I am reading Gabriel Andreescu’s Scholars, Dissidents, and Documents: The Manipulation of the Securitate Archive (Carturari, opozanti si documente: Manipularea Arhivei Securitatii), and I am bewildered and completely confused. What interests me is the chapter on Constantin Noica, a Romanian philosopher who, after 10 years of forced residence, was imprisoned politically by the communists between 1958 and 1964. And here is the most striking part: after acknowledging that Noica was interrogated during the years of forced residence, while in prison, and after liberation, G. Andreescu says:
“The documents suggest a submissive behavior, regardless of the period” (63).
Actually, most striking is not that the documents suggest a submissive behavior, but rather that the chapter on Noica takes the documents’ suggestion as something valid. I have nothing to say about whether Noica was indeed submissive or not, but rather about whether we can say anything about his behavior based on these files.
First, there are general questions that one may consider–questions that, to my understanding, lack in Andreescu’s texts. For example, can someone judge a character based on the archives of the Securitate? I leave aside what is perhaps even more important: can someone judge a character in any conditions? And more, can anyone, regardless of whether he or she was persecuted by a murderous regime (and Gabriel Andreescu was) judge how someone else reacted to torture? Or even accuse Noica of a certain “collaboration” with the Communist Party? Is there any way in which we can take those archives as establishing truth about anything, since the Securitate can be suspected of anything but certainly not of being interested in truth?
But before a discussion about truth and how a life can be comprised in a file (I think Noica would smile at this idea), one needs to remember how these interrogations were made, the terror under which declarations were taken, and even the human quality of the Securitate’s employees.
It is true, Andreescu acknowledges in one passage that the text of the declarations was dictated by the interrogators themselves and that, during Stalinism, refusing to write “implied a fight and a risk” (64). Suppose Noica did not fight. Can someone accuse him? And how do we know he did not fight?
Reading and interpreting the files of the Securitate by themselves can only lead to a truncated image of what happened during that time. The sad thing is that this image is just as ugly, broken, and false as its creator: the Securitate, which was the criminal hand of the Communist Party. What we discuss here are files written by a broken organization within a society in which nothing could count as truth. It was a society in which one could not trust one’s own spouse (after the opening of the files, there are cases in which people found out that their own spouse gave information on them to the Securitate). It was a society in which the workers of the Securitate fabricated information so that they could justify their own jobs.
The truth of the files? The only truth that can be found in them is the truth about the society in which we lived.
This does not mean that the files should not be studied; indeed, they are indispensable for any serious research of communism in Romania and elsewhere. But any genuine understanding of the files can only take place beyond them.
There are several pictures with Noica on the internet. This is one of them–I do not know who took it.