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41. 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.
42. 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.
43. 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.
44. 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.
45. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Luciana M. Jinga Intellectuelles ou apparatchiks. Les politiques pour la promotion des femmes dans le Parti Communiste Roumain
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L’État communiste roumain s’est appuyé dans sa politique concernant le statut des femmes sur deux principaux piliers: la loi (prétendument égalitaire) et partis communistes de la région. Une particularité du cas roumain a été, en revanche, la promotion constante des femmes dans le parti et le suivi attentif des pourcentages. Cependant, malgré les mesures proactives prises dans les années 1970 et 1980, la représentation féminine au sein du PCR n’a jamais dépassé 36%. Une présence numériquement importante au sein du parti n’a pas conduit a une représentation similaire dans les instances politiques dirigeantes. Ici aussi, notre étude nous a permis de nuancer les appréciations et de mettre en évidence une disparité entre les organes locaux et les organes centraux du parti. Dans les comités du parti au niveau départemental, le pourcentage de femmes était a peu pres le meme (sinon plus élevé) que la moyenne nationale des femmes membres du parti. Au contraire, dans les instances centrales notamment dans le Comité Central, le Comité Politique Exécutif ou son Bureau, la présence des femmes restait plutôt une exception. Le cumul des fonctions a toutefois donné au niveau de l’opinion publique l’image d’une omniprésence féminine dans les postes de direction, aussi bien dans les organismes civiques que dans les instances du parti et les institutions d’Etat. Il nous a semblé intéressant de confronter cette image commune avec la situation réelle. L’analyse attentive des diff érentes instances nous a permis d’identifi er un groupe dirigeant formé par les femmes membres du parti «cumulardes». Il ne comprenait pas plus de 30 a 40 personnes. Le portrait général des femmes membres du parti, élues au Comité Central Parti Communiste Roumain, diff ere de l’image stéréotypée de l’ouvriere analphabete, militante du parti, promue uniquement pour l’adhésion totale au parti et moins pour des raisons méritocratiques. Depuis octobre 1945, la proportion des intellectuelles a été signifi cative, meme majoritaire pendant des deux décennies. Comme pour l’organisation féminine de masse, le Parti Communiste Roumain a désigné comme représentantes au Comité Central des femmes sur lesquelles on pouvait compter du point de vue professionnel et intellectuellement.
46. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Corina Doboș Vladimir Tismăneanu (ed.), Promises of 1968. Crisis, Illusion, and Utopia
47. 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.
48. 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.
49. History of Communism in Europe: Volume > 2
Andrei Muraru Charles King, Odessa: Genius and Death in the City of Dreams
50. 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.