Two major events marked Romania's transition from the year 2006 to 2007: the publishing of the Presidential Report Analyzing the Communist Dictatorship of Romania and Romania's official entry into the European Union (EU). This chapter seeks to briefly discuss how these two major events have played out in Romania and what insight they can provide into further examinations of the origin and the particular evolution of the Romanian transition. Working backwards along the historical timeline, these debates hope to provide an interesting benchmark against which to analyze the events surrounding the 1989 Romanian Revolution, the formation of the first civil society organization and the historical experience of the Romanian transition. The Secret Security files and the EU are perhaps the quintessential symbols of the communist experience and the past; and the integration into the "capitalist West" and the future, respectively.
This chapter looks at three shared features of nation-building in unified Germany and Vietnam, namely national division, the impact of communism and the interplay with regional integration. Nation-building efforts in the Berlin republic seek to emphasise a return to German unity following Cold War division. The ideological void created by the collapse of East German communism has been filled by West German nation-building; the new Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) shows a great deal of continuity with its predecessor based in Bonn. Regionalism has been one means of co-opting international developments for nation-building purposes, and the importance of this to German nation-building is clear. The portrayal of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN) and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the 'soldered states' of Vietnam and Germany is instructive. Vietnam's regionalism worked to shore up domestic legitimacy without affecting its nation-building discourse of resistance to foreign interference, economic, diplomatic or otherwise.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the key concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book shows the extent to which the communist and capitalist illusions are significantly different from other types of collective social illusions. It deals with the trauma associated with the process of change or transition, using the concept of shock. Following the trajectory of the first self-proclaimed civil society group in Romania, the Group for Social Dialogue (GSD), the book explains the role that the group played in popularizing democratic reforms and challenging neo-communist tendencies in the newly elected government. It focuses on the increasing role that the visual plays in the formation of new social and political illusions. The book examines the extent to which different forms of representation, such as photography, can open up much-needed spaces for self-reflection and create new forms of interaction between the subject and the photographer.
This chapter examines the significance of cities as privileged sites for nation-building. Capital cities can be seen as representing a psychological community and are thus a privileged site of nation-building. An analysis which privileges the dynamic, pulsating nature of city life can read cityscapes as a microcosm of soldered states. The chapter explores the myths and meanings associated with Hanoi as a colonial and Vietnamese capital, and Berlin's iconic status as a symbol of German division. Hanoi's noisy and bustling street life is one instance of the private sphere evading state control and encroaching upon public space, as commercial, leisure and domestic activities spill onto pavements, parks and squares. Like Hanoi, Berlin was a showcase for competing ideologies. In Cold War Germany, however, they confronted each other simultaneously on either side of the Berlin Wall, rather than holding sway consecutively.
This chapter reveals how the civil society illusion was particularly built in Romania in order to fit and support the larger capitalist illusion. It seeks to challenge common misconceptions about the nature of Romanian civil society, and provides an alternative understanding of the role of civil society through the particular trajectory of the Group for Social Dialogue (GSD). The GSD was formed in the days immediately following the fall of the Ceausescu regime in Romania by a series of Romanian intellectuals and dissidents who came together under the impulse to create a space for discussion. This discussion would facilitate the democratization process. The chapter also seeks to underline the striking discrepancies between initial imaginings of the role of civil society by different Central and Eastern European writers and later use of the concept mainly in conjunction with a series of national and international NGOs.
By focusing on the most important controversies that surround the Romanian Revolution, and applying a framework that looks at the process of illusion formation and loss-disillusionment, this chapter offers an alternative view of the process of social change in Romania. While the post-communist political horizon was dominated by the emergence of the National Salvation Front (NSF) as the transition government and then the first freely elected government of Romania, the NSF cannot claim to be the first political formation in post-communist Romania. This privilege must be reserved for the Romanian Democratic Front (RDF), a political organization formed by the leaders of the Timisoara revolution that led the first negotiations with the communist part and publicly expressed the criteria for an independent Romania. A closer examination of a series of incidents such as the Valea Jiului revolt and the Brasov demonstrations reveals the increasing weakness of the communist regime in Romania.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book sets out from the premise that within the 'nation-state' construct, the hyphen linking nation and state represents legitimacy. It traces the discourse of national unity propounded by the two rival Vietnams and Germanies during the Cold War, and their impact on the nation-building ideologies of both unified states. The book looks at how nation-building in unified Germany and Vietnam set about overcoming decades of division by 'forgetting' one-half of that experience. It examines the interplay of nationalism and communism. The book focuses on the history textbooks to examine the construction of national heroes and anti-heroes as a nation-building tool. The study of cityscapes and museums is complemented by an investigation into selected history textbooks as examples of national narratives in two nation-states chosen for both their unexpected similarities and substantial differences.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book provides the basis for a theory of disillusionment in instances of transition. It elaborates on how such a theory could be applied to a specific case-study, in this instance, the Romanian transition from communism to capitalism. The book seeks to position Romania seventeen years into its transition, providing a benchmark against which to better understand the historical evolution of the transition. It examines the important role that both individual and collective illusions play in maintaining social solidarity and building a relationship with the state. The book utilizes the concept of shock to build a framework for better understanding the transition from the communist illusion to the capitalist illusion. It follows a similar logical structure, relying instead on the illusions of the first members of civil society in post-revolutionary Romania.
This chapter explores two ideologies, communism and nationalism, with reference to two countries Germany and Vietnam. It begins by tracing some of the conceptual difficulties in reconciling communism and nationalism and how these were addressed in practice. By helping to repudiate communism in contemporary Germany and consolidate it in Vietnam, museums make a significant contribution to shaping nation-building in each case. Differing conceptions of the museum's role in socialist and capitalist, contemporary and traditional settings provide the context for a comparative analysis of the German Historical Museum in Berlin and the Vietnamese History Museum in Hanoi. Germany and Vietnam's national history museums help to propagate a nation-building ideology through myths of longue durée and national unity. In performing a legitimating function for soldered states, the museums create a link between ancient artefacts and contemporary communities, which also has wide-ranging implications for collectors and curators.
This chapter explores the contention that Germany and Vietnam were both divided states and divided nations before their respective (re)unification in 1990 and 1976. Politically, mountain passes marked Vietnam's seventeenth-century division into rival regions and twentieth-century schism into two republics. Nation-building in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) and Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) revolved around their competing claims to be the sole legitimate representative, or 'rightful political embodiment' of the German nation. Vietnam's accession to Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1995 signalled its readiness to pursue regionalism as part of its continuing nation-building project. The chapter argues that it was primarily in Vietnamese and German national interests to take part in regional integration, for historical, political and strategic reasons. Accordingly, regionalism is an integral part of their nation-building ideologies.