The Process of Collectivization Approached in Romanian Propagandistic Literature

The Process of Collectivization Approached in Romanian Propagandistic Literature

Loredana Stoica (Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Letters and Sciences, Petroleum-Gas University of Ploiesti, Ploiesti, Romania)
Copyright: © 2013 |Pages: 10
DOI: 10.4018/ijsem.2013010104


The article analyses one of the most representative propagandistic literary productions that approached the subject of collectivization in Romania, that is the short story entitled The Unfolding written by Marin Preda. The subject brought into attention cannot be discussed without a previous review over the social and political context in the communism, propaganda, situation of peasantry and new ideological patterns that marked people mentality and behavior, class struggle, Party doctrine and all the actions that changed completely the picture of the Romanian society.
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The main is that they are going to begin such a new life how has never been before: to plough, sow the soil and crop together, then share the harvest according to each one’s work […]. The main is that the old life was struck at its base. From now on, people will notice each other and make friends not by the acres of land they possess or how many horses, oxen and cows has each other but by the way they are going to work and behave in the new life that is just beginning. […] He intended to join the collective farm having great expectations. It was his dream…The collective farm? That they are going to have plenty of food? Yes, life is about to change, the same with habits, the villain will be praised no more, the thief will be punished and the one used to living from others’ work will be forced to learn what honesty means, (Preda, 1959, pp. 14-15, my own translation)5

The action takes place in the collective farm Udupu, in the autumn of 1951. On the day the story begins, Ilie Barbu, barefooted and wearing a worn-out shirt but skillfully patched by Gherghina, heads to the People’s Council to sign up in the collective farm together with other peasants. Here shows up Voicu Ghioceoaia, a wealthy villager, the type of the upstart and suspiciously enriched, suspected of conspiracy with the kulaks but already a party member, protected by his new status. He differs from the men gathered in the courtyard both by his look and also his attitude: he is wearing a townsman apparels, a black suit and silk tie. He takes out his wallet from his pocket and imperatively sends Ilie to buy him cigarettes. That moment Ilie has the revelation of his conscience of a new man that has not to accomplish the orders commanded by the others any more, and victoriously refuses him, but also feeling surprised that Voicu still addresses him like a master to his servant.

The same morning the car of the District takes to the village the party secretary, Ţurlea, a son of those places, who had left for town 15 years before, when, fed up with poverty, misery and humiliations undured while he was working at the kulak Enache, he decided to face the whirls of life and went away. That day he is coming back in the village of his childhood, charged with an official party mission, thus he is concerned about the situation in the collective farm Udupu. Sentimental but thoughtful, having the concerns of the serious activist, Ţurlea recognizes the places where he once spent his childhood together with Ilie Barbu, his best friend, who he had played with and later shared he same aspirations. Fed up with watching over the sheep of kulak Enache, and tempted by the mirage of the town, they both decided one day to leave the village and earn their own life. After they had served in a restaurant for a week, Ilie Barbu came back home and Ţurlea stayed. Fascinated with the self-assurance of the young workers, he was employed in a factory and joined the working class, learnt how to identify his enemy and self-educated according to the principles of the determined and dynamic militant, believing in his self-righteousness thus becoming a model of manhood and party member conscience. While Ţurlea is crossing the field and recalling his childhood memories, his meditation and concerns lead to Ilie Barbu as well, as he feels guilty for Ilie’s vulnerability after he had left him behind, unprotected against the class enemy who was still strong.

While Ţurlea is heading to the village, the authorities charged with starting off the procedures for signing up in the collective farm had already assembled at the People’s Council: the cadastral engineer, the engineer of the SAM (Station for Agriculture Mechanization), the secretary of the executive committee of the District, the chairman of the Peple’s Council and two Party activists, wearers of the distinctive signs of the working class, namely peaked caps and briefcases, sitting around the table full of papers, files and the opened map of the village. The proceedures for the unfolding are announced to the peasants assembled in front of the building:

Comrades, we are starting the proceedures for signing up in the collective farm. I say brother, you will come in and unfold with all you have, as you declared in the application that you have signed. […] Declare your northern, southern, eastern and western neighbors, I mean those you have! If there are no neighbors, then just say what it is: road, pond, forest…Then the land around the house: say what kind of land you possess around the house, how many square meters, arable or non-arable. On the field, the same, if you have a non-arable plot, just declare that, too! And that’s it, we are beginning! (Preda,1959, p.30, my own translation)6.

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