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Romania Confronts its Communist Past

Book description

Reckoning with mass crimes perpetrated by an ideologically driven regime entails engaging in a thorough-going exploration of its utopian foundations. In the case of Romania, such an analysis requires an interpretation of the role of personality in the construction of a uniquely grotesque and unrepentant form of neo-Stalinist despotism. Of all the revolutions of 1989, the only violent one took place in Romania. Confronting its communist past therefore involves addressing the abuses committed by the communist regime up to its very last day, its failure to engage in Round Table-type agreements with democratic representatives, and the repression during the first post-communist years, a direct legacy of the old regime. This book shows how moral justice can contribute to a restoration of truth and a climate of trust in politics, in the absence of which any democratic polity remains exposed to authoritarian attack.


'Tismaneanu and Stan’s Romania Confronts its Communist Past furnishes a signal contribution to our understanding of post-despotic justice and healing. Drawing on a profound understanding of the history and psychology of totalitarianism as well as a matchless grasp of the Romanian case, Tismaneanu and Stan shed light on why sound constitutions and decent economic performance are insufficient to consolidate robust democracy in societies previously rent by abusive rulers. Appearing at time when observers mull a post-truth and post-trust politics and when substantial portions of Western publics appear to be unlearning the lessons of twentieth-century nightmares, Romania Confronts its Communist Past reminds us that democracy’s endurance rests on moral commitment and dedication to truth-telling no less than on workable institutions and technically competent officials.'

Steven Fish - University of California, Berkeley

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