Time to take a brief break from all the happy stuff and talk about some real shit.
Romanians like to have collective amnesia about their history and forget that beyond all the crazy Communist Ceausescu shit, there was also a “fun” period of fascism.
Living here in Moldova, which skipped the fascist part and went straight to the Big C, I’ve been able to more clearly see the rather thin edge between what living under fascism and communism does to people.
Say the word “fascism” and, almost instantaneously, a little video reel of black and white Hitler giving the salute and screaming something to an insanely enthusiastic crowd of Germans starts playing in your head.
That was fascism, obviously, but only one particularly virulent flavor of it.
Fascism in Europe started “for realzies” with Benito Mussolini, otherwise known as Il Duce, in Italy.
Mussolini had a 20-year headstart on Hitler, so studying fascist Italy is a much better way to understand “pure” fascism. And the central themes were:
- Beat the shit out of anyone who opposes your views or find a way to kill them, whichever works best.
- The Nation is Glorious and Amazing and We Are All One People!
- Making money in sh-weet!
Yeah, I know that’s not exactly what you learned in school, but we’re not trying to write a whole book here.
You mention the word “Communism” to literally anyone on the planet and you’ll get one of two reactions:
- Only good Commie is a dead commie!
- Uh, actually, you know there’s a big difference between the theory and writings of Communism’s founders and what was actually put into practice by authoritarian regimes that…. blah, blah, blah for 10 minutes.
Unless you’ve actually lived under Communism. Then what you remember is:
- We’re promising you a dream world, Comrades! Just work a little harder, and we’ll get there soon!
And, honestly, if you can set aside the pure insanity of the Lenin-Stalin period, Communism actually smoothed out a lot of the rough edges. Once all the land war in Asia and send millions to the gulags shit was settled, the One Great Government to Rule Them All actually did start building that dream.
I mean come on, what do you say to this?
- Free schooling, including university.
- Guaranteed job placement.
- Free housing.
- A really good salary.
- Paid vacation.
- Women are freely encouraged to enter the work force.
- Women are freely encouraged to hold political office.
- Insanely good benefits if you have a kid.
- Low crime.
- All peoples and races of the world can live in harmony.
- Large and numerous parks and green spaces in every city.
- High arts centers in all big cities – drama, opera, ballet, etc.
- Train and subway architecture that is breathtakingly beautiful.
- Tens of thousands of amazing bus stops.
- Plenty of food at great prices.
Shit, sign me up!
People usually remember all the material stuff (job, house, etc.) but forget one key element that I want to single out.
It’s all that “all the races and people live together” part. And it was a central theme of Big C Communism. Look anywhere where Soviet-era art exists, and you’ll see all kinds of murals, engravings, and monuments that promote this theme.
Here in Chisinau, you can still visit the Casa Nationalitatilor or “House of Nations”. It’s currently being used as a drama theatre, but the murals and building are unchanged.
And in Romania, it meant uniting all the different ethnicities, religions, and “peoples” that live in the country. I’m not saying it was always successful, especially as Ceausescu did trip out on the Hungarians a few times, but it was definitely a far more tolerant attitude than during the previous fascist period.
Give me my fucking mici!
And now that we’re all clear on the vital distinction between fascism and communism, it’s time to discuss what’s going on in modern-day Romania.
When you see stories like Race Baiting for Fun and Profit, that’s a pure blue streak of fascism showing its ugly face in Romania. That’s saying “One Nation, One People” just because you’re in the majority.
Fascism is all about nationality uber alles. And it’s saying that there is no room for anyone else except for the majority group. Even worse, it’s also saying that the minority group has literally nothing positive to contribute to society.
It’s pretty damn fascist to get outraged about stories like this describing how Constanta is now offering social services in the Turkish language because more than 20% of the city’s population speaks Turkish.
Seriously, if you feel like that threatens your identity as a Romanian, you need to take the fascism test ASAP.
A Brave New World
Look, Communism did a great job of selling a utopia, but the system failed to deliver the dream it had promised, which was a pretty damn bitter pill to swallow.
But when we all learn to live together in a way that lets people have enough space to exist, then we all benefit.
There’s something to learn even from the crustiest old racist Szekeler living way up in the hills of Harghita. And if you open your mind enough to at least consider that he’s got something to contribute, an insight, an artistic talent, or a fresh perspective, then he might not be so angry. And all y’all might just get along!
Shocker, I know.
Romania is a really big country, something like the eighth biggest in Europe. Be an adult, quit panicking, and learn to be more confident in yourself! Time to put on your big boy pants. And quit acting like Putin wants to steal your damn land.
VIVE LA DIFFERENCE!