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Totelecan ...

    International Conference:

    European Rural Policy at the Crossroads

    Thursday 29 June Saturday 1 July 2000

    The Arkleton Centre for Rural Development Research

    King's College, University of Aberdeen


Wrapping the Landscape

by Silviu G. Totelecan

    Romanian Academy

    Abstract: Trans-national state policy seems to be in the latest years a new ideology that tries to overwhelm all European countries. Ordinary states, in this context, feel two types of pressure: one, which ndarises from the medium structures of citizenship in their conquest for identity, and a 2 one which comes

    from the global policy and the supra-rules that govern the future of the world.

    This “sandwich” model of the actual European states is a familiar figure now. We can observe that, a great number of states are playing a very strong competition with themselves in the name of this new “way”, but their strategy is beside the people goals. It is well known that the failure of this system has already begun as we have a close look at the northern part of the continent.

    Meanwhile, in the eastern part of the world the strain is even bigger. Here, only a small group of persons can comprehend which are the implications of this movement. The majority (and not in an ethnical sense) are waiting for the real public debates which should provide some guidance in finding the way in this strange mixture, produced by supra- and sub- national “forces”. The major concerns still remain, and the

    biggest one is the fear that after all, “the stomach will rest empty” even if we enter the new (for us) European structures.

    The major question that I try to answer in my paper is: what will our way be in this context? Do we have some special type of hamburger that can replace the “universal” one? On the other hand, is our “mamaliga” (corn mush) strong enough for the European free market? I do not have great expectations about a rapid improvement of day-to-day life in Romania (especially in rural areas) but I do know that we have a lot of marvelous landscapes and the only thing we have to do is wrap up all those “images” and sell them. This can be our strategy at the crossroad.

    1. The trans-national state and the identity dissolution. One of the main dramas

    of the European nations in the last decades is that of diluting the feeling of identity, this fact evolving in a tight connection with the “increase” of the feeling of affiliation with the European communities, at last the result of a symbolic construction of the last decades. The special ideological movements that take place under the cover of Europenism envisaging the “regaining of European values” by the countries that in fact make up Europe, but in


    reality do not have this right, grounding its legitimacy on the so called “pluses” that the West-European civilization has gained over the time, now being prepared to share them to those having not very happy past periods.

    Syncopes of this new ideology (known as “ European construction”) appear more

    and more often even in the social areas where they come from. Discussions regarding the potential beneficiaries of the “advantages” produced as a consequence of this major change of European impact consider as winners more and more frequently a few people behind whom diverse transnational companies act in the deficit of the populations living together in the respective countries. The usefulness of such an approach is extremely circumspect, the realities of the last years showing that a deep investigation is certainly needed.

    From the theoretical point of view, the coexistence of the two identity forms, national (or infra-national) and super-national, is practically impossible, their cohabitation having special implications, extremely unpredictable. Although approaches by which the construction of a normative pattern is tried, which should permit the achievement of an “exotic” product called trans-national state are numerous, these have an already contested

    by the future citizens of this new type organization departure point, meaning the giving up of some individual existent freedoms and liberties in favor of a social self.

    From the moment when the European Steel and Atomic Energy Community was set up or some other structures of this type, economic by their nature, the appearance of this process could be loomed, where the national state will have a change of its own, giving up step by step of its prerogatives in the favor of a “new type” state. Even if from an economic point of view such a structure can be viable (a fact doubted by numerous countries, the economy of which is extremely strong in Europe and which do not wish to attach to such a trans-national structure in the idea of keeping this status; we consider here especially the North-European countries, but not only these ones), from the political, social, cultural point of view, more precisely of those mechanisms in which social relations in their non-economic dimension (we could also say even non-rational as Gary Beakeer, 1976 understood it) are prevalent, things are not that easy. Political decisions can be taken (and are really taken) without asking for the citizen‟s opinion, but we won‟t find a German, French, Italian etc. who, at least for one second, should wish to spare of some things,


    intrinsic to himself, for the sake of an homogenization by virtue of which the European man is created. At the sentimental level, for example, how can the Northern “coldness” be reconciled with the South “passionality”? The answer we are always offered is that it is not

    even necessary, because one could live together by the principle unity in diversity. As far as we are concerned, we consider that such an approach of the problem is not in conformity with the reality, if we think of the diverse types of autonomies which appear everywhere. We cannot place under the same roof different nations without making them suffer of complex processes (at least the weakest ones) of identity atrophy; being imposed to them some forms where national contents have no room.

    Without being able to oppose the trend of history, the problem whether as a nation we have the “weapons” by the help of which we could at least put on brake, if not stop, a homogenization which is neither cultural, nor even civilizing, “ obliging” us to replace the

    traditional corn mush with the hamburger. The East-European identity, then Balcanic and not last the Romanian one, sum of elements of a very difficult life in common which stretches over history, we think that still owns the competencies by which it can be itself on the European scene.

    2. Turning towards self. The actual context where international politics is being

    made remains “open” only for those states which know how to act on this scene (the game itself having very diverse valences, not necessarily the economic ones being more important). By embracing game techniques which do not fit with the identity being (Romania has lately played the geo-political “card” which hasn‟t had so far the promised

    results), we do not believe that we would have something really significant to say. The solution comes as we have tried to argue from the rediscovering of the identity roots; the

    1more as today in the territorial marketing and territorial identity era the authenticity

    image could be more important than the natural feelings with traditions and territory. If in France for example peasants have to be very attentive to the way they “ practice” their double identity ( that of the traditional “shepherd”, respectively of the “modern” man forced to earn the necessary things for every day life, the famous Roquefort cheese or other basic food considered as traditional, being manufactured under the auspices of modern


technology) miming traditional upon request of consumer of “archaic” ( the veridicality of

    the final product authenticity being the main concern), the Romanian rurality (at least in the Apuseni region) not only that it has rusticity elements, but it really is archaic, the “mot” being never in the position of playing this double role.

    In a late modernity where the accent is put on the modalities of “selling” the identity, the localism (contextual meaning), including the social values of the past, the answer to the question “who is rural”? receives new meanings. The specialty literature discriminates

    among multiple ruralities, multiple types of rurals and multiple representations of the rural. A world in which the city is associated more and more with pollution, unemployment, exclusion and delinquency, the representation of the rural from a place where the main sector‟s traditional works were performed, has become a communion between diverse factors which certify rural as the place where nature, spending the free time, health, cultural patrimony and even “quality of life” are defining elements. If in the past peasants were seen

    as brutal, “retarded”, uncivilized, today in exchange, they are the representatives of the national “portrait”, the keepers and the defenders of the rural patrimony raised and built on social and family values which have deep roots into the past. Rurality slowly turns into a

    2. space where images, symbols are created, transformed and consumed

    3. Material and Spiritual Culture. Unfortunately this “return” on the economic

    dimension is even more sensed in the Apuseni Mountains, fact illustrated as a matter of fact in all the works about this region. The titles of the books, studies, articles which analyze this mountain area contain the word “problem” to which attributes like: sanitary, economic, demographic, cultural etc. are added, which bring to first place the difficulty of living together in this area.

    The lack of some decision meant to correct this sober dimension of reality, often

    3mentioned in literature, has remained as a constant of the post-December regimes as it was of those after-December. The governmental policies have not been (and nor they are) impelled by the “cold” arguments of statistics ( briefly illustrated here by tables and figures, see annexes) which describe a hard bearable state of fact. Apostrophes as: “ He who is not


    interested in the fate of the “Moti” (peasants from the Apuseni mountains) is not a

    4, has not succeeded in setting to action the decisional resorts. Romanian”.

    By examining more in detail the spiritual dimension, we can say that things, even if they seem well under this aspect from a farther look, the cultural raise (on the material line) of the communes in the Apuseni mountains, which should induce a normalization of life, ”a

    5ray of light, towards the big step of a flourishing status” and in which quite a lot of people

    believed, never took place. One of the consequences of this fact, and which would be evaluated at its real dimension only in time, is the underlining of the financing limitation, the “soul” constrain in the burdening straps of every day life.

    P. Suciu makes the first foray into the spirituality “territory” showing that “From the point of view of the inner, spiritual culture, they [the Moti] are yet the leaders of the nation. This soul is the secular legacy of our nation‟s genius. Neither the book nor the

    modern civilization has contributed to its formation. This soul is a branch of the big river of life, which animates, through which all the nations of the world live. The contact with the nowadays civilization does not strengthen it, but weakens and distorts it. The modern,

    6grandiloquent and sterile culture works for the demolition of this soul of antic probity”.

    The reasons on which such explanations are based underline the moti‟s isolation (“[…] if the Motii have always remained apart from any influence of the rulings that trodden over them, the reason lies in this primitive, wasted, - of terrible, intended loneliness organization 78“.) which gave room to a special construction of solidarity “but only among themselves”

    ( The stranger who comes through their villages is welcome with willingness, but that „s all. He will find no exuberance, no hospitality to the Moti”.), and also (underline) the harsh life circumstances that “made them like this”.

    Despite a real spatial isolationism, we cannot speak of a single inhabitant of the Apuseni Mountains who can consider himself physically or socially isolated. Together with the natural “isolation” of the groves (through slopes, valleys or forests), the inhabitants do

    not lead an isolated life because they are “surrounded” by numerous needs which do not allow them the “luxury” of being isolated. Answering to these needs, from the economic ones (“The inhabitants from near groves help each other at the field works, meet in the

    9valley at the mill and up in the mountain with the cattle or in the forest”.) up to the


    spiritual ones) “The need to communicate is shown by literary socials “(group works”), games, flute and Alp horn songs, the melodies of which diminish distances and render souls

    10) are arguments that set in motion social solidarity, the dependence on the social closer.”

    self being in these areas more prominent than wherever.

    The existence of a powerful social connection, “sweetens” in a certain amount a very difficult material status; “ the moti swim in the mud of primary needs, with all their

    11body and soul”. Having a difficult location and a harsh climate, the Apuseni stand out over the time more for the “protection” of the locals from nature than by protecting it (nature). Being obliged to cultivate the poor lands to assure the subsistence, “ their status “ as people “born heroes, servants of a country, as angels, heaven‟s servants are born” suffered more and more over the time.

    4. Inhabiting and settling. This deterioration is proportional with the underlining

    of the fault created between people and the cohabitation space or in Szczepanski‟s formula “the binder with the territory”. There are only two distinct approaches where the author uses the connection term, an objective one and a subjective one. Concerning the objective approach, ”the territory supplies the means of satisfying the needs, it can supply the premises of existence (for example, the exploitation of natural resources); the features of the territory determine the placing of the collectivity‟s members in space; the environment features also determine some character features, behavioral modalities, relations patterns, for example reciprocal help, neighbors‟ collaboration in fighting against nature.” In the subjective approach, the connection with the territory underlines the feeling of emotional attachment towards the native place which is manifested in the “local „patriotism attitude‟, in the availability for certain unselfish actions in the use of the own collectivity. The subjective connection consists, also of the habitude resulted form the increased security feeling which comes form the life among “ yours”, in transmitting the emotional connections that we have towards some groups over the territorial collectivities (for example, the fondness towards family, friends, institution, is transmitted to the native town

    12or village”).


    By objectively analyzing these elements we can easily see that a quite important number of the Apuseni inhabitants (if not the majority of the population) have lost for quite a long time the connection with the territory, from the subjective point of view, but especially on the objective dimension.

    In hope for better, along history, the rural environment population has been obliged to search new lands for their houses, under the “ pressure” of population increase, but also of ownership crumbling. An option at hand was the mountain, where by cutting woods “ a clearing was obtained at first, where a family settled, first temporarily, as “maietoare”, and

    later, after a certain time it became a permanent residence. So the maietoare, which are at first simple clearings, created by clearing forests, after a certain time became groves with a

    13. The appearance of stable population, so other places for maietori are to be found“

    temporary settlements resulted, situated outside the permanent ones (the main ones), in the area of hayfields and of mountain agriculture, being isolated individual households, with a close and reinforced yard, which “solved separately the needs of assured and defense

    14shelter”. The spread over villages, respectively the groves; separate groups “scattered like

    15„stocks in the skies‟ appeared”.

    Used over a long period of time, this “opportunity” became non-functional in time,

    the Apuseni becoming “full” (their altitude being still quite reduced), being “ totally conquered by human life”. With limited resources (quantitatively and also qualitatively) the region had to “keep up” with an increasing number of inhabitants who eventually ended by

    rebelling against it, the concerns of keeping a harmony with the environment being reduced step by step.

    The merciless exploitation of “green gold” is one of the most eloquent examples. An unproductive land from the agricultural point of view, which cannot assure the subsistence needs, offers in exchange a special mountain flora and fauna. As long as this is used in complementarity to solve the every day life problem, it is understandable, but when its dimensions show an industrial exploitation, abuse finds no excuse.

    On the subjective dimension, we can see an underlined decrease of collective solidarity, conversely proportional with the altitude where we are and to which the neighborhood with urban makes a contribution, not a minor one. The inhabitants of the


    base (and the medium level) of the Apuseni are part of a rural area by excellence, but they are in the same time the importers of an urban “culture” (rather subtown, peripheral one) which corrupts all meaning rural spirit or what is left of it. The solution to the daily problems in a manner that does not stick to rural tradition, but nor to the urban cultural system, makes the space they live in transform into an enclave which can be best defined by kitsch.

    As a consequence, we assist to the appearance of a paradox which undoubtedly the moti (the ones who still deserve to bear this name) notice, but for which they did not find yet the necessary mechanisms to fight it. With a heavy heart, they “plunder” the area they live in, but unfortunately they do not stay the beneficiaries of the “plus-value” obtained as a

    consequence of this plundering. Being not about a finite product they should sell (their condition of cutters and in the best case of “green gold” carriers being a constant, but only

    a raw material which the intermediaries come to process, selling it at its real value, the moti have no possibility of real improvement of their economic status, the effort of their work annihilating the eventual material benefits from this.

    In this context a redrawing of the outline within which we can speak of Tara

    16Motilor imposes itself. This ”is no longer” the region described by E. Dandea, or Ion L.

    17Ciomac or other authors who dealed with this subject, from at least two points of view: economic we can see major differences of the survival strategies adopted by the inhabitants of the Apuseni in its different areas; spiritually- we can see a disintegration of human solidarity so that what we can call “communitarian soul” is passing through a transformation period, in some of the Apuseni parts we can even speak of a crisis in this respect.

    In our opinion, the “pure” part in Apuseni where one can talk about Moti in traditional sense, underlined even in the specialty literature, “starts” where the fir-trees start

    to grow. An ecological “barrier” with major repercussions, inclusively over the human spirit. From the geographical point of view ( the altitude taken as a basic criteria) perhaps we can talk about a region stretching out somewhere above the limit of the 1000 m. How this delimitation, that we propose here, looks at an administrative- territorial units level, will be the subject of other reflections.


    The future of rurality is in risk of being centered rather on life styles than on the way

    of life, - syntagm that all theoreticians of rural space spread nowadays. Such assertions unfortunately are hard “digestible” in a Romania with the economic-social status that we

    know, with a rural left to decay, where the accent is put on quantity and not quality. Still dominated by the ancestral fear that we won‟t ”stuff enough food in the stomach” (Westerns are also dominated by fear, but even this one is no longer quantitative like ours, but qualitative, after the syntagm “what we must eat, what products are more ecological not

    to poison ourselves?”), we do not have to forget that late modernity imposes a society where images of “war” are fashionable. Without having the resources, rather the means of exploitation and rewarding use, of which others dispose, we can ensure “victory” by

    “selling” images (of rurality) of something which counts less whether effectively possessed or not.

    Otherwise, identity, as many “social objects” (cultural legacy, territory, architecture, peasants, food enter a kneader of identity construction, which determined many authors to

    18) turns into a product, becoming a construction use already the concept of “virtual rurality”

    based on symbolic changes. That small piece of Apuseni previously mentioned, where “ the peasant detaches more difficult from its community, […] opposes it much rarer […] has a

    19stronger feeling of “we”, […] uses more often “we” than citizens do” can be the prototype

    on which a viable image of local identity should be built, having real chances of “gain” in the detriment of competitive potential representations.

    Back to The Arkleton Centre Crossroads Conference


     1 O‟Rourke, E., 1999, Changing Social Representations of the Countryside: Rurality, Nature and Heritage within a French National Park, (the paper was presented at the XVIII Congress of the European Society for Rural Sociology, Lund, Sweden, 24-28 August 1999), p. 11.

     2 Ibid., p. 4.


     3 There is no bibliographical source which should not underline the very difficult life conditions the

    inhabitants in the Apuseni mountains are faced with, permanently fighting for the “economic increase” of the area.

     4 Valeriu, C., 1938, Moţii, in rev. Munţii Apuseni, year I, no. 2, October, Alba Iulia, Tipografia "Alba", p. 1.

     5 Ibid., p. 2.

     6 Suciu, P., 1929, Ţara Moţilor, IV. Situaţia culturală, in rev. “Societatea de mâine”, year VI, no. 1-2, p. 11-


     7 Paraschivescu, M. R., 1938, Oameni şi aşezări - din Ţara Moţilor şi a Basarabiei, Fundaţia Culturală Regală

    "Principele Carol", pp. 19-20.

     8 Ibid., p. 21.

     9 Apolzan, L., 1944, Sate - crânguri din Munţii Apuseni - Observaţii asupra aşezărilor sociale, Craiova, Ed.

    Ramuri, p. 12.

     10 Ibid.

     11 Cheatra, V. C., Visătorii Moţilor, 1938, in rev. Munţii Apuseni, year I, no. 3, December, Alba Iulia, Tipografia "Alba", p. 8.

     12 Szczepański, J., 1972, Noţiuni elementare de sociologie, Bucureşti, Ed. Ştiinţifică, p. 306.

     13 Apolzan, L., Id., p. 9-10.

     14 Dunăre, N., 1971, Gospodării cu curte închisa şi întărită în zona fânaţelor din Munţii Apuseni, in rev.

    Apulum, vol. VIII, Alba-Iulia, p. 538.

     15 Apolzan, L., Id., p. 4.

     16 Dandea, E., 1926, Chestiunea Moţilor, in rev. Societatea de mâine, year III, no. 18.

     17 Ciomac, I. L., and Popa-Necşa, V., 1926, Munţii Apuseni. Cercetări asupra stărilor economice din Munţii Apuseni, Bucureşti.

     18 O‟Rourke, E., Id., p. 21.

     19 Marica, G., Em., 1948, Curs de sociologie rurală. Satul ca structură psihică şi socială, Cluj, Centrul Studenţesc Cluj, p. 208.


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