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ConstantinMIHAI

EUROPENISM I DILEME IDENTITARE N ROMNIA


INTERBELIC
GRUPAREA CRITERION


EUROPENISM I DILEME IDENTITARE N ROMNIA
INTERBELIC
GRUPAREA CRITERION
Autor:ConstantinMIHAI
Conductor tiinific: Prof.dr.NicolaeMECU

Lucrare realizat n cadrul proiectului Valorificarea identitilor culturale n


procesele globale, cofinanat din Fondul Social European prin Programul
OperaionalSectorialDezvoltareaResurselorUmane20072013,contractul
definanarenr.POSDRU/89/1.5/S/59758.
Titlurileidrepturiledeproprietateintelectualiindustrialasuprarezul
tatelor obinute n cadrul stagiului de cercetare postdoctoral aparin
AcademieiRomne.

Puncteledevedereexprimatenlucrareaparinautoruluiinuangajeaz
ComisiaEuropeaniAcademiaRomn,beneficiaraproiectului.

Exemplargratuit.Comercializareanaristrintateesteinterzis.
Reproducerea,fieiparialipeoricesuport,esteposibilnumaicuacordulprealabil
alAcademieiRomne.

ISBN9789731671895

Depozitlegal:Trim.II2013

ConstantinMIHAI

Europenismidileme
identitarenRomnia
interbelic
grupareaCriterion

EdituraMuzeuluiNaionalalLiteraturiiRomne
ColeciaAULAMAGNA

Cuprins

1.FORMAREAGRUPRIICRITERION.MAESTRULIDISCIPOLII......... 7
1.1.Delimitriconceptuale,clarificrimetodologice.................................. 7
1.2.FormareaCriterionuluincadrulcoliiluiNaeIonescu .................. 13
1.3.ConstantelefilosofieiluiNaeIonescu.................................................. 13
1.4.RaporturileluiNaeIonescucucriterionitii ....................................... 22
1.4.1.NaeIonescuiMirceaVulcnescu ............................................. 22
1.4.2.NaeIonescuiMirceaEliade ...................................................... 35
1.4.3.NaeIonescuiEmilCioran ......................................................... 45
1.4.4.NaeIonescuiConstantinNoica ................................................ 51
2.REPREZENTRILECONCEPTUALEALECRITERIONULUI .............. 57
2.1.Cadruistoricicultural.......................................................................... 57
2.2.Aprofundrinoionale:generaie,spiritualitate,experien ............ 59
3.DINAMICACONFERINELORCRITERIONULUI .................................. 80
3.1.ProgramulconferinelorCriterionuluiiavatarurilelor.................. 81
3.2.Structurairolulconferinelorcriterioniste ........................................ 87
4.IDEOLOGIEIPOLITIC.SFRITULAVENTURII
CRITERIONISTE........................................................................................... 111
CONCLUZII ....................................................................................................... 119
BIBLIOGRAFIE .................................................................................................. 124
ADDENDA
ABSTRACT .................................................................................. 131
TABLEDESMATIERES............................................................ 141
5

ADDENDA
Abstract

If we question the background of a modern culture that has offered


clearproofofitsexcellence,itdoesntmeanwemistrustitsreputation.Still,
it has been some criticism centered on this aspect, criticism that derives
from the social sciences. Referring a cultures content to the social forces
that sustains it, bestowing a special importance to the collective
manifestations against the forms of individual expression and preferring
thelatentmessageagainstthestatedone,thesocialscienceswouldleadto
disclaimingtheexistenceofanhierarchythroughtheintellectualvalues
inexchangeforaculturalrelativismwhereallformsofexpressionandall
periodscount.
Our project tries to emphasize a singular moment of Romanians
modern culture: the case of the Criterion group an essential group
consistingoftheinterwarintellectualelite.Eventhoughithasbeenactive
only for a short period of time, its profile was marked by the cultural
practices and representations. The purpose of this intercession is essential
fortheintellectualhistoryseconomy:highlightingastagewherethemost
Europeanist group proposed a specific method to approach the theme of
identity,totheinjuryofanyethnocentricrhetoricandpiousreflexandof
someautomatismandautochthonismthatwerestrikingthesolidarityofa
cultural space. This group brought together young generations interwar
elite:fromMirceaVulcnescuandPetruComarnescuthefoundersofthe
group, to Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran, Horia Stamatu, Dan Botta,
ConstantinNoica,AlexandruChristianTell,PaulSterian,AravirandHaig
Acterian,MihailPolihroniade,PaulCostinDeleanuandothers.
When the elaboration and determination of such an important
momentofculturalEuropeanismisinconnectionwithCriterionsnamea
specialmeaning,thatreferstotheoriginalrootoftheGreekword:krinein=

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tojudge,formacriticaljudgment,butnotinthewayofnihilism,asanfinal
expression of criticism, but in the way of comparing what happens to the
naturalandobjectivewayofhowthingsshouldhappen,ofaconstructive
criticism,thensuchanintercessionisnotonlyoneofrestitution,reclaimed
in the side of collective memory and cultural identity, but also one of
meaningretrieval,intheperimeterofaadaptationthatgeneratesexistence
anddialoguewithotherconsubstantialspaces.
The paper consists of five sequential units: Criterions development
inside the interwar school, Criterions conceptual representations,
Criterions conferences dynamics, Criterions practices, ideology and
politics;theendoftheCriterionistadventure.
In the first chapter concerning Criterions development inside the
interwarschool,theradiographyoftherelevancebetweenNaeIonescuand
someofCriterionsrepresentatives,thathavedifferentattitudesinsidethis
bloc, expresses some indisputable aspects, such as: the existence of a co
naturalitybetweenthemasterandhisfollowers,theshapingofsomemajor
dimensions inside this School authenticity, structure, personalization ,
theexistenceofaninnovativewayofthinkingandaspecificmodusvivendi,
the attainment of a paideic instruction that will fructify later through
criterionistspracticesandrepresentations.
Criterions analysis, as a manifestation of a unique phenomenon of
Romanianintellectualinterwarhistory,cannotbepossibleintheabsenceof
two fundamental operational concepts: genus proximus and differentia
specificae:thefirsttermreferringtothecommondenominatorofthisgroup,
and the second concept referring to the age diversity of its members. The
intellectual group, Criterion, which functions in the same triple registry:
social, cultural and ideological, represents the fundamental chapter of
Romanian modern intellectual history that appears as a model, although
forashorthistoricalperiod.
Criterions analysis could not be possible without highlighting its
steam,aroundwhichmanypersonalitieshaveirradiated.NaeIonescuis
invariably the common denominator of this group, an expression of the
young interwar generation, or of the 27 generation, the cornerstone, or
simply: the reason for the possibility of any discussion about this
132

generations existence. Therefore, building Criterion inside Nae Ionescus


Schoolisessential,beingthepresuppositiononwhichwecreatethewhole
functionaltheoryofthisintellectualgroup.
Without abolishing also the existence of some other tangential
contaminationsonthisgroup:DimitrieGustifortherepresentativesofthe
young generation sociological direction contamination that is more
relatedtoastructured,technicalwayofwork,nothisbeliefsNaeIonescu
andhisSchoolsdecisiveroleinCriterionsmovementremainsessential.
The second chapter of the paper taps the generational problematic,
emphasizing its conceptual representations. Criterions history works
basedonsomeorganicsolidaritythatmodeledandstructuredthisgroupof
intellectuals,givingitaspecialunity.Thisunityisalsogivenbythespecific
sociability form of this intellectual group, sociability that hallmarks any
intellectual generation. Criterion is an unusual phenomenon, since (in
termsofhistory)itcanbeconsideredasbeingashortgeneration,becauseof
itsshortexistence,ofalmosttwoyears,butithascontinuedtofunctionasa
longgeneration,throughitsvaluablemembersprolongations,bothoutside
andinsidetheclosedcontextofthecommunistRomania.
Two approaches are possible in the proper definition of the
intellectualgeneration:afirstapproachendorsesthebirthoftheintellectual
generation as a result of some Youngmans encounter with an event or a
creationistcrisis,leavingacommonhallmark:awaroraconvulsionofthe
national community. The main objection that can be brought to this
approachisthatthesecrisesdonotconcernonlyoneageclass(generation),
but,throughtheiramplitude,thewholecivicstructure.
Thesecondapproachimpliesthefactthattheintellectualgenerations
appear anddevelop into a much wider perspective than the political one.
Theobjectionthatcanbebroughttothistypeofapproachimpliesavoiding
the ideological dimension of the generation, eliding that forma mentis that
structures an intellectual group. In fact, the generational effect appears
inside an agerange, recognized later by the collective memory, often
abusively,asbeingrepresentativeforthewholeintellectualspace.
The concept of generation pandered suspicion and reticence for a
long time: suspicion because the agerange succession is an inherent

133

phenomenonofthesocieties,andreticencebecausethetermofgeneration
wasassociatedtoothertwoconcepts:theshorttimeandtheevent.
Criterions generation should be analyzed in the context of the
tension between tradition and modernity, as it tries to find that central
formulatocombinethevernacularismwithOccidentalEuropeansideas.In
fact, the dialogue revolved around two types of models: the Community
model and the Association model. The organic invoked by the young
interwar generation, following in Nae Ionescus tracks, does not identify
itself with the ethnic underlayer, but it does with the relationship
establishedatpeopleseverydayexistencelevel.
Hereby, they did not evoke the forces contented inside the political
class,buttheorganicsolidaritiesasitimpliessomesortofapublicspace.
This does not come against the European spirit, but against the
individualist one. In other terms, it is not about breaching Romania from
Europe, but about attaching the Romanian culture to the conservatism
established in a continental movement, with a clearly stated doctrine,
outsidetheabusesoftheFrenchRevolution.
Thesourceofinspirationregardingtheconceptofgeneration,which
generated ample intellectual debates during the interwar period, is
representedbyNaeIonescu.Thisconceptneededatheoreticalelucidation
regarding the former generations. In contradistinction to the old
generation, whichs mission was the fulfilling of the national ideal,
achievedonthe1stDecember1918,thepostwargenerationconsideredas
anidealcreatingastrongculture,tocarrythemarkoftheRomanianspirit.
IntheperspectiveoftheRomanianintellectualhistory,theapparition
ofthisgroupsupposedtherealizationofthemodelelitistcoordinate,both
critical and lucid, in the continuation of Maiorescus program and of the
historical one of the 1906 generation. While the 1906 generation proposed
asapurposefulfillingthehistoricalideal,throughtheunitarystateofthe
modernnation,Criteriontriedtoofferavalidculturalprojectleadingtothe
revelationoftheelites,positioningpaideastrack,throughEuropeanism.
Theconceptofgenerationbecomesamajorone,throughcomparative
anddemonstrativereportingtothepreviousgenerations,andthroughthe
permanent referral to the European generation. The young generations
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profile,eloquentlyformulatedbyoneofitsfounders,MirceaVulcnescu,
gravitates around two central points: experience and politics; neoclassicism,
purism, antihistorism, skepticism and agony; dialectical spiritualism, dualism,
salvationthroughculture,idealismandChristianity.
The young interwar generations mission is to assure the synthesis
between objectivism and authenticity, not through imitation, but through
adequatemethodsthatrespondtotheintellectualelitesspecificproblems.
These are specific: first having the meaning of deliberate orientation
linked to the historical and local surroundings (Noica) and then with the
meaning of authentic living and universal problem solving by ingrained
consciences in the Romanian environment (Eliade, Vulcnescu, Cioran).
Through this second condition, the young generation tries to unravel a
problemthatwascrucialfortheRomanianculture,foroveracentury:the
relationship between vernacularism and universalism and global
integration.
Criterions representations acquire consistence through the three
fundamentalconcepts:generation,spiritualityandexperience,whichgivethe
measureofcomplexitytoaintellectualgroupthatcombinedvernacularisms
tradition with the occidental ideas movement. The intellectual debate,
provoked by the young generation, around these concepts, highlights the
conscience of elite that this generation impressed to the Romanian space,
throughthemajorroleassumed,informinganewstrongculture;opentoa
teemingdialoguewiththeEuropeanintellectualbackgrounds.
Moreover,theseconcepts,asoperationalinstruments,aretheessence
for understanding the functioning mechanism of the Criterionist elite,
which refers not only to a generational becoming, but also to a natively
spiritualtradition,whichassuresitsspecificityintheRomanianintellectual
history.
The third chapter is dedicated to the dynamic of the criterionists
conferences. Criterions presence in the public space through these
conferential cycles became more and more striking since it was not just a
simple captatio benevolentiae, but the idea of creating a new mood in
Romanians modern culture. Criterions activity in the public space was
visiblethroughtwospecificforms:
135

1.Theconferencesthatthisgroupkeptbetween19321933;
2.Thesocalledpracticesorculturalrepresentationsbyinvolvingthe
newinterwargeneration,coordinatedbyNaeIonescu,inthegreatdebates
of the interwar period, where the intellectual elites role was that of
correctingthepossibleskidsthatdifferenttypesofauthorities(bothlayand
charismatic) were producing. In fact, the participation of the young
generationtotheseculturalandspiritualdebateswillbuildthepremisesof
Criterions future homogenization, in the perspective of outlining an
authenticelitethatwillassumethefulfillmentoftheculturalideal.
Criterionsspecificityconsistsoftheconferencepracticeasacultural
manifestationforminsidethepublicspace.Moreexactly,theypreferredthe
conference of speakers, a special type of conference that is based on the
contradictorydebateofthesamesubject,bythreeormoreparticipants.
Thepluralapproachofthesamesubjectcausedpolemicsandcritical
ideas, just like those disputations, representing the innovation and
originality of this type of conference. The apparition of a fine and erudite
polemic trained the publics participation, creating a connatural link
between the audience and the lecturers. Through these conferences,
Criterion restored a solid intellectual tradition, constituting the mark of a
strongandhealthyculture.
The Criterionist debates that threw together different ideological
positions formed a new direction in Romanians modern culture. It could
be considered as a prolongation in another horizon of expectations of
theJunimeagroup.Theterms:Criterionandsymposium,justlikeforum,have
beenintroducedintheinterwarcircuitbyPetruComarnescu.Thespiritof
ideas confrontation, of contradictory debates has been lifted by the
Criterion group at a new, lofty scientific level. The discursive spontaneity
assurestheeffervescenceofthecriterionistsconferences.
By rejecting any exclusivity, simple attitudes or hollow rhetoric,
Criterionsconferencesprovedanewmannerofcreatingculture:essential
themesforthatspecific historicalcontext,inanatmosphereofintellectual
elegance, themes discussed from plural perspectives, with a substantial,
academic argumentation, everything based on the dimension of the
constructivecriticism,notdissolutivecriticism.
136

Through these conferences of speakers, Criterion brings back the


authenticintellectualtraditionofEuropeanism.Todiscussgreatthemesof
theoccidentalculture,withoutneglectingthedetailsofthenationalculture,
representedCriterionssuigenerismethodofbeinginnovative,originaland
synchronized to the European intellectual flux. This way, it is possible to
mention Criterions spirit some sort of Ianus bifrons in the Romanian
modernculture,inthewayofarestorerforcefortheinterwarspace,aforce
that tries to rebuild, through the conference practice, the lost bound with
theEuropeanspirituality.
Another fundamental dimension of this project stands in revealing
those mechanisms of Criterions practices and cultural attitudes that are
related to the evolutional process of intellectual maturity of a space, in
which the training of the elites did not follow a basic direction, but an
urgentoneoftheculturalimperativeofthetime.
The attention paid to the intellectual history implies an important
registrys decipherment, that of the relationship between identity and
different existence, of the combination between what we call the national
specificity and its projection in universality, without ignoring the relevance
between cultural and ideological. The elites circulation of which Vilfredo
Paretowasspeaking,thatsolidaritygivenbyaspecifichierarchicstructure
and a specific behaviorist attitude, is relevant in Criterions case, mainly
through the solidarity network created through its members and the
impactontheaudience.Therefore,followingRaymondAronstypologyon
elites,wecanperceiveCriterionasanaristocracyofthespirit.
Even though we tend to have the false idea or prejudice that the
themeoftheelitesisamainlytraditionalistone,belongingtotheidentity
agenda, especially in the meritocracy elites case, that are not the free,
industrial societys revenue, we have in Criterions case a confutation of
this theory, insomuch as the relevance of such a cultural phenomenon
belongednotonlytoarecalibrationoftheEuropeantradition,butalsoofa
truly original, creative and open to the great intellectual problems of the
period, method of approach. Some of the problems are extremely fresh,
eveninourpostmodernism:letsjustmentiontherelationshipbetweenthe
Church and the state, the lay and theological instructions purpose, the
interconfessionalapproach.
137

One of the elements of the specific interwar historical context is


constituted from the elites position and its image. The meritocratic ideal
focusesonceagainonthetraditionaltermsoftheelitessocialreproduction
on familial bases. This type of reproduction does not have legitimacy any
more, for as long as the intellectual represents, in the interwar context, at
leastthroughthesocialimaginarylevel,theproductofanewtypeofelite
generator, based primordially on a maximum of competence and self
recruitment.
Thisnewtypeofreproductionscharacteristicisitsselectionfromthe
Universities, as it happened in Criterions case. The obliteration of the
intellectuals from the strength field represents one of the origins of these
newformsofpublicinterventionsinventions.
Our intercession sights the cultural historys explication upon the
relationshipbetweenideologicalandtheculturalasarealequationthathas
adjusted, somehow, Criterions functional mechanism. On this line, we
proposeapluralapproachforthisintellectualgroup,fromtheperspective
of the intellectual history and the history of ideas, starting from the
structuralrelationshipthatisdevelopedbetweencultural andideological,
seeninalargersenseofmentality,offormamentis,andnotinarestrictive,
politicalsense.
The forth chapter disputes the relationship between ideology and
politics, highlighting the end of the criterionist adventure. In a context
where the international political scene was profoundly split into two
distinctive camps: the Russian socialism and the European fascism,
CriterionAssociationcouldnotavoid,atsomepoint,thisfallintothespace
of the ideologies, against its cultural and spiritual challenge. This fight
betweenleftandrighteventhoughintheEuropeanspace,therightwas
notrepresentedbythefascism,seenideologicallystillasanappendixofthe
left,but,moreexactly,ofthenationalistmovements.
In the interwar Romania, the ideological cleavage between left and
rightwasveryclear:socialism(communism)andnationalChristianity.The
young criterionist generation was confronting with this ideological battle
thathasdominatedboththenativeandtheinternationalspace.

138

Therelationshipbetweenideologyandpoliticsbecomesacategorical
one for Criterion inasmuch way that inside the group it there are many
neworientations:theorientationtowardsthesocialistandcommunistleft,
theorientationtowardsthenationalChristianright,tendencythatbecomes
majorinsidethegroup,theorientationtowardsthetraditionalistrightand
thedemocraticorientation(PetruComarnescu,EugenIonescu).
The interwar Romania will have known these ideological
ingravescence avatars: right versus left, while the young generation also
hadasamissionthespiritualfulfillmentcreatinganinteriorrevolution,
that of reformation of the new man, able to bring back the lost moral
displayandtosplicethenationalidentitytoChristianityspristinetradition
(theOrthodoxy).
Criterions unity will have been broken by a series of events that
appearbytheendof1933,eventsthathaveaggravatethetensionsbetween
itsmembers,ruiningtheorganicsolidaritiesbetweenthemanddrivingto
itsdissolution.Therejectionofthoughtmanifestation,theattemptoverthe
thinking primate as a possibility of thought expression for the young
generation represented primum movens in the equability and unity fall
between Criterions members. Plus, there was the strong state censorship
that wanted by any mean to obstruct Criterions activity, for they became
toopopularleadingtoforbiddingtheirmanifestationinthepublicspace.
CriterionsstoryrepresentsanimportantpageofRomanianmodern
intellectualhistory,ahistorypointedbythepresenceofayounginterwar
generation that tried to embody the Romanian idea (originality,
personalism, creativity, the liberty of thought and maximum competence)
in the national culture and to recalibrate it to the European idea (the
intellectualtraditionandoccidentalspirituality).
Criterion represents the plenitude of the free manifestation of the
thought and the spirit, inside a constructive exercise of criticism,
compulsory to a solid and healthy intellectual tradition. Even though is
apparently unequal and contradictory in the manner of attitudes and
orientations,theCriterionassociationfulfillstheculturalandspiritualideal
of the modern Romania: organicism and universal aperture,
cosmopolitanismandelitism,traditionandinnovation.
139

Criterions intellectual history not only is essential for the study of


ideasfromtheinterwarperiod,butitalsoallowsthequestioningoverthe
fight of ideas and ideologies from the Romanian society, mostly at the
different type of representation level. From this perspective, Criterions
mapping becomes emblematic for the history of ideas and elites: in their
roleofideasproducers,thecriterionistintellectualsare,aboveall,actorsof
the cultural. Studying them involves the establishment at the crossing
between cultural and social history, in the prolongations of the history of
mentalities.
Ourintentionofhighlightingtheintellectualhistoryissubmersedto
the cultural history, since the approach of collective representations
becomesoneoftheinnercriterionistphenomena.Theattentionthatwepay
to the functioning mechanisms ofthe criterionist elite drives invariably to
the dimension of the cultural practices, definitive for the modus vivendi of
thisintellectualgroup.
The revelation of such a project is related not only to its recovery
dimension,therestorationofanimportantpageofintellectualhistorythat
leans on the Romanian modern culture, of commemorating of some
European cultural models, but also of the urgent recall of a solid
intellectualtraditionofcreativity,freedom,personalthinking,competence
and authenticity. The intellectual history of Criterion represents the
measureofamoderncultureinitswaytoEuropeanism,withoutneglecting
the identity roots to which it refers every time, for a better disposal and
referencetoasolid,creative,originalandprofoundintellectualspace.

140

Tabledesmatires

1.LAFORMATIONDUGROUPECRITERION.LEMATREETLES
DISCIPLES ......................................................................................................... 7
1.1.Dlimitationsconceptuelles,clarificationsmthodologiques ............ 7
1.2.LaFormationdeCriteriondanslecadredelcole
deNaeIonescu....................................................................................... 13
1.3.LesConstantesdelaphilosophiedeNaeIonescu ............................ 13
1.4.LesRapportsdeNaeIonescuaveclesmembresdeCriterion.......... 22
1.4.1.NaeIonescuetMirceaVulcnescu ............................................. 22
1.4.2.NaeIonescuetMirceaEliade ...................................................... 35
1.4.3.NaeIonescuetEmilCioran ......................................................... 45
1.4.4.NaeIonescuetConstantinNoica................................................ 51
2.LESREPRSENTATIONSCONCEPTUELLESDECRITERION ............. 57
2.1.Lecadrehistoriqueetculturel............................................................... 57
2.2.Approfondissementsnotionnels:gnration,
spiritualit,exprience.......................................................................... 59
3.LADINAMIQUEDESCONFRENCESDECRITERION ....................... .80
3.1.LeProgrammedesconfrencesetleursavatars................................. 81
3.2.LaStructureetlerledesconfrencesdeCriterion........................... 87
4.IDOLOGIEETPOLITIQUE.LAFINDELAVENTUREDE
CRITERION ................................................................................................... 111
CONCLUSION ................................................................................................... 119
BIBLIOGRAPHIE ............................................................................................... 124

141

EdituraMuzeuluiNaionalalLiteraturiiRomne
CNCSPNIIACREDED20120374
Copertacoleciei:AULAMAGNA
Machetare,tehnoredactareiprezentaregrafic:
LuminiaLOGIN,NicolaeLOGIN
Logisticeditorialidiseminare:
OvidiuSRBU,RaduAMAN

Traducereasumaruluiisintezei,corecturibundetipar
asiguratedeautor

ISBN9789731671895

Apruttrim.II2013

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