeed in being more convincing, not even a bit, including in the pages of the Report the name of his own father ... (2)) Condemning communism isn't, for the time being, but a rhetorical formula meant to offer (interestedly and selectively) the guilty ones on duty for a history willing to pay old debts ...

I do not feel the need to talk here about the inertia of mentalities because, at a structural and mentality level, communism did not represent for us a spiritual option. The communist regime from Romania was not a natural outgrowth of the national history, but a Soviet implant. The communism from Romania lacked social-historical roots and this explains its strongly repressive character. The violence of a system is directly proportional with the intensity of the public resentment towards the official ideology. Communism was par excellence a regime of terror (3) because its values have never been interiorized and effectively assumed by the Romanian people. The communist propaganda was not sustained by genuine culture or streams of ideas. Communism subzisted by public conformism and individual cowardice. In this sense Nazism and communism developped based on involuntary, but essential complicities. If we are to apply this non-idelological rest which supports the explicit ideology to the example of national-socialism, it is worth remarking that the indestructibility of the Nazi discourse was not conferred by the fanatized masses of supporters, but rather by the silent majority of the population, who pretended that it does not know what was happening and anyway, it has no fault. The same in the case of the communist regime: the strategy by which the dominant ideology managed to self-reproduce itself, consisted in the fact that it has given its subjects the illusion of a private sphere in which they can resist by culture, not only without harming the system, but on the contrary, even decorating the subduance with the attributes of the autonomy and liberty. In general, the rest of ideological nonidentifiction is the one that makes the would-be autonomy of the private sphere to become a simple alibi for the public subduance" (4). The fact that the people did not believe in the social and cultural norms imposed by ideological means did not make these less efficient at a political level. The regime took advantage of the lack of public reaction accrediting the idea of a wide consensus at the level of population. The conformism inoculated publicly by violent means has enabled, after 1989, the speculation in a political ground of the post-violence conformism. The latter was the natural effect of a national "fatigueness" of a defeated generation who further on refuses to admit that it has lost its bet with history.

The official propaganda did not suceed but to a lesser extent to determine consciousness commitments. The party (identification) card was, most of the times, the symptom of a resignation or of opportunism of conjecture. People who wished for themselves a professional career and a decent life viewed the party membership and affiliation as a "political vaccin". It was not the ideological convictions which determined the intellectuals and artists to accept the offer of the party. The party activist was, most of the times, a primitive oportunist, devoid of any intellectual grace. The exceptions, otherwise extremely rare (5), could not (and probably did not even try) to reconfigure intellectually the need for legitimity of the regime. The official propaganda was most of the times subject of acid irony. The most convincing proof in this respect is the flourishing production of political jokes. (6) (A recent sociological study revealed as many as over 10.000 political jokes, more than half of which, with Ceausescu). The low legitimity and credibility of the actions of the regime has lead to the total discrediting of the official ideology. The common answer to the aggressive propaganda of the regime was the rumour and jokes. Ironical and defensive, the Romanian has taken advantage of the capaciy of the double discourse of defying even the most severe censorship.

In reality, these (ludic) spiritual side-slippings constituted tolerated forms of repression of the public resentment against an oppressive system which used to violently respond to any tentative of explicit dissidence. The irony is the inoffensive form of disdain which the common man could handle without endangering his own existence and family. The joke represented the passive form of dissidence towards a regime of terror. Communism, in spite of its intolerant aspect and perhaps in the virtue of its lack of apetite for subtility had its own "wonders" (7).

The transition and the historical inheritance

With this inheritance, too little healthy, the Romanian society has undergone after the 1990s a prolongued process of transition. The word of order of the last 15 years was "reform" and this issue has gathered a suspect unanimity. And as we all agreed that we needed a reform all that was left to be settled, was what exactly there was to be reformed. This is the moment in which the Romanian society has known the first convulsions. The miners' strikes ["Mineriadele"] of the 90s are symptomatic effects of the diseases the society in its whole suffered from.

When the miners scanned (shouted slogans) in the Revolution Square "death to the intellectuals" or "we work, we do not think", Western Europe has realized in the most brutal possible way that Eastern Europe was not cured from communist nostalgia and resentments. The intellectuals' answer to the events of June 1990 was devoid of force and a certain part of the spiritual elite has even tried to a produce excuses for these movements. Out of the wish to keep the consensus and silence the majority preferred to keep the silence.

"The resistance by culture" and the "opposition from within the system" represent today cliches devoid of stake, but the fact that they were considered until recently, as arguments, reflects the dimension of a far-reaching crisis, manifested at the level of a community from which many common people would have been willing to borrow ethical models. The universities (as institutions responsable with the qualified expertise) proved to be unable to produce (in efficient doses) the collective antidote which would cure not only the "ostalgia" (8), but also the faulty or damaging intellectual skills reactivated publicly by the insatisfaction of the rich and plenty generation of engineers and specialists without destiny. (9) The universities limited themselves to administrate only the more and more suspect production of consensus. In exchange for these services the power offered generous financing for all sort of productions with an uncertain academic value.

On this historical backround, it was perfectly explainable the availability of the mass of voters of reacting positively to an electoral slogan of the type "we do not sell our country". The important percentages obtained by the leaders with nationalist rudimentary discourse reflected the frustration and fear of a society threatened by poverty and lack of education. On this occasion for the Western world it has become very clear that the maturing of democracy in Romania needed time and particularly a different political will. "The window democracy" has remained for the entire period of transition an export product. The post-revolutionary leaders from Romania were, with rare exceptions, exponents of the Leftist ideologies. These convictions did not enable the triggering at an institutional scale of a genuine reform capable to change the paternalist way of thinking in the society.

There are, of course, a series of differences between the "socialism with human face" timidly launched at the beginning of the 90s by president Iliescu and the current program of social democracy in Romania. It is remarkable the moving away from the sterility of contents of the "wooden language" to a publicity form of dramatized dialogue meant to empathize and to bring about solidarities. Between "wooden language" of the prime secretary and the populist simplicity of the contemporary discourse, there are, however, no differences at a performative level. They perfom, at the limit, the same service.

There have obviously changed the public expressions of a collective feeling of disgust towards the political action. With resentment and deliberately vulgar, the daily language isn't but the primitive retort to the cynical duplicity of the official political discourse (10). This continuity of substance between the wooden language and the vulgarity of the actual political discourse (11) produces visible sociocultural effects. Nothing radical and spectaculous does (not) separate the principles (otherwise honorable) of the scientific socialism from the projects of the reforming transitions from education or the healthcare system. Common leit-motive, the education for the masses and the democratization of the act of culture, remain the favourite space of imposture, while the healthcare, in its eternal quality of "national priority", does not succeed in making forgotten the humiliating "queues" from the times of the old regime.

Postcommunism has cultivated a specific type of communication report. With expression resources drastically limited by the exigency of mass pertinence, the public discourse is taken over a priori as a tentative camuflated by reparatio. To speak intelligibly means in Romania to explain guilty things. The comon excuse of the rhetoric of transition (a rhetoric of the common guilt) is the need for success with the masses. At the last televized electoral confrontation, before the presidential elections of 2004 president Traian Basescu deplored (strategically and somewhat duplicitary) in front of his political opponent the situation of a captive electorate, obliged to choose from among two ex-communists. Such a discourse has had, the way it was proved, a great success to the public. Worked out in the horrizon of a "culture of excuse" the discourse of the authority has implicit resentment accents. The specificity of the discourse of transition is given by the fragile professional and political legitimity of the actors. The public discourse explains and involves, subjectively engages without grounding something. It remains mainly an accessory of the production of consensus.

The culture of the Left and the duplicity of the language

The ones who have written proletcultist texts in the time of a regime that has tortured people without any fault, perform obsessive variations on the same topic: the texts are a series of plausible explanations of the "wanderings" of the authors. These are not always deprived of grace. (12) In order to surprise the nuances of the error, or to make the specific difference between the benign forms of betrayal, a certain rhetoric cleverness is needed. The paralogism is the specialty of transition. A frivolous logic and always available to self-irony has invaded the public space of transition. The excuses did not lose the power of seduction as many felt that, one way or another, they can justify something of a common past.

Any betrayal has justifications, just as "any whore has its sad story". However, the betrayal, once discovered, has become altogether a public warning. A suspicious complaisance tacitly interposes itself between interlocutors. Suspicious and full of prejudices the public has become the preferred client of allusion. The truth strained among lines has been for a long time the specialty of the cultural dissidencefrom Romania. This happening has traumatized the act of culture and has amputated any inclination and preference for the debate of ideas. Complexed and amiable up to the dissolution of the idea to the proletcultist discourse has formed at the level of mentality a generation. Subtle or ill-bred intriguers propelled by insolence and pluck, the party activists have shared an absurd for the background. The rumour has turned into the preferred horrizon for the production of significances. The public effect of this happening is visible until nowadays. We have inherited (as individuals, but also at the level of the community) a detestable propension for the conspirative tone and the truth whispered at the corners. Fear, most often without object, is the consequence of the generalized incapacity of rejecting the Soviet-type paternalism. The excessive centralism has infiltrated itself at the level of the whole society a series of subconscious reflexes. In Romania people got used to accuse the occurrence that the country has done so little for them and did not have (but by exceptions) the strength to wonder what they had to do( and what they could do) for the country ...

It is obvious to anyone the fact that there have been made mistakes. And if any Romanian would be willing to admit that things did no go very well during the years of transition, very few would be able to indicate categorically who would be the main persons responsible for this. In this sense, the main ideologist of the political Left in Romania, proeminent member of PSD, the professor from Cluj Vasile Dancu, used to synthetize in a recent interview (May 2007) the maladies of the Romanian Left: "It did not have courage to assume the radical transformation, it hesitated to get involved in restituting properties, it has shyly made a privatization with the fear of not being bought over by the people abroad and the delays brought us in the situation of losing the very small amount of efficiency and of being now in the situation most feared by all. It did not tell the people that they have to work harder, that they have to educate themselves so as not to lose their work places. It did not have the courage of tearing away from the past, nor did it have the courage of preserving what was meant by the competitional advantages of the socialist Romanian society, as many as they were."

Condemning communism has become a leit-motiv and a minimal expression of celebrating one's own intellectual honesty for any "public voice" within the academic community from Eastern Europe. To publicly confess the adherence to the "fundamental values of Western democracy" has turned into the festivist opportunity of manifestation of a predictible decency in the absence of which no cultural accreditation seems to be possible. It is, nevertheless, less clear the way in which a series of intellectuals active militants in the time of the ex-regime, have steered ideologically without coming into conflict with the moral landmarks they have assumed and promoted publicly (or they have accepted tacitly). Between communism and the socialism with "human face" there lies the "castration complex" of an elite made up on the ruins of the revolutionary enthuziasm. Outstanding and excellent teachers and voluble brawlers keep on giving lessons of morals to a people who has discovered that the liberty does not replace hunger and the dignity of the spirit does not provide nor ensure one a light and well heated home.

In post-communist Romania there are very few public voices who have not firmly expressed the pro-west(ern) attitude. The recent integration into the structures of the European Union has enabled the strengthening of the public feeling that it was proceeded correctly. And nobody would accept for nothing in the world that it could be unfit to love a system that has administered the massive capitalization of certain societies which the last World War practically exhausted and totally drained them of resources. Such an attitude, beyond the fact that it is trendy, it becomes an esteemed exercise of social hygiene. It seems much less significant the happening that such a type of discourse revives in the East a failure syndrome. Even if this thing is for the moment less evident, this recurrence proves to be, (day by day), a psycho-cultural fact yielding effects in the long run.

The European integration and its syncronization with the Western democracy

Even if Orthodoxy and the West have accepted to stay aside in Romania; we cannot say that there has been constituted more than a conjectural alliance. The consolidation of the democratic institutions and the recent accession of Romania to the European Union beginning with January 1-st 2007 should offer the necessary conditions for overcoming this provisory situation. In spite of some enthusiastic-optimistic forecasts, the hypothesis of the accelerated synchronization of the Romanian democracy with Western Europe remains, for the time being, in a lack of proofs. It is difficult to foretell what kind of motives the "local barons" might take into account (frequently invoked by the press in Romania) so that they would give up the discretionary priviledges with which the transition got them used to. And if the "window democracy" is still a sufficient and covering formula for Romania's foreign policy, it is not sure that the simple accession to the structures of the European Union can compensate the essential deficit felt over by a society which represses with difficulty the nostalgia of paternalism.

Once with losing the collectivist utopia, postcommunism triggers the blocking of an associated type of moral relationship. All of a sudden, many people who declared (more or less emphatically) their total availability to die for liberty found themselves too lonely in order to do something memorable with it. Willing to sell the "useless freedom" for nothing, they form today the platoons of "the fooled" of transition. The trauma of the contact with an oppressive liberty, associated with the shortage of projects, has delivered to the postcommunist society in Romania "the man of resentment". On the background of the more and more stern exigencies of professional performance, there took shape a specific form of ethics of transition.

As a rezidual product of the ethics of performance, "the man of resentment" is, as a rule, an informed guy and articulated by tenacious convictions. Passionate player and voluble loser, the man of resentment has built his life on mere words (prating). Mass-media is his church, and he himself, the fervent apostle of revealing. Identifying the conspirations remains his specialty. And the press investigations are his reason of being. They explain definitively and indisputably the personal failures and are, at the same time, proofs on the grounds of which he (The Victim with capital V) must be deplored and reabilitated without delay. As a human type, the man of resentment is the historical effect of changes which Eastern Europe has known in the last decades associated with an illegitimate import of civilization values.

Why is the intellectuality in Romania defensive?

The lack of a vigorous intellectual reaction of the Romanians as to the "socialism with a human face" could be the effect of two categories of motivations:

1. Conjectures of cultural-historical type have limited the access to consistent ethical landmarks. (13) On the background of a failed modernity in Romania there have entered the public circuit a series of literary-cultural products with transparent western licences. (14) They did not properly mark the autochtonous space, nor did they produce significant mutations at the level of the collective mentalities. The quasi-medieval anatomy of the inter-war society (and later on post-war) from Romania has a hindered the maturing of a virile elite, capable and willing to ethically materialize its social and political destiny.

2. Causes of an ethno-psychologic type have posed insurmontable hindrances in the way of taking a decisive and categorical attitude. The consistent tribalism of the rural communities has undermined the process of constituting a strong symbolic national identity. About a cultural and civilizational identity of the Romanians there has always been discussed projectively. Too hasty to get to Europe (and if possible to get there) the elites have declined the creative confrontation with a present undermined by primitivism and ingratitude. A culture grinded by the temptation of evading out of the present cannot offer certitudes. Without certitudes the moral norm remains a symptom of the fashionable preference for a form or another of public relationship. Any key of interpreting the action remains, in the given conditions, irreparably related to conjectures. Capitalizing in the horrizon of "fashion"[of the trendy], creation is delivered to unsuccessful vassalages. Partizan of a "culture of dissimulation" the Romanian intellectual has proved to be always preoccupied with what "it should be" and too discrete with relation to "what it is".

There are official voices from the European Union that accuse, not without grounds, the slow rhythm of the political-democratic changes from Romania. The political realities of the East are, as we all know, difficult to be managed. One can talk very much about the postcommunist transition and its causes. However, more important than any theory remain the facts. Since the people do not want to hear explanations and they expect but a better life, all I am left with now is the unpleasant task to ask the European elites a friendly understanding for a people, which all along its history, has remained unflinching in faith as a gate of Christianity (and here you can well understand what I'm saying) guarding themselves and sacrificing themselves for a common cultural heritage. In defense of those who return home today (for all Romanians Europe is a common house) I shall say only this: the post-communist transition was a trap. And as you well know, it is very easy to get into any trap, but much more difficult it is to get out ...


(1) "As a head of the Romanian state, I explicitly and categorically condemn the communist system from Romania, ever since its setting up, based on dictate, in the years 1944-1947, and until its collapse, in December 1989. Taking notice of the realities presented in the report, I assert with deep responsability: the communist regime from Romania was illegitimate and criminal"

(2) The article signed by Raul Balogh "Tismaneanu does not forgive not even his own father" from Cotidianul of December 16-tth 2006 the head of the Commission from Cottroceni has also explained the reason to which in the report of condemning the communism the name of his father appears as well. "It is right for the reason of ending any speculation regarding my wish of covering names from my own family biography I have lowered the lath so very low at the level of nomenclature and the naming of its members, that I have reached the level of the deputy directors of the political publishing houses. For the very reason of putting an end to this, I have appointed five or six directors of publishing houses all along the time of the regime, among whom there appears the name of my father, too. My father was not a member of the Central Committee (CC), did not take part in the leadership of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR), did not work for Securitate. Nevertheless, he has worked in the ideological apparatus", Tismaneanu explained.

(3) "The communist Regime from Romania has been ever since its beginnings to the end illegitimate and criminal" this is phrase which, in the opinion of Vladimir Tismaneanu, best defines the conclusion of the report drawn up by the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship.

(4) Cistelecan, Alex., A fi sau a nu fi: aceasta-i inttrebarea [To be or not to be: this is the quesion ?] in IDEA arta si societate [The IDEA, Art and Society] no 25 of 2006

(5) I make reference here to such a person as Octavian Paler, recently deceased

(6) A Romanian gets to Germany and asks for political asylum. A journalist questions him:

--What can you tell us about president lliescu?

--Well, I cannot complain about anything in this respect!

--What can you tell us about the freedom of the press?

--Well, I cannot complain about anything in this respect!

--What can you tell us about the corruption from Romania?

--Well, I cannot complain about anything in this respect!

--Well, man, if so, the why have you asked for political asylum in Germany?

--Well, that's the very reason for it, that here I can complain about everything!

(7) The 7 wonders of communism 1.Everybody had work to do. 2.Although everybody had work to do, nobody worked. 3. Although nobody worked, the plan was achieved over 100%. 4. Although the plan was achieved over 100%, one could't buy anything. 5. Although one could't buy anything, everybody had all necessary things. 6. Although everybody had all necessary things, everbody used to steal. 7. Although everbody used to steal, there was never something missing.

(8) In Germany--Ostalgie- term that defines the nostalgia for communism (idealized, "with human face") from Eastern Europe

(9) How significant could be the happening that until the revolution, Romania was the country with the highest percentage of graduates in Politechnics in the world, even higher than in the Soviet Union ...

(10) Unfortunatelly it seems pretty little probable that the vulgarity of the actual entertainment to be able to compete with the inspiration and subtility of the jests with Ceausescu

(11) The premier has recently labelled one of the opposition MPs as "stupid", and the vulgarity of the interventions in Parliament is already a common thing ...

(12) A poet such as Adrian Paunescu has always had his fans ...

(13) Not even the intellectual grace of professor Nae Ionescu could not save the theatrical and legionary drift away. And between the legionary drift and the politicianism of the representatives of the "historical" parties there were no alternatives

(14) Between Proust and Camil Petrescu there cannot be about a proper choice ...

Sorin BORZA,

Universitatea din Oradea,

Facultatea de Stiinte Politice si Stiintele Comunicarii

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Title Annotation:TEORIE POLITICA
Author:Borza, Sorin
Publication:Revista de Stiinte Politice
Article Type:Report
Date:Apr 1, 2011
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