The nationalization of the social question: C. Stere

The debate about the people and the meaning of socialism was to take a more theoretical turn in fin-de-siècle, especially around the large peasant revolt from 1907. Two former social revolutionaries from different generations, one turned Kautskian orthodox Marxist (C. Dobrogeanu-Gherea), the other proposing a nationalized form of narodnicism (C. Stere), debated the connections between the social question, socialism and the people. In a Marxist rephrasing of the 1848ers discourse on the empty sign of communism, Gherea presented socialism as coming from the European Society towards the local society. In the meantime, local socialism was meant to fight against the monstrous hybrid form of feudalism and capitalism, incarnated in the “neoserfdom” that kept the peasants, the people, out of the historical flux of moderniy that would propel them, eventually, to socialism. Stere, turned into a preeminent member of the liberal party, considered socialism as totally inadequate for Romania, as only a rural democracy coupled with national narodnicism would, eventually, heal the illnesses of this wretched country.

What happened, except from a reframing of the “empty sign of communism” semantic apparatus, inside a Marxist and narodnik informed polemic, was a nationalization of the social question: explicit in Stere’s approach and implicit in Gherea’s confining of local socialism to a national framework. In a paradoxical way, the orthodox Marxist position was closer to the liberal one inherited from the 1848ers, while the national populist (poporanist) one worked towards its dismantling, as socialism was losing its place in the evolutionary temporality. Maybe even more importantly, the people was cast in a different role, that raised different problems than being the patient, long suffering but main beneficiary of social progress.


  • Kitch, Michael. (1975) “Constantin Stere and Rumanian Populism.” Slavonic and East European Review, 53, 131, p. 248-271;
  • Cușco, A. (2012) Constantin Stere, the ‘Bessarabian Question’ and Romanian Foreign Policy Debates in the Early 20th Century, Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas Neue Folge, 60, 2.


  • Ornea, Zigu, Viața lui C. Stere. vol 1-2, 1989, 1991, Bucharest: Cartea Românescă.