AND LIFE UNDER THE “BIG BROTHERS”
STALIN AND CEAUSESCU
by Olga M. Lazin
(PROFMEX Office for European Union)
I. The Orwe1lian Perspective on Power
• Language Abuse (Separation of Thought and Word)
II. Stalin's complex apparatus of mind control
III. Personal experience under the Ceausescu's dictatorship
To understand what Ceausescu meant for the Romanians, however, 1 have to concede his merit at the early stages of leadership. Ceausescu won popular support when he refused to take Romania into the Soviet run COMECON (Council for Economic Assistance), claiming that becoming subservant to COMECON was inadmissible for a Communist state, offensive to the pride as well as injurious to the Romanian economy. Ceausescu also asserted a limited independence in defense and foreign policy. He declined to let Romania participate in joint military maneuvers on Romanian soil and restricted military integration into Soviet military activity.
The critical rise to power for Ceausescu came in 1968, when he refused to join in the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. Ceausescu, who had succeeded the deceased Gheorghiu-Dej in 1965, proclaimed, that Romania would forcibly resist invasion: the Communist Party thereby became truly popular and the cult of the personality of Ceausescu was born,
Neverthe1ess nationalism and authoritarianism came together in forced industrialization in the Stalinist manner; Ceausescu's brand of socialism consisted in the devotion of the maximum percentage of the national product to investment. There had been no retreat from central planning in industry or agriculture.
A strong myth-building machine was set in function by the designers of public ce1ebrations. Parades became ritualistic eulogies of the Communist Party and songs and poems were al1 dedicated to "the brave, beloved 'conducator' Nicolae". As center of a smal1 elite of loyalists who run the country, his image was everywhere, and the banners proclaimed not only, or not primarily the Communist Party but the name of Ceausescu. The servile writers and poets who supported Nicolae, were then sent on trips abroad and were guaranteed momentary immunity.
The infamous Romanian 'Securitate' performed as the 'Thoughtpol': this 'eminence-grise' was ever-present and patrolled almost every street. Informers told the 'Securitate' who was listening to the radio 'Free Europe' (see Fighting the Waves, movie, 2008) and what professors were teaching in school. The irony of the term like 'Securitate' or Security is intuitive1y relevant to our lives. By the end of the regime computer kept records could be revised with an ease that Winston Smith would not have been able to imagine. Members of the Security were invested with the cutting edge of technology' and were arbitrarily arresting anyone who was suspicious or had been "reported". Writers, potential leaders or defectors were bruta1ly tortured, imprisoned, or mysteriously "vaporized". Much of the technology of the fictional "1984" was in all Nicolae Ceausescu's years in power.
As in "1984" Ceausescu ordered that 1V monitors should be placed on each comer of major streets in central Bucharest so that the military could intervene in an effective and timely way to prevent any popular uprising. Groups of more than 4 people were prohibited by law, unless under government control. Complete isolation from exterior influence was imposed as a measure of 'protection' of the Romanian nation from the imperialistic powers.
IV was limited for 25 years to a sole national channel, reported with spurious accuracy false statistics, systematical1y distorting the people's ability to understand the misscontrolled economy. Nicolae and his wife Elena were shown as a happy presidential couple daily visiting towns, villages, and fie1ds with the peasants. They were shown reviewing the 'socialist achievements' in the factories, holding kids in their arms and expounding mealy-mouthed slogans about government benevolence and personal sacrifice made by the officials, the pain they underwent for the Romanian people. Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu were so megalomaniac that painters, carpet wavers and sculptorers were ordered to imprint the Ceausescu's images everywhere. Elena C's wardrobe contained as many dresses as that of Evita Peron. The couple had a palace in every city /resort of the country.
In their daily speeches the Ceausescu's were more Romanian than all Romanians, all science was 'Romanian', gymnastics and soccer were best Romanian, as were bread, butter and salt, everything good was Romanian. Ceausescu Nicolae became the supreme leader - who told his people what to eat (food was rationed), what to wear (depending on the weather,) and how many children a family should have (abortion being punished with imprisonment).
The Palace of the People, built with enormous sacrifices by Ceausescu's order and in his 'honor' is still the second enormous building in Europe after Versailles.
After 1975 all foreign journals and magazines were banned from entering the country, among the weekly laws promulgated by Ceausescu, one prohibited answering foreigners' questions. Foreign visiting relatives had to stay only in controlled hotels. This law was an absolute aberration for philology students or professors as no communication was possible in other languages than Romanian.
The academic milieu and curricula was infested with Marxist ideology. The following terminology dominated all life: "the new man", "revolutionary", "sodalist competition" , "multilaterally developed society", People addressed each other as 'comrades', The continuing influence of socialism on the language of intellectuals and scholars was evident also in the textbooks., in every discipline. To Marx especially we owed the substitution of me term "society" for the "state." This circumlocution suggested that the actions of individual s can be regulated by some gentler and kinder method of direction than coercion, As a result, the Communist system rooted out civil society.
Having antagonized some professors which were using this "wooden language" of communism, 1 came under the scrutiny of the "Securitate" and even dared to laugh in the face of a Security officer who was assigned to read the mound of absurd decrees newly promulgated by the government. My tenure at the University was henceforth compromised, and 1 resolved to flee Romania, an illegal act in itself.
Caught at the border with ex Yugoslavia, 1 was incarcerated for one year (1986-1987). Ironically there was no social stigma to being jailed because the whole country was considered "The Jail."
After Ceausescu was toppled in a coup by a clan of his acolytes during a parallel popular revolution in 1989,1 was finally allowed to complete my degree in philology at the University of Cluj-Napoca.
The inferno like atmosphere of the "1984" story is cunningly created and it calls to my mind images of urban industrialized cities tailored after Ceausescu's mind in the 1980s.
Both my personal experience and the ending of Orwell's novel are meant to be a warning against the extremes to which totalitarian spirit can carry us, so that we will understand dangers involved wherever power moves under the guise of order and rationality.
I personally consider that it is an extraordinary time to analyze in this film based on the novel- about ambition, greed and power in an apparently endless battle for political control going on in the entire world.
If we do not think, there could be many who wi1l be more than willing to do it for us. Constant vigilance is the cost of our freedom.
LIVE GREEN PROJECT:
Dr. Olga Lazin-Andrei
Eat Green, Live Green, Work Green
Every human being deserves a say in the decisions that affect our lives; no one should be subject to the will of another Orwell or Bushescu. Therefore we will work to increase public participation at every level of government, as watchdog, and to ensure that our public representatives are fully accountable to the people who elect them. We will also work to create a new type of political movement that expands the process of participatory democracy by creating access to the political machinery, and by including citizens in the decision-making processes of our daily lives.
Human societies must operate with the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate from nature. We must maintain an ecological balance and live within the ecological and resource limits of our communities and our planet. We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit and not suffer from the practices of our generation. Protect our existing ecological systems; protect the Iguanas in Cancún!
Social Justice and Equal Opportunity 4 all!
All persons should have the rights and opportunity to benefit equally from the resources of the United States, and the environment contained herein. Working with the society at large, we should remove barriers such as class oppression, reverse racism, sexism and heterosexism, ageism and disability, which act to deny fair treatment and equal justice under the law- PPL MEMBERS.
Centralization of wealth and power contributes to social and economic injustice, environmental destruction, and militarization. Therefore, we support a restructuring of social, political and economic institutions away from a system that is controlled by and mostly benefits the powerful few, to a democratic, less bureaucratic system. Decision-making should, as much as possible, remain at the individual and local level, while assuring that civil rights are protected for all citizens.
Community Based Economics
We recognize it is essential to create a vibrant and sustainable economic system, one that can create jobs and provide a decent standard of living, for all people, not necesarilly Kabutz, but some form of egalitarian society.
We have inherited a social system based on male domination of politics and economics, or PATRIARCHY. We call for the replacement of the cultural ethics of domination and control, of men, with more cooperative ways of interacting more humanly.
Human values such as equity between the -sexes, interpersonal responsibility, and honesty must be developed with an open moral conscience.
Respect for Diversity
We believe it is important to value cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual, religious and spiritual diversity, and to promote the development of respectful relationships across these lines.
Dr. Olga Lazin