marți, 18 octombrie 2011

Comunismul citit în cheie religioasă - Exorcizarea trecutului

Monumentul martirilor din închisorile comuniste - Aiud
(via Panoramio)
În aceeași temă cu postarea anterioară, fragmente din „Past for the Eyes”, capitolul „Raising the Cross: Exorcising Romania’s Communist Past in Museums, Memorials and Monuments”:

"A visitor who is unfamiliar with Romanian public discourse, will probably be struck by the abundance of crosses and other religious symbols and metaphors embedded in or framing the visual discourse on Communism.[...] One of the main characteristics of the discourse on the communist past has been the attempt to distance, or alienate, this past and to avoid integrating it into a coherent history of the country. The fact that Communism has so far been a strongly marginalized topic only assisted the initial drive towards distancing its history. We will explore the methods through which this “distancing” or “alienation” has been accomplished in visual representations of Communism. This article will dwell mainly on those exhibitions and the monuments erected to the victims of Communism, arguing that what was marginal for more than fifteen years, the anti-communist approach to Communism, is now becoming mainstream discourse in Romanian public life. At the core of this discourse is the assertion that the communist regime was a foreign body introduced by force into the national history, a devilish undertaking to be finally defeated by proper exorcism. Thus, the anti-communist discourse and the public discourse of the Romanian Orthodox Church became strongly allied since both appealed to national feelings and frustrations.

Abbé Henri Grégoire, an important figure in the French Revolution, called the museum of the time a “temple of the human spirit.” This title implies some important assumptions: that those who work inside the museum are performing some kind of priestly function, that the visitors’ attitude is one of reverence, and that the objects inside are sacred. In the nineteenth century, at the time of nation-making, modern museums inherited the same type of authority. At that moment, existing private collections were appropriated by the state and, subjected to its aims and ambitions, became modern state museums. As central spaces in supporting the construction of the nation-state, during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries they were turned into Temples of the Nation. [...]

Museums, monuments and memorials of (anti-)Communism in post-1989 Romania mainly function as “temples of Truth,” confined to National History. Raised after 1989, their anti-communist discourse is shaped by national values and uses modern means of visual representation. No postmodern techniques and functions of museum discourse are used: the museum is not seen as an “agora” where the conflicting memories of the past could, ironically and fragmentarily, face each other. Nowadays, any attempt to create an “agora museum” of Romanian Communism is made more difficult as it would go against the existing anti-communist victimizing discourse, currently endorsed by the President of Romania.

19 December 2006: “Parliament was hell yesterday. Our representatives were yelling, whistling and stamping.” This sentence opens an article entitled “Exorcising an Era.” The same day similar articles covered the front page of newspapers: “The solemn meeting to condemn Communism was transformed into a cheap circus reminiscent of a group exorcism.” Leading the “exorcism,” with perfect calm and determination in the growing chaos, Romania’s President, Traian Băsescu, delivered his fortyminute speech on the crimes of the Romanian Communist regime, seventeen years after its overthrow. Meanwhile, members of the ultranationalist Greater Romania party (România Mare) were trying to stop the speech or at least to disrupt the desired solemnity of the moment.[...]

Monumentul Victimelor
Comunismului din Iaşi
(via Curierul de Iași)
One of [the] radical elements [of today's anti-Communism] is the attempt to distance and alienate the past as a nightmare, a horror film whose scenario somehow imposed itself on Romanian society. In his latest book Stelian Tănase [...] tries to convince his readers that living in illegality had such lasting effects on the members of the communist elite that they continued to act throughout their political careers as if they were still in the cellars. “The underground meant dehumanization, alienation; it was a laboratory for producing human hybrids, monsters that would prove themselves after seizing power.” These people, Tănase claims, “have run the country for decades from the underground that they never actually left. They remained hidden in a bunker, far away, alien to society, continuously conspiring against it. They never managed to come to the surface, to gain legitimacy, not even for one day in almost half a century during which they were running the Romanian world. They remained condemned to their condition of eternal creatures of darkness.[...]

And what does this voice tell us now? That Communism was brought upon an innocent society by some sort of monsters, creatures of darkness, human hybrids who never became part of Romanian society. It is not very hard to see how, in this framework, a denunciation of Communism becomes very easy, and indeed necessary. After all “we,” the normal people, the society had nothing to do with it. It was “them,” the aliens, the human hybrids, that brought this curse upon us. This is precisely the discourse that the official condemnation of the communist regime is now reproducing: “The exported Communism that we lived through for five decades is a wound in Romania’s history, an open wound whose time has come to be closed forever.”

Seen as a wound, or as a place of darkness and death, the communist past had to be closed or distanced with an equally powerful symbol. Those involved in the “exorcising” of Communism thought that the cross had the appropriate symbolic power, through its mixed Christian-traditional (even pagan) symbolism [...]

The stylized crosses often recall the crosses on tombs. Some are placed in parks, others at crossroads, where communist statues once stood, and most of them in graveyards or near churches, as if the bodies of the victims were actually there. These monuments seek to operate as symbolic reburials, since the victims of the struggle against the establishment of Communism were buried without religious services in unknown places or in large common graves. Most of these monuments were inaugurated with a religious service, in the presence of political leaders who gave speeches and priests sprinkling holy water and burning incense. [...]

For the Association of Former Political Prisoners, and the regional leaders of the Association, who supported the construction of these monuments, the period from 1945 to 1989 was a time of “Soviet devastation,” when the country was led by a political regime metamorphosed into a “red devil.” Those who fought against it, the victims, “sacrificed themselves for Christ, for dignity and for national freedom.” It seems that only Christian symbols are powerful enough to oppose “the red devil.” This nationalist and victimizing discourse, radical in its simplistic Manichaeism, is shaped on a religious dichotomy: Christ vs. the devil, order vs. disorder, light vs. darkness."

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