Tranziţia: recapitulări şi transformări
Discussion on the 1977 Jiu Valley Strike as Scandal in Romania
During the years of popular power
in Romania there were several seeds of human rights
scandals that the Communist state had to constantly
keep an eye on. As a case study, this paper focuses
on the 1977 miner’s strike that took place in the
Jiu Valley. The protest is significant as ‘comrade
Nicolae Ceausescu’ had to come in person in the
Valley to temper the protest of the miners. The
article examines the mobilization of forces by the
local party leaders and activists as a means to cope
with the “scandal” that broke out in the Jiu Valley
in a moment in which, as one of our interviewees
recalled, ‘the Authority of the Party was zero’.
the 1977 Jiu Valey miner’s strike,
political scandal, mineriade, communism
There are reasons to regard the 1977 Jiu Valey miner’s strike as a scandal that erupted at some point during the years of popular power in Romania. This approach might be regarded as the ‘scandal perspective.’ As several of the testimonies recall, notwithstanding the fact that the demands of the miners had by and large an economic character, the protest of the miners turned inevitably political by the very fact that it was put on show. And thus, we can assume that the scandalous character of the strike of the miners was conveyed by what, following Adut1, I would regard as a ‘public transgression.’ This ‘public transgression’ intended to both refute the authority of the party and to subdue it to social control. It is the possible effects of the ‘public transgression’ that make it so inconvenient, more precisely the fact that it might tempt to imitation, secondly, that it might „normalize transgression”2.
Yet, before opening the discussion on the 1977 strike as scandal in Romania, some explanatory notes regarding the miners’ stratum in Romania seem necessary.
1. Who were the miners?
Jiu Valley is Romania’s main mining region and it is situated in a valley of the Jiu River between Retezat Mountains and Parâng Mountains, in southwestern Romania, Hunedoara county. The region counts six main cities and towns: Petroşani, Lupeni, Petrila, Aninoasa, Uricani and Vulcan, and their population amounts to approximately 170,000 inhabitants at the moment.
The situation of the miners’ stratum in Romania was absolutely dependent upon the rollercoaster vagaries of heavy industry’s performance in the Romanian economy. Thus, it experienced a long and erratic decline, from being one of the top-rated occupations in the region to one of the most poverty stricken, leading to the dramatic escalation of mass ‘hungers strikes’ since the end of 19993.
As far as the communist period is concerned, the Romanian communist party made a point of developing all heavy industrial branches, especially heavy industry. The mining industry was, thus, one of the highly favored professions at the time. Nevertheless, their position as the ‘vanguard of proletariat’ did not impede the miners from being the most active groups of workers protesting against the communist regime. The legend around their highly developed workers’ stratum consciousness begins at some point in 1929, when the Lupeni strike took place, an event which later on was appropriated by the communist propaganda. More specifically, the official communist discourse presented the strike as the first episode when the working class had opposed the bourgeoisie exploitation in the interwar period in Romania.
Than again, in the early years of post-communism, the miners from Viu Valley became once again the protagonists of the so-called mineriade4. In the early 1990’s, given the Romanian context of social antipathy, three major urban, quite violent clashes occurred in Bucharest. The reason they are called mineriade is due to the fact that on all three occasions, after the initial outbreak of disorder, miners arrived in Bucharest as an extra-legal force in charge of reinstating order. In 1990, all of the three marches of the miners to Bucharest were preceded by large, public manifestations of protest against the neo-communist character of the provisional government (the Front) and president Iliescu. The response to the protests was the mobilization of large masses of workers from several factories of Bucharest, and from cities and towns in its vicinity, which were firm in their support for the interim leadership, and for the incumbent president. Of the six miners’ marches to Bucharest (three more were to follow in 1991 and 1999), the June 1990 march is considered to have been symptomatic of the contentious relationship developed in the communist period between Romanian workers and intellectuals, and of the anti-intellectual character of the newly instated power which was of a neo-communist orientation.
But what exactly happened in 1977 in the Jiu Valley? And what was the reaction of the Communist authorities to the event?
1.1. The 1977 Strike in the Jiu Valley
In early august 1977, in the Jiu Valley, about 35,000 miners went on strike subsequent to the promulgation of a law postponing retirement at an older age. The delegates sent to the Valley by Ceauşescu were taken hostage by the miners who called for Ceauşescu to come in person. And hence, the prime secretary arrived on the third day of the strike. He promised wonders. Some of them came true.
In the aftermath of the strike the waves of people sent ‘from the centre’ kept on coming to the Valley, as they were sent to establish ‘order and discipline.’ There was a punctual purge at the political and administrative level – almost all prime secretaries of the miners were replaced – followed by waves of dismissals at the highest echelons of power. Miners were charged with offenses against the provisions of civil law for acts committed during the strike and in its early aftermath, seemingly with no relationship with the strike. They were to carry out their punishments by working in other socialist units, some of them even in prison5. Reportedly, waves of deportation followed6.
1.2. The visit of Ceauşescu in the Valley on the Occasion of the Scandal
There were several elements in the display of the strike that rendered it scandalous. One such element was the putting under distraint of Ilie Verdeţ – the primevice prime minister at that time – and of Clement Negruţ – the mayor and prime secretary of the city of Petroşani at the time – in lodge number two of the porter at the mine in Lupeni. The famous, by now, sequestration – which was either denied or caller into question by its victims – ended once the news of the arrival of Ceauşescu in the Valley had been confirmed7.
Another noteworthy element regarding the 1977 strike is the fact or the perception that the Securitate and the Militia did not overtly ‘interfere’ with the strike. In other words, although the Securitate and Militia organs were present, the appeasement of the conflict was attempted in a politically friendly manner.
Subsequent to the pressures of the miners, on the third day of the strike – August 3rd, 1977 – Ceauşescu came to the Valley. After a short visit to Petroşani, he went to Lupeni where, reportedly, he was expected by 35,000 miners who had come to welcome him. Being caught in the grip, Ceauşescu promised the fulfilling of the demands of the miners and the scandal was thus settled. At the end of the meeting, a more ‘enterprising’ miner even suggested that Ceauşescu be granted the title of ‘miner of honor.’
After the meeting in Lupeni, Ceauşescu went back to Petroşani where a popular meeting was held in his honor. Here, however, there was no mentioning of the events in Lupeni8.
2. The 1977 Jiu Valley Strike as Scandal in Communism
In the following section I will resume the discussion on strike versus scandal during Communism. To a certain extent, the above discussion is similar to the one of Adut9 of the proliferation of scandal/s accelerating the profanation process of the political authority in the West. During Communism, in Romania, but not solely, there were several scandal hotspots that the Communist state had to keep an eye on. Kaminski10 without naming these seeds of scandal, however – regarded them as exercising certain pressure on the Communist state in order to make it respond, to make it reform itself. These certain pressures were the social, economic and political demands voiced. The most influential among these pressuring factors were the rebellious manifestations of society, the political activism of the diaspora and programs on foreign radio stations.
The fact that during Communism in Romania – for several reasons – the collective confrontation with the regime was a quite exceptional phenomenon, such confrontations inflamed perceptions of these sorts of events as real scandals. And this statement is true for the state, for society at large, for the exile and as well as, eventually, for the ‘broader outside word’. It is therefore realistic to explore the 1977 Jiu Valley strike as a scandal that erupted at some point in the late 1970’s, in the years of popular power in Romania.
One of the reasons backing this choice is a practical one. An analysis according to the binary ‘scandal-reform’ of the Communist state/ regime/ party assumes an exploration of the strategies employed not only by the strikers or the protesters, but also those employed by the people under attack. And this brings us to the book of Sherman11 on Scandal and Reform about the corrupt police departments, which mainly illustrates the approach to the strike that is developed within the limits of this text. In Adut’s12 review of the theories of scandal that have emerged, the one of Sherman13 is included in the cluster of constructivist perspectives on the topic. The other group is comprised by theories called „objectivist”. In this paper, the Communist regime is associated with the corrupt police department only in the sense that both are labeled as deviant organization/regimes, and that in both cases the scandal occured against the background of this deviation. In the case of the Communist state, the strike challenges the discourse of the state about itself and about its relationship with society.
Back to the work of Sherman14 on Scandal and Reform, I found it important given that it points to bases and angles for screening the strategies of reform employed by a corrupt nest subsequent to the outburst of a scandal. The book defines scandal as a form of social control and analyzes the vigor of the effects of little scandals, big scandals and of scandal events in revealing the corrupt character of an organization and in bringing it back on the right track15. Sherman defines scandal as „a public act of labeling an actor’s identity, a ceremony of status degradation. The label that scandal attempts to apply to its subject is a new identity, a morally inferior status unworthy of trust. [...] Rather than saying the deviant is now unworthy of trust, the scandal shows how the deviant has in fact not been worthy of trust for some time”16. According to Sherman, at the outburst of a scandal, the bulk of strategies employed by the deviant organization is aimed at showing that the deviance pointed at by the scandal is an unfortunate fact, and although true, it belongs to some of its members and is not characteristic of the entire organization as such. In other words, the instinct of self-preservation dictates the organization to elude its overall deviant characteristic by calling attention and blaming it on the individual deviances of its members. And thus – if the strategies are successful – the individual deviation saves the organizational one.
Back to our case study, however, there is evidence to show that the Communist state called for a large-scale scapegoating in order ‘to face his face’ in the aftermath of the strike. What then remains to be scrutinized are the anatomy of the process of scapegoating, the internal resistance opposing it and the counts of indictment circulating. Most likely the purge/ scapegoating that took place in the party folds upon the hierarchical layers within the party and the nomenklatura.
The second reason – that also acts as an argument in the favor of employing the ‘scandal perspective’ – is that several testimonies on the 1977 strike recall the beginning of the strike as a scandal. As several of the interviews reveal, the miners put up a scandal subsequent to the cut in salaries and the prolongation of the age of retirement that were brought by the application of Law no. 3.
The month of July passed. And then it was decided at the top, at the government (level), that if people are working they should work … and they do not receive the pension anymore. And they [the people] revolted. Because these salaries were all … jobs [were] badly paid. On the surface. They were not earning as much as they were used to when they worked in the underground. And the revolt started from here. „Why don’t we get the pension that we ought to?! In the mine [is the place where] we got injured! In the mine we destroyed our lives! And why do not we get the pension we have been receiving thus far?!” They went to the director at Aninoasa. That one did not know. They went to the trade union. They did not know. What were they supposed to tell them? […] „It was decided at the top!” And [there was an] uprising and I do not know what! The second day again…17
And eventually, the third argument for the usage of the ‘scandal-reform’ perspective is that it appears that this reading of the strike goes hand in hand with the way it is presented in several of the testimonies that have been given by the inhabitants of the Jiu Valley. Several personal accounts of the strike indicate that in the amalgam of different measures that were taken in the Valley subsequent to the strike-scandal there was a non-negligible degree of reform undertaken18. These measures of reform mostly meant mechanization, jobs for women, the six hour workday instead of eight and improvements in living conditions.
In the Jiu Valley case, the state administered penalizations promptly (the purge in the party, the 15 miners who got convicted, the filtering of the workforce in the region, the penetration of Securitate informers into the Valley), but in a reform-like manner. The inclination towards more reform in response to scandal in the case of the Jiu Valley might have been favored by two facts. First, the Jiu Valley was an important strategic region for the country. The scandal in the Jiu Valley took place in a moment in which, as one of our interviewee recalled, Ceauşescu kept on demanding „Coal! Coal! Coal!”19. Second, the 1977 scandal broke out because of a law issued ‘at the center’. And thus what the local establishments had been approached for was a ‘bad work of propaganda’20. The purge in the party was more or less camouflaged. There was this general responsibility of the local party establishment. And, primus inter pares, there were certain members whose behavior had been ‘interpreted’ by the state as having facilitated the progress of the scandal.
One might argue that the trust enjoyed by the state during Communism had nothing in common with the trust enjoyed by the police department in a democratic regime. At least the corrupt police department did enjoy, at least in its beginnings, a legitimate dismounting, which certainly cannot be stated about the Communist regimes. But than again, in the case of Romania, at least the mid 1960’s did witness bulky waves of popularity for the regime due to the Romanian original initiatives on the international political arena and which forecasted a destiny for the Socialist Republic of Romania apart from that of the Soviet Union. Between April 15-22nd 1964, at the Plenary of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party, a declaration was adopted that reproved the claim of the Soviet Union over the leadership of the Communist international movement. The historiography of Romanian Communism usually traces back the political antipathy between the Soviet Union and the Popular Republic of Romania to this point, which – after 1965 – became the Socialist Republic of Romania. Then, on October 21st, 1964, Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej requested through the Soviet ambassador in Bucharest the withdrawal of the KGB advisers from Romania. The request was fulfilled in December that same year. As a result of a small succession crisis caused by the passing away of Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej in early February 1965, Nicolae Ceauşescu became the prime-secretary of the Central Committee of the Romanian Workers’ Party.
After this succession seism of low intensity, Ceauşescu – slowly but surely – set to seize the political power in the country21. The 1965 Constitution proclaimed the Socialist Republic of Romania and stipulated the principle of ‘socialist legality.’ In two-three years’ time Romania initiated or continued taboo socialization with countries such as Israel (whom it did not interrupt diplomatic relations with in 1967), and the Federal Republic of Germany. It can be stated that communism during this time in Romania was baptized anew on two occasions. The first one was in April 1968, when – on the event of the Plenary of the Central Committee of the Romanian Communist Party – Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu, executed in 1954 for deviationism, was rehabilitated. On the same occasion, Alexandru Drăghici – the minister of Interior during the reign of Gheorghiu-Dej – was expelled from the party for being proven guilty of mastering the abuses of the Ministry of Interior under Gheorghiu-Dej. The act of investigating past abuses, eventually ending with the denunciation of the culpable one, i.e. Alexandru Drăghici, was meant to indicate a delimitation from and condemnation of the Communist regime’s past abuses. The second event took place on the occasion of the condemnation of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact Troops on August 20th, 1968. Thus, society in the late 1960’s in Romania did exhibit a certain enthusiasm for its Communist state, an enthusiasm which started to fade away, however, in the following decade.
Scandal as a collective uproar caused by political, social, worker’s (in this case) misconduct employs shaming and the expression of public indignation. The communist regime in Romania consisted of a stand-still process of building Socialism and of a longlasting cult of personality of the prime secretary, who did not want to let it go. This context being drawn, I assume that it is reasonable to argue that Ceausescu’s secretariat had what to be held scandalous (corrupt, inefficient) against.
But coming back to the definition of the scandal, as stated above, the Romanian dictionary provides two definitions, one in terms of cause and one in terms of effect. Moreover, belonging to the same family, there is also the Romanian notion of somebody making/producing scandal, in the sense that somebody raises hell’s delight. The three notions thus are: 1. making/producing scandal (from noisy to riotous manifestations of a social, cultural, labor, political conflict), 2. scandal (collective uproar) as an effect, and 3. scandal (political, financial etc. misconduct) as a cause. Each of these notions is seemingly covered by episodes of the strike.
The ‘making of scandal’, for instance, describes the tumultuous amassing of the miners at Aninoasa mine, and then at Lupeni. At this point the notion must be understood in connection with the sentiment of fearing the masses. At this level the handbook of first aid requires measures of quieting down protesters and of stopping/preventing the spreading of the scandal (both spatially and in intensity.) In the case of the 1977 Jiu Valley, there might have been a chance to prevent the spreading of the scandal from Aninioasa to Lupeni had the paying of the salaries been halted.
Worthy of note is that the miners followed a chain of command/ responsibility when requesting whom to speak with. Several testimonies make a point of the fact that the miners called for Ceausescu to come to the Valley after they had come across either the ignorance, or the helplessness of several loops in the chain of command.
In regard to scandal as effect, it appears that there are two sprouts for it. The first one is contextual: it boils down to the daily growing discontent of the population. It was just a matter of time when they’d grab the chance and manifest their discontentedness openly. The casting of the second plot consists of the key characters who were thought to have influenced the most the succession of events. In the aftermath of the strike, the party had put up his own interpretation of the plot of the scandal. As it happened, the acts or attitudes of several persons ‘were interpreted’ as having facilitated the unfolding of the scandal, either by an action they took or the lack of it22. The scandal tested the loyalty and the efficiency of its members. There is the collective scapegoat of the administrative measures, and the individual scapegoat of the investigative measures. The interviewees and testimonies on the 1977 Jiu Valley strike point to the fact that the scandal was a dynamic and unforeseeable process. The 35,000 miners gathered at Lupeni, swelled the scandal, but then they also froze it until Ceauşescu came to the Valley. After all, it was still a notable performance that the scandal did not escalate into a riotous manifestation or into a clash with the Militia. The scandalous event lead to the penalizations along party line (level) to the extent that, reportedly, everybody who was in a leading position – and was not on a leave on the time of the strike, since it was summer – was replaced. The ‘replacement’ of everybody, however, goes hand in hand with evidence of punctual shortcomings and weaknesses of several of the party members and activists. Reportedly, a party secretary was reproved because his attitude at the time of the strike ‘was interpreted’ as weakness and cowardice.23 By the same token, a chief engineer of one of the mines was penalized for the fact that his attitude ‘was interpreted’ as ‘having encouraged’ the development of the scandal24. And thus, paradoxically, while the witnesses of the scandal recall that almost everybody was replaced for the overall failure in preventing and appeasing the scandal, there were also those who, in the interpretation of the party, contributed to the making of the scandal from one episode of the strike to another. This specific succession of some more at fault than others might serve the purpose of rationalizing the escalation of the conflict, but also the channeling of the responsibility into a certain direction. When everybody is guilty enough there is no one guilty.
3. The Reception of Ceausescu - Activists and Journalists on Alert
As a reaction of the state to the 1977 Jiu Valley strike, the present study has decided to focus on ‘the visit of comrade Nicolae Ceausşescu to the Valley.’
According to Ilie Verdeţ, Ceauşescu’s interpretation of the event was that it happened subsequently to ‘bad work of propaganda, [as] the decisions of the party were not popularized’25. There is no so-called official story of the strike, but an official story of Ceauşescu coming to Petroşani. In the August 5th, 1977 issue of the officious Scânteia, one article stated that Ceauşescu made a ‘work visit’ in to the Jiu Valley26.
In the following, a less officious account about this visit is offered. As stated before, this visit made the job of the party leaders who were gathered/sent there (at all possible levels – i.e. the level of the mine, the municipal one, the county one, and the central one eventually) twice harder than before. The reason for this is that the responsibility of keeping the miners in check was doubled by the one of granting a smooth and warm welcoming to the president of the country. As the interviews taken in the Jiu Valley in summer 2006 show, the visit of Ceauşescu was a very important event in the quieting of the scandal.
The visit can be unfolded into three episodes. The first one was the meeting with the Petroşani party activists.) The second event in the proceedings was the meeting with the miners in Lupeni in front of lodge number two (the mining city where the miners had gathered for the previous two days). And eventually, the last point on the agenda was the meeting with the Popular Assembly back in Petroşani.
Before getting started, however, I will make a small parenthesis regarding the vanishing of the authority of the Party during the duration of the scandal. The matter is significant as the activists of the local party establishment were the ones who were supposed to settle the scandal and prevent it from taking place. The party activists had been mobilized, but they failed to do anything due to the fact that the ”miners did not accept to be lead by anyone at that point”27.
The local party activists and party leaders who had been usually more feared than respected found themselves helpless in confronting the miners. The authority collapse of local party activists was substituted with groups comprised spur-of-the-moment of people sent from the center, of leaders of the local establishment and of those of the mines. The party members lower in rank were trying to maintain control over the miners with the help of those miners who held responsibilities within the party28.
The party activists were chased like bunnies throughout Lupeni and after the first communication failure with the miners at the outburst of the strike, they had to face the additional task of dressing Lupeni up for the welcoming of Ceauşescu and to mobilize people to come to the Popular Assembly.
Because this was the problem of the activists -- to bring people. „And you are going to go to I don’t know which place!” And eventually ... Because there were few of them and their asses were shaking. Because they were all afraid: „What if it does not turn out well?” And they will be kicked out ...
As compared to the party activists, the effective mobilization of the journalists was switched on only when the ‘work visit’ of Ceauşescu in the Valley was confirmed. They were supposed to help out the activists in making the prior arrangements for welcoming the comrade. Up to that point, however, the journalists were not assigned any role by the party. Apart from the concern with the lack of subordination of the miners, there was also the issue of shortage in human resources. One has to recall that it was summer and several activists, even superiors of the local party establishment, were on vacation. The shortage in journalists and activists was supplemented by those sent to the Valley from the city of Deva30, whilst the ranks of the Assembly Meeting were filled with people coming from all over the Valley.
As said before, the visit of Ceauşescu was supposed to proceed in three episodes. The first event was the meeting with the body of party cadres in Petroşani. What followed then was the ‘work visit’ to Lupeni where the miners were gathered. Eventually he had to come back to Petroşani, where a Popular Assembly was waiting to welcome him. For this purpose, the group of journalists and activists who gathered the evening before Ceauşescu’s arrival at the House of Culture was divided in two groups. The city of Petroşani was shared out to the first group, whereas Lupeni was allotted to the second one. In the following I will deal with each episode separately.
The meeting with the Party, including the economic and administrative cadres (activul de partid) took place at the House of Culture. There were around 800 people amassed. The purpose of this meeting was to update Ceauşescu on the recent developments in the Jiu Valley. Still, there was no mentioning whatsoever about what was happening in Lupeni. The job of the journalists was to prepare the speeches. There are interesting accounts of the practice of preparing the discourses. The details are described by a former journalist of the local officious newspaper in Petroşani at the time of the strike31. He was charged with the writing of the discourses of two miners. One miner was from Lupeni, and the other one was from Petrila. Reportedly, they were chosen by the local party secretaries for the job. Our journalist made some phone calls in order to get to know the whereabouts of the two miners. The Lupeni miner was set, while the profile of the one from Petrila was still pending. The profile of the miner was the one that gave, at the end of the day, some personality to a speech which had already become a discursive triteness during early Communism. After all, the final discourse was tailored for the characteristics of the miner.
Well, this has been in my whole existence as a journalist the most awkward job ever. This was it! It was the newspaper of the party, and everything that they – the activists – did not do, it was supposed to be done by us. Everything that was to be written had to be written by us. Including telegrams, and ... and we had to ... I had to prepare two speeches. A miner from Petrila. „Who?” „Get in touch with the secretary from there and he will tell you who” [...] So. This was my mission. And I went to the editorial office, and [made] phone calls. „Hey, whom will you give from Lupeni to deliver a speech tomorrow?” „We were told [about the one from Lupeni]” „What about [the one] from Petrila?” „I still don’t know!” [...] So, because I said at some point: „Comrade! I have worked 20 years in the mine! Brigade leader! I have a family! I have five children! All of them are happy! They live! The wife works at the knitting factory, or somewhere.” So, these elements were needed. Apart from those trite expressions „Much-beloved! Highly esteemed!” This was the big problem! It had to be individualized in a way.
The next early morning the speeches were written. Everything proceeded smoothly except for the fact that the miner from Lupeni was panic-stricken before the show. And thus the intervention of ‘somebody from CC’ (the Central Committee) was needed, who had to talk with the miner and to convince him to give the speech33. In fact, the crippling stage fright that the miner had suffered was caused by the fear of a would-be reprisal for the other miners. During the speech he gave his hands were shaking. Overall, there were about five people who took the floor. After the meeting with Ceauşescu ended, the journalists had to keep an eye on the miners who had been entrusted to them34.
The meeting was about two hours long. As stated above, there was no mentioning about Lupeni. Ceauşescu held his usual speech. At a certain moment during the meeting, while he was skimming through the pages of a thick dossier, he was approached by an autochthonous and given a note. It seemed that the miners from Lupeni were getting impatient, and that it was time for Ceauşescu to leave for Lupeni35.
It can be stated that the meeting went on without any incidents. But the most difficult part for the party activists, the ‘work visit of the comrade’ to Lupeni, was still ahead of them. The activists and journalists in Lupeni came up against several intricacies while doing their job. When they met the previous night to prepare the speeches, a group of miners rushed upon them in the middle of the night. The miners took the activists and journalists and restrained them at the legendary lodge number two – where the prime-vice-prime minister and the prime secretary of Petroşani are said to have been kept hostages36. The purpose was to thwart any design of staging ‘the welcoming of the comrade.’ By the same token, the miners also hampered the decking with flags of Lupeni. Reportedly, they managed to hang up only two flags , hung on wires37.
In Lupeni, plans of welcoming Ceauşescu were disturbed because the miners besieged the comrade and he was left solely in the company of very few, among whom the prime vice-prime-minister. And thus a so-called change of protocol took place. The miners also impeded him in delivering his speech, and thus Ceauşescu had to pass on to negotiations with the miners, who were represented by the miner Constantin Dobre. The latter read the demands of the miners in front of Ceauşescu. The president promised the adoption of measures. What the miners were granted on the spot was the six hours workday.
After the meeting was over, Ceauşescu went back to Petroşani, where people from all over the Jiu Valley had been brought together for the meeting with the comrade. The evidence so far collected on the issue does not indicate whether changes of protocol had taken place in Petroşani in this final phase of Ceauşescu’s visit to the Jiu Valley.
I attempted in the present article to reconsider the historical moment of the 1977 strike of the Jiu Valley miners by means of exploration in terms of a scandal that surfaced at a certain moment during middle and late Communism in Romania. I consider the approach to prove its usefulness particularly when addressing the strategies employed by the local and central party establishments in dealing with the episode of miner’s protest. I tried to show that the ‘dealing with the strike’ for the local and central establishments inevitably took the form and the stakes of ‘dealing with a scandal.’ A scandal which, if not carefully handled, could go round as a scandal generator both inside and outside the country (the mobilization of the diaspora, for instance.) The quieting of the protest took place at different levels. From this overall mobilization of forces, I focused on the one of the party activists and journalists in order to prepare the visit of ‘comrade Nicolae Ceauşescu’ in the Valley. I considered the moment significant, given that the officious newspaper camouflaged the direct negotiations with the miners that were forced upon Ceauşescu as a voluntary ‘work visit’ of the president.
However, there is need of extending the analysis of the strike in terms of scandal outside the boundaries of the country. As the scandalous potential of the strike internationally for example is linked to its echo in the exile, it is unavoidable that the analysis of the punctual reaction of the state to this particular scandalous event be corroborated with an analysis of the response of the state – if there was any – to the reactions in terms of scandal – if there were any – of the exile.
Adut, Ari (2005), „A Theory of Scandal: Victorians, Homosexuality, and the Fall of Oscar Wilde”, AJS vol. 111, no. 1, pp. 213-248.
Barbu, Mihai and Gheorghe Chirvasă (1997), După 20 de ani sau Lupeni ‘77–’97, Petroşani: Cotidianul Matinal and Editura Cameleonul.
Betea, Lavinia (2001), Maurer şi lumea de ieri, Cluj: Dacia.
Betea, Lavinia (2001), Convorbiri neterminate. Corneliu Mănescu în dialog cu Lavinia Betea, Iaşi: Polirom.
Betea, Lavinia (2006), Lucreţiu Pătrăşcanu. Moartea unui lider communist, Bucharest: Curtea Veche.
Dobrescu, Angela and Cosima, Rughiniş (2004), „Managing Labor Crises. A Case Study of the Jiu Valley. Romania”, ***, available at
http://www.ifresi.univ-lille1.fr/PagesHTML/ABM/actescoll/26.pdf / Retrieved June 6th, pp. 465-484.
Kaminski, Antoni (1992), An institutional theory of communist regimes: design, function, and breakdown, San Francisco, Cal: ICS Press.
Sherman, Lawrence W. (1978), Scandal and Reform: Controlling Police Corruption, Berkeley, California: Univ of California Press.
Vasi, Ion Bogdan (2004), „The Fist of the Working Class: The Social Movements of Jiu Valley Miners in Post-Socialist Romania” in East European Politics and Societies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp.132-157.
VA (2006), Interview, 25 July – Jiu Valley.
FB (2006), Interview, 28 August – Satu Mare.
VB (2006), Interview, 27 July – Jiu Valley.
ID (2006), Interview, 27 July – Jiu Valley.
PP (2006), Interview, 26 July – Jiu Valley.
IV (2006), Interview, 25 July – Jiu Valley.
1 Ari Adut (2005), „A Theory of Scandal: Victorians, Homosexuality, and the Fall of Oscar Wilde”, AJS vol. 111, no. 1, pp. 221-222.
2 Ibidem, p. 222.
3 Angela Dobrescu and Cosima Rughiniş (2004), „Managing Labor Crises. A Case Study of the Jiu Valley. Romania”, ***, available at
http://www.ifresi.univ-lille1.fr/PagesHTML/ABM/actescoll/26.pdf / Retrieved June 6th, p. 481.
4 Ion Bogdan Vasi (2004), „The Fist of the Working Class: The Social Movements of Jiu Valley Miners in Post-Socialist Romania” in East European Politics and Societies, vol. 18, no. 1, pp.132-157.
5 IV (2006), Interview, 25 July – Jiu Valley.
6 PP (2006), Interview, 26 July – Jiu Valley.
7 Mihai Barbu and Gheorghe Chirvasă (1997), După 20 de ani sau Lupeni ‘77–’97, Petroşani: Cotidianul Matinal and Editura Cameleonul, pp. 28-29 and pp. 208-209.
8 Ibidem, p. 36.
9 Ari Adut (2005), pp. 242-243.
10 Antoni Kaminski (1992),
An institutional theory of communist regimes: design, function, and breakdown, San Francisco, Cal: ICS Press, p. 179.
11 Lawrence W. Sherman (1978),
Scandal and Reform: Controlling Police Corruption, Berkeley, California: Univ of California Press.
12 Ari Adut, (2005), pp. 216-217.
13 Lawrence W. Sherman, (1978).
16 Ibidem, p. 74.
17 ID (2006), Interview, 27 July – Jiu Valley.
18 FB (2006), Interview, 28 August – Satu Mare.
19 ID (2006).
20 Mihai Barbu and Gheorghe Chirvasă (1997), p. 206.
21 Lavinia Betea (2001), Maurer şi lumea de ieri, Cluj: Dacia.
Betea, Lavinia (2001),
Convorbiri neterminate. Corneliu Mănescu în dialog cu Lavinia Betea, Iaşi: Polirom.
22 VB (2006), Interview, 27 July – Jiu Valley.
23 Mihai Barbu and Gheorghe Chirvasă,
Op. cit., pp. 48-49.
24 Ibidem, p. 61; VA (2006),
Interview, 25 July – Jiu Valley; VB, Op. cit.
25 Mihai Barbu and Gheorghe Chirvasă,
Op. cit., p. 206.
26 Ibidem, p. 86.
27 VA, Op. cit.
29 ID, Op. cit.
- doctorand în cadrul Polish Academy of Sciences,