The Land is the Country!: Romanian revolutionaries, the „ghost of communism”, and the „terrible ghost” of Russia

In the story that makes up the substance of this course, the liberal promise of social progress – that was a major part of the creation of social modernity – is seen as a historical discursive apparatus that needs the ‘empty signifier’ of communism. Social revolution could be offered as either a future great promise or a present threatening illusion depending on the debates, projects and plans of the inhabitants of the discursive field. This discursive apparatus neutralized the threat of communism by recognizing its importance and even righteousness – while at the same time stressing its alien character, local inappropriateness and dangerousness. In a balancing game, the liberal middle of social progress and nation building needed both the near past of national humiliation and lack of unity and the far future of socialism as disembodied realities. The immigrant Russian revolutionaries played and were played inside this larger symbolic area, and influenced, mostly in indirect ways, how the ‘social question’ was asked and what kind of interests and expertise were needed for the creation of the local social.


  • Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, London, 1985. (fragments);
  • G. Bogdan-Duică, Vieața și opera întâiului țărănist Român: Ion Ionescu dela Brad 1818-1891, (Craiova: Ramuri, 1922).


  • Jianu, Angela. A Circle of Friends: Romanian Revolutionaries and Political Exile, 1840-1859. Leiden: Brill, 2011.