History Of Romanian Modern Civilization, 1924-1925

excerpts XVII 1. The impact of Western social ideology preceded the impact of capitalism, in other words, the social revolution preceded the economic revolution2. The revolution led by Tudor Vladimirescu and the existence of the national party cannot be viewed as the starting point of the social revolution in the 19th century3. The general characteristics of the French Revolution ideology 1. Starting with the 15th, and continuing up to the 19th century, the history of Romanian culture made progress, as we have already seen, under the influence of the West: in the 15th century, through Hussite propaganda, the first Romanian manuscripts; in the 16th century, through the propaganda of the Saxons in Transylvania, the first Romanian prints; in the 17th century, through the influence of Polish culture, the great achievement of the appearance, in Moldavia, of historiography as a discipline; in the 18th century, through contact with Rome, the strengthening of a sense of national identity and the appearance of philology as a discipline. An ongoing contact with the West, in matters of both culture and economy, it was the 19th century alone that saw the complete emancipation of the Romanian people from the constricting grasp of Eastern influences: redirecting our spiritual and material life towards the West, it created a revolution which has been viewed by some traditionalist historians as a solution for continuity, but which we, on the contrary, see as a complete consolidation of all partial influences accumulated throughout four centuries of national history. Not only intense but also complex, it represents a cultural, national and social revolution.Historians usually track the hidden impact of creative thought on the development of societies, while materialist sociologists look for the effects of economic power. Although of uneven value, both are, in actual fact, active principles; through their power to penetrate, ideas and money determine the social structures of a nation. Without returning to the discussion surrounding historic materialism, let us only mention that "the human activity targeted at the production, the distribution and the use of material goods, i.e. economic activity, considerably influences all human interaction, individual as well as social; the fact has now become so obvious that scientific reflection has to deal more with its limitation rather than its confirmation[1]."Without therefore denying the importance, in certain respects, of the impact of economic factors, we will prove, in what follows, the precedence in time of the influence of social ideology over the influence of Western capitalism. A later development, national capitalism played no role in the heroic epoch of rebirth of the Romanian people; only after 1866 can one talk of a bourgeoisie with certain class tendencies and political involvement. The economic process was overthrown by the ideological process not only chronologically, but also in terms of its means of penetration: ideas have a by far greater power to disseminate. We are, of course, reticent about their power to fundamentally change a Romanian's soul. Nations are differentiated not so much by ideas and intelligence as by character and ethical value: intelligence is generally a homogenous substance; ideas circulate, are borrowed and put aside unvaryingly; character only is a constant and profoundly differentiated element. Without looking into its intensity, we will for now only state the precedence in time of the impact of social ideology over the process of dissolution and reconstruction of capitalism. Having been the first to light their torch, ideas created life-forms that corresponded more to certain moral tendencies of the age rather than to historical realities; arriving later and imposing itself with more difficulty, as was only normal with more complicated economic relations, capitalism began its rule only afterwards. 2. For some historians the process of adherence to the West and, therefore, the social revolution have their starting point in the existence in Romania of a national party. And as the revolution led by Tudor has a social character, they would have it be the expression of that party.It began, in actual fact, as the isolated fight of the oppressed against the oppressors, one that lacked an ideology.[2] It was only later on that the bourgeoisie, having captured it, turned it against the Greeks[3]; transformed from a social into a national revolution, it thus became the starting point of an ethnic revival, without additional social repercussions. The national party must not therefore be viewed as an evolutionary party, all the less so as a revolutionary party, but as a party of the bourgeoisie, whose national aspirations generally sprang from an ambition to be in power[4]. It was only the infiltration of Western social ideology that led to the creation within it of a liberal movement...The process of social development in our country is not therefore to be linked with the activity of the national party, but with what A. D. Xenopol calls the historical process of the creation of the liberal party through the influence of the French Revolution's ideology. 3. As the development of the Romanian civilization in the 19th century, socially and politically, is indebted to this ideology, it is time we sketched its character after the two declarations of 'human rights' and after the succinct formula of "freedom, equality and fraternity". Many thinkers (Taine, Brunetière, or Faguet) view Christianity as the true starting point of 'human rights'. Reaching across the world, the three mystical formulae have upturned the roots of the old order. Equality in particular represents the revolutionary principle of this social Christianity. The first declaration of 'human rights', that of the 1789 Constituent Assembly, however, only mentioned the following as rights: "freedom, property, safety and resistance in face of oppression"; it was only the declaration of the 1793 Convention that reached the formula of "equality, freedom, safety and property". Having been so categorically proclaimed as a human right, it was then restricted within its narrowest limits by articles 3, 4, and 5: "All human beings are equal by nature and before the law. The law is the free and solemn expression of the general will; it is the same for all, whether it protects or punishes. All citizens have an equal chance of being invested with public functions. Free nations know no other grounds for discrimination except virtue and talent." Equality was therefore restricted to equality before the law and to the precedence of personal merit over birth. But it was not this relative and normal 'equality' that had such an impact. Cited among the natural 'rights' of man, many took it as an absolute. If we are equal by nature then it makes no sense that there may exist the poor and rich dichotomy: hence the various systems that attempted to flatten out differences in terms of wealth, among which communism is only the most natural. The socialists of nowadays are, therefore, the true heirs of articles 2 and 3 of the Convention's Human Rights, where equality was proclaimed par la nature. With their authority they ask for the leveling and evening out of all individuals. Pupils of Montesquieu, the conventioneers did not wish for such a utopian equality; their intention is apparent in their equating equality, precisely in art. 3, and then in art. 4, 5, with the political and legal equality, the only kind possible. Besides, equality is not a 'human right'; it could not be anything else except a social right[5]. But then admitting to this, society would eliminate the other great principle of freedom: for absolute equality destroys the freedom of any individual initiative, the freedom of thought, of association, the freedom of property, of religion; antonymic to freedom, equality can only lead to the absolutism of the anonymous state[6]. We have insisted on equality because, both in its rational as well as in its utopian form, it has long afflicted societies and because, true inheritance of the revolution, it lies at the core of the program of the Proletariat. Freedom and fraternity have lagged behind, mere relative values[7]; freedom having been reduced to the right to impinge on the other and fraternity reinstating Christian utopia. In its contrastive sources of inspiration, the Declaration betrays other contradictions; it proclaims the existence and the supreme authority of human rights on the one hand and on the other the sovereignty of the people: "Sovereignty lies with the people. It is one, indivisible, unalterable, and impossible to alienate (XXV, 1783)". But the sovereignty of the people contradicts human rights: the first presupposes the state's control over all individuals[8]; 'human rights' do not allow for a force, even if a collective one, to interfere with the affairs of the individual[9]. Sovereignty lies at the core of Rousseau's system of thought; the rights of the individual are the principle of Montesquieu's social philosophy and that of English constitutionalism; opposing principles, they were nevertheless proclaimed together in the 1793 Declaration, causing a certain antagonism between liberalism and democracy. With all the confusion in its formulation, with all its open pathways to illusory and despotic equality – bringing along the fundamental idea of a freedom that is possible within the boundaries imposed by the state – where, to quote Benjamin Constant, "beyond its sphere the government must have no power, while within it, it can never have enough power" – bringing along the idea of political and legal equality, of national sovereignty, the Declaration of Human Rights – through mental associations and by Napoleon's conquering sword – brought a breath of fresh air to all nations, while in the separate Romanian states it planted the seed for all political and social change. XVIII 1. The ideological revolution was followed by an economic revolution2. Ion Brătianu is the true creator of the Romanian bourgeoisie3. Bourgeois liberalism vs. the agricultural issue4. Conclusion 1. The outlines of our social lives were drawn almost completely by the 1866 constitution; the revolutionary impact of ideology can therefore be deemed over at this point; formally, life in Romania had become synchronous to European life; after the heroic epoch of rebirth, we had now entered the phase of material consolidation. But any legal structure must have an economic basis; it was essential that ideology, creation of the bourgeoisie, brought to Romania by imitation, should strengthen its position. Had it been left only in the form of legislation, this revolutionary breakthrough would have been left unfulfilled. Through the nature of its ideas, as well as through the structure of the social elements upon which it rested, without being the expression of some real forces, the paşoptist[10] movement virtually bore within itself the seed of the future bourgeois revolution. Its leaders generally saw it as little more than the starting point of national awareness; some nevertheless later realized what its true and subsequent meaning was: there could exist no bourgeois ideology without the existence of a socially consolidated bourgeoisie. 2. Ion C. Brătianu in particular was the one who had the insight that on the ruins of the old agricultural system one needed to lay the foundations of the new banking capitalism; he is therefore the real creator of the Romanian bourgeoisie. Having in fact a long way back foreseen the historical role of the bourgeoisie, he wrote as early as 1858[11]: "Along with the legally acknowledged country arose a new society whose views and aspirations were a raw and energetic protest against the present state of affairs and which society ensures that our nation have a future worthy of its name." What was this new society, engenderer of a new order? "Some, well-intended, viewing this new society as a class, call it the bourgeoisie or middle-class; even if it be a class, the name they give it, bourgeoisie, makes little sense in a country where there is no upper-class, no nobility. Little do we care, however, about the name, we would only like to emphasize that that for which Europe calls forth to assign to it the fate of nations is not a class, but a new society through which national awareness and even the genius of Romanians manifest themselves. This is not a class, it is future Romania itself, a revived Romania, which is rising, growing and strengthening itself continually and unhindered, a Romania which has been struggling for so long, not against a class, but against regimes that had been imposed from the outside for the burdening, breaking up and the enslaving of this country…" There could be no clearer understanding of the importance of the revolution which was yet to be completed, or a more daring association of the bourgeoisie with "revived Romania" itself and with a new country that was arising on the ruins of the old regime. Later on, in the memorandum presented by Dimitrie A. Sturdza to Cuza, on the latter's arrival in Bucharest, in February 1859, a memorandum that defined the four classes which characterized the society in Muntenia (the class of the great boyars, that of small boyars, the class of tradesmen and craftsmen, and that of the peasantry), Brătianu especially insisted on the class of the tradesmen and craftsmen: "This class possesses," he wrote[12], "all the energy and morality that characterize this class in all European societies: it possesses not only the instinct, the love for freedom, which is normal for a democratic class, but it also shows the highest and most enthusiastic patriotism. There particularly lies, within this commercial class, which has been expanding and becoming more and more powerful, the seed of Romanian civilization, and only its eradication could put an end to civilization and public freedom in Romania." By stating that Romanian civilization and freedom are dependent upon the existence of the bourgeoisie, Brătianu was also pointing towards the direction liberalism would take in the second phase of its development. Only 10 years had gone by and how far we were at this point from the social harmony of the Islaz Proclamation! 3. The bourgeois character of liberalism became even more evident with the discussion surrounding the rural problem. To Kogălniceanu's objection[13] that the liberal minority of the central commission in Focşani had not compiled a proposition of law to oppose to that of Barbu Catargiu's government of 1862, Brătianu has the following significant reaction[14]: "When Mr. Kogălniceanu and others in Moldova accused us of being reticent about discussing the property issue, we responded that there still exists prejudice between the two opposing camps; that this issue needs to be discussed with all the calm and cold blood; that we must wait until land owners will realize that property as it is dealt with today is not the most profitable to them; to see that there exist other, better resources than that which the law allows for now. Let us concentrate on other reforms; on promoting morality with clerks, on ensuring trade efficiency, on banking institutions. There's this fixed idea in the peasant's head that the entire cause of all the harm brought to this country is the property holder. If the weather gets worse and crops are ruined, if it's raining cats and dogs when they want to work in the fields, it is all because the property holder owns property. That is why I had suggested to the Head of State when I was part of the Government, let us not deal with the property issue just yet: let us try to reconcile the opposing camps, clear the air, reason with both sides; let us first create the necessary institutions, and when we solve the property issue let us solve it in such a way that it brings along the regeneration of our country instead of placing our national existence in a vulnerable position, for a civil war would be the greatest of disasters."Believing that, after 15 years of promises and inactivity, the time had not yet come to solve the agricultural problem, Brătianu was suggesting that "the loan institutions and the insurance of trade efficiency" asked for a more immediate solution. Having started from this belief, he then contributed, for a quarter of a century, to the creation of a network of economic institutions that inaugurated the mercantile era of the Romanian state, the main characteristics of which we have already dealt with, and helped turn the Romanian bourgeoisie into a fairly concrete social fact. 4. Hindered in its normal evolution by geographical and historical circumstances, arrested by the financial power of the two conquering kingdoms and, in an oriental environment, by the spiritual force of Orthodoxy, the Romanian nation could not, during the first centuries, soar to the heights of its Latin ideal; in the convergence of dissolving influences upon its spirit, only the Western influences marked, and rarely so, heights of cultural progress of genuine national essence. Having arrived on the eve of the 19th century, delayed and hindered in its normal development, with dejected upper classes, the Romanian spirit came into a full ideological and economic contact with Western civilization. The paşoptist movement was precisely the historical gesture by which the development of our country acquired a revolutionary direction, the only one sociologically possible for nations that had been hindered in their normal development; this revolutionary direction also represents the de-Orientalization of the Romanian spirit by the creation of a new Western environment for advancement. Because Romanian civilization has, as we have seen, a necessarily revolutionary nature, we can apply traditionalism to the general traits of the Romanian spirit but not to the institutions of the past; the synchronicity of contemporary life, of a leveling character, has imposed the outlines of our social and cultural life. In the epoch of heroic revival, the development of our civilization had, as we have demonstrated, a purely ideological nature; it was only later, through the interdependency of modern capitalism, that a bourgeois economic basis was added to the bourgeois legal and political structure: an evolution from form to essence researchers nowadays usually deem abnormal but which we will show is normal, since it generally is to be met in all the nations that had been subject to similar historical circumstances. XX 1. Traditionalism considered from the standpoint of our civilization2. The romantic nature of this traditionalism3. We are still awaiting the publication of a corpus of traditionalist elements4. The critique of new institutions is more a verbal habit than anything else5. Andrei Rădulescu and our code6. Conclusions concerning the possibility of the existence of a Romanian traditionalism  1. Restricted to the boundaries of our civilization, the problem of tradition is worth considering from its special angle. Scientifically speaking, a traditionalist doctrine can only start from the existence of a tradition of national unity. No use repeating here how the Romanian nation was formed. After only a century and a half of independent life, the separate Romanian states entered the cone of influence of Turkish, then Phanariot[15], then Russian influence. Distanced from the pulse of Western civilization, through the environment and through religion, the Romanian nation could not develop of its own accord, and was diverted from the potentialities of its specificity: centuries on end it had to express its thoughts in the complicated Cyrillic alphabet; the Romanian spirit, otherwise akin to that of conquerors across the world in its determination and will to overcome, was altered by fatalistic Oriental infiltrations. Could this possibly be the final structure of our kind? It is hard to provide an answer in a matter in which optimism is the only means of avoiding despair. The matter is further complicated by the issue of ethnic groups. Products of history, ethnic groups need the expanse of centuries in order to form a common spirit; a relatively stable homogeneity can be reached only in time, a homogeneity that must also allow for flexibility, or the race will be doomed to perish. Having evolved from the perfect mergence of Saxons, Normans and old Britons, the Anglo-Saxons may very well be the most homogeneous of ethnic groups; ten centuries of historical developments were necessary for the consolidation of the French; furthermore, the unifying impact of the Revolution was necessary for the leveling out of small minorities (inhabitants of Picardie, Bretons, Gascons, etc.) which continued what the royalty had begun without, however, managing to achieve complete unity; to this day, French provinces have preserved their local color[16]: dialects are still in use regardless of the recent memo of the Ministry of Education that would ban them from schools. It is our view that the Romanians are not yet a homogeneous ethnic group. In order to have a common spirit, with a common number of characteristics, we would have needed a common historical evolution; psychological unity also presupposes a historical unity, which our nation has remained a stranger to. The hardships of ages have placed different parts of it in different historical circumstances, which dissolved instead of strengthening it. It was under these circumstances that it entered the 19th century, namely the period of a full contact with true civilization and national unity, having by now sufficient flexibility and the possibility to finally be working towards the acquisition of a common spirit in accordance with our specificity, a suitable homogeneous spirit. The consolidation of this common spirit may still take long, but it will not take as long as it has with other nations; contemporary circumstances accelerate ethnic unity. Time is on our side, either way, and after centuries of alienation and deformity, the path now lies open for the creation of a true Romanian spirit. It may be that we appear in the eyes of some historians as grandchildren that have been kept away from the Romanian-Byzantine-Slavic-Turkish-Phanariot tradition, but let us hope that in the eyes of future generations we will be viewed as the true ancestors of the dawning age of an authentic Romanian tradition. 2. With such a historical background, Romanian traditionalism lacks a foundation; this means that it has no tradition that would be fixed within the multitude of cultural facets. Having been an agricultural society for so long, it was only natural that nostalgia for the past would survive the old regime and, penetrating the newly created surface of the bourgeois state, that it would re-emerge only stronger in the form of regret, which is characteristic of our entire literature, rural and traditionalist, or embodied by the recent severeness of criticism or that it would, facilitated by Western scientific models, take the form of a rigid principle concerning the normal evolution of civilization: Kogălniceanu, for example, was trying to account for his ideas by referring to their supposed preexistence in the tradition of the Romanian people, as if present needs had not legitimated them enough. Junimist criticism has also started from an apparently scientific perception of evolution, but which in reality was a rationalist perception, since it placed the evolution of our nation on the same level with that of England or France; Eminescu's traditionalism or that of Sămănătorism[17] as well as that of our entire literature, starts from a romantic love for the past, which may reasonably be linked with a creative principle, but not with one of social progress. The very foundations of our new social organization are made vulnerable by the values of a quasi-scientific or romantic criticism. The majority of journalists have adopted a critical attitude; the paşoptist revolution is viewed as a breakaway with tradition; the whole achievement of the 19th century is compared to a building erected on moving sands; the discrediting effect of all romanticisms undermine it in the imagination of our people. We must admit, with all due respect to all forms of tradition, that in our tradition there exists a mixture of heterogeneous elements that are often not only non-Romanian (which is only natural) but also anti-Romanian. Just as we should not be ashamed of our ancestors, so should we also acknowledge our past, and perceive it through the lens of historical necessity. However, we should not perceive it as a constantly raised, accusing finger but, if possible, and by corroboration with new forms, it should be turned into a creative principle engendering new life. In other words, traditionalism should enter the new positive phase of strictly scientific research by leaving the romantic phase marked by regret and critical aggressiveness behind. 3. We are still awaiting the moment when all specialists in past events will provide us with a real corpus of old Romanian culture in all its forms. We are no longer satisfied with the accusation that the achievements of the 19th century have not taken the slow developments of past ages into consideration; we would like to know, factually, which elements are being hinted at, those of which supposedly no notice has been taken during the process of social reconstruction; we want, in other words, hard facts, not criticizing, sentimental or passionate reactions which claim that in the 1866 constitution "our own constitutional experience was not taken into consideration"! And we are not only talking about character or ethnic development, we are also referring to forms of state organization, institutions, science, art. Inspecting all fields of activity, scientific traditionalism must compile an inventory of specifically Romanian creations in order to accurately determine what the present has ignored or deemed unworthy. Only with the help of such a corpus can we determine whether the organization of present society could have been built upon the foundation of the past, and if a Romanian civilization outside an actual process of evolution could have been possible. Even if we didn't view the revolutionary nature of the development of Romanian civilization as an essential element, a fact we can only highlight, it becomes apparent from this book that we do not believe in a contemporary Romanian civilization sprung up only by way of evolution, of organic growth. It remains for scientific traditionalism to demonstrate the contrary. To prove, for example, to what extent Romanian painting could have progressed, evolved, from the Byzantine style of old religious painting without the influence of modern movements in Western painting. To also show us the contribution of Romanian intellectuals to the creation of the Byzantine painting style, for if we have had no contribution, then we could also not have a national tradition and, if so, then we do not see the need to give precedence to the lifeless schematism of the Byzantines over the insight and technique of modern painting. Traditionalism will have to demonstrate the possibility of the existence of Romanian music evolved only from folk music, the Greek ison[18] or the Turkish manea[19] without knowledge of counterpoint and orchestration and, in urban life, to prove the likelihood of a Romanian architecture evolved only from the form of the purely defensive culă[20]. It should also show us the exact elements of such disciplines as medicine, botany, mathematics, chemistry, physics, philosophy; in a word, the exact elements of Romanian science over which the revolutionary thrust of the 19th century has swept, without taking the contribution of past ages and the principles of organic growth into consideration. While science is universal, and its applications the same for all nations, laws and institutions, according to the theories of traditionalists, should spring up from the organic development of each separate country. We have elaborated elsewhere[21] upon the impossibility of a Romanian constitution based on "our own constitutional experience", so that there is no need to insist at this point; as a conclusion, we will nevertheless shortly analyze the so common accusation that current legislation has ignored the old Romanian legislation. XXIII 1. Conclusions: the 19th century is the starting point of modern Romanian civilization2. The principle of synchronicity of modern life lies at the base of the evolution of our revolutionary civilization3. The laws that have helped in transferring Western civilization 1. To conclude our preceding argumentation let us shortly sum up our conclusions here.Of Latin extraction, possessing therefore the same spiritual potential as all other Latin countries, the Romanians have been stuck, through geographical location, historical circumstances and through religion, in an eastern environment, completely unsuitable for its inner structure; the main historical landmarks in its cultural and national development, all throughout the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries, have been brought about by intermittent Western influences. The history of Romanian modern civilization, however, starts with the 19th century, namely with the permanency of our contact with the West and with the changing of our frame of reference: having started earlier on, the 1848 revolution symbolically represents the historical landmark of this intellectual, economic and political orientation. In the elaborate discussion in the first volume we have highlighted, as a natural conclusion, the purely ideological nature of Western influence; in its early stages, the revolution extended by means of imitation and with the support of the liberal party; only later on, especially through Ion C. Brătianu`s targeted efforts, was the ideological revolution followed by an economic revolution. 2. This process by which we have imported all the structures of Western civilization, with the implied contrast between form and essence, noticed by all researchers into Romanian civilization, and criticized by the junimişti[22], has also been dealt with by Marxists who, believing that all political and social structures are creations of an economic structure, are, essentially, also evolutionists. In reality, the development of our civilization is not evolutionary but revolutionary, like that of all other nations suddenly coming into contact and solidarity with a highly developed country. This fact is certain and, whatever our reticence in accepting it, it follows from a sociological need which we have proved with sufficient arguments: if during past centuries of very few means of interpenetration, intellectual and social life could be reduced to a single spirit, the process of unification by leveling has become the characteristic element of modern civilization. The principle may be gathered under the term synchronicity of modern life, which synchronicity, with all its apparent faults, is the current spirit, while the belief in the possibility of evolution against the spirit of the age is nothing but the starting point of temporary disturbances. Like other underdeveloped countries (and we have studied the case of Russia and Japan), our civilization could not have been formed in any other way except by revolution, that is, suddenly, by full import and without going through the intermediary stages of countries that had developed organically. 3. Taking synchronicity – which runs the length of my work – as its starting point, Romanian civilization was formed according to the laws of imitation, as follows:1. Infiltrating from the upper to the lower classes, imitation was, with the upper classes, the means by which Western ideas spread even when they came in contradiction with class interests. 2. Given the revolutionary nature of the development of our civilization, by sudden contact and with a discrepancy in standards, imitation was adopted in full; we borrowed the structures of the West without discrimination, in bulk, and certainly not after a critical series of deliberations.