|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|
THE ECONOMIC POLICY
The relatively rapid, forced industrialization is undoubtedly transforming Rumanian society rapidly. The resulting mobility is not only an "upward" flow -, but also a horizontal one, a movement of population between different geographical regions. The Rumanians themselves are going through a process of integration: the regional characteristics begin to fade to a small extent. It is undoubtedly noticeable that those moving in, bring a new style and character. The process of integration is being felt, primarily among those flooding into industry, to the extent that they join the working class, become proletarianized. This may be regarded as a process of nation building as well. In it, nationalistic thinking and ideology are related to fundamental social processes.
These changes influence nationality relations too, and provide an opportunity for manipulating them, especially through urbanization that accompanies industrialization. The nationality policy prevailing in Rumanian is trying to exploit these possibilities to the greatest extent, even when this is contrary to the interest of industrialization. The latter occurs when they try to exclude from industrialization the minorities who possess the highest technical know-how. They regarded it even more important, however, to exclude them from the benefits of urbanization. They are attempting to thwart the aspirations for urbanization developing among the minorities as a result of social development, and, if these nevertheless prevail, to utilize them, to turn them in a direction suited to the nationalistic goal. It is a cardina] principle of nationality policy that the minority population of the cities is not permitted to increase, and for this reason, they are strictly limiting the settling of minorities in cities of mixed population. Hungarians are not permitted to settle at all in Kolozsvar, Nagyvarad, Arad, and other similar cities. Settlement in the Szekler cities is also strictly curtailed, but since this is a purely Hungarian region, the exclusion can not be as effective as in areas of mixed population. Nonetheless rural Szeklers can move into these only to a small extent, and they are encouraged instead to move into other cities that are open to them in purely Rumanian regions. This phenomenon is having some peculiar side effects, because the Szeklers have in recent times been settling to a greater and greater extent in neighboring Saxon cities, thus reviving an ancient, medieval trend. The Hungarian population of Brasso, Medgyes and Segesvar has grown in the past ten years. In the former two, the number of Hungarian workers was high even between the two wars, in the latter city this developed only in recent decades. Nationality policy does not take this influx into consideration in providing cultural opportunities, only in the adoption of negative measures. The Hungarian population of Segesvar doubled within ten years, yet there is no Hungarian school in it. There are more Hungarians living today in Brasso than in any single city in the Szekler land, but there is still no school system. Even more characteristic is the example of Medgyes, which is slowly becoming Hungarian. In 1947, the Hungarian workers who had settled there between the two wars established a Hungarian school on their own. Later it functioned as a section of the Saxon high school. Since 47 the Hungarian population of Medgyes has grown considerably, but the government reacted to this by transforming the 12-year elementary/high school into a ten-grade one, thus reducing it to the limits of compulsory education, two years short of "maturity" .
For many years after World War II, the Szekler land was excluded from any industrial development whatever. In the past ten years. however, industrialization was started here too. Care was taken however, to prevent its serving the advancement of the Szekler population the strengthening of the minority community. The operation of the factors is based on the importation of Rumanian workers from more distant regions. The number of Hungarian workers, a newly established. or already operating enterprise may hire is strictly limited. They also strictly determine the number of Hungarian technical personnel. The bulk of the necessary work-force is brought primarily from the trans-Carpathian parts of Rumania. To make this work, industrial development and educational polics are precisely coordinated: At the time of the starting up of a factory, precisely the requisite number of trade school students are graduating in the Rumanian schools assigned to it. This is not an exaggeration. When the Azomures chemical plant was built at Marosvasarhely, an entire graduating class of an Oltanian trade school moved to the factory: they were trained to work at that very plant. This plant is in the capital of the Szekler land but 90 percent of the workers are Rumanian. The proportion of Rumanian skilled workers is even higher and so it that of the technical and administrative personnel. In 1968, when Azomures sought to hire two chemists, two Hungarians were sent, but the plant rejected them because they were Hungarians. A similar practice prevails in the factories of Kedivasarhely and Sepsiszentgyorgy where the new machinery factory was also put into operation through the settlement of Rumanians. The master craftsmen and managers are also Rumanian. A general rule of industrial development policy that can be deduced calls for the establishment of low-technology labor-intensive units in Hungarian regions. The more sophisticated highly developed units are built elsewhere, outside the minority areas.
There are other economic measures that supplement administrative restrictions. It was a characteristic feature of Kovaszna County for a long time - and is partly true even today - that this county has one of the highest proportion of skilled workers and master craftsmen in its population in the whole country. From the point of view of job opportunities for these people however, Kovaszna County occupies one of the last places in the country. The Szeklers, possessing a high level of technical experience therefore go elsewhere to work. Chiefly to the relatively close factories of Brasso, but also in the distant Old Kingdom, where they work in large numbers in Bucharest. Newly established plants in Kovaszna County have not altered a thing in this situatlon. Quite the contrary, the renovation of old plants and the establishment of the new ones even strengthens this forced migration with further economic stimuli. This is true for Hargita County, too. The new plants established here and even more, those already in existence, give job opportunities mainly in the simpler, less developed skills. Accordingly, the wage scale is also low. The factories of Brasso and Bucharest, on the other hand, offer plenty of job opportunities for those with higher qualifications, and correspondingly the wage scale is much higher too. The plants themselves are much higher in the national ranking: plants of national importance are involved here, to which there is nothing similar in the Szekler land. This labor and wage situation is a powerful attraction for workers from the Szekler region to seek jobs in these cities. On the other side, however, the lower technological level of the plants in the Szekler land is suited to the young Rumanian workers (mostly from Moldavia) who have scarcely emerged from the peasantry. Considering their poor rural background, they are more likely to find the lower wages satisfactory, and therefore would not resist moving to the area to work in these plants.
There are other measures to reinforce the process of denationalization by manipulating industrial and urban policy. A new decree appeared in 1976 concerning residence in the cities. Not only did it maintain the earlier restrictions but it added several new ones to them. One of the main objectives is to cut down the number of commuters. Those therefore who do not work in their place of residence, but commute to work must either take up residence in the latter localities, or must find work in their place of residence. The goal is to force the Szekler commuters to leave their homeland and settle permanently in the Rumanian regions. This would complete the routine practice of settling Rumanians en masse in the Szekler land.
All these methods serve the purpose of manipulating the migration and urbanization of Hungarians in such a way which would not strengthen tne national community, but weeaken it to the greatest extent possible.
This, however, involves a peculiar choice. A choice, that means the acceptance of the strengthening of the Hungarian working-class to a certain extent, but only in a Rumanian environment, alien to it. They fear, and try to avoid having the Hungarian proletariat strengthened within its own national community. They fear less the danger that the more radical Hungarian workers will strengthen the Rumanian proletariat and possibly radicalize it. They perceive a greater danger in nationality resistance than in class antagonism. They are more afraid of the Hungarian nationality as a unified community than the Rumanian workers as a class. The radicalization of the latter is more acceptable to them, or perhaps, they do not even consider it as a possibility. This state of affairs is most closely connected with the whole nationality policy; with the national- istic policy, and what this policy offers to the various social groups and communities.
The situation of the Rumanian minorities today differs from the bourgeois-type national oppression in two quite essential aspects, both in general, and with respect to past Rumanian or Hungarian oppression. The first is that the minorities have no legal possibility of self-defense in any form whatsoever. Moreover, every institution that supposedly could provide some sort of protection for them works instead against them, reinforcing their oppression in one way or another. This oppression is not simply oppression of a collectivity, but it seeks the destruction and dissolution of the collectivity. The minorities are thus threatened in their existence as nationalities, in the most direct way. The second aspect is that they are kept in a social situation that serves to prevent any individual initiative or attempt at improvement, as well as any such collective efforts. Thus the minorities are deprived of any hopeful prospects both as individuals and as a community. In this. the general goal of the minorlty policy manifests itselt. In addition to the above, a third, indirect fact also presents itself. The forced rate of industrialization involves the reduction of the living standards in all areas to the lowest possible level, to the endurable minimum. Although there are differences between certain regions, still the standard of living is at the lowest possible level. As the minorities - for historic reasons - are accustomed to have higher expectations, the exploitation of these is relatively greater than that of the Rumanian population. On the other hand, the relative benefits deriving from industrialization - the possibilities for a certain degree of individual improvement - are strictly denied to them. No individual reward-incentive exists therefore, which would make possible support for the economic policy, or at least acceptance. The minorities feel and know that industrialization in some ways is directed against them: they experience this in everyday life. The negation of the legitimacy of their existence is tangible and is continually manifested in manifold discriminations, in their continuous and almost universal exclusion from the mainstream. Why, there is scarcely a field in which a numerus clausus does not operate against them.
Relative deprivation is interwoven with absolute deprivation, because exclusion from the social benefits connected with industrialization means a sort of exclusion from society itself. They are subjected to an alien and hostile policy, which places society itself in a position of an alien and hostile force operating against them.
Nor is there any prospect for them in their own, more limited world, or any hope whatsoever. Social advancement, rise from the peasantry to the working class or to the intelligentsia, likewise cultural advancement (general acculturation) within their own stratum is attainable on]y at the cost of renouncing their national identity. Moreover, even the preservation of their historically developed cultural level can be assured only at the same cost. Only at the cost of renouncing their very own existence can they attain and maintain the socio-cultural way of life corresponding to their needs. They can be true to themselves only dt the cost ot lowering tneir expectations. The more determined the attachment to their cultural identity, the lower must their needs be, and really determined behavior forces them either to vegetate or to withdraw from society. Every tolerated form of acculturation brings with it something that violates the integrity of their cultural life, cultural world. Withdrawal, however, leads into the world of police repression. And those fraternal cultural bands that could strengthen them can only serve as pretexts for renewed deprivation.
Even those who renounce adherence to their heritage can break out of the exclusion only partially. At best they wind up among other forms of discrimination - these are milder and less overt, but not less real. As always, those who assimilate remain aliens. And even if there is no conspicuous discrimination, humiliation takes its place. The way "internal aliens" are treated makes this inevitable.
Since they cannot freely assert, express or realize their own identity they are and remain in a deprived situation no matter what. They can "break out" only into a similar situation. Identification with their own nationality must always remain hidden and partial. They are increasingly crippled in their existence and their self-realization.
In this overwhelming general frustration, moreover, they can not develop any sort of compensation. Nothing provides them with the potential for enthusiasm or identification. The extent of the pressure created is indicated by the efforts they made in 1968 to identify with the Rumanian stand against the invasion of Czechoslovakia, and thus alleviate somewhat their alienation. The rapid dissolution of the attempt demonstrated its hopelessness.
Any personal advancement - however narrowly limited it may be - puts the minority individual into a quandary. It usually means that he undertakes to serve a policy that aims at the deprivation and intellectual annihilation of his own brothers. The only "way out" is, total moral deprivation. Otherwise, they must live with a dual mind. And this does not mean merely acting a part before authority - which in itself corrupts the integrity of the personality - but much more: the essential duplication of their inner being. They live in a constant state of psychosis. It follows either from the utter frustration, or from the deepening alienation. The sole alternative to being forced into permanent psychosis is submergence into a bare vegetation, remaining in some sort of stagnation, some sort of mental and cultural hibernation.
Only two kinds of very limited protection exist. There is some protection where members of minorities live in larger groups and share thus the same misery; they can extend mutual support. The Szekler and Saxon communities are of this sort. Particularly the latter, because the Saxons historically have built up a fairly self-contained life for themselves anyway. But this introverted reclusive attitude now denotes a voluntary withdrawal to a world that in the long run cannot realize itself either. And it can not guarantee any tranquility either: there is no hiding from oppression and disintegration.
The second possibility is emigration. This, however, is practically limited to the Germans and the Jews. Taking everything into consideration, the Saxons are under somewhat less psychological pressure than the others, including the similarly German Swabians. Undoubtedly the worst is the situation of the Hungarians, particularly of those who live in cities outside the Szekler land. Among them, the workers and the intellectuals are the worst off, so much the more as they have always lived a more open, social way of life than members of the German minorities. The aberrant character of their situation is increased even more by the fact that only a border separates them from the majority of their nation: and government policy spares no effort to build a mental wall on it. The situation of the Jews is more equivocal, because their social roots connect them partly to the Rumanian, partly (in Transylvania) to the Hungarian intellectual-social world. In this latter case, there fore, they suffer dual oppression and deprivaiion. Emigration however, means a total re-arrangement of a historically rooted way of life, of goals and attitudes, means the assertion ol their Jewishness under entirely new circumstances.
To complete the deprivation of the minorities, the government also tries to destroy the class-consciousness of the minority strata by means of the nationalistic policy. The nationalistic policy denies the social existence and class character of every minority stratum and class outside the peasantry, it subordinates class cleavages to nationality affiliation, and reduces minority existence to a series of numeri clausi. The beneficiaries of this policy are apparently the Rumanians - accord- ing to the official interpretation - the Rumanian people. This appearance is deceptive, however.
The nationalistic policy and the forced rate of industrialization are inseparable in the case of Rumania, both as social reality, and as ideology. As a matter of fact, nationalistic industrialization is a peculiar version of industrial development. It strives for the maximal development, but it can never actually be even optimal. The nationalistic character is actually the main obstacle for reaching optimum conditions. Rational industrial development would involve the maximum utilization of existing resources and conditions and a broadening of these possibilities. Yet nationalistic industrialization repeatedly violates the above rules, in reality it is antagonistic to them. First of all, nationalistic policy excludes precisely the relatively most advanced social strata and communities from meaningful participation in industrialization. Those whose industrial culture is higher and who could therefore speed up the professional and social integration of a new working class emerging from the peasantry, and thereby raise quality and productivity. The prevailing policy makes development slower than it might be. At the same time it is also more painful. In the second place, nationalistic industrialization perpetuates the Stalinist model. It promotes non-profitable forms of economic development, and develops non-profitable industries (iron, steel). A concomitant Phenomenon of this outdated model is the forced development of prestige undertakings like the preparations to manufacture fighter planes in Rumania. Rationality and profitability are not features of this model, it disregards these criteria. Still less does this industrialization care about the proportion between the results and the price paid in human sacrifices. The limits of this price are interesting only from a police viewpoint. This practice pursues an abstraction, abstractions are its focus, it rationalizes itself referring to abstractions. "The greatness of the nation" (and similar slogans) means only the collection of such abstractions, in an obscure and brief formula that can say anything, and still says nothing; that is suitable, therefore, to confirm 0 any kind of ideology whatever.
The nationalistic ideology strives with all its might to redirect the existing social conflicts and reinterpret them in a distortive manner. It subordinates the reality about the social roots of these conflicts to the national minority relations and to the relations with the Soviet Union. Thus it does not want to resolve the tensions within the society, nor to solve the problems behind the tensions, but merelv tries to redirect their reflections in the mind of the masses. Or, more precisely, to misdirect, away from both the problems and the real causes. It strives to prevent, and does prevent, social awareness of the conflicts of interest brought about by the existing socioeconomic relations. It hinders the emergence of class consciousness among the various social strata and tries to obscure it wherever it nevertheless emerges. It conceals the actual relations to the rulers, moreover its goal is to establish an identification with the rulers. When all is said and done, it functions as an ideology of despotism, of acquiescence in subordination and oppression. It does so in manifold ways. It conceals the general structure of social conflict. But it also conceals the division of the burdens of industrialization, and it serves the purpose of having the most disadvantaged strata assume the greatest burdens. The same strata, that is, which are the primary targets of subordination and exploitation. Thus this ideology not only seeks to justify oppression and exploitation, but also to justify their increase. This function is realized primarily against the Rumanian working-class and peasantry.
The nationalistic policy affects three social strata to a more significant extent: the increasing "new working class", the intelligentsia, and the government bureaucracy. Beside the differences, certain similarities exist in the way it affects them. It compels them to accept difficulties and deprivation for the sake of the national goal, accelerated development, existing or at least prospective self-sufficiency. To accept not only general and permanent but particular and extraordinary difficulties as well. They are to accept the burdens of industrialization and those arising from the irrational policy (concealing the difference between the two is thus especially important). Beside these similarities the differences can be summarized as follows: For the peasants, flocking to the cities as a consequence of industrialization joining the working class undoubtedly means progress, particularly if one considers the miserable situation of the agriculture. But existing progress is inflated by propaganda, partly by trumpeting the tired, discredited old cliche about the leading role of the proletariat in society. Due to the improvement in the livelihood of the new working class, this class provides the basic support both for industrialization policy and in general for the power structure. Yet this improvement is partly the result of their becoming declasse'. The new workers have not yet severed the links with the village, and besides a larger city income and apartment, they improve their situation with products coming from the family living in the village. This is not negligible, with respect to the catastrophic situation of the food supply. The world of the working class holds them only partially: they are at the beginning of proletarianization. And what they accept as sacrifice in return for the improvement referred to, is precisely the process and consequences of proletarianization. They rationalize some of the sacrifices as the natural result of the generally very low living standard and they believe that industrialization will improve it. Thus, what in reality is precisely the cost and consequence of industrialization is seen as deriving from a situation outside of industrialization, and they hope for an improvement and a solution through industrialization. At the same time, they accept industrialization for the sake of "national greatness".Thus the nationalistic ideology gets them to accept their own proletarianization, and that includes their own class situation and their oppressed and exploited state. What the leadership misrepresents for them as temporary is in fact a general and permanent condition, that they were lead to accept. Thus, this ideology makes the new working class, and through it the entire Rumanian working class, give up its class interests.
In the case of the intelligentsia, compensation builds on social privileges and material advantage. This is simplified by the fact that the intelligentsia always strives to grasp and explain its own situation through abstractions. It undertakes sacrifices always in the name of abstractions, it formulates its interests, and gives intellectual support to other strata the same way - in abstractions. In this case, however, the sacrifice they undertake is the renunciation of one of the basic ingredients of their existence as the intelligentsia. Instead of autonomy and responsibility they accept a role of subordination and servility. They accept this class situation, as an enforced sacrifice in the name of the "cause" forced upon them. In this spirit they give up the role of social critics, and they renounce their obligation to articuate the class situation and class interest of the other social strata. For the sake of an artificial collectivity, in the name of a nationalistic policy purported to derive from that collectivity, they renounce precisely their obligation toward the whole society. Thus they carry out only their obligation toward the power structure, and they pretend that this is their service to the society. In this way, however, they only serve their own oppression, and that of every other social stratum.
The bureaucracy, in accepting its situation within the heirarchy, relies on the privileges of power. It subordinates itself to the autocracy, and sharing in its power it carries out the functions assigned to it. The situation of this stratum resembles that of an aristocracy, serving the autocrat in the name of the national interest. This way it gives up asserting or even formulating any independent ideas. In the name of nationalistic ideology all this strata have to accept the violation of their interests and even give up their assertion "voluntarily". They undertake to support that policy which deprives them of the assertion of their own interests, and thereby reinforce the existing power structure and the most brutal oppression of the working class and the peasantry. All three strata carry out this subordination in a way that conceals from them the irrationality of the policy supported, and the contradictory character of the goal formulated. And they accomplish the concealment of this irrationality from the entire society.
The conflict of practical policy with the formulated goal is manifested perhaps the most clearly by contrasting the most often trumpeted and rather effective slogan with reality. The conflict, of course, can be demonstrated in nearly every other connection as well - in economic rationality for instance - but in these areas a certain technical knowledge is necessary. As regards the main slogan, however, there is no need for it.
The main mobilizing slogan of the nationalistic ideology is sovereignty, national independence. This is primarily directed against the Soviet Union and builds on the actual policy, presumably. The same justification is used, as we saw it, in support of forced industrialization. In reality, however, it is precisely the nationalistic policy that makes impossible any autonomy and independence whatever, not just for the moment, but even more for the future. And it is not merely that the leaders of Rumania are very careful never to harm real Soviet interests, that they keep the system ruled by them within bounds that conform precisely to these interests, and conduct their policy in every substantial regard within these bounds. But also that any relative autonomy in the modern world presupposes conditions that a country as small as Rumania can in no way guarantee with an independent policy. Economic independence within such narrow bounds as these is an impossibility, and any sort of strengthening of autarchy only rein forces the vulnerability and actual dependence. It is not disputed that Rumania as rich in raw materials. But it is not less certain that by no means every raw material exists in adequate supply. Nationalistic policy, however, bullds on just this fictional "everything". In such circumstances, forced industrialization necessarily leads to internal economic strains, to disequilibrium, and ultimately will sweep the country toward economic bankruptcy. Again and again, external aid becomes necessary - precisely in consequence of the policy pursued. On the other hand, the much-publicized independence from the Soviet Union likewise would be possible only under a series of conditions, presently not existing. One is collaboration with neighboring countries. An economic, political, and military unity with them could serve as a basis for a truly independent policy. Yet the nationalistic policy means precisely the opposite of this, it works in a direction which makes the achievement of such unity less and less possible. It creates conflicts with the neighboring peoples, and thereby it increases Rumania's isolation. The isolation born by nationalism reinforces precisely that condition which the great powers have always been able to exploit in the subjugation of the countries of this area. The isolation of these countries and the conflicts among them offered the opportunity to the great powers to force these peoples under their rule. Thus, the policy that proclaims autonomy for the Rumanian people consolidates the dependency of this people to the greatest possible extent.
In internal relations on the other hand, nationalistic policy is most closely connected with an autocratic type of oppression. Referring to relations with the Soviet Union, the Rumanian leadership uses its selfcreated "threatened state" for manipulation. It inflates the myth of this "threat" as much as possible, to be able to carry out the militarization of the entire society to the greatest extent. It is on this pretext that the leadership gets the deprivation accepted, tries to solidify and maximize the intellectual terror and to consolidate social oppression in every respect. This is the social and ideological tool used by the autocracy against any sort of democratization. It preserves its own essence, and camouflages the oppression of the Rumanian working class by oppressing the minorities. Because it can not grant to a part of the community - however small - those rights and liberties that it denies to the majority. It must deny to the minorities even a small degree of autonomy when its own existence depends precisely on depriving the majority of the same. In this way, then, the situation of the minorities and their deprivation is only a mirror - a magnifying mirror - in which the situation and way of life of the majority, the Rumanians, becomes visible in its true character. In this mirror one can clearly see the situation of the Rumanian people itself, of Rumanian society. Being as it is provides another reason for the oppression of the minorities. Particularly as the minorities defend themselves against it. And to however small an extent they can defend themselves, their defense appears as a negation of the oppression affecting the entire society. The situation of the minorities continually reveals the character of the entire society, and at the same time the behavior of the minorities continually demonstrates the possibility of self-defense for the entire society. The task of nationalism is to conceal all this. And the best solution is to shatter the mirror. The situation, and the sleep, of the ruling autocracy would be more peaceful if this succeeded. Therefore, it is a growing necessity to work for the annihilation of the minorities.
It is not surprising if in this situation there are some among the Rumanian intelligentsia who adopt the nationalistic ideology in order to still their consciences, to hide their own inner conflicts. In order to liberate themselves in one way or another from the disturbing "mirror". Internal conflict arises - and can be turned against the "mirror" - from the fact that the relative, but still existent, resistance of the minorities generates a sense of shame among the intelligentsia. Shame, because the Rumanian intelligentsia quietly suffers its situation, because the Rumanian workers accept their situation in relative silence. Nationalism, however, cannot stifle this sense of shame. And it is precisely the concern of the nation, the people, that does not leave these intellectuals in peace.
(It may be, of course, that the author is merely projecting his own feelings on the others as well!)
|Witnesses to Cultural Genocide|