Coordinated by Andreea ZAMFIRA

Public Sphere, Citizens’ Participation

and the Legacy of Communism


Daniel BARBU

University of Bucharest



Abstract: The author is trying to explain the communist strategy of taking over the Romanian society beginning with coming into power in 1944 and developing during a long period of more than forty years. The author tries to explain most people‘s lack of reaction by their previous experience with authoritarian practices used in the last decades on the Romanian political stage and later on, when repression has been more and more replaced by manipulation, by some strive for normalcy of most citizens. The author does not accept any exoneration of responsibility by the so called resistance “through culture” which is considered to be similar with an almost pathological form of ethical autism when visibility was a political burden, if not, at times, a life risk. All these traditions could explain why politics was and still remains for many Romanians such an intricate burden.


Keywords: lazy political monopoly, political participation, collaborationism, totalitarianism, political legitimation, resistance through culture.



An anthropologist who had spent many years observing the people of socialist Romania has concluded his research with a closing statement that all those partaking in the case could underwrite beyond any reasonable doubt:


“Most people to whom I talked – young and old, men and women, workers, peasants, and clerks – said that one of the best things about the revolution was that it allowed them to be left alone to live their lives as they saw fit. Some workers, in fact, were elated to be relieved of the obligation to belong to any party. Membership in the Communist Party was, after all, a burden: it infringed on their time, energy, and personal autonomy. Now that party affiliation is voluntary, Olt Landers are gleefully exercising their right ‘to have no business with anyone,’ as they say”.[1]


          Indeed, from a somehow elementary economic perspective, totalitarianism could be, and actually has been described[2], as the political monopoly of a single party burdening a society where people would have rather preferred to go about their own businesses than embark on a common project. This is to assume that the entire process of production, circulation and distribution of social goods in the public sphere was strictly controlled and centralized by the Communist Party. According to the Marxist model of monopoly, this domination of a single party was meant to yield a maximum and exclusive political payoff for the communist hierarchy. In order to accomplish this task, the single party had to prevent the people it ruled from abandoning their participation in the communist project of social engineering, as well as from engaging in different forms of reluctance, resilience, or even worse, of silent or vocal protests.

        There is no doubt that, under totalitarianism, the public sphere did not constitute and did not function as a space established by the citizens through a free act of political will, eventually translated in the explicit language of a covenant, but in a somehow Hobbesian manner, as a space created by the “sovereign”, namely the Communist Party, for its own advantage and usage.

It is equally obvious that any public square has to bear with the intent of its sovereign author. Which does not necessarily mean that such a space is the exclusive result of the choice or decision of a single political subject, be it a collective one. In fact, there may not be, at the center of the public space, a forbidden city where all the threads of power inevitably and ultimately lead. We should rather figure out any public space as a stratified network of commands, compunctions, contradictions, causes, compulsions and complicities that manage a given society. The public realm could then be defined as an anonymous strategy that coordinates individual tactics, personal initiatives, unequally distributed instructions, duties, and rights that are unremittingly transferred between social actors, and converted at the level of personal responsibility. In such a setting, the power of the sovereign “is not an institution, is not a structure, is not a certain authority with which some are equipped” and others are not, but “the name we give to a complex strategic situation in a given society”[3].

  The Romanian Communist Party found itself in a favourable strategic situation from 1944 to 1948. As of May-June 1944, the initiative in the Romanian public sphere, that is to say the monopoly of the restructuring of power relations, belonged entirely to the communists, as it was the case in all the countries of Eastern Europe[4]. Until August 30th, 1948, when by the decree No. 221 the General Direction of the Security of the People (Securitate) was set up, and the total and explicit elimination of any direct or potential opposition took on a public, systematic and violent aspect, the communist strategy of taking over the society has not been one of a prevailing and declared repression, but has rather espoused a legal and political character.

  From 1944 to 1948 the Romanian Communist Party made use of the public law in order to abolish individual rights. The new power device was born and outlined within a well-thought dynamics of licit and illicit political operations, of interdiction and leniency, of popular support for reformists and exposure of reactionaries, of democratic proceedings and manipulation techniques, of free expression and censorship, of transgression and complicity, of pardon and punishment. The new regime purposely tried to present itself in this complex political-legal framework, which allowed it to legitimately prescribe the way power itself had to be construed, obeyed, or opposed by the citizens. Indeed, this political-legal frame offered the Party a splendid opportunity to exert violence and to administer an obvious political dissymmetry under the appearance of a general law, in a social environment characterized by the urgency of institutional and economical post-war reforms. Thus, Romanian communists not only acted in a legal manner in most cases, but they were in the privileged position to be the authors of the laws they had to use. The appropriation of the state was achieved through strictly legal proceedings, with the formal consent of the constitutional sovereign of that time until December 30th, 1947[5]. Undoubtedly, there have been psychological pressures, demonstrations of force, violent actions, operations of intimidation and blackmail, threats and complicities, street movements, abusive institutional stand-offs, but revolutionary acts not only did entirely lack, but also have been deliberately avoided. The state as such has never been called into question.

  Why is that Romania was the first East-European country in which a communist-inspired government succeeded in controlling the state, even if Romania, unlike Hungary, Czechoslovakia or Poland, seemingly had the historical advantage of relying upon constitutional, institutional, and political structures untouched by the war? The Soviet occupation, to which this success is so often credited, fails to provide us with a sufficient or a satisfactory explanation of this political development.

  There is no doubt that, as anywhere else in Eastern Europe, the Soviet military occupation was the “necessary precondition” for the installation of the communist regime[6]. But it is not less true that the ways and means through which different parties backed by Moscow took over political power, and took under control the public space, as well as the degree of political and social resistance to that process depended in the first place on the type of society in which Soviet totalitarianism was to be reproduced. Therefore, in Yugoslavia and Albania, the conquest of the state took the form of guerrilla warfare, in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria that of “parliamentarian infiltration”, and in Poland and Eastern Germany that of “baggage-train governments”[7]. The Romanian solution seems to have combined the last two methods: the institutional infiltration of a government pre-fabricated by the occupant.

  If the Soviet military presence, together with the pressures and interferences of the occupation authorities, represented the main cause of the accession of communism in Romania, the secondary causes are, in turn, numerous and aggravating: the failure of the “historical” parties to coordinate a credible and coherent opposition; the precariousness of the political organization of social-democracy and labour unions; the great number of “bourgeois” politicians ready to accept to be “fellow travellers”; the massive support of prominent intellectuals (culminating in 1948); the incapacity (if not the indifference) of the society at large to understand the historic character of the political issues at stake[8].

  And again, how was such a complete and rapid infiltration of the communists in the fabric of the public space and in the bureaucratic structures of the Romanian state possible? How come that Romanian public space, organized around intact institutions (the army, the dominant Orthodox Church, the Royal Court, the established “historical” parties, an influential academia), has proven itself to be so unable to oppose any spontaneous resistance to the Soviet political input and its domestic operators?

  The answer to these uneasy questions should probably be sought in the neighbourhood of the relations between the Romanian society and its traditional political class. Power relations, as they were practiced during the inter-war period, and, then, in the years of the dictatorship of king Carol II, and later throughout the World War II were obviously in crisis. The dual political system that strove between 1918 and 1938 to conciliate strong executives inclined to suppress political liberties with weak parliaments elected by male universal suffrage obviously had failed in convincing Romanians that democracy, as they were given the chance to know it, was worthwhile defending. What the survivors of the former constitutional organization were unwilling to accept and analyse was their very responsibility for the authoritarian drift of 1938.

Organized political opposition to communism was thus the deed of re-emerged political actors, tempted to draw on the same political language they used in the aftermath of World War I and that had already given public proofs of helplessness in the face of authoritarianism. In front of them, the Communist Party expropriated the democratic vocation of the “historical parties”[9] and achieved a relative popular approval by promising a radical, national, and modern breakthrough. In addition, the affirmation of the “class” character of the communist program did not constitute an innovation in Romanian political culture, the public having been accustomed for a long time with revolutionary, ideologically-oriented formulations, of the kind used by the National Peasant Party.

  In fact, neither the bureaucratic-technocratic vocation of the Communist Party, nor its ambition to control the personnel of the public administration system were absolute novelties. The civil servants compelled, by the alternate use of threats and recompenses, to leave their positions or to become members of the Party, had been officially conscripted not so many years ago, in another bureaucratic party with mass vocation, the single party of king Carol’s dictatorship[10].

  However controversial the recourse to statistics may be, numbers have at least the merit of underlining the trends and of indicating with a certain amount of accuracy the sense of a given historical process. Let us compare the communist membership in Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria[11], before the war and in 1947, in order to grasp the dynamics of popular support for the new regime:



Before the war






710 times




25 times




16.2 times




40 times




26.6 times




83.7 times


  We should however consider that, in 1947, Communists represented 10.5% of the total population in Czechoslovakia, 8.2% in Hungary, 7.2% in Bulgaria, 4.5% in Romania, 3.3% in Poland and 2.5% in Yugoslavia.

  While Romania was not among the countries where communists amounted to an important percentage of the population, the outgrowth of the party has been by far the most spectacular. Thus, theoretically speaking, the Romanians’ predisposition to enrol in the Communist Party was 9 times greater than that of Bulgarians, 18 times greater than that of Poles, 26 times greater than that of Yugoslav citizens, 28 times greater than that of Hungarians, and 45 times greater than that of Czechs and Slovaks.

  All these data may also help us observe the weak incidence of ideology in a strategy of power that was at the beginning of a legal and political order[12], as well as the fact that the option for communism expressed by an important part of the Romanian society before 1948, was neither the manifestation of a natural leaning of Romanians towards collectivism, nor a triumph of Marxism-Leninism, but an unquestionable historical choice.

  From the very start, the communists did not commit themselves to bringing about a political life based upon formal procedures, already morally discarded in Romania (electioneering, parliamentary debates and the like), but to procuring good governance, a better government than the one the traditional political class was able to offer. The force of the totalitarian message has been fuelled for five decades by this explicit refusal of formal, liberal-democratic politics. If between 1945 and 1948 the new power - as soon as it gained command of the state – resorted to interdiction and repression in a political and legal framework, after 1948 the Party employed itself to transforming the very nature of power relations in order to discipline and normalize social behaviours.

The communist method of government turns after 1948 into a disciplinary, or more exactly a self-disciplinary power that depends less on repression and interdiction, and more on the urge to action, on initiation, emulation, and mobilization. In other words, communism was partial to bio-power[13], to a power that assumes the vital functions of the social body. In this setting, the individual can no longer be conceived as a mere inert biological element who is formed, given sense, or randomly hit by an exterior agent of power, but as a bearer of power, even as a co-author of power, regardless of the fact that he exercises this power institutionally, or on the contrary, he is just a victim of the institutions that host the power.

  When looked from the post-communist common wisdom of the 1990s, Romanian communism seems to be an anonymous, impersonal cataclysm that fell unexpectedly upon a population forced to improvise its resistance: armed resistance in the mountains, political resistance in prisons, moral resistance in the households, resistance through culture, resistance through infiltration in the ranks of the party. Totalitarianism is very often depicted according to the rules of a siege, as a regime imposed through repression over a society that was in a permanent, though covert, state of denial.

  The data available today indicates the fact that repression – however heinous and inexpiable its manifestations at the level of communities, families and persons – seems to have not played a central political role. After 1948, police procedures, legal proceedings, tortures, incarcerations, and capital executions did not constitute social practices capable of defining by themselves and in themselves the nature, the scope, and the objectives of power.

  Therefore, even the obviously violent decade 1950-1960 was not centred on repression as a cardinal method of government. Despite its incontrovertible role as an instrument of social control and change[14], repression was lodged at the periphery of the main social trends. From 1950 to 1967, according to a report of the Council of State Security[15], 73,636 persons were convicted for “plotting against the social order” or related offences, another 25,740 were interned, and another approximately 60,000 were assigned to mandatory residence. Which means that some 160,000 Romanians suffered directly the penal rigors of the regime over its roughest 17 years. If we take into account their families, by using a 4.5 ratio, it would result that totalitarianism hit and destroyed the lives of around 700,000 people, i.e. 4% of Romania’s population of that time.

  Let us add to these designated political victims and their households another 80,000 peasants (to whom we ought to apply again the 4.5 ratio) that the Party avowed to have prosecuted and convicted in relation with the collectivization process[16]. We attach hence another 360,000 citizens that were the immediate object of the repressive experiment. That would enlarge the “focus group” of repression – direct victims and their families – to a number that does not exceed 6% of the total population.

  Assuming that, for whatever reason, the records of the confidential report of the Securitate were understated, and considering that they do not include the 1945-1949 period, it seems reasonable to multiply the numbers by two in order to approximate the maximum figure of the political victims implicitly or explicitly acknowledged by the repressive institutions of the Communist Party, a figure in which we include the families of these victims. Hence, 2,000,000 individuals, or a maximum of 12% of the total population, may fall in the category of people afflicted by “the great terror”.

  These figures correspond to the estimations made by one of the most respected survivors of the communist prisons, who evaluated the number of those incarcerated to 282, 000, of which 190,000 are thought to have died in detention[17]. If we count up the 80,000 peasants that were the forced collectivization’s casualties to the 160,000 political prisoners averred by the report of the Securitate, we obtain a number close to Corneliu Coposu’s appraisal. The official sources and the most authorized unofficial accounts seem to confirm each other.

  What is though the implication of these somehow cynical calculations, as long as an elementary ethic tells us that a political regime does not need to execute millions in order to be definitively discredited? In fact, the counting of victims could never be accomplished accurately, and does not provide as such neither moral reparation, nor penal mitigation, and is ultimately relevant only for the place that these figures take up in the post-communist memory. The repressive procedures, more than the actual number of those marginalized, discriminated against, persecuted, and executed represent sufficient evidence for the qualification of a political regime. It would be naïve to assert that Romanian totalitarianism is less guilty because we can register beyond any reasonable doubt 240,000 victims and not, for instance, 2,500,000. The execution of a single blameless person by the hands of the state should summon our conscience as forcibly as the extermination of thousands of innocent people. The political responsibility of Romanian society is not in direct proportion to the number of victims, just as the moral guilt and the penal accountability of those who participated in the repression, or were aware of it and kept silent, is not dependent on the computation of the victims.

The question to which these figures can really answer is extremely simple and has no ethical connotations whatsoever, being mainly relevant for the realm of social science: those who suffered under totalitarianism were less or more numerous than those who improved their status under state socialism? To put it in other words, did the Romanian society perceive communism, at the personal or general level, as a repressive and abhorring strategy of power, or on the contrary, as a solution for national and individual development? Was there in the way the Romanians made it through the Alltagsgeschichte of totalitarianism[18] a dominant social behaviour that can be uncovered by statistics? Has the average citizen been rather hostile than favourable to communism? Statistically speaking, did totalitarianism advantage or disadvantage the majority of the Romanians? Was the public space of state socialism leaning towards exclusion or, on the contrary, of a mind to inclusion?

Let us look at several economic and social data from the period 1950-1970, which overlaps the epoch unanimously considered to be the climax of repression.

  First, between 1950 and 1970, the real income per capita increased with 250%[19]. This unprecedented rise benefited mostly the segment of society newly conquered by the civilization of the factory, i.e. 3,592,575 Romanians (20% of the total population) that migrated from village to town between 1948 and 1966[20]. It is fair to say that industrialization, launched and conducted by state socialism, produced an irreversible transformation of the social fabric. Nevertheless, it should be clearly emphasized that this spectacular social change driven by industrialization did not solve, at least not in Romania, the classic Central and East European “agrarian problem” by simply replacing peasantry with a fresh working class, as some tend to believe[21]. The resurrection of this issue in post-communist Romania confirms the observation that the process of rapid and comprehensive industrialization was undertaken somehow at the expense of a real modernization of the Romanian public sphere[22].

  Yet, the weight of those relying exclusively on incomes paid from the public budget (wages and social funds) rose from 37.9% in 1950 to 71.5% in 1970[23]. In absolute figures, for instance, the number of retired persons insured by the state system jumped from 251,400 in 1950 to 1,116,500 in 1970[24]. As it would be expected, the number of university students for 10,000 inhabitants evolves steadily form 17 in 1938, to 31 in 1950, and to 75 in 1970[25]; also the number of high-school students is multiplied by ten from 1938 (49,287) to 1970 (505,891)[26]. Dependency with respect to the state – to the type of work culture it created, to the incomes and services it provided – registered thus a massive increase.

  If we sum up these figures and compare them with those of the preceding series we can immediately notice that the proportion of those for whom the totalitarian regime represented a permanent and violent threat, an immediate or virtual menace lies between 6% and 12%, while those for whom state socialism meant a positive change in status and recognition, a stable and ever-increasing income, a broader access to higher education, a closer tie with a providing state represent at least 20% (with an overwhelming maximum of 70%).  

     In order to wind up this reconstructive (and tentative) exercise in social statistics, we still have to confront and ponder the probable average numbers of the two ranges of data. In so doing, we could conjecture that the long communist rule repressed, excluded and marginalized about 8% of Romania’s population, but was able to bring material and symbolic benefits to around 45% of the same population, through such means as the generalization of modern work methods, the massive migration from backward rural to more developed urban areas, the constitution of a dominant technical elite, the consolidation of a State welfare system. Moreover, as late as 1999, one out of three Romanian adults stated their belief that the condition of liberty under totalitarianism was the similar or even superior to that of the post-communist period[27]. Ten years after the downfall of state socialism, the political side of totalitarianism registered an approval rate of 30%.

  The extreme mobility of these statistical data may suggest that, between 1948 and 1989, power relations did not function only with the aim of standardizing and normalizing social behaviours. Of course, state socialism was paying a meticulous attention to high numbers and strongly encouraged the collective expression of consent, as any other system of domination necessarily does. And yet, the power was especially interested in each citizen in particular, in the management of personal attitudes, in the supervision of individual behaviours, in the political administration of the living bodies[28].

The civilization of the factory, as a product of the economic growth and of the migration from rural to urban areas, instituted the realm of productive labour, or, literarily, the “workfield” (câmpul muncii) as the sole legitimate path to social recognition that each and every individual had not only the right, but also the duty to follow. Interestingly enough, the requirement to conduct a socially useful work as a precondition for the dully recognition of citizenship was introduced into Romanian political culture, along with the notion of “workfield”, by an authoritarian right-wing predecessor of state socialism. In 1941, the military dictatorship of Marshal Ion Antonecu ruled that all Romanians should carry out the “national duty” to be active in the “workfield” in order to enjoy the full extent of their civil rights[29]. Suffice it to say that the industrial work imposed, on large scale, a discipline of bodies and an inflexibility of individual time totally unknown to the traditional Romanian civilization[30]. Therefore, the inhabitants of state socialism will be mainly defined as “working people”, and not as citizens[31]. In other words, political status was conferred by people’s participation, on an individual basis, to “the edification of the socialist society”, and not by the assent given to a social contract. Work was the political covenant of state socialism.

In fact, the communist sovereign did not act by interdiction or limitation of citizenship, did not use the law to repress freedoms and produce political unanimity. The socialist positive law precisely denounced and renounced the formalism of “the bourgeois legal system”. To be honest, communist constitutional law could easily afford the luxury of including all standard democratic provisions, which it actually did. For communism did not represent itself in relation to a given law, but to its historical ends. Its objective was not to enforce the rule of law, regarded as a mere operating code, but the rule of work and of the working-class.

Even when, after 1964-1965, more subtle techniques of manipulation and persuasion came to replace exclusion and violence as instruments of domination, and a major shift occurred in the relations between power and society, this new course continued to privilege work over citizenship. The introduction of certain formal participative procedures (general and local elections with more than one candidate for selected constituencies in 1975)[32] was not only short-lived, but also unable to stir the citizens’ interest for pluralism and more democratic political practices. Instead, certain professional groups, linked to the outgrowth of industrialization, were granted the opportunity to be represented, at the expert level, in the process of public policy elaboration[33]. Notwithstanding the fluctuation of the official language, which sometimes praised professional expertise, only to proclaim eventually the overall competence of the party apparatus, the managers of the “workfields” of industrialization kept their positions of influence until the end of the regime.

  As of 1965, through the emphasis of national and empirical values, the Romanian Communist Party has gradually abandoned the repressive policies of consolidation of its own power in favour of a set of policies of inclusion in its power of some social segments whose “functional autonomy” was politically recognized[34]. By so doing, and despite the official discourse about the “monolithic unity” of the society behind the party of the working class, the power of the single party ceased to be a unique and indivisible power. That is because the strategy of inclusion called for an operation of functional differentiation within each level of power, a power that was structurally expanding and typologically diversifying, being shared by various professional groups according to their degree of empirical expertise and to their strategic position in the process of economic growth and social development[35].

  The portrait of a totalitarian regime at the age of inclusion, as drawn by Kenneth Jowitt[36], overlaps the figure of Romanian communism in Ceauşescu’s period: the party strives to demarcate itself institutionally from its repressive apparatus; the political manager tends to replace the political bureaucrat; the scope of power is enlarged by means of institutionalized consultations with the major social groups; the party expands its political influence as it seems to encourage its members not only to be disciplined and committed, but also to value their individual social-political identity; manipulation substitutes domination in the relationship between power and society; public policies are elaborated according to development stakes, and not any more on an ideological basis; the representative institutions of the state (the presidency of the Republic, the Great National Assembly, the local administration) gain a larger symbolic weight; the nation becomes an increasingly important social good; foreign policy is no longer an ideological confrontation, but is approached in terms of international cooperation. The only feature of an ideal-typical integration regime that was absent in Romania is the presumed evolution from a neo-patrimonial leadership to an oligarchic form of government. Nevertheless, after 1971-1972, some of these integration tendencies lost ground to the temptation to return to certain charismatic and mobilizing aspects of the first decade of communist history[37].

  Notwithstanding this a-typical reversal of political trends, Romanian society responded to mobilization as well as to the integration put into effect by the Communist Party. Indeed, when compared to all other countries from Central and Eastern Europe, Romania had the highest percentage of adhesion to the Communist Party, as these data from 1983 show[38]:









Percentage of the total population

The Labor Party of Albania



The Bulgarian Communist Party



The Communist Party of Czechoslovakia



The East-German United Socialist Party



The League of Communist of Yugoslavia



The Polish United Working Party



The Romanian Communist Party



The Hungarian Socialist Working Party



The Communist Party of the USSR




In 1989, 15% of Romanians were members of the Communist Party, which included therefore a third of the active population and every fourth adult. If we take into account the family members, it would result that three thirds of the Romanian society was institutionally bound, directly or indirectly, to the communist regime.

One of the high-efficiency operations of Romanian communism, which may explain to a large extent this unparalleled amplitude of political inclusion, was the production of loyal, if not simply partisan, intellectual elites in a society in which the intelligentsia traditionally had a rather mediocre place, and only random ways of promotion. Thus, at the end of 1964, 42% of the academic personnel of all levels and 54% of teachers had joined the Communist Party, while, in 1969 the industrial workers represented only between 27-39% of the party members[39].

  It is only after 1989 that these elites, which had achieved social status and public reputation under totalitarianism, and were in the debt of the means of cultural production administrated by the Communist Party, tried (retrospectively) to relocate themselves in the public square.

  The topic of the resistance through culture has become, since the very beginning of post-communism, a common place of strategic importance for the survival of the intellectual elites that were shaped and promoted by the totalitarian regime. Reduced to its most elementary expression, the theme is non-political, if not anti-political and for that matter it seems to be a perverse resurrection of the 19th Century motif of the autonomy of aesthetics set forth by the literary critic (ad not surprisingly prime minister) Titu Maiorescu. Those who contributed to creating true cultural works, or those who were competent scientists or researchers, could only have been, ipso facto, anti-communists. Every authentic work must have represented an implicit act of rebellion against the values the regime stood for. That is why all the important books written under communism should not be considered today as being mere cultural goods produced in keeping with the standards of state socialism and for its consumption, but as landmarks of a collective movement of a non-violent resistance to communism. Nor should their authors be looked at as well-to-do members of the communist establishment.

  Karl Jaspers already noticed, shortly after the end of World War II, that many German intellectuals who did collaborate at first with the national-socialist state, seeking certain social and symbolic payoffs, came eventually to distance themselves from it on the assumption that they always expressed reservations in the private sphere; in due course, they even claimed to have been victims of the regime, and, as such, entitled to play an important role in the post-war period. According to Jaspers, the guiltiness of this category of intellectuals - researchers, artists, professors and the like - is in no way different of that of the members of the Nazi party. The exculpatory circumstances they presented in their own defence - they have created, each in his field, valuable spiritual goods and have preserved the authenticity of the German cultural tradition – does not exonerate them from the responsibility of having refused to undergo a self-clarification process[40].

  The language of Jasper’s analysis can be entirely applied to post-communism in general, and to Romanian post-communism in particular. Those who claim to have resisted through culture can be told, in Jaspers’ words, that they have only enjoyed the “freedom of a king’s fool” and have solely kept alive an “illusion convenient only for the leadership”[41].

  The resistance through culture seems a formula lacking any political and moral sense as long as the entire culture of the five decades of Romanian totalitarianism was the product of the ideology, and of the variable, but implacable mechanisms of censorship. Ultimately, “to create” did not constitute a form of resistance, but of participation, participation to the dynamics of the communist public space. On the contrary, it would be more appropriate to speak about assent through culture. Censorship was one of the instruments employed by the regime in order to fuel the “passion for unanimity”, as a characteristic of the totalitarian societies[42].        

  Therefore, one can say that within the totalitarian public space, censorship fulfilled the function of the legitimate political observer. It ensured the visibility of each and every cultural actor: either on the list of forbidden authors, or on the list of edited authors. Not a single writer was left unnoticed. Censorship established who should become visible for society and who should remain visible only for the state employees who had the assignment to run the cultural operations on behalf of the sovereign. Censorship – as a totalitarian institution of social control – represented one of the fundamental practices put into effect by state socialism in order to constitute a unified public space and a common political culture. From this perspective, the objective of censorship was not only to establish who should not publish and whom should not be read, but also to decide who should publish and what literature should Romanians read.

  In practice, institutionalized censorship played, at the same time, two contending roles: a negative one (to forbid and purge), and a positive one, to create through ideological selection a “front of literature”, a “front of history”, a “front of science”, etc. Then, the major function of censorship was perhaps to produce new elites according to an ideological canon established by the sovereign. In historical terms, it is less important that certain authors were under interdiction or certain books were forbidden – though these actions should have been painful for those directly concerned – than the fact that other authors and books were promoted as exemplary models.

  On this account, the elites fashioned and acknowledged under the regime of totalitarian censorship belong globally – notwithstanding their explicit will and the illusions that they might have had about their personal merits, or their ability to bypass the not always intelligent vigilance of the censorship – to the space administered by the communist sovereign.

  That is because the presence in the public space – understood again in a Hobbesian perception, as the sovereign’s private space – was inevitably preceded by censorship. Nobody could have hoped to enter this space and indulge in its privileges, while remaining invisible in the eyes of censorship. In contrast with the modern and liberal public space, in which reputation can coexist with neglect, because the autonomy of every observer is granted, in the communist public space nobody passed unnoticed. An anecdote gathered from East-Germany[43] attributes to a high-ranking party member the remark that writers should be happy they have the opportunity to live in a socialist country, where the literature is seriously taken into consideration and every single line is read with maximum attention.

  We are dealing thus with a space of a pre-modern type in which not only everyone has a place of his own, but in which that place cannot be denied[44]. Modernity allows you to neglect someone, to pretend you do not notice him, to act as if that person were not there. In contrast, the Ancient Regime, as well as totalitarianism, did not admit the social and ethical invisibility of any of the members of society.

  Consequently, it is easy to understand the intellectuals’ reluctance to overtly question a regime that bestowed upon them the benefits of public visibility. Moreover, any time before the gloomy 1980s, they could have asked themselves: “And what if the communist experience is after all a successful one?”; the question seems today rather unenlightened, but it was formulated from 1917 to 1989 with good faith and enough good reasons by numerous prominent intellectuals[45]. Now things are somehow clear. Nevertheless for many decades it was not unambiguous whether communism was a criminal plan of exterminating bourgeoisie, liberty, and freethinking altogether, or, on the contrary, it was a generous project of transformation of the course of history.

If truth be told, Romania lacks the alternative visibility of the critical and civic individualism of the “dissidents”. Let alone the isolated acts of defiance of Gheorghe Calciu and Doina Cornea, the only project, unsuccessful as it has been, of a civic movement led by intellectuals was the one superficially articulated around the writer Paul Goma. Such forms of secluded intellectual dissent had actually no recruitment pool, as the beginning of “mini-cultural revolution” of 1971 coincides with a massive colonization of the instances of validation of intellectual careers and reputations by the Party: at the end of 1971, 60% of the academicians, doctors in science, professors, and researches were party members[46]. The numbers were as high among writers, artists, and journalists.

  Be it as it may, the regime was spared until the last minute any critical review undertaken on a proper political basis. When the critique nevertheless manifested itself, among the older generations of the nomenklatura, or through the voice of some writers and intellectuals, it referred exclusively to the abuses committed by high-ranking officials. The sole exception to this rule – that remained largely anonymous and was not capitalized politically in the 1990s – is represented by several dissident religious groups of Evangelical persuasions that passed from the moral incrimination of the agents of repression to the political denunciation of the nature of the totalitarian regime. Only for these groups the affirmation of identity was invested both in a systematic refusal to collaborate in any way whatsoever with the regime or its representatives, and in an explicit rejection of the communist ideology[47].

  The invisibility of dissent could thus explain why the revolution of December 1989 was not preceded by an ideological disenchantment. The power of Marxism-Leninism was rather powerless outside the inner circle of historical militants of the Communist Party. And this is because Romanian communism did not succeed in authoring an intellectual history of the triumph and the decline of its own brand of scientific socialism[48]. Instead, Romanian communism was the narrator of the natural history of its power over life.

  Anyway, Soviet type totalitarianism did not manifest itself, in the practice of government, as an ideology-oriented political regime: the proper political function of ideology was to mark a clear hierarchy between the “owners” of the system (vested with the authority to canonize and modify the ideological message) and its mere “tenants”, that were only required to adhere to this message without being mandatory or necessary to believe in it[49]. Notwithstanding their political theories, which they usually tend to consider as scientifically proven and therefore as able guides to the future, totalitarian regimes are characterized by their “disbelief” in ideas, not by a widespread and internalized ideological creed[50]. In Romania, the ideology of scientific socialism was no more than a routine of the official language used in public reunions, where citizens were required to profess the belief in the regime’s capability of governing, providing, and leading them to “the totalitarian happiness”[51], that is to say to a certain level of normalcy in everyday life[52]. The pursuit of normalcy was perhaps the greatest moral misconduct under totalitarianism. The general disinterest for community life and the unconditional pursuit of personal interest help drawing the map of a geographical paradox: most Romanians lived in Romania without ever acknowledging to be present at, let alone part of the events that took place in their own country. The strive for normalcy of most citizens, the moral emigration in which the largest part of the Romanian society (following in the footsteps of the intelligentsia) had taken refuge for five decades was, in political terms, more damaging than the overt or confidential collaborationism of some citizens with a repressive and oppressive regime. The resistance “through culture”, the resistance within “your own self” is ultimately equivalent with an almost pathological form of ethical autism. More than anywhere else in the Soviet bloc, communist political mobilization seemed to have been morally demobilizing[53]. In socialist Romania, it was common wisdom that a lesser public visibility conveyed a greater personal safety[54]. Visibility was a political burden, if not, at times, a life risk.                

  Without being in itself the object of moral judgment, totalitarianism is the result of the accumulation and institutionalization of personal actions[55], performed not only to those who have promoted the vast utopian experiment in human degradation that communism was all about[56], but also by those, definitely more numerous, who declined or postponed to oppose this experiment. Totalitarianism as such cannot be sued, cannot be presented before a judge, and cannot be inflicted a punishment[57]. That is why, responsibility is not incumbent on the “system”, “the regime”, “the party”, but on the people that have participated for forty-five years in the installation of the system, in the consolidation of the regime, and in the advancement of the communist party.

  Of course, the Romanian Communist Party is to be held responsible for hundreds of thousands of victims, but it is only fair to admit that communists should be themselves counted among the casualties of the basic contradiction of Marxism-Leninism as a political theory turned into a state ideology. Indeed, scientific socialism had no vision of the distribution of sovereignty among the branches of the government and between the government and the citizens. Instead, it went on about the inevitable disappearance of state power. Indeed, the state and its coercive institutions are in a Marxian perspective warranted only by economic inequality, and a triumphant working class will waste them away in order to open the door to communism. The historical framers of the communist theory and strategy left the Party leaders with no philosophical guidance on how they could move along in extending power beyond their own relatively closed circle[58]. From repression to mobilization and inclusion, the Party failed in its attempts to share sovereignty, because it had no concept of how its administration of the socialist mode of production could become the self-rule of a socialist people.

  The people itself had no real interest, and no experience, in self-government. Socialist citizens were typically more concerned in exploiting for their private benefit the state-owned means of production and in informally influence the management of things, than in participating in the government of society[59]. The serpent in the paradise of state socialism was thus people’s inability of expressing any common political awareness or recognizing the value of general social goods[60], regardless of the fact that such consideration for public stakes could have ratified or, on the contrary, undermined the communist project.

  If the weight of evidence indicates that the Party was successful in its endeavours of nation building[61] and political inclusion, the question remains why so many Romanians have chosen to take an active and institutional part in supporting a regime that, after its demise in 1989, could not find a single pro bono advocate.

To clarify this issue, we should look at the three main avenues of political participation in a soviet-type political regime that could be identified[62]. First, the formal, if not ritual, participation-pledge of the Party members, but also of the citizens at large, mainly on election days intended to celebrate – through a regular 99% turn out – the social triumph of state socialism. To cast the ballot in favour of the Communist Party and its mass organization was not a political choice, but a pledge of allegiance. Second, the participation-plea, of the citizens going before state and Party authorities to solicit the enactment of a particular right, to request for services they deemed themselves entitled to, or simply to ask for undue favours. Third, the participation-persuasion of citizens taking the opportunity to informally negotiate with local officials (mayors, Party activists, chief executive officers of state companies and factories, heads of public institutions and the like) the way policies designed at high political level could and actually should be implemented in any particular, real-life setting[63]. Thus, the general public of state socialism was confident in its own ability to exert a factual influence on the micro-social interpretation and execution of any given decision of the state and Party hierarchy[64].

When compared to the classical forms of political participation, well documented throughout Western societies, this three-fold “communist” version of political participation – where inducement towers over official commitment and bureaucratic petition – is dramatically overturned. And, in order to be faithful to the Leninist reading of Hegelian dialectics, it is doubly reversed. Primary, and contrasting to the Western logic, the hegemonic Party does not sum up, ponder, and translate into public policies a plurality of interests expressed by its different constituencies; quite the opposite, the interests of all organized social and economic groups are defined by the Party itself, through its unchallenged control over the institutional leadership of all recognized labour, professional, local, ethnic, or religious associations, as an empirical analysis of the Polish society has pointed out[65]. Secondly, and contrary to the most basic understanding of the rule of law, when it comes to enforcement, both legal norms and Party decisions are subject to a complex and sneaking process of negotiation. Social ruling and economic planning were rather literary endeavours, which meaning was almost always bargained by the affected citizens according to circumstantial, incidental, sometimes accidental, and always local interests[66].

This model of political participation seems to confirm the Foucauldian perspective[67] on political power, which should not be conceived as an autonomous symbolic good that can be forcibly or legally obtained, that can be transmitted, shared, or distributed, as something that can be “reached”, or kept, something one can lay hands on, or risk to lose grip of. Of course, power relations are not exterior to other types of relations – economic processes, labour dynamics, social mobility – but manifest themselves, most of the time, as means of production, for they do not forbid or permit according to an established set of norms, but create and let themselves be created beyond the legal logic of permission and repression.

Then – and this may be perhaps the essential remark – power comes into being from bottom to top. It is less the outcome of an overall contention between the dominated and the dominators, or of a class struggle, or of the competition between parties, or of the poise of multiple relations that command the constitution of ownership, family, knowledge, or institutions. Power is rather the setting where the tensions that arise among all these factors come to a particular arrangement or, better, the place of redistribution and disciplining of conflicts that naturally stir up the social body. Where there is power, there is necessarily resistance to power. The latter cannot function without contending with a multitude of indispensable, probable, impossible, dubious, spontaneous, enraged, perfidious, calculated, suppressed, solitary, inefficient, violent, irreconcilable, interested, self-destructive, opportunist or ready-to-compromise bodies of opposition. Like power relations, resistance knots are irregularly distributed all across the social networks, and seldom amount to one great refusal, to a massive and global denial, or to a coherent centre of revolt with a specific address. Man as subject of liberty, and the state as agent of the law are present together in the recipe of power.

To be sure, the inhabitants of state socialism indulged themselves in an “ethos of dependency” with respect to the state[68]. But it would be only fair to add that they were also able to shape their relations to the state in conformity with an “ethic of socialist calculation”[69]. In the eyes of most citizens, the state was at the same time the ultimate provider figure and an aggressive intruder into their private life. Thus, the state and its agencies were simultaneously exploited and avoided by the ordinary citizen. It seems therefore appropriate to acknowledge that the “democratic centralism” supposed by the Leninist tradition to rule the Party and the socialist society might have been in fact replaced by a spontaneous authoritarian decentralization. The theory of “democratic centralism” holds that when the supreme leadership of the Party has to adopt a policy, it should do so after a free discussion, a comprehensive debate, and an organized agreement of the rank and file; but, once duly pronounced, this particular decision should remain unquestioned and should be carried on without any reservation and with the greatest of disciplines by all membership. In fact and in the realm of real socialism, the supreme leadership assumed the exclusive authority to decide on all matters without prior consultation of the Party members; instead, what was authoritatively determined at the top always ran the risk to be received at the bottom with compunction and put into effect in a manner contingent on local circumstances and incidental interests. As a rule, the agents of these informal, grass roots transactions were the local Party bosses who tried to accommodate the official policies to the particular environment they directly knew and had the task to manage. Nowhere else in Central and Eastern Europe was this kind of informal influence more influential than in Romania, and at the expense of a “loosened state”, an observer noticed[70]. In this respect, the Communist Party should be construed not only in terms of an overwhelming monopoly of its supreme leadership over both state and society, but also, at its lower and larger levels, as a mediator between state and society, and, as such, as an organization not so different from any political party operating in a Western democracy.

Was this function of the Communist Party a late “corruption” of an initially strong breakthrough regime, which developed an increased vulnerability to the influence of its diverse constituencies, as Kenneth Jowitt argues[71]? The obvious weakness of the post-Leninist state, able perhaps to control, but not to determine either the social behaviour of individual actors, or the performance of public institutions[72], could perhaps be the explained by the fact that, despite its claim to be the driving force of a classless and nationless future, the Communist Party was, after all, but a political party, that is an organization compelled to promote social interests, conflicts, and values that predate and command its very existence. An organization also designed to allow its individual members to exploit their political position for private interests[73]. State socialism lasted for five decades because the Communist Party could count on a genuine constituency able to outnumber any would-be opposition.

However incongruous it may seem today, communism ultimately became a legitimate political order in the eyes of a large majority. Legitimacy should be understood here in Max Weber’s terms[74], that is to say less as a personally and rationally pledged allegiance, morally motivated, but as a voluntary disposition to leave out of question and out of the reach of personal interests an order that manifests itself as legitimate, and whose validity is guaranteed by a human instance able to use violence in order to sanction any infringement of the established order. Such an avoidance to call into question the state and its functions was observed in Romania long after the demise of communism[75]. Moreover, by uprooting the traditional hierarchies and by cultivating its own version of social opportunity and economic equality, state socialism levelled the social, economic, and cultural differences it inherited and essentially performed a democratic function. Indeed, totalitarianism, unlike authoritarian regimes, not only claimed to be democratic, but also theorized the democratic privilege of the “popular” majority to suppress the “decadent” and “bourgeois” freedoms of the liberal well-to-do minority[76]. From a contemporary and involved standpoint, state socialism could have easily been construed as a political monopoly of a popular majority promoted to welfare by the party of the working class.

In fact and in economic and political systems that are not based on competition, a monopoly is often relaxed, debonair, and inefficient, as Albert Hirschman has argued[77]. For the very purpose of preserving their inefficiency and negligence, lazy monopolies not only do not hinder peripheral expressions of abandon and protest, but tend to include them within certain limits in its space of sovereignty. The most active citizens were officially denied the right to speak up against the regime, or to leave it behind. Instead, they were offered some opportunity, in their own walk of life, to reapportion in their personal advantage the public space. If we admit that state socialism, at least in its terminal stage, could be considered a lazy political monopoly, we should infer that it had the astuteness to turn any latent sign of dissent into a specific, yet incidental form of political participation.

If Carl Schmitt was right[78], and the ultimate power of the sovereign is to establish exceptions to the common rule, it would ensue that, under state socialism, people got in the end a clear share of sovereignty, that they were able to discriminate, in any particular setting of society, between what they could actually do to improve their status and what they could not do, and did not even need to bother about. Just like the “semi-sovereign people” of Western democracies, the socialist people were involved in public affairs by the logic of conflict[79]. The difference resides in the fact that the socialist people did not have the opportunity to choose among alternatives put forward by competing political organizations. Rather, the semi-sovereign people of state socialism had to introduce their own unorganized and incidental alternatives to the policies laid down beyond their jurisdiction by the Party as nominal sovereign of the public space. They did not respond to a competition, but were compelled to create it, at their own level and within their reach. That is perhaps why politics was for them such an intricate burden.




DiFranceisco, Wayne, Zvi Gitelman, “Soviet Political Culture and ‘Covert Participation’ in Policy Implementation”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, No. 3, 1984.

FEJTÖ, François Histoire des democraties populaires, I. L’ere de Staline (1945-1952), Seuil, Paris, 1952.

FOUCAULT, Michel, La volonté de savoir, Gallimard, Paris, 1976.

HERMET, Guy, Les désenchantements de la liberté. La sortie des dictatures dans les années ‘90, Fayard, Paris, 1993.

JOWITT, Kenneth, “Inclusion and Mobilization in European Leninist Regimes”, in Jan F. TRISKA, Paul H. COCKS (eds.), Political Development in Eastern Europe, Praeger, New York and London, 1977.

JOWITT, Kenneth, Revolutionary Breakthrough and National Development: The Case of Romania, 1944-1965, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1971.

Kideckel, David, The Solitude of Collectivism. Romanian Villagers to the Revolution and Beyond, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1993.

LINZ, Juan, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, CO., and London, 2000.

SCHMITT, Carl, Verfassugslehre, Achte Auflage, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1993.

SCHÖPFLIN, George, “Culture and Identity in Post-Communist Europe”, in Stephen WHITE, Judy BATT, Paul G. LEWIS (eds.), Developments in East-European Politics, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1993.

WESSON, Robert G., Communism and Communist Systems, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1978.





[1] David KIDECKEL, The Solitude of Collectivism. Romanian Villagers to the Revolution and Beyond, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 1993, p. 226.

[2] E.g. Michael WALLER, The End of Communist Monopoly, Manchester and New York, 1993.

[3] Michel FOUCAULT, La volonté de savoir, Gallimard, Paris, 1976, p. 123.

[4] François FEJTÖ, Histoire des democraties populaires, I. L’ere de Staline (1945-1952), Seuil, Paris, 1952, pp.117-124.

[5] Daniel BARBU, Republica absentă. Politică şi societate în România postcomunistă, Nemira, Bucureşti, 1999, pp. 76-82.

[6] Richard V. BURKS, “Eastern Europe”, in Cyril E. BLACK, Thomas R. THORNTON (eds.), Communism and Revolution. The Strategic Uses of Political Violence, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1964, p. 78.

[7] Ibidem, pp. 86-88.

[8] Bela VAGO, “Romania”, in Martin McCANLEY (ed.), Communist Power in Europe, 1944-1949, Macmillan, London and Basingstoke, 1977, pp. 126-127.

[9] François FEJTÖ, Histoire des democraties populaires…cit. , pp. 120-121.

[10] Andrew C. JANOS, “The One-Party State and the Social Mobilization: East Europe between the Wars”, in Samuel P. HUNTINGTON, Clement H. MOORE (eds.), Authoritarian Politics in Modern Society. The Dynamics of Established One-Party System, Basic Books, New York and London, 1970, p. 216.

[11] François FEJTÖ, Histoire des democraties populaires…cit. , p. 196.

[12] The secondary role, if not the very decline of ideology in the process of communist recruitment and assimilation in an yet non-communist society was well documented by Gabriel A. Almond (with Herbert E. Krugman, Elisabeth Lewin, Howard Wriggins), The Appeals of Communism, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1954, p. 396.

[13] Michel FOUCAULT, Surveiller et punir. Naissance de la prison, Gallimard, Paris, 1975, pp. 137-196.

[14] Alexander DALLIN, George W. BRESLAUER, Political Terror in Communist Systems, Stanford University Press, Stanford, 1970, p. 6.

[15] Lucian NASTASĂ, “Conduita conspirativă sub regimul comunist: mit şi realitate”, in Lucian BOIA (ed.) Miturile comunismului românesc, Nemira, Bucureşti, 1998, p.203.

[16] The declaration of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej at the plenary session of November 30, 1961 in Ghiţă IONESCU, Communism in Romania 1944-1962, Oxford University Press, London, 1964, p. 201.

[17] Corneliu COPOSU, Dialoguri cu Vartan Arachelian, Humanitas, Bucureşti, 1992, p. 95.

[18] For the methodological debate of this topic, Detlev PEUKERT, Alltagsgeschichte der NS-Zeit: Neue Perspektive oder Trivialisierung?, Oldenbourg, München, 1984.

[19] Anuarul statistic al României, Bucharest, 1990, p. 122; this figure is comparable with the threefold rise in real income in Western European societies.

[20] Ibidem, p. 51.

[21] George SCHÖPFLIN, “Culture and Identity in Post-Communist Europe”, in Stephen WHITE, Judy BATT, Paul G. LEWIS (eds.), Developments in East-European Politics, Duke University Press, Durham, N.C., 1993, p. 21.

[22] Kenneth JOWITT, Revolutionary Breakthrough and National Development: The Case of Romania, 1944-1965, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1971, p. 278.

[23] Anuarul statistic al României…cit. p. 121.

[24] Ibidem, p. 126.

[25] Ibidem, p. 138.

[26] Ibidem, p. 136.

[27] 21% better, 9% the same, Metro Media Transilvania, Barometrul politic. Romania, Cluj, September 1999, p. 12.

[28] Zoe PETRE, “Promovarea femeii sau despre destructurarea sexului feminin”, in Lucian BOIA (ed.), Miturile comunismului românesc, Nemira, Bucureşti, 1998, pp. 255-271 and Gail KLIGMAN, The Politics of Duplicity. Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu’s Romania, University of California Press, Berkeley and Los Angeles and London, 1998.

[29] Lia BENJAMIN (ed.), Evreii din România între anii 1940-1944. Legislaţia antievreiască Vol. I, Doc. No. 41, Hasefer, Bucureşti, 1993, pp. 150-154.

[30] Katherine VERDERY, What Was Socialism and What Comes Next?, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1996, pp. 39-57 regards the “etatization” of time as a form of subjection proper to Ceauşescu’s Romania.

[31] Mainly during the 1950s and the 1960s, the term “citizen” was used in the administrative language to designate those who, for political reasons or because of their social origin, were unworthy to be addressed as “comrade”.  

[32] Mary Ellen FISCHER, “Participatory Reforms and Political Development in Romania”, in Jan F. TRISKA, Paul M. COCKS (eds.), Political Development in Eastern Europe, Praeger, New York and London, 1977, pp. 220-221.

[33] Robert A. KING, A History of The Romanian Communist Party, Hoover Institution Press, Stanford, 1980, pp. 100-101.

[34] Kenneth JOWITT, “Inclusion and Mobilization in European Leninist Regimes”, in Jan F. TRISKA, Paul H. COCKS (eds.), Political Development in Eastern Europe, Praeger, New York and London, 1977, p. 101.

[35] Ibidem, pp. 98-100.

[36] Ibidem, pp. 96-109.

[37] Ibidem, pp. 110-111.

[38] Guy HERMET, Les désenchantements de la liberté. La sortie des dictatures dans les années ‘90, Fayard, Paris, 1993, p. 58.

[39] Trond GILBERG, “Romania: in Quest of Development”, in Ivan VOLGYES (ed.), Political Socialization in Eastern Europe. A Comparative Framework, Praeger, New York and Washington and London, 1975, p. 155. For a comparison, in the mid 1960s, 50% of the Soviet academic personnel were members of the Soviet Union Communist Party. T.H. RIGBY, Communist Membership in the USSR, 1917-1967, Princeton University Press, Princeton, N.J., 1968, p. 444. It should be noticed that the Romanian Communist Party managed in two decades to mobilize most of the intellectuals, while the brother Soviet party needed half a century to accomplish the same task.

[40] Karl JASPERS, Die Schuldfrage. Für Völkermord gibt es keine Verjährung, Piper, München, 1979, pp. 19-59.

[41] In fact, Karl JASPERS’ book, originally published in 1946, should simply be “plagiarized” in order to fit the post-communist setting: if German were to be replaced with Romanian, war with gulag, nazism with communism, we could obtain an almost exact description of the moral landscape of the Romanian aftermath of totalitarianism.

[42] Carl J. FRIEDERICH, Zbignew K. BRZEZINSKI, Totalitarian Dictatorship and Autocracy, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., 1965, p. 16.

[43] Klaus von BEYME, Transition to Democracy in Eastern Europe, Macmillan, London and New York, 1996, p. 35.

[44] Michael WALZER, Spheres of Justice. A Defense of Pluralism and Equality, Basic Books, New York, 1983, pp. 250-253.

[45] Norberto BOBBIO, Il dubio e la scelta. Intellectuali e potere nella societa contemporanea, La Nuova Italia Scientifica, Roma, 1993, p. 223.

[46] Robert A. KING, A History of the Romanian Communist Party, The Hoover Institution, Stanford, 1980, p. 104.

[47] An account of the “Christian opposition” can be found in Dennis DELETANT, Ceauşescu şi Securitatea. Constrângere şi dizidenţă în Romania anilor 1965-1989, Humanitas, Bucureşti, 1998, pp. 215-221.

[48] Cf. Vladimir TISMANEANU, Reinventing Politics. Eastern Europe from Stalin to Havel, Free Press, New York, 1991.

[49] Guy HERMET, Les désenchantements de la liberté…cit., p. 20.

[50] Ibidem, pp.158-163. The measure of this disbelief in ideology in Pietro GRILLI DI CORTONA, Le Crisi politiche nei regimi comunisti, Angeli, Milano, 1989, p. 360.

[51] Guy HERMET, Les désenchantements de la liberté…cit., pp. 43-79.

[52] Vladimir SHLAPENTOKH, “A Normal System? False and True Explanation for the Collapse of the USSR”, Times Literary Supplement, December 15, 2000, pp. 11-13.

[53] Robert G. WESSON, Communism and Communist Systems, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, N.J., 1978, p. 201.

[54] David KIDECKEL, The Solitude of Collectivism…cit., p. 99.

[55] JOHN-PAUL II, “Reconciliatio et paenitentia 16”, Acta Apostolicae Sedis 77, Roma, 1985, p. 217.

[56] The qualification belongs to Daniel CHIROT, “What Was Communism All About?”, East European Politics and Society, Vol. 14, No. 3, 1998, pp. 674-675.

[57] Nevertheless, the ethic strategy adopted by many victims is summed up by the following sentences: “the torturers are morally irresponsible” and “it is not important to blame people, but to indict ideas”, Corneliu COPOSU, Confesiuni, dialoguri cu Doina Alexandru, Anastasia, Bucureşti, 1996, pp. 118-119.

[58] Carl A. LINDEN, The Soviet Party-State: The Politics of Ideocratic Despotism, Praeger, New York, 1983, pp. 159-160.

[59] Wayne DIFRANCEISCO, Zvi GITELMAN, “Soviet Political Culture and ‘Covert Participation’ in Policy Implementation”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 78, No. 3, 1984, pp. 618-619.

[60] David KIDECKEL, The Solitude of Collectivism…cit., pp. 162-163.

[61] Kenneth JOWITT, Revolutionary Breakthroughs…cit., pp. 73-230.

[62] The typology is based upon the empirical research undertaken by Wayne DiFRANCEISCO and Zvi GITELMAN, “Soviet Political Culture…cit.”, pp. 603-621.

[63] For this last type of participation as experienced in Romania, David KIDECKEL, The Solitude of Collectivism…cit., pp. 104-105.

[64] Wayne DiFRANCEISCO, Zvi GITELMAN, Soviet Political Culture…cit. pp. 618-619.

[65] Jerzy J. WIATR, “Political Parties, Interest Representation and Economic Development in Poland”, American Political Science Review, Vol. LXIV, No. 4, 1970, pp. 1242.

[66] The challengers of the state and Party in this process of informal negotiations were rather local and unstable networks with unstructured and incidental interests, as Janine WEDEL has proven for the Polish case (The Private Poland: An Anthropologist’s Look at Everyday Life, Facts on File, New York, 1986), than proper official and/or unofficial corporate interests, as Valerie BUNCE believes (Subversive Institutions: The Design and the Destruction of Socialism and the State, Cambridge University Press, New York, 1999).

[67] Michel FOUCAULT, La volonté…cit, pp. 112-129.

[68] George SCHÖPFLIN, Culture and Identity …cit., p. 26.

[69] David KIDECKEL, The Solitude of Collectivism…cit., p. 166.

[70] Robert G. WESSON, Communism and…cit., pp. 201-204.

[71] Kenneth JOWITT, “Soviet Neotraditionalism: the Political Corruption of a Leninist Regime”, Soviet Studies, Vol. 35, No. 3, 1983, pp. 275-297.

[72] Arista Maria CIRTAUTAS, “The Post-Leninist State. A Conceptual and Empirical Examination”, Communist and Post-Communist Studies, Vol. 28, No. 4, 1995, pp. 379-392, especially pp. 381-383. The Post-Communist state is a “castrated” one, as Venelin GANEV, “The Separation of Party and State as a Logistical Problem: A Glance at the Causes of State Weakness in Post-Communism”, East European Politics and Society, Vol. 15, No. 2, 1999, pp. 389-420 puts it, because its predecessor was already undergoing a diminution of its power.

[73] Empirical evidence of this trend in the Soviet Union provided by Vladimir SHLAPENTOKH, Public and Private Life of the Soviet People. Changing Values in Post-Stalin Russia, Oxford University Press, New York and Oxford, 1989, pp. 227-229.

[74] Max WEBER, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft. Grundriss der verstehenden Soziologie, edited by J. Winckelmann, J.C.B. Mohr, Tübingen, 1972, p. 17 sq.

[75] Gail KLIGMAN, “The Social Legacy of Communism: Women, Children and the Feminization of Poverty”, in James R. MILLAR, Sharon L. WOLCHIK (eds.), The Social Legacy of Communism, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1994, p. 267 n. 43.

[76] Juan LINZ, Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes, Lynne Rienner, Boulder, CO., and London, 2000, p. 20.

[77] Albert O. HIRSCHMAN, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1970, pp. 173-202.

[78] Carl SCHMITT, Verfassugslehre, Achte Auflage, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, 1993.

[79] E.E. SCHATTSCHNEIDER, The Semi-sovereign People. A Realist’s View of Democracy in America, The Dryden Press, Hinsdale, IL., 1975, pp. 126-139.