Historian Mădălin Hodor, researcher at the National Council for the Study of Security Archives (CNSAS), analyzed five myths related to the communist period. He argues that although myths sometimes have a real basis, the facts are not really known by those who miss those times.
Hodor: “The idea of an independent and sovereign Romania, a big piece of crap” Photo: Archive
The CNSAS researcher pointed out that some Romanians wrongly believe that if during the communist period everyone had a job, it meant that everyone was also efficient in what they did.
“In principle, it was so. During the communist period there were laws that forbade people from not having a job. For example, law 153, which faces the so-called parasitism. The communist regime was indeed promoting this matter. The reality was completely different. Although everyone had a job, the communist regime practiced disguised unemployment. The efficiency of these tens of millions of workers was almost nil. In many situations due to the non-fulfillment of the production plan, which was a very common issue, people were not paid. Or there were situations where for months the factories entered the so-called technical revisions. Actually a disguised form of saying that either there was no raw material or there was no energy to enable the factories to operate. It was a kind of technical unemployment, but it was not called technical unemployment. The communist regime made a big show of the fact that everyone had a job, in contrast to the capitalist world. In reality, although everyone was scripturally framed somewhere, in reality not everyone was working in the modern sense of the word.” explained the historian Mădălin Hodor, for Mainnews.ro
Regarding the belief that during the communist period all Romanians had a house, the researcher mentions that those houses were actually rented from the state, and that they were not in good conditions.
“A myth, like the other one with jobs, that starts from a reality that it mystifies. During the communist period, many houses were built. The level of urbanization has increased. As a result, people got apartment. They were not in personal property, but in the state. Most lived there on the basis of a contract. Most often it was housing built around industrial centers. They paid a monthly rate of some kind on these homes. Today, an overwhelming proportion of the population is home ownership. Then they were actually tenants of the state. Of course, for a whole generation the idea of moving to the country from very underdeveloped localities to the city to a modern apartment with a toilet in the house and utilities represented a considerable advance, and probably from here many remember with nostalgia. Most of these were nowhere near very good dwellings. Being built to plan, they were pretty bad,” emphasized Hodor.
Regarding the myth that in the given period “foods were healthier”, the CNSAS researcher stated that the reality was completely different, and unlike now, there was no obligation for manufacturers to disclose on product labels everything they contained.
“False thing again. The agriculture that was practiced during the communist period was an intensive agriculture. Herbicides were used on a large scale, all kinds of chemicals were used… Most of the time these chemicals were used by ear, without any rules. The population was not told how tomatoes or cucumbers were produced. Also, in the case of sausages, they were produced from scraps or even had compounds such as glues. Nothing was said to exist in the composition of these products. Today you can read on the label of a food product what it contains“, said the historian.
Hodor: “The idea of an independent and sovereign Romania, a big piece of crap”
The historian also explained that Nicolae Ceaușescu's policy, between the 70s and 80s, was based on the idea of ”sovereignty and independence”, and accuses that this “it was actually a big piece of crap“.
“He owed a lot to Romania during that period. This was also one of the reasons for economic growth. This was not due to the performance of the Romanian economy, but to these credits. They generated GDP growth in a short period, but then proved to be an extremely heavy burden on the backs of the Romanian people. Nicolae Ceaușescu started this policy of sovereignty starting from the idea that someone has something with Romania. The idea of an independent and sovereign Romania was actually a big piece of crap. It was economic and social suicide. You cannot function as a completely watertight country. Nicolae Ceaușescu, following this policy, banned any import of foreign technology. You realize how this policy was when he had imported in the 70s western technology, various industrial facilities, which needed spare parts. It reached a situation where, by banning imports, Ceaușescu sabotaged his own industry. The Romanians could not replace those spare parts. This is also one of the reasons for the economic disaster at the end of the 80s. Indeed, Romania was independent and sovereign in the sense of Nicolae Ceaușescu, but it was as independent and sovereign as North Korea is today“, Hodor told the quoted source.
Last but not least, Mădălin Hodor also debunked the myth that in communism “school was school”, drawing attention to the fact that Ceaușescu wanted citizens educated according to his visions and not according to the aspirations of each person, mentioning other shortcomings of that policy.
“And here is a matter of debate. It also depends on where we start from. In the early years, communism produced a high level of literacy, but it had less of an effect on the older generations. In terms of numbers, higher education experienced an increase compared to the interwar period. As happened in other fields, everything that started well in the communist period ended badly. Why? Nicolae Ceaușescu intervened and impressed upon education the idea that it must be useful. Useful in the sense that it must produce working people and less researchers, people in the social sciences or humanities. This component was reduced almost to a minimum by promoting polytechnic studies, which produced on the assembly line hundreds of thousands of engineers who could no longer be absorbed in factories that were bankrupt. So the policy at the macro level was disastrous. Now, referring to what these people say who say that education was more serious, it must be said that education was based on storing data and reproducing it absolutely mechanically. It was an education system that bombarded schoolchildren with dozens and hundreds of things that were completely useless and made no sense. Indeed, a bit more knowledge was gained than perhaps today, when things are a bit more focused on the respective profile. During the communist period, education was linked to party politics, that is, it had to produce citizens about whom only the party and the state had to say in which direction they were going. Today education is completely different. The wishes and aspirations of each student are taken into account”. the historian also said.