|Prof. Tismăneanu’s book is an excellent survey about the transformations undergone by the Romanian Communist Party (RCP) during its history, before and after coming into power. This study is important because of two reasons. The author counter-poses his genealogy of the RCP with the alternative official line on party history. The method leads both to an understanding of paths taken by the RCP to legitimize itself and its history, within the national context, and to a clarification of roles of events and people in the maze of various party-engineered historiographical manipulations. To take the argument further, prof. Tismăneanu notices that in writing and justifying its own history, the RCP gradually aggrandizes various national political developments, with an emphasis upon the already scarce and shaky leftist one. The preponderance of right-wing attitudes of the traditional Romanian elites and the lack of an established record of left-wing movements is seen by the author to be at the root of the lack of a revisionist wave in the history of Romanian communism.
The notion of revisionism lies at the core of prof. Tismăneanu’s concept of “national Stalinism”. In his opinion, the absence of the former led to the perpetuation of the latter throughout the entire communist period in Romania. And, by adding into the mix the nationalistic lure, systematically pursued from 1963 onwards, the regime closed off or marginalized any attempt of reform from within. The opposite of this path was, in the author’s opinion, “national-communism”, which fundamental features were its critical attitude toward the Soviet model and its capacity to reform itself ultimately leaving the scene to political pluralism. In a sense, this is the original dilemma of what type of state socialism was to be created in the various countries of former Eastern Europe – especially considering the 1946 statement by Stalin to the British Labor Party leaders in which he proclaimed the possibility of various roads to socialism. In the Romanian case, the legitimacy of the “national road to socialism” was obtained by following two almost simultaneous directions: the creation of a Marxist-Leninist history and its ‘synchronization’ with national historical traditions.