1. The Communist Crisis in Romania
In 1947 Romania was the last monarchy within the new Soviet sphere of influence. However, on 30 December 1947 King Michael was forced to abdicate. On the same day, the Communists proclaimed the Romanian People’s Republic, and from 1947 to 1989 Romania was under Communist control. From the late 1970s, in many countries of the Eastern bloc, including the USSR, dissident ‘movements’ began to develop – partly as a consequence of the Helsinki Process. During the next decade, two other phenomena, glasnost and perestroika, brought new significant changes to Eastern Europe. However, in this changing socialist world, the Communist regime in Romania remained unreformed. Moreover, in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ceausescu decided to pay Romania’s Western loans and to build a series of colossal and extremely expensive architectural projects, such as the House of the Republic. Consequently, after a few years, Romania faced a dramatic shortage of consumer goods, and, in 1984, large-scale food rationing was reintroduced – after more than twenty years. Thus, during the 1980s, Romania had the lowest standard of living in Europe (Albania excluded), and misery spread across the entire country, since not only food was rationed, but also hot and cold water, electricity and methane gas.
1.1. Explaining the longevity of Communism in Romania.
Considering this crisis, after 1989 many intellectuals raised the question of how to understand and explain why Romanians did not rebel against the regime earlier, why Romanians tolerated Communism for so long without any significant anti-Communist reaction. Although to this day no systematic study has been conducted on the subject, many writers, sociologists, historians and politicians have advanced an explanation according to which, despite the profound economic and social crisis, Romanian society was incapable of organising any type of anti-Communist opposition. The explanation rests on the Romanians’ purported metaphysical passivity. (In this context, the term ‘metaphysical’ refers to a priori speculations about questions that are unanswerable by means of scientific observation, analysis or experiment.) Thereby, the entire nation has been made responsible for accommodating Communism, since society’s passivity was a form of complicity with Communism and the Communists. For example, Paul Goma (a writer and famous Romanian dissident of the 1970s) accused Romanian society as a whole for not having supported the actions of the few who openly opposed the Communist regime in the 1970s and 1980s. Where was the rest of Romanian society in 1977 when the miners rioted in Valea Jiului, Goma asked in a newspaper article in 1990. What happened in 1987, during the workers’ riot in Brasov? Where were the remaining Romanians then? Had the Romanians joined the miners of Valea Jiului in 1977 or the workers of Brasov in 1987, Communism in Romania would have ended sooner, Goma implied.