Volume 11, 2020
Transnational Biographies: Destinies at the Crossroads Before and After the Cold War
Mihail Ralea between the Ministry of Arts and the Romanian Communist Cultural Diplomacy
Mihai Ralea was a university professor and prominent representative of the Romanian interwar literary intelligentsia. M. Ralea taught psychology, sociology and aesthetics, and was at the same time the director of a reputed literary magazine (Viaţa românească-Romanian Life). Ralea was also a politician, initially an important member of the National Peasant Party, representing its centre left wing. In his case, one may notice the contradiction between his moral arguments in public and his deeds after he reached positions of power (Minister of Labour under the royal dictatorship, Minister of Arts under the pro-communist Petru Groza government, etc.). Ralea was also called “the moralist without morals”, and the compromises he made – manifested through his adherence to anti-democratic regimes – can be documented by numerous archival documents. Due to strong political connections, Ralea survived in the high ranks of cultural bureaucracy even during cultural Stalinism. He maintained important positions both at the University of Bucharest and with humanities research institutes of the post-1948 Soviet-style Romanian Academy of Sciences. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, he also gained posi-tions of international cultural representation with the Romanian branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNES-CO) and the Romanian Institute for the Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries (IRRCS, the Romanian VOKS). His survival (as a professor of psychology after 1948) had a significant price – Ralea’s collaboration with the Stalinist regime. Using open sources and also newly declassified archival documents, the article is an attempt to approach M. Ralea’s case of survival in the high cultural bureaucracy in the East European context.