2017-12-08

Disinformation And The Centennial Of The Great Union

By Ion Aurel Pop*

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In the context of the “information war,” carried out with methods more sophisticated than ever, countermeasures against unfriendly propaganda are required. Decision factors in Romania are meant — and have the obligation — to shed light on the truth how much it is humanly possible. Thus, we salute the Romanian Academy’s launching of LARICS which operates under the coordination of the Ion I.C. Brătianu Institute of Political Science and International Relations, led by the prestigious expert Dan Dungaciu, professor at the University of Bucharest. Researchers and analysts recruited by this academic structure are analyzing methods and strategies used in the information war, that affect Romania and the European Union and that come especially from the Russian and Hungarian sides. The focus of the think tank’s labor on areas and environments where these propaganda messages could destabilize Romania and catch best the publics attention, i.e., where the trust in institutions and leaders is the lowest, can correct the image that this deceived segment of the Romanian public opinion. One direction of destabilizing through hostile propaganda refers to the foundation of the national and unitary Romanian state in 1918.

The past, beyond any form of manipulation and propaganda, is difficult to understand. This difficulty comes from an issue that is relatively simple: history-knowledge (some call it history-discourse) can never overlap perfectly with history-reality. In other words, reality cannot be renewed -never!- and copied as it was, but can only be reconstituted with approximation, depending on the available sources and knowledge. In addition, different historians have different views, views that generate different interpretations of the past (which is also a life dimension). Historians are people, too, with ideas inherited from family, with a level of education, with political and philosophical opinions, etc. Thus, there are produced different world frescoes, the permanent need for historical investigation being multiplied.

The past, being indeed a changing life, is very tempting. It has many fans who would like to know it without having the necessary tools. Those who decipher the past this way are not, usually, specialists but amateurs. This amateurism manifests, though, even at some professional historians, who have deeply taught themselves how to reconstitute the past, but, for various reasons, do not study it anymore depending on the messages of the sources. On the other hand, some do not manage to reach these sources, given that reaching them requires a higher education, an education that is difficult and long-lasting, an education that they do not have it. On the other hand, some have the means to reach these sources easily – especially those sources from more recent eras, elaborated in unencrypted languages – but prefer not to do it. The reasons that some experts do not go to these sources have to do with specific philosophical conceptions. For example, Francis Fukuyama’s idea about “the end of history” opens the appetite for free speculation, given that people are no longer on the zenith but on the dawn or decline. To others, the post-modern approach to contemporary reality is sufficient for those who sustain post-truth to repudiate the accurate reconstruction of the frescoes of the past.

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In today’s philosophical circles, the nature of communication is often discussed. For these theoreticians, today’s communicators do not have the mission to explain reality to people nor to make it accessible, but to construct a new reality – or new realities for that matter – dependent on ideas of their commanders, of interest groups, of communication leaders. Throughout decades and centuries, approaches to the notion of Truth have changed.

Correspondence Truth (or equivalence) = discourse and theory need to be adapted as much as possible to reality. The specialists’ ideas reflect reality as it is; they describe it and present it to people in the most approximate manner.

Coherence Truth (from Kant until now) = ideas are true if they are compatible with the overall picture of ideas considered at the moment to be true and if they do not contradict these ideas.

Meaning Truth Theory = signs and codes used for communication built reality by themselves, and this virtual reality becomes truth; truth manifests according to utility. Therefore, truth can be different for each group of people and even for every individual, according to the principle that a dollar means something for those who only have 50 cents and something entirely else for those who have a million dollars.

This limitless relativization of truth has led, in general, implicitly and inevitably, to the relativization of historical truth, which, for some, does not even exist anymore. As a consequence, it does not need to be sought. From this follows that any way of doing history, according to impressions on the moment, to social command, to someone’s interest, to public taste, to sales of history books, etc. However, this type of discourse is no longer the product of the specialist’s labor, but the imagination of the amateur — although he or she is a specialist according to the diploma. That being said, even the specialist can be an amateur through the way of crafting discourse.

Constructing alternative truths are the new frescoes of our past relativizes the past in a way that minimalizes history. It ironizes history; it makes it fall into the public’s eye. One is to commit a mistake involuntarily – a errare humanum est – in the reconstruction of a fragment and another is to place the “error” as a premise and say that any painting about the past is acceptable because everything is relative.

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Some followers of the truth-meaning theory accept it involuntarily, without realizing its history, because ignorance and insolence are fashionable today. Disdain for the veridical reconstruction of history can be observed in today’s two extreme approaches on Romanians’ history.

We, Romanians, did nothing or almost nothing in the past and, as a consequence, it is advisable to recognize this in studies, books, monographs, syntheses, manuals and to present people, especially to the younger generations, our nothingness.

We, Romanians, have been everything in this world, but, out of plain stupidity, modesty, and complots, well-orchestrated against us, we do not present ourselves to the world as we truly are, as “geniuses of humanity,” as “parents of civilization.”

The first type of approaches entails a series of minimalist ideas, sustained through extractions from the Romanian written history of some selected examples, as well as filling, ignoring, and concealing some historical processes and facts. Advocates of these opinions claim that Romania’s past has been altered irremediably by identitarian and nationalist myths, needing to be eliminated. These myths, they say, can be found throughout the written Romanian history, from the first chroniclers up to this day (apparently without any exception). In other words, all the Romanian historians, both unskilled and great, have had it wrong, most times intentionally, in order to grasp a mightiness of the Romanian people, to respond to social commands, to sink into politics, etc. What do these critics propose? Paradoxically, they do not advise to seek and reveal the truth, but a relativized re-writing of history. They wish to claim that Romanians do not have a precise origin because they are neither Dacians, Romans, Daco-Romans, nor Slavs. But they can be Cumans, half-breeds, etc. That the Romanization process and its continuity do not exist, that the Romanian people do not have a precise location when it comes to their formation, that we do not have nor cohesion, nor unity. As a consequence, in Medieval times, Romanians were subjected entirely to their neighbors, our rulers have always been beaten on the battlefield, and we had no contribution in defending the Western world – implicitly, not defending the builders of the great cathedrals, etc. As a rightful consequence, Mihai the Brave was only the leader of some mercenaries, ascribed to rulers who paid well; the idea of a Romanian unity was never in the minds of average Romanians; unification had been made through the will of the great powers, helped by an eccentric and exalted local elite that copied behaviors from Western peoples. Nationalists would be – according to the judgments of these exegetes – not only the historians, but also other intellectual elites, from poets such as Mihai Eminescu, George Coșbuc, and Octavian Goga, to artists, musicians, theologians, etc. In conclusion, Romanians would not be generous, welcoming, hardworking or resourceful, but only pitiful survivors, some anonymous passers through life, bad toward foreigners, even xenophobes, egocentrics, animated by gregarious spirit, cowards, a mass of people easily modeled, without will or ideals.

The other approaches represent the opposite of the first, extracting from history only the glorious confessions, those that had represented absolute Romanian priorities in the world, those that would highlight our grandeur as a unique and even chosen people. Most of those who advocate for such perspectives start from historical sources with a distorted interpretation. They notice only criticisms addressed to the Romanians’ destiny and are frustrated by those who question its continuity, Romanization and late participation in the Crusades, offering explanations that make all these criticisms superfluous. Therefore, starting out from the famous appreciation, more metaphorical, of Herodotus [1] — the Getae were of the Thracian family, and the Thracians were the most people in the world after the Indians — these “exegetes” claim that the Daco-Getae dominated the European world, at least from the Atlantic Ocean to the Ural Mountains, and that Romanians are the true Dacians, who used to speak in a Latin-like language before the Romans, that the Dacians were Christians before Christ, that they had created an empire and a superior civilization, unique,  unrepeatable, with savants who knew medicine, botany, astronomy, etc. Consequently, Romanians did not need in their own history nor the Romans, nor the Romanization, nor the continuity. One of the embarrassing books that claimed, two decades ago, that such hilarious ideas were called “We are not Romans, we are Romanians!” Romanians are more ancient than even the Dacians, because they are the global creators of the writing, in accordance with the tablets from Tartaria and Sinaia, with the famous corpus „Rohonczi/ Rohonczy/ Rohonc,” etc. Although professional historians have spoken innumerable times, scientifically — using established and verified methods — in connection with all these sources, demonstrating their real importance, relativity and even falsity, the defenders of Romanian primordialism do not give up, continuing their triumphal march, despite the great damage toward the Romanian people, often seen by Westerners as an unreliable, speculation, ignorance and lying..

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What are the origins of the two perspectives, often privileged by the press, because they are “in trend,” because they stir interest for broad categories of ignorant and less knowledgeable readers, and because they have more successful visitors? These are exaggerations — sometimes even caricatures – of the two most important currents of thought in modern Romanian culture.

The European perspective, opened to the world and pro-Western, that notices, with regret and critical spirit, the backwardness of Romanians in relation with the cultural and civilization standards of West Europe.

The protochronist, autohtonist, and oriental one, that was finding the charm of our traditions, our own rhythm of life, “the eternity born in the rural,” “the strength of the Romanian peasant, living by survival and stagnation, etc.

Both currents have had their own icons, first-hand intellectuals leading them. For the first one, it is enough to mention Titu Maiorescu – with his famous theory of “shapes without substance” – and Eugen Lovinescu – he who saw in our synchronization with Western Europe the secret for modernizing Romania. For the second perspective, we have Eminescu, Iorga, and Blaga, who were atypical, because in their praise for Romanians and the Romanian identity, in their passeisme and conservativism we can also find the incontestable modern ideas of European integration, of appreciating and accepting general human values. The exacerbation, vulgarization, and caricaturing of these two currents, both honorable and sustainable, began in the twentieth century, but manifested itself in plenary after the Second World War, at first under the communist regime.

 

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Propaganda voluntarily intervenes when approaching the past is made tendentious, due to some political interests, with the goal of influencing public opinion.

As the centennial of the Great Union approaches, more and more critical voices are heard with concern for the acts of 1918, voices from outside Romania, as well as from within the country.  Let’s analyze them one at a time!

On December 1, 1918, only one province united with Romania – Transylvania — when Romania was already old, large, and independent. We need to note that the united territories on December 1 represented approximately 40% of today’s Romanian population and area, and not an infinite quantum, as it was insinuated.

The “miracle” of 1918 was undeserved because Romanians had fought only two years, between 1916-1918 – and not continuously – and had taken more than they actually deserved. False! The majority of Romanians – meaning our forefathers from Bessarabia, Bukovina, Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, and those from the South of the Danube – have entered the war, directly or not, in the summer of 1914, without being asked if they wish, along with the empires and nations that they belonged to and had sacrificed hundreds of thousands until 1918. The “miracle” also refers to the following fact: everyone knew that if Romania had joined the Antanta Alliance and Antanta had won the war, they would have had to renounce to Bessarabia. And if they had entered the Triple Alliance, of the Central Powers, then Romania would have said goodbye to Bukovina, Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, and Maramureș. Or, Romania, by national will, had doubled down on everything imaginable, meaning the provinces with an absolute or relative Romanian majority. (Bukovina was the only one that, as a consequence of massive political actions of denationalization, of the Austro-Hungarians, had a relative Romanian majority.)

More important than the great union of December 1 would be the 1877 independence. Only that the proclaimed independence, on 9-10 May, 1877, referred to barely 85 square miles, only one-third of the area of Greater Romania. Of course, Romania’s independence of 1877 was significant for Romanians from Dobruja, Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, Sătmar, Maramureș, Bukovina, and Bessarabia. (They, too, had sacrificed themselves for this independence of the motherland!) However, it did not impact them immediately and directly, because they were citizens of other nations.

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However, December 1 accounts for too few Romanians, in relation to the population mass and with the adjoined territories to the Romanian kingdom, in 1918. In the strictest sense, this fact might be true, only that the national day, of December 1, isn’t only to celebrate the unification with Transylvania, but also marks everything that happened back then. This means that it is a symbol of the entire year of 1918. In that year, 3 large and historical provinces united with the nation, through decisions taken and recognized by representative assemblies. These 3 provinces were Bessarabia, Bukovina, and Transylvania. On December 1, a longstanding process ended; from a landscape of 85 square miles and a population of 7.2 million in 1914, Romania now had an area of 183 square miles and a population of 15 million in 1918. In other words, given these facts, one could say that in 1918 not the mentioned provinces united with Romania, but Romania merged with them (circa 99 square miles). Thus, on National Day, we commemorate that whole “astral hour,” from the end of World War I, when Romanians took matters into their own hands and decided to live in Romania.

The first of December is not suitable as a holiday because in that period of the year it is winter and cold. And we know that Romanians like to go and have a picnic when they are happy. It’s irresistible! Christmas also falls during winter. Why shouldn’t we celebrate national day, following such logic, closer to summer? On the other hand, January 24, May 10, and August 31 (Romanian language Day) can be very well celebrated, so as December 1. There are countries around us that have three national holidays, and nobody is upset.

The current national day might offend the Hungarian cohabitants, who – besides not being consulted in 1918 – feel frustrated and offended by our holiday because Transylvania had been dismantled from Hungary then. Technically, that was the case: when Romanian tripled its area in 1918, Transleithania (the Eastern half, declared “Hungarian,” of the bicefal empire) dismantled. Let us not forget that Hungary did not exist as an independent state, but as a subject of international law from 1541 to 1920 and that, between 1918-1920, it lost two-thirds of its territory. We are ignoring — for this article — the fact the Hungary lost in 1918 Croatia, Slovakia, Transylvania, and other territories, meaning the territories without a Hungarians majority, while Romania obtained only historical provinces with a Romanian (absolute or relative) majority. But as there is a measure at hand, the great national celebration of the Hungarians everywhere, on March 15, is not an occasion of a historical oath for Romanians, because then (March 15, 1848), in Bratislava (without consulting the Romanians and against their will), took place the “unification of Transylvania with Hungary”. In other words, both holydays have boomerang effects for each of the two peoples, if historical significance is taken into account. That’s how it happens all over between neighbors. The Hungarians’ decisions, on March 15, 1848, could not be reached at the scale of history (because Hungarians and Szeklers represent about 24% of Transylvania’s population), whereas the ones decided by the Romanians on December 1, 1918, were transposed into practice Romanians accounted for two-thirds of the province’s population). And the decision of the Romanians has been confirmed (repeatedly) by international treaties. Where is the injustice? Of course, there is no absolute justice — philosophy is no longer looking for it today. However, if the Romanians were wrong in 1918, by the decisions taken in Kishinev, Cernăuţi and Alba Iulia, the great powers would have sanctioned them, because they did not kill too much love for the Romanians and Romania. Between 1919-1920, the great powers did only to approve what the Romanians had decided in 1918.

Romanians from Transylvania would not have wished unification, the nation being backward and Balkan, thus unification being planned by a group of nationalist intellectuals. The answer to this conceited assertion, of the Hungarian elite, was a given in that era, through the voice of Alexandru Vaida-Voevod, heard in the parliament in Budapest, in 1914. “Concerning Hungarian culture, and it is still young, as the Romanian one. But even if the case was not about the Hungarian culture, but about the French one, our culture is still developing, it’s living its childhood years. It manifests itself beautifully, and this new culture is more precious to us than any other foreign culture becomes it is the manifestation of our spiritual lives, it reflects our feelings’ and emotions’ lives.”

All data that we dispose of today show that the majority of Romanians wished the unification of Transylvania with the motherland and that they expressed this firmly, taking into consideration the democratic exigencies of the days. It is clear that some Romanians from Transylvania (according to us, around 10%) did not wish to unite with Romania, but that does not change much. Moreover, the international community has appreciated the act of national will of the Romanians, expressed in the year 1918, and has recognized the realities decided by them. When it was possible, especially in Bukovina, but as well as in Bessarabia and Transylvania, minorities were asked about their identity, some claiming their belonging to Romania. (This happened before 1918.) Insinuating that only a group of intellectuals have imposed unification sounds ridiculous. First of all, it is offensive to the mass of Romanian intellectuals who sincerely militated for the unification. Second, it is not unusual for a people to follow and be led by its elites. Romanians from Transylvania had been condemned by their oppressors not to be led by powerful political and economic leaders, but, until late, only priests and teachers, meaning intellectuals, resulted from their breast, and close to them. But they – Romanians from Transylvania – have always had elites, who represented their salvation. Decades before unification, priests, and teachers would not end their religious services and lessons without telling the congregation and pupils that “the Romanian sun rises in Bucharest.” It is enough to follow available historical documents, authority reports, ASTRA verbal processes, political party protocols, professional associations to prove how unification was planned from the bottom to the top, and from the most sophisticated and learned academic circles to the Romanian villages. It is clear that the intellectual elite has stimulated the great union, who intensively made the people aware of the unification spirit, who convinced them of the good that was to come. But who would condemn this and why? The slogan of the Transylvanian elite, back then, was “Go with the people so that you won’t stray” Therefore, the rulers, separated from the people, guided, justified and supported the aspirations of the people, and the people followed their rulers. Neither of the paths chose by the people (the large masses) were not infallible, but elites and plebes, at least from 1848 to 1918.

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“The new points of view,” previously evoked, were not fabricated recently – as the grand centennial of the great union approaches – but they are not recycled now, out of wet luck. These have a long history behind them. On the one hand, they originate from the arsenal of revisionist nationalists (especially from Hungary), that has always harvested, in the century that surpassed 1918, the idea of “historical injustice” against Hungary. This injustice was made by the superpowers, superpowers that offered a gift to Romania, a Balkan and backward country, i.e., the flourishing province named Transylvania, “enlightened” for over a millennium by the “civilizators from the Carpathian basin,” i.e., the Hungarians. The language of the detractors of the union is not the same now – meanwhile, expressions were chiseled, they were Europeanized – but it can be easily deciphered by reading through the lines. With this simple interpretation, the kind of revisionism can be spotted, a kind of revisionism that is unfriendly toward the Romanian people. On the other hand, after the formation, by Leninist Moscow, of a section of its Communist party in Bucharest, in 1921, periodically, especially with its meteoritical congresses of this far-left political formation, Romanian communists were ordered to fight for the dismantlement of Romania, called “an imperialist, multinational state.” The same happened in the first decade of effective communism (1948-1958) – the “obsessive decade” in literature – when Roller’s theses expressed the same anti-Romanian ideas. In other words, not long ago, bruising the Great Union was a thing, disciplined and organized, by the USSR and its fifth column, the Party of the Communist from Romania. Common points of the two assaults are easily noticed: the unification was unjust, meticulously planned by a group of intellectuals (nationalists/ bourgeois), but mainly by the great powers (Western/Imperialist winners). Bringing back these clichés to attention, of the old propaganda, can be explained by the fact that the centennial is near, as I said before. The coming of this centennial happens:

  1. in the context of a dangerous recrudescence of nationalism in Hungary in these years, a recrudescence condemned even by the European bodies of which Hungary belongs.
  2. In the midst of an acute territorial conflict between Ukraine and Russian (the USSR legacy), on the basis of which the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact is positively valued by some and because of which border security in the region is threatened. We put aside the strange closeness between Hungary and Russia, which the enemies of the 1918 Union are simply accustomed to.

Unsatisfied voices with the formation of the unified Romania gather now, with the occasion of the centennial, and use various forms to express themselves. Due to a lack of historical culture of current public opinion, internal forces that harvest historical relativism, and who are against the idea of a Romanian unity, are backed by some located outside the country. To prepare the festivities for the centennial of the great union, the Romanian state has created a governmental body led by a state secretary. Meanwhile, the structure of this “department” has already changed, but the strategies and tactics are not clear, especially given the fact that it does not have an approved budget and does not mention the ways of raising funds from other sources. Meanwhile, in Hungary, “The Group of Scientific Researchers of the Academy of Hungarian Sciences – Elan Trianon 100,” although it does not feature as a governmental entity, it is in fact heavily funded by authorities. It forms a formidable team of historians, art historians, literature historians, and sociologists, benefiting from a substantial funding, staggered over five years. The team’s goal is to elucidate the circumstances and conditions in which peace treaties were signed — the most important being the one from Trianon — treaties that led to the “punishment” of Hungary, to the deprivation of “two-thirds of its territory and the population.” At least this is what the Hungarian official discourse expresses. A country that, although allied with Romania in NATO and a member, like Romania, of the EU, did not allow, in 2016, its diplomats to participate at the ceremonies of Romania’s national day. Unfortunately, the arsenal of ideas of the Hungarian circles that mourn the great Romanian unification is offered mostly by Romanians who cultivate the blame of national history, who reject Romanian unity, demanding various historical autonomies, condemning “miticisms” and “balkanism” to undermine Romania. I foresee that by taking things out of context, Romania will be criticized for nationalism, for the exalting of the 1918 act through its state policy, and Hungary will be praised for objectivity, critical historical research, for the disinterested elucidation of the shadows of the past.

On this account, that Romanians had lived until the 19th century in two distinct countries and historical provinces that were parts of foreign empires. It is, insistently, yield the idea of a Romanian division, of the “invention” of the name Romania, of the novelty of the idea of political unity and a different civilization in Transylvania, than in the extra-Carpathian regions. From the arsenal of eras that I thought history had left behind and of some totalitarian ideologies condemned by historians, theoretical ideas are being revitalized – ethnic-demographic majorities are relative, and their will does not matter anymore. Likewise, the peoples without an old statehood are peoples without history, thus having limited rights; territorial autonomies on ethnic basis have old roots, historically verified. Clearly, about the Romanians’ past and Romanian realities, old slogans are being insinuated, updated through recent adjustments: Romanians are a young people, they’ve entered history recently, Wallachians and Romanians are two different people. Transylvania has no historical connections with Romania’s history; Iancu of Hunedoara’s name should be changed to Ioan of Hunedoara; the word Napoca should be removed from the name of the city Cluj-Napoca; the national anthem – that expresses retrograded ideas – must be replaced, etc. Some of these “adjustments” may seem harmless: to say Ioan instead of Iancu does not change much, only that it removes us from the essence of a diminished Romanian form (Iancu also comes from Ioan) and the approach to the name of a Romanian national hero – Avram Iancu; eliminating the term Napoca from Cluj-Napoca would erase millennia of history, the very Daco-Roman roots of the Romanians.

The Hungarian propaganda is taking place in Hungarian and, especially, in international languages, often discreetly and indirectly, with the engagement of some personalities in different domains. The denigration aspect is best seen in the Hungarian press in Szeklerland. Although its systematic circumvention of the Romanian language and state symbols, of denying, de facto, the right of some Romanian citizens to settle there, territorial autonomy is hailed, petitions often being sent to the EU on the issue of minority-rights violations of Hungarian ethnics from Romania. Of course, not all these actions are launched by the Hungarian authorities or official Romanian institutions of the Hungarian community. We are also talking about individual stances, or of marginal groups, of non-governmental organizations, and others alike, which, viewed as a whole, offer the impression of a Hungarian general trend, hostile toward Romanians and Romania. Although the breadth of these facts is broad and heterogeneous – from not allowing Hungarian diplomats to participate at the festivities of Romania’s national day to the welcoming of Romanian athletes, in Hungary, with racist slurs – it is being imposed in our consciousnesses the impression of a clear-cut anti-Romanian movement.  Obviously, almost every time there are similar counter-actions from Romanians.

Some of these denigrating activities captivate the wide public, especially abroad, and because of our own lack of seriousness, manifested through the Dacist (Tracist) current, that place the Daco-Getae as the root of all European people, with a primary language from which Latin originates, with priorities in all areas of inquiry, from writing and astronomy to architecture and medicine, etc. Denigrating Romanian history and way of life is easily attainable because the essential data necessary here are offered by the other extreme in the Romanian culture, that which accepts only the Romanians’ nothingness, their gregarious spirit, of a people without will, of a tedious mass, “a shadow without a skeleton,” formed only from “fatibular faces,” “with vulgar mouths,” “lazy,” with an “aqueous mixture” for a brain, with a history where everyone “had urinated” on us and from which the Romanian language has resulted, “a language only good for cursing.” Another variant of these extreme states is that we don’t know our real past because all great historians and people of culture from Romania have operated following nationalist myths. Having this blue background – prepare by some of us – it is straightforward for the so-called external factors to counter our national unity, the act of December 1, 1918, the idea of a Romanian solidarity as a people and as a nation.

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But how and when, I wonder, did the Romanians within the Carpathian Mountains wish to be part of a Romanian nation, and to live under Romanian political structures, under the protection of some Romanian institutions? Because during our authentic communism, especially in the last decade of Ceausescu regime’s existence, many exaggerated with the slogan “the century-old struggle of the Romanian people for unity, permanence, and continuity,” but also for other reasons such ideas, especially after 1989, were completely rejected, minimized, and ridiculed. In other words, it had been written and said that such an idea never existed in Romanians’ minds. Actually, any people, from the moment of its constituency is inclined to form its own political structures, generically called State, with the purpose of organizing and conserving that ethnic group. The Romanians have done the same, starting with the end of the 1st millennium AD, making such formations as countries, judges / cneates, duchy / voivodes, gentlemen, etc. The peoples were not aware, back then, of the necessity of their own global political unities. Thus, some have remained living in different political nucleuses. Others have achieved their political unity through the will of their elites, of energetic leaders. Romania managed in the 14th century (a little late than some of their neighbors) to form two quasi-independent voivodes or two “Romanian freedoms” – as Nicolae Iorga coined them – Wallachia and Moldova. The other Romanians, on the Northern and Southern side of the Danube – in spite of some transient self-deception – had lived in foreign states, being led by masters of other faiths and languages. It is clear that Romanians were not “animated” permanently by “the desire to build their unitary, national and independent state,” since then there were other priorities of living and survival. But with time, the situation changed. Against this fragmentation, at the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age, there emerged tendencies of unity (partial or general), stimulated by the awareness of the ethnic community. Such attitudes were no longer then, around 1500-1600, the particular result of enlightened, ambitious, and visionary leaders but they came from the people’s will, from the very bottom, of communities grouped into specific political nucleus [2].

In other words, Romanians have been rooting for Romanians surely since the 16th century (there is evidence of some actions starting with the 13th – 14th century). In the 16th century, Grigore Ureche and Miron Costin, as well as Constantin Cantacuzino Stolnicul, showed the origin of unity, of language, and of faith, of the extra-Carpathian Romanians with those from Transylvania. At the beginning of the 18th century, Dimitrie Cantemir was the first Romanian savant, of European ranks, who familiarized others with the Romanian unity and Latinity, having scientific arguments, in large-scale works written in Latin. In the 18th century, the struggle for the national emancipation of Romanians from Transylvania was starting. It was held on different plans: a religious one, the unification with Rome’s Church; a political one, the memorials to the Vienna Court and other European chancelleries and forums; the Supplex Libellus Valachorum movement; a social one, Horea’s riot; a cultural one, Transylvanian school. In this phase of the national struggle in Transylvania, we cannot discuss the unification of Transylvania with Romanian, given that the Romanian state did not exist at that point in history. That’s why we are discussing in terms of obtaining national political rights for Romanians in Transylvania and Hungary, and only there were Romanians formed the majority. It is not about preferential rights for these Romanians, but only about their equality with members of the official nations and the recognized religious confessions. However, the links between the Transylvanian Romanians and the Oltenian, Wallachian and Moldovan ones are continuous.

In the 19th century, the movement for national emancipation of the provinces under foreign rule began, as well as the formation of the unitary nation state. The whole action has at its basis, now, the Daco-Romanian ideology. In this pan-Romanian movement, Romanians within the Carpathian Mountains have played a fundamental role. Here we can find Gheorghe Lazăr, who had introduced the Romanian language in Saint Sava college, in Wallachia; Florian Aaron as Bălcescu’s teacher; the inauguration of the University of Bucharest; Gherman Vida; monk from Maramureș, who was Kogalniceanu’s teacher; Alecsandri at the base of Sincai’s chronicle; Ioan Maiorescu, in Craiova; Damaschin Bojincă, as a professor at the Mihăilean Academy in Iași; Bărnuțiu; Ștefan Micle; Laurian; Papiu-Ilarian, and all others who hold lectures in the universities of Modern Romania. The movement for the unification of Transylvania with Romania took a clear shape only after the formation of the Romanian state, especially after Romania had gained its independence, shortly after becoming a kingdom.

Hence, if Romanians didn’t fight “for centuries for their national unity,” they enrolled in the European movement for promoting nation states, along with the other nations. They did not do it better or worse than other countries. In the 19th century and at the beginning of the next one, the most progressive movements were those meant to liberate nations from the slavery of multinational empires, directing them toward the formation of unitary nation states.  The most powerful movement of national emancipation of Romanians from provinces ruled by foreigners underwent in Transylvania. Therefore, it is clear that ideas of national unity and struggle for national emancipation and unification were not born spontaneous, through imitation or efforts of some exalted leaders with various interests. That there wasn’t unanimity in these processes, that there was also a rushing stream, that intellectuals and politicians have potentiated the ideas of Romanian unity, that the people was stirred by its leaders, all of these are well-known facts, recognized and available in the history of any population. The historian, however, before revealing the exceptions, marginal aspects, curiosities from the past, has the professional duty to make clear the main path of a society. Or, if he does not deal with these constants or predominant lines, then he has the moral and intellectual duty to state them, to not give the impression that people could or should have done what they did not do. The first and primary purpose of a professional historian is to study what was, i.e., the past, and not what it could have been, had one thing not happened. Counter-factual history – fashionable today – may offer the uninitiated convictions of some realities which, in fact, are fictional, imagined, invented.

The main Romanian timeline begins in the 20th century, in the eve of World War I, when the Romanian unitary nation state was built, by joining with Romania of all the historical provinces that had Romanian ethnic majorities. The same ideal was sown by all peoples in the Central-South-East region of Europe that were all under foreign rule for many centuries. The Romanians from Transylvania have gradually identified themselves with the ideal of freedom and national unity, which they have lived in different forms and intentions since the end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of the Modern Age. Like the Romanians in the Old Kingdom, like the Bessarabians and the Bukovinians, the Transylvanian Romanians have, for the most part, enrolled on the trajectory of the formation of the unified Romania, considering through the education provided by their leaders that the best framework for organizing, coordinating and protecting the nation was the unitary Romanian state.

* Ioan-Aurel Pop is an academician and rector of Babeş Bolyai University in Cluj Napoca. The text was presented at the opening of LARICS launch conference in the Aula of the Romanian Academy, April 26, 2017.

[1] No one was making exact censuses in the barbarous world before Christ!

[2] If, in terms of the idea of unity, things are still, in the minds of the ignorant or malicious, under the sign of doubt, the ideas of the Romanity of the Romanians are clearly attested in being present in the Romanian consciousness, in the middle Ages. In other words, some of the Romanians – and not only the educated ones – have always known that their descendants originated from the Romans, “from the first disembarkation, under Trajan, the Emperor of the Rome.”

[3] I mention that my message on the subject from the Romanian Academy was meant to sensitize Romanian officials in relation to the inadequate training of the centennial of the Great Union and to provide an example of “efficiency” in dealing with the issue of the last century since the end of the First World War. “Efficiency” was referring to the Hungarian neighbors, who, of course, are not preparing to celebrate the union of Transylvania with Romania! It is clear, after all the signals/signs/evidence that we have, that messages coming from Hungary and even from Romania are not and will not be friendly. After some passages from this text, on April 26, 2914, in the Academy’s Aula, the written and spoken press, some televisions took over – as is the case all over again – my truncated message and gave it a magnitude and size/dimension which he did not have. By my position, I did not offend anybody, but I drew attention to some realities that, untreated at the time and wisely, can even turn to the Romanian-Hungarian relations.

*Ioan-Aurel Pop is  an academician and the rector of the Babes Bolay University in Cluj Napoca.The text was presented at the opening of LARICS’s launching conference in the Aula of the Romanian Academy, April 26, 2017.

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