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21. 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.
22. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Cristian Vasile Argument
23. 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”.
24. 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.
25. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Márta B. Erdős, Gábor Kelemen The Finite Universe: Discursive Double Bind and Parrhesia in State Socialism
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Readers are invited into a universe established by the discursive practices of “soft dictatorship” in Hungary between 1957 and 1989. The two major categories of our epistemic discourse analysis, representing the internal struggles of the intellectuals in the era, are manipulation and parrhesia. Manipulation is understood as an abuse of power; it impairs human collaboration and social development by delimiting social participation. Parrhesia is an act in which the speaker expresses his personal relationship to truth, taking the risks and responsibilities of veridiction in crisis situations.
26. 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.
27. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Ana-Maria Cătănuş Breaking the barriers of Romanian conformism. Dissent and scientific critique of Communism in mathematician Mihai Botez’s thinking. A case study
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This study discusses the case of mathematician and futurologist Mihai Botez, one of the most important Romanian dissident thinkers in the 1980s. Using unedited documents from personal archives, documents from the archives of the former Securitate, Radio Free Europe, as well as oral history sources, this study emphasizes how Mihai Botez’s dissidence emerged, the main directions of his dissident project, similarities in terms of ideas withother dissidents in Eastern Europe/Soviet Union, the relevance of his dissent in relation to Communist power and Romanian society.The study consists of two parts, each divided in several sub-themes. The first part of this study deals with investigating the intellectual roots of Botez’s dissidentthinking, discussing also the influence that his professional education had on the rise of his political consciousness. It also discusses the main directionsof Mihai Botez’s dissidence: the conceptualization of solitary dissidence as a first step towards individualizing a group of independent critical intellectuals,dissident strategies, and expected results.The second part deals with Mihai Botez’s works and research aimed at developing the cybernetics of Communist regimes. His dissident project aimedat bringing to light the parallel society that existed but which kept silent, encouraging diversity of views and creating pressure from society, one capable ofinfluencing government strategies.
28. 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.
29. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Cosmina Tănăsoiu Revisiting Romanian Dissent under Communism. The Unbearable Lightness of Solitude
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Explanations for the relative silence of Romanian intellectuals between 1945 and 1989 vary, though all centre upon the regime’s ability to coerce and control intellectual circles through its repressive and manipulative tools, such as its political police (the Securitate), a nationalist discourse that equated opposition with betrayal and an incentive-based approach (economic and social benefits). While structural constraints as well as a particular nationalistic culture, explain the limited dissent, they do not account for why dissent happened at all. This article focuses on agency as well as context examining not just the factors that influenced dissent but also analyzing the various forms of dissent which occurred during communism. It takes a historical analysis approach and relies upon a dataset obtained through original, open-ended interviews with leading Romanian intellectuals and primary sources (i.e. memoirs, open letters) to explain and analyze intellectual dissent. The article argues that individual acts of dissent show that despite the sophisticated mechanisms of indoctrination, propaganda and control, the party’s ability to atomize society was not absolute. Such Quijotic acts provided society with reference points outside the sphere of the Party itself and the grey zone of ethical minimalism.
30. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Sławomir Łodziński Towards the Polish Nation-State. National Minorities in Poland Between 1945 and 1989
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The purpose of this paper is to analyze the effects of communist policies upon ethnic relations within a multinational state. I use the case of Poland in order to identify the general shifts and dynamics in nationalities polices in this country between 1945 and 1989. The study’s main focus is the processes by which Polish society was ethnically homogenized. I subsequently discuss the successive ways of building the Polish nation-state, from one phase of the communist regime to another, and the national mythologisation of historical memory, especially in relation to World War II. The paper also draws attention to a phenomenon, often ignored by scholarly literature, which took place in postwar communist societies within minority ethnic groups. I am referring to the preservation of minorities’ identities in the form of “a hidden ethnicity” in the context of group exclusion from the public sphere and of the disenfranchisement of specific ethnic historical memories within the wider societal narratives.
31. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Marco Abram 20.Oktobar – Narratives of Identities in the Celebrations for Belgrade’s Liberation Day (1945-1961)
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The aim of this paper is to explore the relationships and interactions between socialist ideology and national narratives in Tito’s Yugoslavia, focusing on the peculiar case of Belgrade. Taking into account the representative role of the capital city, narratives of identity are analysed from the point of view of the ideology involved and displayed in the celebration of the post-war city’s holiday: the 20th of October, anniversary of Belgrade’s liberation during the Second World War. Using both archival material and reports published in different newspapers as primary sources, the research studies these celebrative practices as an extremely concentrated expression of the state’s ideology but also as occasions of tension and negotiation between different representative meanings: from the attempt of Sovietization of the country – reinforced also by the role of the Red Army in the liberation of the city – to the strengthening of the Yugoslav socialist patriotism after the split between Tito and Stalin and the permanence of Serbian and local identity’s narratives.
32. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Enis Sulstarova Constructing Albanian Communist Identity Through Literature: Nationalism and Orientalism in the Works of Ismail Kadare
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The communist regime in Albania considered literature to be one of the main ideological vehicles for the formation of the “New Albanian Man”. To this aim, a great part of literature in post-war Albania spoke of how not only did the Albanian people preserve their national identity throughout history, but also of how they fought on the side of European civilization and progress. In this process, a series of barbarian Others were constructed, because if national resistance and communism were to be linked together in a progressive tradition, then the Turks, counter-revolutionary social classes, capitalism and even “revisionist”betrayers of Marxism-Leninism represented the regressive tradition. By taking as a case study the literary works of Ismail Kadare, this paper argues thatKadare, in his depiction of the Turks as the Oriental other of the Albanian nation, employed the clichés and stereotypes borrowed from the European Orientalisttradition, in which the Turks largely are presented as the barbaric mirror to Europe. Later on, the danger coming from the “social-revisionism” of the Russianand Chinese communist states were portrayed in Kadare’s novels as the continuation of the “Asiatic threat”. The intended effect of Orientalism in Albanianliterature was to emphasize the modernity of Albanian socialist society and to culturally justify the lonely road of Albanian communism.
33. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Paul McNamara Competing National and Regional Identities in Poland’s Baltic “Recovered Territories”, 1945-1956
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The article analyzes the manner in which Poland’s Baltic “Recovered Territories”, the three provinces of Szczecin, Gdańsk and Olsztyn, were incorporated into a re-constituted Polish state following the Second World War. It shows how the organic formation of a regional identity in the three Baltic provinces faced continuous interference from a regime with little or no understanding of the effects its state-building policies had upon their specific ‘transnational’ social, cultural, and demographic particularities. Despite the internal divisions in what was a fledgling pioneer society, the communist state never allowed for settler and indigenous groups to iron out their differences at their own pace and in their own way. Between 1945 and 1956, Polish settlers and indigenous groups in the Baltic Recovered Territories managed to form only a weak common identity not due to the policies of Poland’s Communist regime but in spite of them.
34. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Humberto Cucchetti Communism, French Patriotism, and Soviet Legitimacy in France: Social Trajectories and Nationalism (1945-1954)
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The following contribution analyzes the specific spaces for the legitimization of the defense of the “Soviet model” in France. To do so, rather than examining the policies of the Communist Party itself (often analyzed by French historiography), the paper approaches a vast set of organizational networks that have been commonly known as “transmission belts” of communism in France. Thus, the paper presents a universe of situations, individual trajectories, and associative frameworks that are deployed in defense of the Soviet Union, from 1945 until 1954. In all these different areas and situations the paper points out instances of an intense militancy. As a result, there was a non-contradictory overlap between French patriotism, nationalism and the justification of Soviet hegemony in the context of the communization of Eastern Europe and of the Cold War.
35. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Dallas Michelbacher The Deportation of Ethnic Minorities to the USSR and the Romanian National Idea
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The article examines the general policies of the Romanian state in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War toward the German and Hungarian minority. The abuses of the human rights of ethnic minorities from 1944 until 1947 were some of the worst in the history of Romania. The massacres and deportations of German and Hungarian civilians remain a black mark on Romanian society. These actions were in keeping with the ideologicalpronouncements of Romanian nationalists from the interwar period. The rhetoric that legitimized these policies of ethnic cleansing continued to inform visions of the Romanian nation throughout the Communist period.
36. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 3
Bogdan C. Iacob The Paradoxes of European Postwar
37. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 4
Dalia Báthory Transitional Justice: Between Political Myth and Civil Society Reality
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Transitional justice emerged as a working concept from the need to clarify the relationship between victims and perpetrators and the latters’ guilt, after the collapse of abusive regimes in Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe. Since 1995 it has been defined in many ways, by many scholars, according either to its means and goals or to its actors. It has become a very broad concept, describing actions of justice, reparation, search for the truth and reform. While transitional justice policies should result in giving more coherence to a shuttered society, there are at least two threats that must be taken into consideration. One is to transform it into a political myth, by allowing the political factor to confiscate it, the other is to expand its area of concerns in order to cover aspects of daily social problems. The role of the civil society is very important to limit these threats, although what it is that we name “civil society” is still under scholarly debate. The analyses published in this issue of History of Communism in Europe cover these problems in their case studies which come from Latin America or the former Soviet bloc. Most of them stress on the very important role the grassroots actions of members of civil society have on “settling accounts” with the past, actions that seem to be born out of the inefficient “official” measures taken at state level.
38. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 4
Olivera Simić “The Day After”: Ex-Combatants Perform Live in Belgrade Theatre
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This paper addresses the organised civil society efforts to bring excombatants into the public sphere in Serbia, and investigates the potential for constructive use of ex-combatants’ war experiences in theatre. By staging the theatre performance Tanatos, the Group “Hajde da...” (the Group) from Belgrade aims to challenge negative views of this category of the Serbian population. So far, ex-combatants have been largely ignored, and as such, their capacities for contributing to transitional justice processes in the Serbian community have been neglected. Not only does the Tanatos bring four ex-combatants onto the stage to share their combat-related experiences with an audience, but it also gives the audience an opportunity to meet the ex-combatants after the performance in an open ‘question and answer’ session. As a qualitative case study, the paper draws from multiple sources: direct observation of the theatre performance in Belgrade in 2011, documentary research and fieldwork in Serbia undertaken during the summer of 2013, analysis of internal documents produced within the Group, and an interview with the dramaturge of the performance. The paper concludes that through Tanatos, the Group has opened public space for a dialogue about the recent past that acknowledges ex-combatants as an important factor in transitional justice processes in the region.
39. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 4
Csaba Varga Philosophical Foundation and Constitutional Rejection in Hungary
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There are internationally set criteria that apply in the case of a legacy of grave and systematic violations of human rights, generating obligations of the state towards the victims and society. They specify: (1) a right of the victim to see justice done, (2) a right to know the truth, (3) an entitlement to compensation and nonmonetary forms of restitution, as well as (4) a right to reorganized and accountable institutions. Facing the complete failure of implementing the first three points, one can claim that none of them has been fulfilled in Hungary since the fall of Communism, almost one quarter of a century ago. This paper analyses the context in which constitutional adjudication may confront certainty of law with the very idea of justice by putting an end to any progress of leaving the legacy of Communism behind. As a consequence, the Rule of Law becomes a mere simulacrum.
40. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 4
Andreas Hemming Justice of Another Kind. Laying Claims to the Past in Post-Dictatorial Albania
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More than twenty years after the collapse of the totalitarian regime in Albania, the archives of the state security apparatus (Sigurimi) have yet to be opened. The horror of the Hoxha regime remains under lock and key. Not one word is lost on the network of political prisons and the state security apparatus in the history schoolbooks; in today’s only history text about Albania written by a university scholar, that addresses some details of the socialist period, this part of the socialist past is also left out.The lack of initiative from the government or any other state organisation to address this situation has led to setting up a number of alternative civil societyorganisations that focus on this issue.One of these is a very important movement in northern Albania, having at its core a disparate but vibrant publishing industry that provides space for the localactors to publish their memories and experiences. Two genres of writing can be identified here: local histories and family histories. Common to both are motifsof local patriotism and personal sacrifice, but the local histories – mainly of specific villages and towns – tend to be apologetic of the regime while the familyhistories tend more often to be those of victims and opponents of the regime. Keywords: local history, family histories, local publishers, Albania.