A Ceauşescu Christmas

CeausescuJustin Smith over at his website:

Among the many signs that the Romanian revolutionaries of 1989 were not thinking of the future was their choice of Christmas day, December 25, for the mediatized execution of the deposed president Nicolae Ceauşescu, along with his wife and controller Elena. One consequence is that now, every year, Romanians get to re-watch, on their ubiquitous televisions, alongside the traditional carols and the kitsch revue shows with teenaged girls in sequined leotards and Santa hats, the wrenching military trial and the bloody execution that quickly followed it. This year, the 20th anniversary of the execution, the Romanian television producers are particularly concerned to show the more gruesome parts. The version I saw 'live', as an adolescent, on NBC nightly news, from within the gates of a Palm Springs country club, was highly censored to suit American sensibilities. The reality is that the Romanian revolution of 1989 did not at all ride that wave of 'velvet' transitions of power, of which the Czechoslovak version, with the media-friendly Vaclav Havel at its helm, will always serve as paradigm.

To Lenin we owe the idea, of which Žižek, Badiou, and others have recently made much, that in the course of human affairs there occasionally comes what may be called a true 'revolutionary moment', a moment that changes everything, when, due to circumstances entirely beyond the will of any individual, the perception of the place of authority shifts, and the legitimacy of the old power structure simply evaporates. There is a new tendency to treat these moments as though their happening were a sort of law of nature, and so today many people are wondering why one failed to happen in Iran recently, why, in spite of the anger of the youth and the total delegitimization of the mullahs in the eyes of the rest of the world, the mullahs themselves went right on as smugly convinced of their own legitimacy as ever.