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History of Communism in Europe

Volume 2, 2011
Avatars of Intellectuals under Communism

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Displaying: 1-10 of 23 documents

1. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Cristian Vasile Argument
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i. intellectuals and the utopian temptation
2. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Andreea Zamfira The Enthusiasm of Intellectuals for Communism at the End of First World War in France
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This paper is both a description and an analysis of some of the most interesting cases of French intellectuals seduced by the communist project at the end of the First World War. While the major objective of this paper was to present the manner in which the communist ideology and the regimes inspired by this one afterwards were imagined and conceived by widely known intellectuals at that time, its secondary objective was to bring into debate a salient and, at the same time, somehow neglected issue in the academic literature – the intellectual attachment to the totalitarian ideas in Western Europe. The First World War made it possible that the utopian philosophies meet the political will of recreating a new social order and, also, it gave birth to a mass intellectual movement that, for the first time in the European history, has burst in the East side of the continent and influenced famous western intellectuals’ outlooks on culture, society and politics.Among the French intellectuals fascinated by Communism at the end of the First World War, we distinguished several types, any of them finding its sap indifferent sources of attraction. The first profile belongs to the «nostalgic intellectual», who has a particular admiration for the great events from the historicalpast, especially for the French Revolution of 1789. Alphonse Aulard is one French intellectual we considered as being attached to Communism due toits nostalgy. The «idealists», most of them Slavophile, form the second group of intellectuals. Pierre Pascal, as well as the other French Slavophiles, developeda sincere admiration, sometimes even naive, for the old Russian society, perceived as the cradle of the orhodox religion and of the traditional communitylife. Thirdly, it is the «nonconformist» intellectual’s portrait that draws our attention. Both nonconformist and idealist intellectuals are conservative,rejecting certain modern phenomena. Nevertheless, unlike the idealist, the nonconformist intellectual does not oppose modernity per se; he only wantsto recreate it as peaceful and tolerant. An outstanding nonconformist intellectual to be mentioned here is Romain Rolland. Finally, the fourth profileidentified in this paper is the «modernist» or the «surrealist» Michel Winock wrote about. André Breton is one of the most renowned surrealist intellectualswho were fascinated by Communism in France. The surrealist intellectuals defended the idea of a new régime de l’esprit, proposing new aesthetic categories(the dream, the unconscious, the illogicality) and, thereby, getting closer to an aesthetic defi nition of the revolution and of a modern political project.Being based on a theoretical assertion resulting from François Furet’s writings, according to whom intellectuals’ enthusiasm for Communism had a doublenature (ideological/ rational and aesthetic/ emotional), our analysis has taken into consideration both objective and subjective variables, such as: the profession,the way of perceiving modernity, the attachment to the communist cause, the political interests, the communist affi liation, etc.
3. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Valentine Lomellini Reassessing the Communist utopia? Eurocommunists at the mirror of „developed socialism”
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This article tries to provide some food for thought on the identities of the PCI and the PCF about the developed socialism, taking into consideration some relevant turning points in the ‘70s and three different case studies (the USSR, Czechoslovakia and Poland). Although it does not offer a complete analysis of Western Communist thinking on the image of developed socialism, it rather tries to reassess the common interpretation of some central features of the legacy of the developed socialism with respect to the two main Communist Parties of the Western bloc.Firstly, it argues that though many factors lay behind the strong tie between Western Communism and the Eastern communist states, the belief that developedsocialism was reformable, mattered a great deal and, indeed, many leaders endorsed such a conviction. Th e Western leaders, and especially those ofthe Italian Communist Party, were arguably aware of the failures of developed socialism: particularly during the mid-‘70s, pessimism grew and was decisivein the creation of Eurocommunism. Nevertheless, the important role played by the Soviet Union in détente, and the conviction that the contradictionsof the developed socialism could be resolved if the new course of the 20th Congress were restored, proved central in defi ning the image of developedsocialism for Western Communists.Secondarily, the paper argues that historiography makes much of the differences between the PCI and the PCF: the first is usually considered more open,more democratic and capable of serious and genuine ideological evolution; while the latter is seen as a pro-Soviet Party, which used Eurocommunismas a tactic, and that lacked the capacity for autonomous thought. Though substantially agreeing on this distinction, more information is needed. We should stress that the thoughts of both Parties were based on the idea that a new political ruling class would have been able to change developed socialism. It would have brought about a new course, combining socialism and democracy or, at least, solving the contradictions within real socialism. Leadership was considered to be the key to changing the system. New Eastern heads and maybe also the Eurocommunist leadership would have been able to transform the system and set out a new path to socialism.The paper is based on archival resources recently made available, those of the Archivio Centrale del Partito Comunista Italiano – Fondazione Gramsci and of theArchive du Parti Communiste Français de la Seine-Saint Denis. Particular attention is given to press sources and interviews with former communist leaders.
4. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Alina Pavelescu Idéologiser la culture alternative. Adrian Păunescu et le Cénacle Flacăra
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Fondé en 1973 par le poete Adrian Păunescu, le Cénacle “Flacăra”, a été le phénomene le plus prodigieux de la propagande culturelle du régimeCeauşescu. Cette étude questionne le fonctionnement du cénacle sous l’angle du réseau relationnel des acteurs de cette propagande ainsi que de ses effets dans la culture politique de la jeunesse roumaine des années 1970-1980. L’analyse du Cénacle «Flacăra» rende compte du positionnement de son fondateur en tant qu’acteur actif de la propagande nationaliste du régime Ceauşescu, de la maniere dont son action publique s’insere dans l’action des autres acteurs de la meme catégorie, des buts de sa stratégie de confi scation de la culture alternative des jeunes et des moyens employés pour les atteindre.
ii. arts and culture
5. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Fjoralba Satka Mata Albanian alternative artists vs. official art under communism
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Behind the European Iron Curtain another “iron curtain” was drawn, between Albania and the rest of the socialist countries in Europe. Its architect was the dictator Enver Hoxha, who constructed Albanian national identity as a gated community based upon the dialectics of inclusion and exclusion. As a result, “socialist realism” Albanian art under communism can be differentiated clearly from art in other socialist countries. Political power and ideas on culture and particularly on painting meant birth of an official kind of art, parallel with an alternative art which I named painting in the shadow. The idea of painting in the shadow gives creators the possibility to operate on two levels. The first is the internal, psychologically sequential level of the creative process itself. This refers to selective activities and elaborate ideas using pictorial means from forbidden modern art – impressionism, expressionism, abstractionism. On the second level, artists operate beyond individual intentions just to indicate political position and rhetorical application of specific ideological regulations.Both levels are of interest to art practices in that they serve to reinforce artists’ position in official art in general, and to develop the artistic avatar on the private scene of painting in the shadow in particular. I am interested here in the first level, where avatars of Albanian artists under communism can be differentiated due to aspects of their styles and courage to react beyond the official rules. The basic problem with the contemporary interpretation of that unknown painting in the shadow is that it does not seem to take account of the fact that viewers nowadays are free to interpret, while painters were brought to heel in the face of the “method of socialist realism”.
6. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Alice Mocănescu Artists and Political Power: The Functioning of the Romanian Artists’ Union during the Ceauşescu Era, 1965-1975
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This article explores the relationship between artists and the communist political power through a case study of the way in which Uniunea Artiştilor Plastici (Romanian Artists’ Union) functioned from 1965 to 1975. Based on the research at the Romanian Artists’ Union’s archive (Central Historical National Archives, Bucharest), this article seeks to map out the twisted and ambiguous relationship that developed between artists and the Ceauşescu regime, during a period of increased ideological pollution and scarcity of resources.Several issues will be addressed in this article. Firstly, it will look at artists’ reaction to the regime’s early attempts to win them over and to consolidate its power by using a mixture of captatio benevolentiae, persuasion and coercion techniques. More precisely, the article will look at how artists received and responded to the overt use of nationalist discourse in the field of fine arts, the augmentation of acquisition funds and the diversification of institutions involved in this process immediately after 1965. Secondly, this essay will explore the actual tools and mechanisms used by the Ceauşescu leadership to mold art production in line with the State’s cultural policy. More precisely, starting in the 1970s, the stricter ideological control and the cuts in funding led to deep transformations inside the Union. This line of investigation will analyze the new policy for exhibition, the requirements and making of thematic exhibitions, distribution of funds or of other advantages (loans, personal exhibitions, trips abroad, etc), which contributed to a polarization of the Union’s members and to an increased competition for limited resources. Thirdly, the article will look into the transformation of the Union’s leadership into an elitist body that started to monopolize resources and distribution of “privileges”, a practice that ultimately led to vocal protests from rank and file members of the Union.
7. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Nataliya Hristova Des masques à la mascarade. Les intellectuels bulgares et les défis de la memoire sociale (Milieu des annees 1950 – fin des années 1990)
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L’article analyse les différentes attitudes des représentants de l’Intelligentsia bulgare (notamment des écrivains) des le milieu des années 1950 et jusqu’a la fin des années 1980, et leurs comportements publiques durant la premiere décennie post-socialiste (les années 1990).Le choix des personnages est non seulement « subjectif » (expliqué par le désir d’illustrer certaines tendances de la vie culturelle a travers les attitudes decertains représentants célebres de l’Intelligentsia), mais également déterminé par les documents d’archive, sur la base desquels nous avons élaboré cettereconstruction historique. Ainsi, nous avons utilisé différentes sources, par exemple des enquetes littéraires, des mémoires et des entretiens.Pendant le socialisme, et surtout a partir des années 1960, le pouvoir avait déja acquis une physionomie nouvelle, plus « expérimentée », politiquement plus «maturée ». Ses rapports avec l’intelligentsia (surtout avec le milieu artistique) sont habiles, et aussi tres mobiles. Les différents événements politiques, lamodification des accents idéologiques ou l’ éclatement des scandales culturels emmenent une pluralité de réactions et de mesures. Certaines attitudesgénérales en dérivent au cours de trois décennies: la riposte et l’opposition; le “silence”, et l’acceptation des privileges, le conformisme.
8. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Shawn Clybor Socialist (Sur)Realism: Karel Teige, Ladislav Štoll and the Politics of Communist Culture in Czechoslovakia
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This article focuses on the relationship between two Czech communist intellectuals whose ideas it attempts to situate in the broader history of twentieth-century Czechoslovakia: Karel Teige (1900-1951), a leading member of the European avant-garde; and Ladislav Štoll (1902-1981), a prominent journalist in the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia. Standard historical accounts have used morally simplistic categories to create a stark opposition between Teige and Štoll: After the communist seizure of power in 1948, the former suffered intense repression for his heretical support of the avant-garde, whereas the latter became a leading architect of Zhdanovite socialist realism. The goal of this article, however, is to problematize such oppositions by focusing instead on the many intellectual and political commonalties both men shared. In doing so it undermines the Cold War myth of a communist monolith imposed from above that separated the ideologically loyal from those who refused to tow the official line. Drawing upon a range of archival and secondary sources, the article demonstrates that until 1950, the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia never had a monolithic “line” on art and culture, making it anachronistic to impose concrete boundaries between “true believers” and intellectual “heretics.” To the contrary, Teige insisted throughout his life that his avant-garde aesthetics (which he based on French Surrealism and Russian Constructivism) were consistent with the Soviet doctrine of socialist realism. At the same time, Party functionaries such as Štoll largely tolerated, if not agreed with such opinions—despite how greatly such opinions deviated from the Soviet norm after 1937.
iii. communist communities of expert knowledge
9. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Ştefan Bosomitu Notes and Remarks on the (Re) Institutionalization of Sociology in Communist Romania in the 1960s
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This paper aims to evaluate the place of Romanian sociology during the communist regime by trying to reconstruct the regional and internal political context which led to the (re) institutionalization of that discipline. After experiencing a fertile period between the wars, Romanian sociology was “banned” at the end of WWII and the establishment of the communist regime. After two decades of “misery”, sociology was once again institutionalized in the mid 1960s in the context of an intellectual and political “liberalization”. The paper tries to explain the institutional development of Romanian sociology within Michael Voříšek’s methodological framework, discussing a series of indicators of a discipline’s institutionalization: research, teaching, professional organization, discourse, and label. The paper also analyzes the role of diverse factors (prewar tradition, political regime) in the development of sociology after WWII. It concludes by explaining that the tortuous process of institutionalization was due to the necessity to find the right timing when sociology was to be accepted as a legitimate and useful discipline, but also to the fact that sociology was only then able to individualize itself within the theoretical and ideological complex of Marxism-Leninism.
10. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Bogdan C. Iacob Co-option and Control: The Changing Profile of the Historical Front in Communist Romania at the End of the Fifties
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Th e 1948 transformation of the Academy, combined with extensive purges of the higher education system qualifies as a Great Break, Romanian style, within the scientific field. In 1955, at the 2nd RWP Congress, the communist regime adopted, within the academic realm, an approach of simultaneouslyfulfilling the goals of the cultural revolution and promoting the reformed old intelligentsia, compliant bourgeois specialists. As the RWP was searching for an identity in the context of de-Stalinization, the role of science changed, bringing along with it significant transformations both at a personnel and thematic level. The RWP targeted both co-option and control. It is the thesis of the present article that from 1955 to 1963 the historical front gained a polycentric profile. Various groups converged towards the same point: the creation of both the ideological and infrastructural basis for the master narrative about Romania’s evolution into socialism. Once the axiomatic but creative role of the present in making sense of the national past was commonly accepted, a new productive equilibrium was reached on the historical front.