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Romania Was Better Under Communism

Believe it or not, this is actually a topic of debate among some circles in Romania. It reminds me of an awesome joke I heard on Radio Guerrilla.
This guy who lives in Bucharest goes back home to visit his parents in their small town, still stuck somewhere between 1972 and 1997, where one neighbour still drives a mint condition Dacia 1100 while the other feeds the chickens every morning at 5am. That kinda place. He gets there while one of the neighbours, Ionel, is out on the porch.
"Come back to visit us, eh" Ionel says.
"Well you know, I don't have much time for home visits nowadays." The guy says, detecting the underlying reproach.
"Oh, yeah, I know, I know, you big city folks have everything except time these days. Wasn't like that during communism, though," he says wistfully.
"Come on, Ionel, we don't need to go there..."
"But of course, and in some ways it was much better, really!"
"Oh stop, you're going to start telling me about all those paid vacations, the job stability, and low cost of rent again."
"No no, it's not that..."
"Well, what then, how was it better?"
"Back then, sonny boy," Ionel says holding back tears, "we were young too!"

On the surface, that's about the best argument any old timer can use to justify how Romania was better under communism. That other bullshit people talk about, like job stability, is just laziness masked as disappointment. You had stable jobs where you didn't do shit, so shut up. You had paid vacations that you didn't deserve, so shut up. You paid low rent because you lived in places that had no hot water, insulation, or anything that could be called an ammenity, so STFU. I'm generalizing a bit, but I think I'm being fair considering my personal experience growing up; I had to finish homework before a certain time when the electricity would get cut, and had to make sure I dirtied my clothes according to the hot water schedule.

After that rant, what could I possibly say to defend communism under Ceausescu?
That's another story.

I never got to second grade before the communist regime fell and in some ways I still feel a nostalgic disappointment of sorts. I missed out on becoming a "Pionier". Starting in grade two, students attended a ceremony where they were given a red scarf with a pin and they had to recite the following oath:
"I, (surname, first name), as a new entrant into the ranks of the Pionier Organization, do solemnly promise to love my country, to be a good student, to be hard-working and disciplined, and to honour this red scarf with the Tricolor (the Romanian flag)." I already knew the oath by heart in first grade. It was inspiring. I wanted to be all those things for my country. This is while I knew full well that my parents were against Communism and Ceausescu, and that they were being persecuted daily for being dissidents (will have to write a post about that someday). Becoming a Pionier was something else though, I didn't need to believe all that crap about Ceausescu being our hero to want to do right by my country.  It seemed perfectly natural to strive for all those things.

Much like the devil and his lie, the greatest lie that the Romanian people have ever been told is that to be patriotic is to be a communist. Of all the lies that we have swallowed since 1990, why is this the one that we chose to believe? I have no doubt that we can trace the roots of all our current problems in Romania to the lack of pride. A lack of pride in a job well done, otherwise new buildings would look new a lot longer than they do and investors would know we're dependable enough people to hire. A lack of pride in our communities, otherwise they'd be spotless. A lack of pride in ourselves, otherwise we'd do a lot more than just complain. And finally, a lack of pride in our country, otherwise it wouldn't be in the shape it is now.

Communism did one thing right, it instilled pride in us. That pride made us a country that was actually better regarded on the international stage than it is now. It created people who had wonderful achievements as athletes, as scientists, and engineers. That pride has now been replaced by the basest form of cynicism, by political opportunism, and a disdain for all things Romania. So when I say, "Romania was better under communism", am I wrong?


  1. AnonymousJuly 14, 2012

    I'm disgusted that you'd find something positive about Communism and saddened that it is true. Apperently, the absence of a volunteering culture is due to the fact that romanians equate volunteering with "patriotic work" from back in the day. how can you have a society without colectivity? - Me, of course :)


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