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Late (for) Modernity: Transition and the Traumatic Colonization


of the Future of Postcommunist Cultures1

Associating the notion of modernity to coloniality reinforces the question of time in an


otherwise space-dominated understanding of colonization as the conquest and exploita-
tion of territories. This article contends that the capitalist West colonized the very con-
cepts of time and historical progress as templates for positioning and evaluating any
culture as either modern (civilized) or pre-modern (primitive), while the Soviet East
counter-colonized the discourse of temporality with its own version of utopian futurism.
Locked by the Cold War in an ‘ideological potlatch’ 2 and similarly rooted in modernity,
the capitalist West and Soviet communism generated different calendars of coloniality
but operated with the same logic of forcible modernization and generated structurally
similar power relationships. Accordingly, I am pleading for the interpretation of the Ro-
manian (post)communist experience as one of (post)coloniality, wherein modernity is
often represented as cultural trauma. 3 The paper also illustrates some of the alternative
strategies by which postcommunist discourse copes with the trauma of Soviet and West-
ern colonial models that generated syncopated, asynchronous or suspended modernities
in recent Romanian history.

Keywords: communism and representations of futurity, postcommunism and transition


discourse, colonization of time, alternative calendars of modernity, temporal metaphors,
multiple subalternity.

Associating the notion of modernity to coloniality reinforces the question of


time in an otherwise space-dominated understanding of colonization as the
conquest and exploitation of territories. This article contends that the
capitalist West colonized the very concepts of time and historical progress as
templates for positioning and evaluating any culture as either modern
(civilized) or pre-modern (primitive), while the Soviet East counter-
colonized the discourse of temporality with its own version of utopian
futurism. Locked by the Cold War in an ‘ideological potlatch’ 4 and similarly
rooted in modernity, the capitalist West and Soviet communism generated

1 This work was supported by the strategic grant SOP HRD/89/1.5/S/62259, Pro-
ject ‘Applied social, human and political sciences. Postdoctoral training and post-
doctoral fellowships in social, human and political sciences’ cofinanced by the Eu-
ropean Social Fund within the Sectorial Operational Program Human Resources
Development 2007-2013
2 Boris Groys, ‘The Postcommunist Condition’, %HFRPLQJ)RUPHU:HVW29th November
2009 (2004) <http://becoming-former.tumblr.com/post/262880375/the-post-
communist-condition-boris-groys-the>
3 Piotr Sztompka, ‘Cultural Trauma. The Other Face of Social Change’, (XURSHDQ-RXU
QDORI6RFLDO7KHRU\, 3:4 (2000), 449–466
4 Groys
356 Bogdan úWHIĈQHVFX

different calendars of coloniality but operated with the same logic of forcible
modernization and generated structurally similar power relationships.
Accordingly, I am pleading for the interpretation of the Romanian
(post)communist experience as one of (post)coloniality, wherein modernity
is often represented as cultural trauma. 5 The paper also illustrates some of
the alternative strategies by which postcommunist discourse copes with the
trauma of Soviet and Western colonial models that generated syncopated,
asynchronous or suspended modernities in recent Romanian history.
It is generally accepted that Western colonialism is indissolubly linked to
modernity from its debut in the age of discoveries, through the age of
modern empires, and into the age of the globalized Western model. The
conceptual backbone of PRGHUQLW\DVFRORQLDOLVP is the Eurocentric ideology of
domination and hegemony which procured its legitimacy through the
allegedly universal notions of progress and civilization as the opposites of
primitive, sluggish or backward cultures.6 Colonialism brings with it forced
modernization as an aggressive, persistent act of collective submission and
domination. The colonizer inflicts physical and psychological traumas that
generate by means of social solidarity a collective victimization in the entire
local culture. The effect of this sense of victimhood is to constrain the
process of identity (re)construction by forcing the colonized to represent
themselves as primitive and to adopt the direction and timetable of
civilization which the colonizer exemplifies.
Associating the notion of modernity to the understanding of coloniality
reinforces the question of time in an otherwise space-dominated
understanding of coloniality as the conquest and exploitation of territories.
Mignolo’s resemantization of the coinage ‘double colonization’ – a Protean
phrase that is used for the simultaneous subordination of women to foreign
and male dominance, but also of Eastern European countries to Western
and Soviet dominance – proposes that Western modernity colonized both
space and time, by which he means ‘the invention of the Middle Age in the
process of conceptualizing the Renaissance’.7 The argument can be
extended to mean that the West colonized the very concepts of time and

5 See Sztompka
6 Bill Ashcroft, and others, 3RVWFRORQLDO 6WXGLHV 7KH .H\ &RQFHSWV (London and New
York: Routledge, 2000), p. 131; Walter D. Mignolo, ‘Coloniality and Moderni-
ty/Rationality’ Modernologies, &RQWHPSRUDU\ $UWLVWV 5HVHDUFKLQJ 0RGHUQLW\ DQG 0RGHUQ
LVP &XOWXUDO6WXGLHV, ed. by Sabine Breitwieser, and others (Barcelona:MACBA, 2007;
repr. 2009), p. 39, <http://www.macba.cat/PDFs/walter_mignolo_ modernolo-
gies_eng.pdf> and Couze Venn, 2FFLGHQWDOLVP 0RGHUQLW\ DQG 6XEMHFWLYLW\ (London,
Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: Sage, 2000), p. 53
7 Mignolo, p. 41 and passim
/DWH IRU 0RGHUQLW\ 357

historical progress as templates for positioning and evaluating any culture as


either modern/civilized or pre-modern/primitive.8 It appears that for
modernity-as-colonization time is of the essence. Historians of colonialism
like Giordano Nanni have aptly described the ‘colonization of time’ as the
complement of territorial colonization (2012). What Nanni suggests from
the vantage point of an entire line of critical work on ‘the role of time as an
instrument of colonial power’ 9 is that the imposition of a standardized time
is not just a necessity of Western (colonial) pragmatism, but also a symbolic
gesture of colonial supremacy. Replacing local times with the Greenwich
Mean Time in 1884 was a technical solution to the much older replacing of
alternative temporalities by the standardized calendar of modernity in
Western historiography. 10
Communism brought about one of the most interesting twists of
modernity. While for many, communism was an unexpected abolition of the
values of modern civilization, some critics claim that communism was
simply a modulation of modernity. 11 Historically, the USSR and its satellite
cultures saw themselves as alternatives to capitalist modernity. Romanian
historian Adrian Cioroianu is adamant in describing the Sovietization of
Romania as an economic and political colonization which presented itself as
a ‘variant of (pseudo)modernization’.12 Cioroianu also describes (but fails to

8 Ashcroft, p. 131
9 Giordano Nanni, ‘Time, empire and resistance in colonial Victoria’, 7LPHDQG6RFLHW\,
20:1 (2011), p. 8
10 See Nanni, p. 6 and Barbara Adam, ‘Time’, 7KHRU\&XOWXUHDQG6RFLHW\ 23:2-3 (2006),
p. 119
11 3RVWPRGHUQLVPDQG6RFLHW\(London: Macmillan, 1990), ed. by Roy Boyne and Ali Rat-
tansi, p. 3; Jean-François Lyotard, 7KH 3RVWPRGHUQ &RQGLWLRQ $ 5HSRUW RQ .QRZOHGJH
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1984), pp. 11-14 and passim; Zygmunt
Bauman, ,QWLPDWLRQV RI 3RVWPRGHUQLW\ (London and New York: Routledge, 1992), pp.
166-7; Wayne Gabardi, 1HJRWLDWLQJ 3RVWPRGHUQLVP (Minneapolis, MN: University of
Minnesota Press, 2001), p. 3; François Furet, 7KH 3DVVLQJ RI DQ ,OOXVLRQ 7KH ,GHD RI
&RPPXQLVPLQWKH7ZHQWLHWK&HQWXU\(Chicago and London: Chicago University Press,
1999), p. 29, p. 268; William Outhwaite and Larry Ray, 6RFLDO 7KHRU\ DQG 3RVWFRP
PXQLVP (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), p. 92. No doubt, communism displayed a IHXGDO
mentality as well, together with SUHPRGHUQ practices and mentalities like the geronto-
cratic organization of decision-making and the use of forced labor employed in the
very process of modernization (Outhwaite and Ray). Communist dictatorships did
use nepotism and vassality, personality cults and courtly fawning on such a scale
that they at times resembled an absolutist monarchy, rather than a modern democ-
racy.
12 Adrian Cioroianu, 3HXPHULLOXL0DU[. 2LQWURGXFHUHvQLVWRULDFRPXQLVPXOXLURPkQHVF (Bu-
FXUHûWL &XUWHD YHFKH   S  S  SS -8, p. 365. Interestingly, Boris
358 Bogdan úWHIĈQHVFX

name it as such) what can only be seen as a cultural colonization which is


documented by other researchers. 13 Whatever the direction or origin of this
contest between capitalist and Soviet modernity, Boris Groys makes it clear
that the Cold War meant that the capitalist West and the Soviet communism
were locked in an ‘ideological potlatch’, 14 with the USSR trapped in its
mimic-and-outperform model of modernization. In their compulsion to
regulate time and make it predictable through planned production and social
synchronization, they both incarnated the colonial impulse to dominate our
representations of futurity.15
After the disappearance of the USSR and the collapse of its colonial
empire, the colonization of time by the victorious West still remains. Both
the postcolonial and the postcommunist conditions are constructed through
acts of epistemic aggression and retaliation that involve metaphors of
(under)development (progression/regression/stagnation, growth/decay,
temporal lag/advance) that force the postcolonial/postcommunist subjects
into an essentialized inferiority position from which they need to be rescued
by local postdependence elites or by the postcolonial/postcommunist critics.
The process of recovery in the postdependence interval is held captive by
the treacherous imagery of evolution promoted by modernist theories of
‘directional transformation’. 16 Maria Todorova speaks of a similar act of
epistemic violence through the metaphor of the race (i.e., contest) in which
some nations have taken the lead and stride comfortably in front as models
or standards of the speed of civilization, whereas late-comers trail behind
and are bound to imitate those models. This critical imagism binds together
the Second and Third Worlds and their efforts to catch up with the Western
model:

Groys opines that the reverse was also true, that under a Cold War compulsion to
legitimate itself as an achieved utopia, the capitalist West recommended itself to the
world as an outperformer of the communist ideal: ‘Western capitalism’s self-
depiction as Utopia stems from the rhetoric of the Cold War. During that period,
western capitalism came under considerable pressure to prove its legitimacy, leading
the West more and more to advertise itself to a global audience as superior to the
communist ideal.’ (Groys)
13 $QGUDGD)ĈWX-Tutoveanu, ‘Soviet Cultural Colonialism: Culture and Political Domi-
nation in the Late 1940s-Early 1950s Romania’, 7UDPHV 16 (66/61), 1 (2012), 77-93
14 Groys
15 Adam, p. 119
16 5HWKLQNLQJ3URJUHVV0RYHPHQWV)RUFHVDQG,GHDVDWWKH(QGRIWKHWK&HQWXU\ ed. by Jef-
frey C Alexander and Piotr Sztompka (Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1990), p. 247 and
passim
/DWH IRU 0RGHUQLW\ 359

Granted, all the discursive characteristics of the relationship of the new [Third
World and eastern European] nation-states to the west are shared, and they are
all based on the premise that Europe or the west is the model of imitation, and
that modernizing is articulated in terms of catching up, in which time will be ac-
celerated, so that one would accomplish in a decade or two what others have
achieved in a century or two. 17

Cultures that have allowed themselves to be colonized together with their


future, generally feature the experience as a FXOWXUDOWUDXPD in their historical
narratives. The concept of cultural trauma captures the aggressive, abrupt,
and alien nature of modernity-as-colonization. In Piotr Sztompka’s view, a
culture can experience collective anguish at historical disruptions. Colonial
subjects and critics of coloniality, for instance, adhere to communal
practices of registering colonial change as ‘sudden’, ‘alien’, and ‘traumatic’. 18
Perceiving modernization as a strain on one’s culture is typical of marginal
European cultures. Jacques Le Rider claims that the belatedness of the
second wave of modernization in Central Europe came with an additional
sense of ‘cultural destruction, loss, and destabilization’ and that twentieth-
century history was ‘cruel and unfair’ to Central Europe and it inculcated a
distrust in the rational fables that explain historical development.19 Wariness
towards history and modernity became a WRSRV in interwar Romanian
intellectual discourse.20
The traumatic colonization of temporal representations is nowhere
clearer than in the general acceptance of the notion of this ‘post-’ interval as
a ‘transition’ that confiscates and conducts the future of the former Western

17 Maria Todorova, ‘The Trap of Backwardness: Modernity, Temporality, and the


Study of Eastern European Nationalism’, 6ODYLF5HYLHZ, 64:1 (Spring 2005), p. 160
18 Sztompka, p. 452 and passim. The sense of cultural trauma in the consciousness of
those who see themselves as victims of history has already been convincingly doc-
umented: See 7UDXPD([SORUDWLRQVLQ0HPRU\, ed. by Cathy Caruth (Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1995); Cathy Caruth, 8QFODLPHG([SHULHQFH7UDXPD
1DUUDWLYHDQG+LVWRU\ (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996); Kirby
Farrell, 3RVWWUDXPDWLF &XOWXUH ,QMXU\ DQG ,QWHUSUHWDWLRQ LQ WKH 1LQHWLHV (Baltimore, MD:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998); :RUOG 0HPRU\ 3HUVRQDO 7UDMHFWRULHV LQ *OREDO
7LPH, ed. by Bennett, Jill and Rosanne Kennedy (London and New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2003); Rebecca Saunders and Kamran Scot Aghaie, ‘Introduction:
Mourning and Memory’, &RPSDUDWLYH6WXGLHVRI6RXWK$VLD$IULFDDQGWKH0LGGOH(DVW,
25:1 (2005) and Sztompka’s 2000 article.
19 Jacques Le Rider, (XURSDFHQWUDOĈVDXSDUDGR[XOIUDJLOLWĈаLL (Ia‫܈‬i: Polirom, 2001), pp. 56-
57
20 Bogdan ‫܇‬WHIĈQHVFX‘Voices of the Void: Andrei Codrescu’s Tropical Rediscovery of
Romanian Culture in 7KH+ROH,Q7KH)ODJ’, 8QLYHUVLW\RI%XFKDUHVW5HYLHZ, X:2 (2008), p.
13 and passim
360 Bogdan úWHIĈQHVFX

and Soviet colonies. The postdependence period is often conceptualized as a


‘historical transition’ for postcolonialism and postcommunism alike. 21
Transition models work on a putative unified calendar of monodirectional
progress where less developed countries compete to replicate and catch up
with the Western economy FXP democracy model. 22 Obviously, the arbiter
of postcommunist performance is the West. Consequently, both a hierarchy
and a calendar of transition separate postcommunist countries. Failing to
take the lead in this race quite naturally causes further cultural trauma.23
The concept of transition has recently come under considerable attack
for its teleological premises.24 Students of postcommunism are also reserved

21 Benita Parry, 3RVWFRORQLDO 6WXGLHV $ 0DWHULDOLVW &ULWLTXH (Abingdon and New York:
Routledge, 2004), p. 3; Leszek Balcerowicz, ‘Understanding Postcommunist Transi-
tions’, -RXUQDORI'HPRFUDF\, 5:4 (1994), 75-89, as well as his 3RVW&RPPXQLVW7UDQVLWLRQ
6RPH/HVVRQV (London: The Institute of Economic Affairs, 2002); Ghia Nodia, ‘How
Different Are Postcommunist Transitions?’, -RXUQDORI'HPRFUDF\, 7.:4 (1996); 7KHRUL]
LQJ7UDQVLWLRQ7KH3ROLWLFDO(FRQRP\RI3RVW&RPPXQLVW7UDQVIRUPDWLRQV, ed. by John Pick-
les and Adrian Smith (London and New York: Routledge, 1998); $OWHULQJ6WDWHV(WK
QRJUDSKLHV RI 7UDQVLWLRQ LQ (DVWHUQ (XURSH DQG WKH )RUPHU 6RYLHW 8QLRQ, ed. by Daphne
Berdahl, and others (Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2000)
22 Michael D. Kennedy, &XOWXUDO )RUPDWLRQV RI 3RVWFRPPXQLVP (PDQFLSDWLRQ 7UDQVLWLRQ
1DWLRQDQG:DU(Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002)
23 Various authorities like the European Union, NATO and the United States, the rat-
ing agencies, and great creditors like the IMF or the World Bank are in the business
of sanctioning postcommunist countries’ overall economic and political perfor-
mance, and in their books it seems that the Central European (the Visegrad Four)
and the Baltic states (the first wave of postcommunist states to be admitted in the
EU in 2004) have overtaken the Eastern-European and the Balkan countries (Ro-
mania and Bulgaria are late comers into the EU that still need monitoring in certain
areas), which in turn seem to be doing better than the former Soviet republics.
24 Transitologists seldom agree on whether all postcommunist countries will eventual-
ly become capitalist democracies (or even whether they are all really heading west-
ward), on the basic concerns and strategies for a successful transition, or on whether
one and the same postcommunist country has just taken the first steps or has al-
ready completed its transition. Perhaps the discrepancy between critical evaluations
is all quite understandable given that postcommunism is a VXL JHQHULV phenomenon
with a considerable portion of the world having embarked on a daunting and un-
precedented project in history, ‘the attempt to construct a form of capitalism on and
with the ruins of the communist system’ - 7KHRUL]LQJ7UDQVLWLRQ7KH3ROLWLFDO(FRQRP\RI
3RVW&RPPXQLVW 7UDQVIRUPDWLRQV, ed. by John Pickles and Adrian Smith (London and
New York: Routledge, 1998). The task is more difficult and uncommon than what
other nations had to face before because communist economies were not so much
underdeveloped, as misdeveloped – 3RVWFRPPXQLVP )RXU 3HUVSHFWLYHV, ed. by Michael
Mandelbaum (New York: Council on Foreign Relations Books, 1996) – which
/DWH IRU 0RGHUQLW\ 361

as to the appropriateness of ‘deficit models’, in Michael Burawoy’s phrasing,


whereby postcommunist countries are described in terms of what they lack,
rather than by features of their own which they actually exhibit.25 The
complaints against traditional transitology expose the hidden discursive
mechanisms of the colonization of time and of the domination of the
futures of subordinate cultures. As part of her comparative study of
nationalism, Maria Todorova exposes traditional representations of the
Eastern European and Balkan area for operating on prefiguring tropes of
the lag, of the painful need to catch up with the speedier and more
developed West, of the planting on the native soil of imported or ‘pirated’
Western ideas etc., which have all ingrained an image of the Balkans and
Eastern Europe as a backward area, with a separate, slower or belated flow
of time and she finds these descriptions to be similar to those of the
postcolonial countries:

Accordingly, the main categories of analysis of the past are ones that pertain to
emptiness: lack, absences, what one is not, incompleteness, backwardness, catch-
ing up, failure, self-exclusion, negative consciousness, and so on. And in both
cases the reasons for the backwardness are external. 26

Todorova suggests that the asymmetry between Western and Eastern


Europe be evened out by the historical corrective of ‘relative synchronicity.
Hers is hardly the disinterested and objective proposal of a cool-headed
scholar, but has the intensity of one whose background in an East European
culture has taught her the hard way that the backwardness trope has long
been a WRSRV in the popular and academic mentality informed by Balkanism, a
cliché that is difficult to shake off and that can still work to perpetuate the
anguish of the postcommunist subject.27 Larry Wolff amply documented in

means that these new capitalist democracies are not going to arise spontaneously
and evolve at a natural pace, but will have to be force-grown in unusual conditions
and rushed ‘back on track’ at a dazzling historical speed.
25 Jordan Gans-Morse, ‘Searching for Transitologists: Contemporary Theories of Post-
Communist Transitions and the Myth of a Dominant Paradigm’, 3RVW6RYLHW$IIDLUV
20:4 (2004), p. 334; Richard Sakwa, 3RVWFRPPXQLVP (Buckingham and Philadelphia:
Open University Press, 1999), pp. 119-22
26 Todorova, p. 160
27 Todorova also notices something surprising: that the lag-and-lack trope is not a
stranger to Western European cultures themselves and illustrates it with the exam-
ples of Germany, Italy or Spain. Moreover, she reminds us that some Balkan and
East European states were created at the same time or even slightly before Italy and
Germany (Todorova p. 145). She consequently suggests that the trope (and ‘trap’)
of East European backwardness be replaced with the concept of ‘relative synchro-
nicity’ within the broader historical paradigm of the ORQJXHGXUpH, where the quest for
362 Bogdan úWHIĈQHVFX

his imagological study ‘Inventing Eastern Europe’ how the stereotype of


depicting Eastern European, Balkan, and Slavic peoples as barbarians was
constructed by the Enlightenment and has been perpetuated until as late as
the 1990s. Such references to the backwardness of East European and Asian
cultures have constantly shaped the popular opinion as well as the foreign
policies and military strategies of Western governments. This cliché of
barbarism and backwardness obviously permeated into Eastern European
intellectual circles and generated a traumatic inferiority complex which the
vocabulary of transition theories could only reactivate.
One of the ways in which the traumatized personality of the Eastern
European dealt with this burden was by what Alexander Kiossev has called
‘self-colonization’ in which these marginal and ailing cultures ‘import alien
[Western] values and civilizational models by themselves and that they
lovingly colonize their own authenticity through these foreign models’.28
The pattern of self-colonization which characterizes the pre-communist
history of marginal Europeans spills over into the communist age which
John Connelly has described, using Manfred Heinemman’s coinage, as a
partial ’self-Sovietization’. 29 The pattern of emancipation from Soviet
communism after 1989 is achieved in similar fashion by welcoming Western
neocolonialism. It looks, then, like postcommunist countries, especially
those at the edge of Europe, are caught in the alternation of different
colonial subalternities. Their postcommunist freedom is constricted by the
self-imposed urge to join the global political and economic networks with a
painful sense of their lacks and imperfections and of the need to shape up in
the vain hope that they will become equals in this game30 and ‘return to
normalcy’. 31
Burdened with a tradition of Western and Soviet subalternity
postcommunist countries are cultures in distress. This may partly explain the
reluctance of such posttraumatic states to cope once more with rules
imposed by the new world powers and the dominating authorities of the

national emancipation and the push for civilizational progress were the common
outcomes of a modernization process that spread through the whole of Europe,
making the east and the west of the continent contemporary for all practical rea-
sons.
28 Alexander Kiossev, ‘Notes on Self-colonising Cultures’, in $UW DQG &XOWXUH LQ SRVW
&RPPXQLVW(XURSH, ed. by B. Pejic. & D. Elliott (Stockholm: Moderna Museet, 1999),
p. 114
29 John Connelly, &DSWLYH 8QLYHUVLW\ 7KH 6RYLHWL]DWLRQ RI (DVW *HUPDQ &]HFK DQG 3ROLVK
+LJKHU(GXFDWLRQ– (Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press,
2000), pp. 45-57
30 Kennedy, pp. 272-4 and passim
31 Leslie Holmes, 3RVWFRPPXQLVP$Q,QWURGXFWLRQ (Oxford: Polity Press, 1997), p. 335
/DWH IRU 0RGHUQLW\ 363

day. Postcommunist elites in Romania rediscover the colonial theme which


runs parallel with the process of modernization-as-Westernization of a
marginal, minor or backward culture. The (neo-)colonization of Romania is
sometimes openly invoked in public discourse to deplore the country’s
failures in European or international politics, 32 in economy, 33 and in cultural
wars. 34
Postcommunism presents interesting complications of modernity-as-
colonization. Central and Eastern European cultures have been subjected to
several colonizations in modern times and consequently evince the
particularity of having developed historically as complex sites of multiple

32 Interim President of Romania and current Chairman of the Senate Crin Antonescu
– ’Crin Antonescu: RomkQLDQXWUHEXLHVĈVHFRPSRUWHFDRFRORQLH’ (=LDUHFRP, 17
August 2012) <http://www.ziare.com/crin-antonescu/presedinte-interimar/crin-
antonescu-romania-nu-trebuie-sa-se-comporte-ca-o-colonie-a-ue-1184903> – Cur-
rent prime minister Victor Ponta – ’Victor Ponta, deranjat de criticile Angelei Mer-
kel: Ce, suntem colonie?’, ЭWLULOH 795 (9 July 2012) <http://stiri.tvr.ro/victor-
ponta--deranjat-de-criticile-angelei-merkel--ce--suntem-colonie-_18626.html> –
former prime minister Adrian NĈstase – ’$GULDQ1ĈVWDVH5RPkQLDWUDWDWĈGH%UXx-
HOOHV FD R FRORQLH 1X DP GH JkQG VĈ FHU JUD‫܊‬ierea’, 5HYLVWD  (7 Nov. 2012)
<http://www.revista22.ro/adrian-nastase-romania-tratata-de-bruxelles-ca-o-
colonie-nu-am-de-gand-sa-cer-gratierea-19025.html> – ournalist and National Lib-
eral Party member Sorin Ro‫܈‬FD 6WĈQHVFX – Andrei Cornea, ‘Este România o col-
onie?’, 5HYLVWD (13 Nov. 2012) <http://www.revista22.ro/este-romnia-o-colonie-
19144.html>
33 Former Minister of Finance Ilie ‫܇‬HUEĈQHVFX – Ilie ‫܇‬HUEĈQHVFX‘Noi suntem o col-
RQLHûLEĈQFLOHFDUHVXQWWRDWHVWUĈLQHVHFRPSRUWĈFXQRLFDûLFXRFRORQLH’, &ULWL
F$WDF (12 April 2012) <http://www.criticatac.ro/15750/noi-suntem-colonie-bncile-
care-sunt-toate-strine-se-comport-cu-noi-ca-cu-colonie/> – former MEP Mircea
Co‫܈‬ea – Mircea Co‫܈‬ea, ‘România–a cui colonie?’
<http://www.per.ro/articole/romania---a-cui-colonie-opinie-mircea-cosea-
218.html> [accessed 12 April 2013]
34 Adrian Marino – Sorin Antohi, ‘România ‫܈‬i Occidentul. Dialog cu Adrian Marino’,
2EVHUYDWRU FXOWXUDO, 261 (2005) – Andrei Cornea (See Cornea’s article), former vice-
president of the Romanian Cultural Institute Mircea MihĈLH‫ – ܈‬Anca Dobrescu and
Mircea MihĈLH‫܈‬, ‘Cultura romkQĈ nu e cunoscutĈvQLGHQWLWDWHDHLUHDOĈ’, =LDUXOGHGX
PLQLFĈ (20 May 2005) <http://www.zf.ro/ziarul-de-duminica/cultura-romana-nu-e-
cunoscuta-in-identitatea-ei-reala-3023390> – historian Dinu C. Giurescu of the
Romanian Academy – Dinu C. Giurescu., ‘9DORULILFDUHD LGHQWLWĈŗLORU FXOWXUDOH vQ
procesele globale.’ Keynote address, Romanian Academy International Conference
(20-21 April 2012)
<http://www.cultura.postdoc.acad.ro/discurs_acad._dinu_giurescu_even7.pdf.>
364 Bogdan úWHIĈQHVFX

subalternity.35 The more recent colonization by the USSR was no more than
a temporary suspension of an older and stranger form of the consensual
colonization by the West.36 Western [self-]colonization was so embedded in
the cultural mentalities of these nations, that it was ‘naturally’ resumed as
soon as the Soviet interlude was over. The process of modernization in
Romania and other former members of the Soviet bloc often took this half-
masochistic form of submissiveness both before and after the communist
interlude. While Westernizing/modernizing the country has constantly been
presented by parts of the local elites as a strategy for recovering from
Ottoman, Tsarist or Soviet domination, the fact remains that cultures like
that of Romania or Bulgaria willfully position themselves as subaltern,
minor, peripheral to a superior West. Both the push for Westernization
(modernization) and the resistance from nativists (autochthonists) in the
nineteenth and twentieth centuries, which are constitutive of the rise of
modern national identities in marginal Eastern European cultures, are no
more than West European ideologies imported by the mediating FRPSUDGRU
elites acting under the trauma of internalizing their unavoidable inferiority.
‘Willfully’ embracing this cultural asymmetry, the self-colonized subjects are
placed in the perplexing situation where their emancipation and assimilation
by the ‘civilized world’ and into ‘universal culture’ can only be achieved after
first having embraced a subservient status. Theirs is the self-mutilating
shame of having been culturally estranged from their own future which is
always already mapped out by the Western time-colonizing modernity.

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