Eras Journal – Ivanes, C: Abstract

Abstract of Ivanes, C., Romania: A Kidnapped Revolution and the History of A Pseudo-Transition

This paper tries to show that the sultanistic style of the Ceausescu dictatorship only indirectly caused the events after 22 December 1989, and that Prjeworski’s scheme cannot be applied to the Romanian case. The analysis done on civil society and party members’ reactions before and after December 1989 shows that there was no active civil society, and therefore no moderates and no radicals, until the radical mob demanded the abolition of Communism itself, and the Liberalisers were outside the regime and planned change not through the game with the society, but through a coup.

There was an attempt to overthrow Ceasusescu during the 1980s, but it failed. In 1989 the purpose of the plotters was not the same as that of the crowd in the streets, whose desire was the total abolition of the Communist system. This paper shows that the Liberalisers, who can be called the “Communists with human face”, think a broadened dictatorship is the preference of society. This is the crucial misunderstanding in the Romanian events. My analysis shows that the human face Communists mistakenly imagined that mass society would support them in their attempt to topple Ceausescu, but did not think they would have to deal with radicals and with a revolutionary situation. Unlike Przeworski’s scheme, in which organised forces of society enter the game in the very first stage of the transition process, the Romanian Liberalisers did not have anybody with whom to play. What is remarkable, and what the Liberalisers did not expect, is that the mass society exploded without even being aware of the split within the elite.

After 1989 the Liberalisers, in contrast with sultanism, created a kind of new feudalism: a structure composed of old party bureaucrats and Securitate members, who soon controlled or, continued to exercise control, over industry, banking and finances, and the country’s major resources. The new society formed after 1989 was closer to what the Liberalisers wanted than the mass society that took to the streets in December 1989.