Title: Anarchism in Romania
Topics: history, Romania
Date: 2009
Source: Retrieved on 22nd November 2021 from onlinelibrary.wiley.com
Notes: Published in The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest.

Dwarfed by nationalist and fascist movements on the right and communism and socialism on the left in a country caught between European and Asian empires, anarchism has not played a significant role in Romanian history. Indeed, it appears not to have been a native growth, instead imported to the country by Russian and Bulgarian political refugees in the late nineteenth century (Muñoz 1981: 1–2). One of the latter, the exiled Bulgarian nationalist Hristo Botev (1847–1876), founded what may have been the first anarchist group in the Romanian port city of Galatz in 1871, issuing a proclamation of solidarity for the Paris Commune of that year (Relgis 1959: 66). Errico Malatesta, too, made a sojourn in Romania in 1879, as did Elisée Reclus in 1884. Shortly thereafter, anarchist works began to appear in Romanian translation, for example, Mikhail Bakunin’s God and the State (Dumnezeu ̧si Statul, 1884), Peter Kropotkin’s Appeal to the Young (Catra tineri, 1886), Jean Grave’s Society on the Day After the Revolution (Societa dupa revolutie, 1887), Reclus’s Evolution and Revolution (Evolutie si revolutie, 1885), and Malatesta’s Among Peasants (Intre arani, 1891) (Nettlau 1897 [1968/1968]: 47, 70–1, 74, 90, 94, 125–6). In Bucovina, a multi-ethnic province claimed by the Austro-Hungarian empire until 1919, works by German anarchists such as Erich Mühsam, Gustav Landauer, Pierre Ramus, and Rudolf Rocker circulated (Relgis 1959: 67).

Although Romania claims few prominent anarchist theorists or activists, a number of intellectuals and students were attracted to anarchism toward the end of the nineteenth century (Relgis 1959: 66). Thus, in the 1870s, the aristocratic Zemfir C. Ralli-Arbore (a.k.a. Z. K. Ralli, 1848–1933), befriended by Bakunin, Reclus, and Malatesta, joined the Russian anarchists in Geneva, Switzerland. Panait Mu ̧soiu (1865–1944), editor of the Revista Ideei (Review of Ideas), and psychiatrist Panait Zosîn (1873–1942) were among the more eminent representatives of anarchism in Romania, and Paraskiev Stoianov (a.k.a. Parachkef Stoyanov, 1871–1941) was to become a significant figure in the Bulgarian anarchist movement. A number of notable Romanian anarchists before World War II were Jews, driven from the country by anti-Semitism and political persecution. Thus, Joseph Ishill (a.k.a. Iosef Ishileanu 1888–1966), introduced to anarchist ideas by Mu ̧soiu, immigrated to the United States in 1909, becoming a famous printer of radical works; Marcus Graham (a.k.a. Shmuel Marcus, 1893–1985), editor of the anarchist journal Man! (1933–40), made his way to Canada and California; pacifist philosopher Eugen Relgis (a.k.a. Eugen Sigler, 1895–1987) immigrated to Uruguay in 1947; and Yiddish-language journalist David Stetner (1914–2002) immigrated to France in 1937. Others attracted to anarchism were bohemians such as poet Alexandru Bogdan-Pite ̧sti (a.k.a. Ion Duican, 1870–1922), who encountered the idea through the Parisian Symbolist avant-garde, and apparently, after his disillusionment in the USSR, the left-wing writer Panait Istrati (1884–1935).

Attempts at the dissemination of propaganda were persistent but sporadic: thus, a mere four issues of another anarchist journal, R ̆azvr ̆atirea (Sedition), were published in Focsani in 1891; other short-lived publications included the more eclectic Carmen Sylva, which published translations of Marx and Engels as well as anarchists (1895). Mi ̧sc ̆area social ̆a (Social Movement), co-edited by Mu ̧soiu and Zosîn, appeared in Bucharest from 1895 to 1897 (Nettlau 1897 [1968/1968]: 70, 202–3). Anarchopacifists, often of a “naturist” tendency, published journals such as Cugetul Liber (Free Thought, 1927–8) and Vegetarismul (Vegetarianism, 1932–3). While the Romanian peasantry, resentful toward both the Austro-Hungarian governors and their native aristocracy, harbored some rebellious tendencies, few attempts were made to propagandize among them (Relgis 1959: 65, 67, 70, 73).

The establishment of a communist dictatorship in Romania in 1949 brought with it intolerance for divergent political opinions and a secret police force, the Securitate, renowned for its power. These conditions not only made it impossible for anarchists to organize or profess their beliefs openly, but also restricted access to anarchist writings and severely limited international communication (Tismaneanu 2003).

In the renewed political freedom that followed the fall of communism in 1989, anarchist groups have begun to emerge in Romania, notably in the southwestern cities of Timi ̧soara and Craiova. As in other national contexts, anarchism in Romania today is often tied to youth subcultures, especially punk music. The most visible anarchist groups currently operating in Romania include the Craiova Anarcho-Front, the Aactiv-ist Collective based in Timi ̧soara, and the Subteran Collective based in Ia ̧ si in eastern Romania. Romanian anarchism also has ties to other grassroots political movements including environmentalism, collectivism, and anti-fascism.

Access to the Internet has allowed these groups to reach a broader audience through online publications such as URA: Ura ̧si R ̆azboiul ̧si Anarhia (Hate & War & Anarchy), an anarcho-punk zine circulated by Craiova Anarcho-Front, Dragostea Uchide (Love Kills) by the women of Craiova Anarcho-Front, and the Aactiv-ist Collective Newsletter, which is posted online in several languages. Many Romanian anarchist groups have ties to anarchists in nearby countries, such as Hungary, Serbia, and Poland, and groups such as the Aactiv-ist Collective have also appropriated tactics created by United States anarchists, such as Food Not Bombs and Critical Mass. In a report entitled “Anarchism – Past and Present,” which members of the Aactiv-ist Collective mocked as “combin[ing] the style of an official report with that of a literary composition” (Tarziu et al. 2002), the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), successor to the Securitate, declared that anarchism is not native to Romania but has been imported by foreigners involved in drug trafficking and the dissemination of hard pornography (Goarna.go.ro and Serviciului Român de Informaii 2001). All of this speaks to the continuing transnational character of anarchism in Romania.


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