Professor: Julia Keefer
The impossible return home
(A study in black)
Dealing with the recent past is a long, painful, and complex process for Romanians. For more than forty years, they lived inside the walls built by communism. They systematically were oppressed, terrorized, and brainwashed in the name of the communist ideology. The national human experiment of creating a new type of man, of socialist type, has won the battle with its own citizens. By brainwashing and repression, the communists destroyed the internal and external homes of the majority of Romanians. In the year 2001, eleven years after the official fall of the communism, they are strangers in their country and within the ruins of their homes. They are faced with a conflict that is less between communists and anticommunists than between collectivism and liberalism. The latter is pro-Western, tolerant, interested in dialogue, and supportive of rapid transition to free market. The former is pro-Eastern, atavistic, resentful, xenophobic, militaristic, and exclusive. From this conflict derives a crucial dilemma: They either have to stand up as a strong nation, renounce their ancestral passivity, and decisively embrace the pro-western choice, or they will be condemned to lose most of their homeland and to dissolve. One question arises: have they any solution to avoid the dissolution of the country?
"Communism is like Prohibition - it is a good idea but it wont work."
(Will Rogers, 1927)
Communism is a social theory based on the ideas and teachings of Karl Marx as modified by Lenin. At its most basic, the ideal of communism is a system in which everyone is seen as equal and wealth is distributed equally among people. There is no private ownership. The state owns and controls the enterprises and property. One and only one leading elite, the communist party, runs the state. Against Marx beliefs that communism will be built first in the most wealthy nations, the first model evolved in October 1917 in czarist Russia, an underdeveloped country. After the World War II, the soviet model of communism was exported, by force and political compromise (The Pact of Yalta), in Eastern European countries: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, former Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Albania, and Romania. In all these countries the local communist parties grabbed the power with the massive support of the Red Army (and the mutual accord of the Western countries). The Stalinist model was implemented in different degrees and with different methods in Eastern Europe. By far, Romania was the champion of Stalinization and the country where the Red Terror made the most victims. In the same time, it was the country that had a terrible success in the human experiment of "building the new man, of socialist type"( in fact, a brainwashed, obedient men, and without any power of self decision).
The communists consolidated their power by using force and terror. All power was concentrated into the hands of the Communist party. All parties were banned and their leaders and members were executed or condemned to hard prison. Wealthy peasants ("bourgeois"), intellectuals, students, priests, officers of the former National Army, or even communists suspected of treasonous acts, were haunted, robbed of their homes and lands and thrown in prisons. There was a nationalization of the private homes and enterprises as well as a collectivization of agriculture. The free press and civil liberties were suppressed. Censorship and propaganda were widely used. The communists invaded and controlled every aspect of political, social, cultural, and economical life. It was a totalitarian state ruled by dictatorship of a fist of people. They used physical and psychological terror to hold the power. The main strategy of communist repression, whose central aim was always the establishment of absolute power and the elimination of rivals, was to systematically destroy all the organisms of civil society.
THE STALINIST PERIOD
"The beast has licked hot human blood. The man-killing machine is brought into motion."
(Yuri Martov, head of the Mensheviks, 1918)
Socially, the Romanias Stalinization meant the destruction of the human bonds described as civil society. An ubiquitous sense of fear was instilled in individuals, who were treated as simple cogs in the wheels of the totalitarian state machine. The legal system was redesigned to deprive the individual of any sense of protection or potential support and the whole judicial procedure became a mockery. In the field of intellectual life, the communists tried, with almost total success, to neutralize and anesthetize all critical currents. The party smashed all forms of dissent inside and outside itself.
The communist dogma was the only accepted ideology. It played a mobilizing role in indoctrinating the people and conditioning them to submit to the party. This ideology claimed to be a set of universal values to explain all natural, social, economic, and cultural aspects of society. It also claimed to give life to an utopian project that consisted in the creation of a new, ideal, human type, actually an extremely flexible individual, totally controllable by the party. It was a total suppression of human autonomy in a collectivist community. The social regimentation had to be total and no sphere of life, however private or intimate, could escape its impact. Propaganda departments were created to conduct campaigns almost similar to those already tested in Russia, but adapted to local conditions. Literature, art, and philosophy lost all their credibility because of their annexation by the political sphere. They became a safe harbor for hypocrisy and moral turpitude. In the end of the process, only a few intellectuals kept their morale rectitude. More often than not, others collaborated with the regime out of fear or opportunism. Ethical suicide and chameleon behavior became pandemic among the Romanian intellectuals. According to Czeslaw Milosz, the role of ideology was to neutralize the faculty of doubt and to instill in individuals boundless love and gratitude toward the party. With its claim to omniscience, ideology offered ready-made answers to any unsettling issue and promoted the individuals belief that there was no salvation outside the party (45).
The foundations of communism rested upon a mixture of fear, pride, perverse joy in humiliation, and base material interest. The majority of intellectuals accepted and even enjoyed this pact with the red evil. With the intelligentsia annihilated and political opposition destroyed, it was much easier to kneel the rest of the population. There was a visible gap between the ruling "elite"(ironically, the leaders, even Ceausescu, had only four or six elementary classes) and the sentiments of the nation. These people believed that the nation is a foolish crowd to be lead like sheep. After decades of indoctrination, they were almost right in their thinking. The result was devastating.
It is hard to understand the capitulation of so many layers of civil society without an explanation of the ancestral passivity of Romanians. There are two fundamentals myths of the Romanian people: one very old, the other newer (Codrescu 161-162). The oldest posits the idea of border in harmony with the ecoregion and the cosmos. There are three brothers, shepherds. The youngest, who remains nameless, is told by his favorite sheep, Mioritza, who is also confidante and lover, that he would be killed in the morning by his brothers. The young shepherd does not resist his fate. He spends the last night of his life by telling Mioritza to go to his mother and to tell her that he did not really die, that he married the moon, and that all the stars had been at his wedding. In order to prepare Mioritza for his mothers questions, he describes each star at the wedding, its origin, and its mission. By dawn he had described the entire cosmogony of the sky, all the origin myths of the stars. He is then killed and Mioritza wanders off telling his story, not just to his mother but to everyone who would listen. Mioritza wanders and wanders and is still wandering, telling his story. The path of her wanderings from the mountains to the sea is the natural border of Romania. This moving tale-telling border circumscribes the space of the Romanians. It is the path of the transmigration of sheep from mountains to sea, following the seasons.
The second myth was born sometime in the Christian era and tells the story of the Monastery of Arges above the wild Arges River. Three master craftsmen are building a church there on the rocky promontory overlooking the river. But the builders labors are in vain. Every day the walls collapse. No amount of buttressing, reinforcement, or support can make them stand. One night, one of the builders dreams that the walls will not stand unless they build someone alive within them. The builders decide that the first of their wives to come with lunch the next day would be built into the monastery wall. They vow also not to tell their wives when they go home that night. But only the youngest builder, Master Manole, keeps his word. Next day, Master Manoles young and pretty wife shows up and she is slowly built into the wall by her heartbroken husband. She cries and asks why, and continues to cry and ask why even today, long after the church was built. She can only be heard on certain nights and the carrier of her voice is the wind.
Between these two myths stretches a quickening and a tightening, a vertiginous loss of liberty combined with a sad sense of passivity. The narratives of power, of murder, of surplus wealth, tell the story of the powerless, the passive victim, that, from prehistory to modern history, have been silenced. Since then, voices allied to the animals and the elements, the voices of artists, dreamers, children, the powerless, have continued to ask an increasingly enfeebled "Why?" from under the cement of civilization.
It is also hard to understand the devastating result of the Red Plague in Romania without knowing the practical methods used by communists: permanent physical and psychological terror. The first tool used in the panoply of repression was the political trial and incarceration of priests and non-Communist leaders, many of whom had been resistance fighters. In the inter-Allied commission that was created in 1944 and existed until 1947, the Soviet military was the dominant force and imposed its own point of view in the show-trials of the former democratic leaders (Courtois 399).
To reduce the influence of the churches on society and to transform them into instruments of policy, the Communists combined repression, corruption, and infiltration of the church hierarchy. The actions were aimed not only to remove those at the top of the hierarchy, but also to strike at all Christian intellectuals in general.
The liquidation of the Greek-Catholic Uniate Church, which was second only to the Orthodox Church in the number of its followers, became more intense in the fall of 1948. The Orthodox stood by in silence, and its hierarchy generally supported the regime, a fact that did not prevent the government from closing many of its churches and imprisoning a number of its leaders. All the Uniate bishops were arrested and the Greek- Catholic Church was officially banned. The authorities confiscated all its cathedrals and churches and in some cases even burned its libraries (Courtois 409).
In May 1949, with the arrest of ninety-two priests, it was the turn of the Roman Catholic Church to undergo oppression. The government closed all the Catholic schools and nationalized the religious charities and medical centers. Repression culminated with a large trial in Bucharest in which several bishops and eminent lay figures were convicted of "espionage." One of survivors, archbishop Todea, who served fifteen years in prison followed by a period of hard labor, had the following to say in an interview to B.B.C. in1992: "For years on end we endured torture, blows, hunger, cold, the confiscation of our goods, and endless mockery and ridicule in the name of the Church...And despite the blood of all of these victims , our Church today has as many bishops as it had at the time when Stalin and the Orthodox Patriarch Justinian triumphantly proclaimed its death." (Courtois 413)
Unfortunately, the national Orthodox Church and its hierarchy did not behave with the same moral rectitude as the Catholic priests. Their followers missed the spiritual and moral support and even worse, they had a perverse example to follow. The orthodox priests were regimented and incorporated to the propaganda machine.
Another effective tool used in the arsenal of the Romanian Communist repression was psychological terror and it was quite innovative. The Securitate, the Romanian secret police, used all the classic methods of torture during their interrogations: beatings, blows to the soles of the feet, hanging people upside down, and so forth for more than fifty methods of torture. But in the prison Pitesti, about 110 kilometers from Bucharest, the cruelty far surpassed those methods. The philosopher Virgil Ierunca, who served fifteen years there, recalls (59-61):"The most vile tortures imaginable were practiced in Pitesti. Prisoners whole bodies were burned with cigarettes.....Others were forced to swallow spoonfuls of excrements, and when they threw it back up, they were forced to eat their own vomit." These tactics were part of an experimental program of "reeducation" that lasted from 1949 until 1952. Romania was probably the first country in Europe to introduce the methods of brainwashing used by the Communist in Asia. Indeed, these tactics may well have been perfected there before they were used on a massive scale in Asia.
The experiment resulted from an agreement between Alexandru Nikolsky, one of the chiefs of Securitate, and Eugen Turcanu, a prisoner who had been arrested because of its role in the fascist Iron Guard in 1940-41. After arriving in prison, Turcanu became the head of a movement called the Organization of Prisoners with Communist Beliefs, or OPCB. The goal of the organization was the reeducation of political prisoners, combining study of the texts of Communism dogma with mental and physical torture. The core of the reeducators consisted of fifteen detainees, who first had to make contact with other prisoners and win their confidence. According to Virgil Ierunca, reeducation occurred in four phases (152-153). The first phase was known as "exterior unmasking." The prisoner had to prove his loyalty by admitting what he had hidden and disclosing his links with his friends. The second phase was "interior unmasking," when he was forced to denounce the people who had helped him inside the prison. The third phase was "public moral unmasking," when the accused was ordered to curse all the things that he held sacred, including his friends and family, his wife, and his God if he was a believer. In the fourth phase, the candidates to the OPCB had to "reeducate" their own best friend, torturing him with their own hands and thus becoming executioners themselves. "Torture was the key to success. It implacably punctuated all confessions, between sentences. You couldnt escape the torture. You might be able to shorten it, if admitted the worst horrors."
Diabolical measures were especially devised to force seminarians to renounce their faith. Some had their heads repeatedly plunged into a bucket of urine and fecal matter while the guards intoned a parody of the baptismal rite. One victim who had been systematically tortured in this fashion developed an automatic response that went on for about two months: every morning, to the great delight of his reeducators, he would plunge his own head into the bucket. The seminarians also were forced to take part in black masses, particularly during holy week and on Good Friday. Some of the reeducators played the part of the choirboys; others masqueraded as priests. The liturgy was extremely pornographic and the original was rephrased in a demonic fashion. The Virgin Mary was called "the Great Whore" and Jesus "that cunt who died on the cross." One seminarian undergoing reeducation and playing the role of a priest had to undress completely and was then wrapped in a robe stained with excrement. Around his neck was hung a phallus made from bread and soap. The students were forced to pass before the "priest", kiss the phallus, and say, "He is risen."
The authorities tried to extend the experiment. The Western radio stations found out about the operation and the Communist leaders decided to end the "reeducation" program. In a trial in 1954, the initiator and six accomplices were condemned to death, but no one else in the police or party hierarchy was ever held accountabble. Unfortunately, this experiment did not end there. It was continued (and continues as of today) at a national scale, even though in a much subtler, machiavellian manner. The communists successfully applied the experience in mass manipulation and brainwashing.
THE POST-STALINIST PERIOD
"The burden of Aeschylus Oresteia is that crime begets crime, and violence violence, until the first crime in the chain, the original sin of the genus, is expiated through accumulated suffering."
(Martin Malia, 1998)
The social contract of post-Stalinist communist society was based not on physical terror but rather on mutual guaranties exchanged between the rulers and the ruled. While the former were providing their subjects with a protective shield of social benefits, the latter were renouncing their right to rebel against an inherently unjust system. However, such a social contract, being rooted in an unviable convention, was precarious. The rulers had no legitimacy, hence, at the moment the economy ceased to offer enough supplies for the continuation of the agreement and the whole system would fall apart.
In the post-Stalinist order, the show trials and brutal, naked terror were over. A system that lacked authentic popular support still continued to exist, in spite of what common sense would suggest. Everyone was aware that the system was bankrupt , but few would openly break with it. According to Havel, the source of this systemic perpetuation lied in its ability to manipulate signs and symbols (30). The system is based, more than anything else, on semantic abuse: "The system touches people at every step...and life is permeated with hypocrisy and lies: government by bureaucracy is called popular government; the working class is enslaved in the name of the working class; the complete degradation of the individual is presented as his or her ultimate liberation; depriving people of information is called making it available; the use of power to manipulate is called the public control of power, and the arbitrary use of power is called its development; the lack of free expression becomes the highest form of freedom; farcical elections become the highest form of democracy."
The system did not attack the individual in the traditional, forceful way. It made suffering less visible and tried to annihilate the distinction victims and torturers. The distance between those two categories almost completely vanished in a system where everybody was made to participate in the universal lie. The more absurd the ideological claims, the more important they were for the self-confidence of the power elite. It was the ideology that justified the command economy, the limitation of individual rights, and the partys "predestined role." Without the ideological support the system would simply fall apart.
The moral numbness of the population was the most important ally of the post-Stalinist power. The system worked as long as the prevailing lie was accepted and tolerated by the individual, as long the average citizen continued to endorse the ideological nonsense although aware that all this verbiage is nothing but a collection of lies. According to Havel, the systems ability to turn its victims into accomplices made that period different from classical dictatorships (48). The very idea of change had vanished, and the individuals tried to come to terms with what appeared to them to be the only possible form of life. They accepted the systems demagogy; they repeated it and thereby reinforced it. This complicity was not rooted only in moral weakness, or careerism, or indifference, but also in despair about the chances of getting out of the existing order.
The schizophrenic order of this period has penetrated not only the institutional and sociological levels but also the psycho-emotional infrastructure of individuals. Step by step, and day after day, those people were educated to think, talk, and behave in accordance with the partys indications. Although almost everybody thought something, but publicly said something else, in time everybody was affected by the dichotomy between his own truth and official truth. In a normal, democratic society, the individual decides that he or she wants to live in accordance with his or her genuine beliefs and sentiments. In a autocratic society, as Tismaneanu said, "the liberation starts at the individual level, as self-emancipation from the empire of lies and in the decision to live in truth...The decision by an individual to break the circle of complicity with the power and to speak loudly his own truth is the premise for the civil society to resurrect itself." (Reinventing Politics 139)
When discussing the civil society in Romania, it is important to consider the concrete political circumstances under which those efforts to create independent communities had to be undertaken: the Ceausescu-type ethnocentric and paranoid dictatorship. From the 1970s onward Ceausescu seemed increasingly intent upon establishing a dynastic version of socialism. His wifes role grew to incredible proportions, as she became the number two person in the party hierarchy. It was she who encouraged his morbid vanity and surrounded him with a wall of adulation and pseudo-mystical devotion.
This type of personalist leadership made impossible even minimal constraints upon the rulers behavior by his closer entourage. There was no opposition either within the higher ranks of the nomenklatura. In fact, like J. F. Brown said, "No European leader in the second half of the twentieth century has personified the debilitating effects of power more than he has...his name has yet become synonymous with historic tyranny." (206) Frightened by any form of potential external pressure, Ceausescu engaged in a breakneck effort to pay his countrys foreign debt. The hardship imposed on the population were beyond imagination. Beside chronic starvation, people were forced to freeze in their apartments because of the governments decision to cut off energy supplies for domestic consumption. With their bitter sense of gallows humor, Romanians used to say that the difference between Hitler and Ceausescu was that the former killed people by turning on gas, and the later did the same by turning it off. Romania, the country that gave birth to Eugene Ionesco, the author of absurd plays, looked like a land where absurdity ruled supreme.
As if all those measures were not enough to alienate an increasingly humiliated population, Ceausescu ordered the razing of the historical center of the countrys capital city, Bucharest. In its place construction started on a megalomaniacal new administrative center, including a "House of the Republic" bigger than the Versailles Palace in France. The communist monarchy needed symbols to eternalize itself, and Ceausescu did not hesitate to spend huge amounts of money and to use forced labor in building monuments to his own glory.
Among Romanias minorities, the two million Hungarians were Ceausescus particular obsession. He saw them as dangerous foreigners, a Trojan horse that that threatened the cohesion of the nation around the leader. He delivered harangues against those who did not understand the imperative of creating a totally homogeneous nation. Eventually thousands of Hungarians decided to leave their homes and illegally cross the border into Hungary. Ironically, they were joined by numerous Romanians, who chose to leave their homeland rather than suffer the ruling delirium.
Ceausescu also initiated the forced resettlement of populations from villages to urban shanty towns to demonstrate the countrys rapid progression to communism and to transform the population in a totally obedient and dependent maneuver mass. With his primitive Stalinist mind, he wanted to erase all differences between urban and rural areas by simply bulldozing more than seven thousand villages. That action, which Romanian propaganda tried to present as a "civilizing" step, aroused enormous international outrage. All over the country, Romanians were quietly seething.
THE POST-TOTALITARIAN PERIOD
"Nationalism is reborn, and with it national conflicts, xenophobia, and the nightmare of anti-Semitism. The conspiracy theory of history makes its return."
(Adam Michnik, 1991)
On December 17, 1989, the so-called Romanian Revolution began. That Christmas, the dictator and his wife were executed and the Romanian Communist Party seemed to disappear as if it had never existed. Ceausescu had to be liquidated as soon as possible in order to silence him and ensure a smooth transition from an unreconstructed Stalinist autocracy to an original Romanian version of reformed communism. Instead of a genuine trial of Romanian communism, the population was provided with a simulacrum of justice intended to demonize the former leader and exonerate and maintain in power the huge apparatus that had made possible the aberrations of Ceausescus rule.
Initially, the prevailing feeling was that the disintegration of the communist institutions and structures would occur without large-scale conflicts. The mood was euphoric and expectations were high regarding how the birth of democracy would occur almost as a natural process. But those were illusions encouraged by the speed of the 1899 events. One of the principal illusions was that communism would necessarily be followed by democratic forms of political and social organization.
In Romania, the communist party seemed to vanish without a trace following the spontaneous anticommunist uprising in December 1989. But was that disappearance an accurate perception? Can one seriously believe that a political movement that numbered almost four million members had simply left the historical scene without leaving any legacy? For many, the National Salvation Front, the formation that rose to prominence during the vacuum of power, was simply a reincarnation of the old communist party.(Tismaneanu 247) This party and its leader continues to hold the power despite democratic elections. In other words, even in an anticommunist society institutions, beliefs and thought patterns characteristic of the old regime do not die out overnight.
Because of the widespread disenchantment with Leninist ideology and practice, it was taken for granted, by local political actors and by many foreign analysts, that the long exposure of the people to the hardships of dictatorship had made them immune to new authoritarian temptations. But, as Kenneth Jowitt has shown, "...that belief was founded on wishful thinking. Leninism had left its imprint on the collective psyche, generating behavior patterns that, even if only in a residual way, would continue to affect the public sphere." (The Leninist Legacy 91) The hole society had been plagued by corruption, cultural despair, economic decay, and, more than anything else, an abysmal decline in the sense of social solidarity.
Visiting Romania today, one can see that the people gained freedom. The freedom to travel, once a huge privilege is far away from their reach, because of lack of money. The freedom of speech, another much cherished notion of liberty, is cheerfully exploited; anyone is free to say anything and anyone does, but the fascist propaganda, pornography, racist slogans, gossip, and suburban language have flooded the media. The right to private property is only the right of the former party leaders to accumulate fortunes. The notion of democracy is used by these same people, political activists turned entrepreneurs or mobsters, to hold the power and to steal more than ever. The civic freedom without any form of censorship has only unleashed the vulgate and basic instincts: divorce, teenage pregnancy, drug abuse, and crime are skyrocketing. Almost nobody believes that one can make a living only through hard work and without stealing or lying. The religious morale has declined and is only being mimicked. The people have the right to go to church but few do because the priests are involved in politics and are suspected of being informants of the ubiquitous Securitate.
The new Romanian elites face a dilemma of embracing Western civilizations values or being absorbed by the reemerging Soviet empire. This dilemma is aggravated by unrealistic expectations about what it means to adopt Western values. The belief that the end of the communist parties monopoly on power automatically amounted to the end of communism and the birth of democracy contributed to a continuously growing gap between the rising expectations of the population and the limits of the existing system. In fact what happened in Romania signified less the establishment of full democratic regimes, but rather the gradual reconstruction of the political space.
For many it appeared that the immediate transition to a democracy with a market economy would be a panacea for the centralized economy. There was a kind of intoxication with the virtues of a free market. As privatization proceeds and millions find themselves unemployed, one can predict the rise of populist demagogic movements that will promise everything to everyone in the hope of winning political power. The second parliamentary party is the fascist Romania Mare (The Great Romania) party that threatens with killing all minorities in the eventuality of gaining power.
As the shock of modernity is inevitable in Romania, the risk exists of a coalescence of "movements of disenchantment" driven by fear and despair. Communism might be extinct, but democracy is not necessarily its successor. There is, as Tismaneanu says, "danger of a baroque synthesis between nostalgia for the protective shield of the police state and readiness to accept the promises of social demagogues able to manipulate the symbols of national salvation. " (Reinventing Politics 251)
"In Romania, the notion of transition resembles the notion of Purgatory: the length of ones stay there varies according to ones ability to sacrifice."
(Andrei Codrescu, 1996)
Romania has moved beyond the communism-led past and entered a new era. The present and future belong now to national political actors and is up to them to build democratic or authoritarian policies. No one can lay down error-proof guidelines to ensures the smoothness of the transition. There is a strong struggle between the partisans of democracy and those of authoritarianism. The triumph of the later would result in bloody domestic and, eventually, international confrontations that can lead to the disintegration of the country. On the other hand, one cannot ignore that Romanians have groups and parties who cherish pluralist values and are ready to fight for their assertion.
Because the civil society was underdeveloped or frail in Romania, and because the communist elites were unable to offer any alternative to their disastrous policies, the transition was, and still is, significantly different from other Eastern European countries. The basic contradiction in post-Ceausescu era is the conflict between the embryonic civil society( most of which is represented by the extraparliamentary opposition) and the state, which has inherited the totalitarian structures.
At this moment, the Romanians intellectuals are engaged in a soul-searching investigation of social and historical realities. It is important for civic activists and critical intellectuals to embark on a open and uninhibited dialogue. They were all victimized in the name of a pseudo-universalistic teleology according to which a classless utopia could and should be constructed, regardless of the peoples will. They are all faced now with the enormous challenge of creating the legal framework that would grant the most important feature of democracy: popular sovereignty.
Communism cannot be considered completely dead. It is true that, in its traditional form as a messianic, fanatic movement, it has been defeated in the historical sense. With few grotesque exceptions, no one takes the communism ideology seriously. However, recent events in the former Yugoslavia and Russia, as well as the political growth of the Romanian fascist party Romania Mare, have shown that democracy is not the inevitable successor to communism.
As the economic situation continues to deteriorate and the new elites fail to offer persuasive models for a rapid transition, it is expected that extremist and fascist movements will gain momentum. They are recruiting primarily among the frustrated and disenchanted social groups by stirring responsive chords among those unable to overcome the traumatic effects of a sudden break with the past. It is expected that new cycles of violence in the country will occur, eventually leading to the disintegration of Romanians as a nation.
Pointing to the dangers, including the fascist one, should not make us skeptical about democracys chances to establish itself in Romania. The precedents of Spain and Portugal, countries ruled by dictators for decades, show, however, that such a transition is feasible. One can see that the advantages of constitutional monarchy, because it resumes an interrupted tradition and provides a political culture of cleavage with a suprapartisan arbiter capable of presiding over national reconciliation. For many, the King Michael is the symbol of the countrys short-lived democratic experiment, as well as the possible guarantor of a return to a long denied normalcy in public life. He represents a solution to resolve at least the moral crisis of Romanian society, maybe the last one. He could be the long-waited personality who has the power to catalyze the citizens efforts in building democratic institutions. The building of these institutions transcends the will of a political party. It entails the individual in its integrity, because the roots of liberty lie in the awareness that the man was born free and that no government has the right to assign to itself the power to limit this freedom
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