East European Communities: The Struggle for Balance in Turbulent Times

By David A. Kideckel | Go to book overview

missed by anyone in the community where, today, agriculture is the only secure source of a minimal income. Away from the humor of the lottery Transylvania members speak bitterly of the destruction of the wealth represented by the CAP. In contrast to this, the slightly favorable access of the Transylvania group to mechanized means of production is the focus of great bitterness by Cringurelese. To them, the fix is in and it favors only those who continue to support a quasisocialist political economy.

Though both these extreme views are unrealistic, they are intensified by the competition and suspicion that activities like the land divisions engender. As they become part of the received wisdom of the transitional community, they facilitate further social and political breakdown. Thus, to a person, the Transylvania group members see the greed and self-centeredness of the Cringurelese as responsible for the dissolution of local agricultural production while the Cringurelese suggest the Transylvania-ites and their supporters are behind the unfair limitation of Cringurele lands. Where before there were factions on the collective, and before collectivization a universe of private farmers competing economically but cooperating socially, now there are only separate "mafia," each attempting to have its way at the expense of the other, no matter the social cost.

In closing, it is clear that agricultural privatization is not yet the panacea for local rural economies that it is thought to be in the West. Though its promise is large, its process is a convoluted one sure to strain the social and political possibilities of local communities for some time to come. This is not to say that the effort to extend privatization in the Olt Land, Romania, or elsewhere in East Europe need be limited. To the contrary, these incidents clearly suggest that, if anything, it requires a redoubling of effort and the provision of an even greater resource base to facilitate it. Above all, the case of the Hîrseni land division also suggests that the process of privatization ought be given as much attention as its end goals. Only in this way will the fledgling private agricultural systems of East Europe literally and figuratively get off the ground.


Notes
Research for this chapter was supported in part by a grant from the Intemational Research and Exchanges Board (IREX), with funds provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the U.S. Department of State. None of these organizations is responsible for the views expressed.
1.
The circumstances behind the political actions that toppled Ceatșescu are still murky and the source of rumor in Romania. Because of the quick rise to power of former communists, many Romanians now consider the dictator's fall to have been a coup d-etat, and no longer speak of the December 1989 actions as a revolution, but merely the "events."

-61-

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