Saturday, June 14, 2014

History - A Flexible Script?

I went through a guided tour of the Parliament Palace in Bucharest today. It is a HUGE edifice (second-largest in the world I was told after the Pentagon) and was a very interesting trip.

It was obvious right from the word go that Ceaușescu has left a huge imprint not just on the building but on the social psyche. The tour guide in fact got into a mini-debate half-way through the tour with an elderly gentleman who held views that were directly contradictory to hers. It was quite apparent that the youth were distinctly not in favour of the legacy Caucescu was creating and the elderly were more tolerant. I wonder...

I sensed from the conversations and the clarifications provided by both of them (and this division of opinion was what they proferred themselves) that there was a clear schism about the idea of Ceaușescu. What puzzled me was that even if we assume the elderly are more tolerant of Ceaușescu, it was only one generation preceding them who collectively rebelled against Ceaușescu and summarily had him executed. The scale and force of the rebellion surprised even Ceaușescu and stories talk of his bewildered expression when he made his last speech to the public just before he was forced to flee.

What's the right story? Depends on whom you ask. But from a sociological perspective I found this a fascinating insight into a collective psyche. This relatively recent upheaval (1989) has clearly left scars. I wonder how the man will be looked at a couple of decades from now. I guess history is an ever-changing story scripted by all of us.