Boris Groys, and many others connoisseurs in the field, claim that it was due to the cold rationalization and bureaucratization of the Communist regime. Rationalization in the sense of rule by instrumental, cold and inhumane reason organized under formal logic.
“What it meant was that the regime wanted to make humans into autonomous machines that ought to function according to a program. What is genuinely human was thereby excluded and suppressed, for that consists in the way the human is not only a rational and thinking animal, but also an animal that desires” (Genealogy of Post-communism, Art.2)
In the communist regimes, the impossibility of longing together with the lack of desire is prompted by the cold rigidity of institutionalization in which the entirety of everyday life is strictly regulated, in which any deviation (Joseph Stalin’s most hatred word) from a social program that has been logically and precisely thought through and unambiguously stipulated is ruled out, both for society as a whole and also for each of its members.
“Modern anthropology does not view the position of humans as lying between animals and God, as was once the case, but rather between animal and machine.
The authors of the earlier utopias tended to affirm the mechanical in humans in order to differentiate the human more sharply from the animal, for they saw the greatest danger for humanity in the animal realm. Conversely, the authors of the later anti-utopias affirmed what was animal, passionate, instinctive in humans, in order to differentiate them more sharply from machines, for they saw a greater danger for humans in mechanics than in the animal realm”. Genealogy of post-communism, Art2
According to this anthropology, resistance to the compulsion of cold, mechanical logic can only come from the sources of the irrational (id) – from beyond reason, from the empire of the sentiments, which cannot be argued away, which remain immune to logic because they are innately ambivalent and contradictory.
The argument stands to show that humans are not only bearers of logic, but also creatures that are possessed by feelings that are irrational because they are contradictory. And that means that the elimination of social contradiction through the realization of a utopian project cannot succeed, because the reason for these contradictions lies deeper than reason – in human nature itself.
This means, moreover, that anyone who strives for the realization of a utopia must fight against that which is human as such. Either the human is destroyed, or utopia is destroyed by what is human. Every rationalist utopianism proves to be hostile to human beings because it wants to kill the animal in the human, and turn the human into a machine.
Therefore, there was only one step to the revolution and when the first piece of the domino fell over than all the others had followed.
Marking out the transition from Communism to Post-communism
Clearly, life under communism developed a somewhat inertia on the part of the population. It is absurd to think that the sparkle of the revolution had always been there waiting for the proper moment to enflame the masses.
Many post-communist critics have acutely criticized this lack of courage, of reaction vis-à-vis the brutalities of communism. It remains for history, however, to create firm, objective judgments and suspend malignant beliefs in the absence of evidence.
Following the emergence of communism together with a possible subjective outlook of its collapse, I would try to move on and grasp the effects of this utterly disruptive event.
Transition is a term largely invented to attempt the emergence of Third world countries from Latin America to move from dictatorship to democracies. Post-communism has also been regarded as a transitional moment.
The notion of returning to democracy was taken as an indispensable status quo solution regardless to a visible, competent lack of resources. This has turn the momentum into a struggle, or competition in which undeveloped countries were striving “to catch up with a most speedier and more developed West”. Todorova
Another important aspect, in Eastern Europe, was that the modernity of liberation continued to be delegitimized and subordinated to the modernity of technology. Certain reflexes or attitudes continued to haunt people’s lives.
Two decades and a half later after the outbursts of the revolutions, the dreams and strong desires of modernization seem to have faded in the cultural spaces of Eastern Europe.
The Enlightenment ideas of emancipation are in a profound crisis of legitimation in this region. While nationalisms contributed to the consolidation of the new state programs and to the recruitment of new technocratic, political and cultural elites, the notion of transition accustomed the Easterners with the normalized conditions of living in a periphery of the world capitalist system.
“Transition is the paradigmatic concept of the cultural and social post-communist spheres that announces the rite of passage of the former socialist, communist countries from madness to normality, from totalitarianism to democracy, from planned economy to free-market economy”. Genealogy of post-communism, Art3
The idea of transition coincided with a concept of modernity fixed on the future. This future is internalized through the medium of some of the most influential Western institutions: IMF, NATO and EU.
As regards the cultural space, the period of transition was accompanied by a new theoretical influx coming solely from the West. The focus on the import of the rhetoric and products of the cultural industry of the winners of Cold War meant for some a new form of colonization.
An important part of the anti-communist dissident community turned into intellectual bureaucrats after the fall of communism.
Two sustainable examples are consecrated in the names of Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa.
Vaclav Havel, invited by the US Congress to address the joint session, depicted the Cold War “in terms of religious right-wing fundamentalist worldview: a bipolar world split between the defenders of freedom and the realm of nightmares; an infinite spectrum of human suffering”. Needless to say the US were portrayed as the providential forces that always brought salvation while the Soviet Union was explained away as a sign of madness. US were thus acknowledged as the world power that should actually lead the desired passage towards a multipolar world, in which democracy meant first and foremost the market economy.
Lech Walesa also mouthed his opinion at the US Congress in face of the joint chambers emphasizing “the desire of Eastern Europe for a Marshall Plan investment in freedom, peace and democracy; an investment adequate to the greatness of the American nation”. November 1989/15
From Czech Republic to Romania, the 1990s, was signified as the reformation of the cultural space according to the a priori principle of anti-communism. In the worldview of the Romanian post-communist culture industry, the trial of communism has not worked as a way to learn to cultivate differential thinking and resistance to the abuse of the powers that be, but as interpellations of the accursed symbols of communism, seen from the light of the newly-acquired world capitalist sacred symbols.
Communism has been constructed in the post-communist cultural history as a supra category of totalitarianism, a new Medieval Age, an age of evil, of darkness which had been brought, naturally, from the Orient (Russia).
The imperative of the return to normalcy coincided with the negation of the modern heritage of autonomous reason via the argument that masses have to be ruled by enlightened elites, or else a return to the old roots will follow. As to who the enlightened elites were, the matter was simple: those who internalized the absolute truth of the sacred symbols of contemporary power.
In Romania, transition emerged precisely as emancipation from the forced communist colonization of land and mind. Although it came “incremental”, Pippidi’s term, it had followed, nonetheless, a clear path of unification with the Western agenda.
Nowadays, no one would willingly admit with Alexander Kiossev that “a marginal culture imports alien values and civilizational models so as to lovingly colonize their own authenticity through these foreign models”.
Being rooted in an Eastern (our case) space and time prevents one from fully adopting and adapting a Western model.
The Freudian super-consciousness conveyed in the form of institutions, ideas, thoughts (Western) shapes one’s consciousness (ego) to the level of creating a comforting space in which one can freely associate and entwin without being afraid of repercussions.
The id (sub-consciousness) however, remains by large irrational, ungraspable and thus not quite fully responsive to the range of Western texts which seek to saturate its imagination.
In the postmodern view of globalization one ought to create a correct and legitimate space in response to the outside stimuli of information. For instance, one ought to be aware that from a lexicological point of view not all the English words have a similar representative in Romanian. At the same time, it is not “unhappily forsworn”, or “shamefully misplaced” if some transcendental reading (that is, out of the Carpathians garden) takes place and conjures up the innate semi-Balkan frisson.
1. Genealogy of Post-Communism, Ed. Cluj
2. Mungiu-Alina Pippidi – Politica dupa Comunism
3. Marx, Karl – The Communist Manifesto
4. New Encyclopaedia Britannia vol3.
5. Stefanescu, Bogdan – Postcommunism/Postcolonialism: Siblings of Subalternity. Bucuresti
6. Additional readiang: Freud, Sigmund – Beyond the Pleasure Principle; Plesu, Andrei – Comedii la Portile Orientului; Despre frumusetea uitata a vietii; Note, stari, zile.