Saturday, 30 May 2015

Communism after Communism

Talking to some Romanian historians last night in Green Hours, my favourite Bucharest summer drinking place, one told me a French sociologist in the early 1990s said that after the fall of Ceausescu Romanian society shattered into shards of broken glass. The party had controlled everything and suddenly it was gone. Nothing was held together anymore.

My impression is the exact opposite, that Romanian society after the Communist dictatorship ended (and Communist dictatorships are worse in kind as well as degree from other dictatorships) was conformist, narrow and cohesive. It is pluralistic, democratic societies that are fissiparous. It occurs to me now that pluralistic and post-Communist societies are both cohesive, though. Both have an equilibrium. It's places like Iraq and Syria that don't.

The great Romanian nationalist historian Nicolae Iorga talked of Byzantium after Byzantium, the title of his most famous book, meaning that the Byzantine Empire continued in to exist in an altered form under the Sultan. I was rather pleased with myself for saying that after 1989 Romania had ‘Communism after Communism’. 

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