Stalinism Revisited: The Establishment of Communist Regimes in East-Central Europe

By Vladimir Tismaneanu | Go to book overview

CRISTIAN VASILE


Propaganda and Culture
in România at the Beginning of the
Communist Regime

In the aftermath of the communist takeover, high on the Românian Communist Party's to-do-list was the creation of a Soviet-type culture. According to the official discourse, this new culture was going to be the creation of the working class. But it is no surprise that its genesis was attentively and exclusively monitored by the communist leadership. The agency designed for such purpose was the dreaded Propaganda and Agitation Department, an institution attached to the party's Central Committee.

The present paper has two parallel goals. It analyzes the activity of the Propaganda and Agitation Department during the Stalinist period (1948-53). And, it presents the changes within the Arts Unions, and other cultural and educational institutions. By the end of the article, I will attempt a few conclusions that serve as clues for a dilemma that has been haunting the Românian post-communist cultural milieu. Namely, I will look into the questions of why did so many Românian intellectuals accept the terms of the communist propaganda? And, more precisely, into why did they not rebel, especially after 1953?

I am predominantly relying upon archival materials issued by this Department. The documents were recently de-classified as a consequence of the research activities carried out in 2006 by the Presidential Commission for the Analysis of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania. Their declassification, however, was incomplete due to political reasons. The most obvious is the fact that Ion Iliescu, former president of România between 1990 and 1996, and again between 2000 and 2004, was head of the Propaganda Department in the 1960s. After the 1989 revolution he unsurprisingly avoided an honest assessment of

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