The fall of communism and socialism have “robbed” the “post-Sovietized world,” Noemi Marin of Florida Atlantic University suggested at this year’s Modern Language Association (MLA) conference in Vancouver, Canada.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the world has ignored the “traumatic coloniality” and the resulting “trauma had been going on for forty-five years before now,” Marin alleges. The new focus of the debate should be “between communist studies and postcolonial studies” and create “subjective constructivist ideas about identity,” she avers.
Herta Mueller, who won the 2009 Nobel Prize for literature and grew up in Romania under communist rule, offers a different perspective of life under Soviet rule. “My grandmother would work from dawn till dusk until she couldn’t stand up anymore…. And then there would be maybe more money and more land,” she recalls. “They did what they had to do. And then, after 1945, everything was gone. The land was taken by the collective farm. My mother was deported to the USSR. She spent five years in a labor camp, paying for the ‘collective guilt’ of Hitler’s deeds [Mueller’s family was German.] They called that internment ‘Aufbauarbeit,’ ‘reconstruction work.’”
“My grandfather never got used to those changes. He was a poor man now. He couldn’t go to the barber’s three times a week to get shaved, like he used to. And that was no small thing, mind you. That was his social life. He used to go there to meet the community, his peers. It was a ritual which he was forced to give up. What happened to him was socially degrading. And my grandfather, and that whole generation of grandfathers turned outcasts by the new regime, have never ever accepted socialism. Then my mother returned from the USSR in 1950, after five years in the labor camp, after she’d witnessed death and famine.”
Nevertheless, Marin claimed at the MLA confab that Communism’s fall has led to the current, “active colonization of city life” in places like Romania. Perhaps Romanians prefer the so-called “active colonization” of urban life to the active starvation of communism. “Nicolae Ceausescu was born on January 26, 1918,” Biography.com notes of the last communist dictator of that country, who was frequently called “the last Stalinist.”
“He met future Romanian leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej in prison, and succeeded him after his death in 1965,” the biography site informs us. “He ruled Romania according to orthodox Communist principles, causing food shortages by forcing the export of most of the country’s agricultural products.”
“The resulting unrest led to the collapse of Ceausescu’s regime and his execution in 1989.”