Romania:The ‘Centripetfugal’ Process of Unifying the Liberals

ROMANIA’S LIBERAL PARties and the international communist movement (particularly in its post-Stalinist period) share one common feature: there is a lot of talk about the need for unity and there are even periodic moves toward that goal. Yet every such attempt is followed by at least one new split and ends in mutual denunciation. The back-and-forthing could properly be labeled a “centripetfugal” process, as the forces pulling inward toward unification and those pushing outward toward fragmentation are acting at one and the same time and constantly change direction. But although “Workers of the world, unite!” was a slogan that, as one joke has it, was eventually changed by Marx’s ghost into “Workers of the world, forgive me,” Romania’s liberals show no sign of repentance. Part of the explanation for this lack of penitence may have to do with tradition. As one observer who analyzed the plague of bitter rivalries followed by reconciliation and renewed hostility remarked, Romania’s liberals were often at each other’s throats in the interwar period as well.1