25 years have past since the Romanian Revolution ended the regime of Stalinist dictator; Ceausescu. Romania has become a member of the European Union and is called a democracy. But has the revolution of 1989, truly brought liberty and justice? The answer is NO, the winners of the revolution were the former Stalinist bureaucrats, who became the new ruling class. Capitalism created massive poverty and deep disillusion in democracy. Only 41% of all people came to vote for the 2012 elections, proofing how little trust there is in politicians!
From 1965 until 1989, the Romanian working class was oppressed by Nicolae Ceausescu. This dictator was installed as absolute leader of the Romanian Communist Party after Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej died. The working class suffered under Ceausescu’s totalitarian nationalist regime disguised as socialist. The ”Great Leader” even changed the name of his nation to ”Socialist Republic of Romania” in order to portray his personal kingdom as a socialist nation. After a visit to North Korea in 1971, Ceausescu wanted to rule like Kim Il Sung. He gave himself titles such as “Conducător” ( Leader ) and “Geniul din Carpați”( The Genius of the Carpathians ). Ironic to know that the fascist leader of Romania in WW2, also called himself “Conducător”!
More then 1.000 people were killed during the Romanian Revolution. But only 1/3 died while Nicolae Ceausescu was in power. Most victims fell when soldiers started shooting at each other because of confusing orders. After the dictator fled, there was massive confusion inside the ruling caste of the Romanian Communist Party. Nobody knew who was in charge and some Ceausescu loyalists started to shoot at demonstrators who burned portraits of the former ”Great Leader”!
The National Salvation Front took over the role of the Romanian Communist Party. As it controlled the state media, it was able to manipulate the first elections win-out Nicolae Ceausescu. The elections of 1990 were not free and fair, consider the fact that the media remained under state control, which now served the needs of the National Salvation Front. The goal of the new government was to introduce capitalism and market based reforms which already started partly under Nicolae Ceausescu early 1989!
Workers who took to the streets would end up as the losers of the revolution. They saw their jobs vanish in the massive waves of workplace closures and privatizations, that hit Romanian industry in the following two decades after stalinism. Deprived not only of their jobs but also of the sense of belonging to a democratic society. They became the main losers of a revolution they had made possible and risked their lives for. We see this in the fact that lesser and lesser people choose to vote in elections!
Another factor of the massive disillusionment in democracy, is because of social democratic and trade unionist betrayal. After 1989, the new Social Democratic Party in Romania fully supported the barbarity of the right-wing parties. No opposition came from the trade unions, workers were told to embrace the new dictatorship of greed. The Social Democratic Party participated in most governments, proofing their loyalty to capitalism and neoliberalism!
Then there is the anti-socialist climate, created by the capitalist media. It is very difficult for a Marxist to express his views. Because the media reacts hostile to revolutionary socialism. Anybody who rejects capitalist logic is called a ”stupid fool” or a ”stupid outdated communist” by television reporters and intellectuals. This is why there is endless propaganda about the so called ”superior free market” and how Romania became ”wealthy” under capitalism. Sure a tiny minority became wealthy, while the average wage for workers is just 423 euros ( 480 dollars ) a month!
Although capitalism rules supreme in Romania, workers have started to fight back. Some groups have been able to use left-wing ideals against the corrupt-capitalist establishment, win-out being associated with stalinism. This is possible because these groups do not call for socialism or the rule of workers. Therefore the anti-leftist media cannot brand them ”stupid communist” as they do with those who identify themselves as revolutionary socialist!
In 2013, angry workers forced the capitalist government ( made up of social democrats, national-liberals and conservatives ) to end their contract with a Canadian corporation’s gold mining project which had catastrophic social and ecological consequences. For the first time since stalinism, anti-capitalist rhetoric was heard in the streets of Bucharest. The capitalist media was unable to brand the movement of people as a ”communist” plot!
This victory proofs that workers can force the government to change. But win-out a workers party on a socialist program, Romanian politics will remain pro-capitalist and anti-worker. This is why the trade unions need to step in. Unfortunate union corruption is a huge problem and many trade union leaders rather have good paid jobs, then serving the needs of workers and their families!
Many also debate over a new party on the center-left, since it has become clear to many that the Social Democratic Party is no alternative. The SDP lost three presidential elections, mainly because of their right-wing populist campaign. The last presidential elections were won by the national-liberals, a center-right party who’s candidate was able to defeat the populist candidate of the SDP. A new party is indeed needed, but not another pro-capitalist social democratic one. What needed is a radical leftist party that rejects the European Union’s capitalist agenda and the whole market dictatorship!
Since Romania became a member of the European Union in 2007, many Romanians tried to find work in western nations. These migrant workers face discrimination, ethnic hatred and exploitation. Romanian workers work for minimum wages, are willing to obey their bosses and do not strike. This is because they are not used to fight for their rights as western workers have done. Another result of the corruption and weakness of the Romanian trade unions. Western workers are also brainwashed by right-wing populists to see the migrant workers as cultural ”backward” and ”criminal”. Romanians are branded in many western media outlets are ”petty thief’s”!
Fighting for socialism in a hostile anti-leftist climate is a huge challenge. Right-wing economics are seen as ”superior” by the media establishment and they will not back down easy. Any revolutionary socialist will need to show to the workers that capitalism is not the alternative. That it has not led to wealth for the majority of the Romanian people and that only a minority got rich. It will be the task of a workers party to brake the web of lies and present a socialist alternative for the Romanian working class. This will not be easy in a society dominated by intellectual hatred of leftism. But with 51% of all Romanians wanting dictator Nicolae Ceausescu back, it can be said that many feel that their lives did not improve under capitalism!