The Archive of the Romanian Revolution of December 1989

A Catch-22 December 1989, Groundhog-Day Production. Presenting the Personal Research & Scholarship of Richard Andrew Hall, Ph.D.

(Auto-) Plagiarism on December 1989 in the Tismaneanu Commission’s Report and Why it Matters

(purely personal views, based on over two decades of prior research and publications)

Plagiarism in Romania does not respect differences in ideology, talent, or level of education…

(for a recent example, see the discussion here: )

Still unassumed and uncorrected (even though the fix would be simple) is the (auto)-plagiarism in the Chapter on December 1989 in the CPACDR’s Final Report.  There is no question that large passages of the Chapter on December 1989 are lifted word-for-word from the earlier work of the Chairman of the Commission, Vladimir Tismaneanu, and that there are no attributions/citations for where it came from.  Why does it matter?  Because the patron-client relationship is the bane of Romanian educational and intellectual life (to say nothing of politics).  Here is what I wrote in spring 2008 about the plagiarized parts of the Raport Final’s chapter on December 1989:

[10] Sorin Iliesiu, “18 ani de la masacrul care a deturnat revoluţia anticomunistă,” 21 December 2007, found at (note: this is NOT the Romania Libera daily newspaper). One will find many well-known names in the West among those who signed this petition: Dragoş Paul Aligică, Matei Călinescu, Ruxandra Cesereanu, Anneli Ute Gabanyi, Tom Gallagher, Gabriel Liiceanu, Norman Manea, Nicolae Manolescu, Mircea Mihaies, Ion Mihai Pacepa, Horia-Roman Patapievici, Radu Portocală, Nestor Ratesh, Lavinia Stan, Stelian Tănase, Alin Teodorescu, and Vladimir Tismăneanu. Sorin Iliesiu, who is a filmmaker and Vice President of the “Civic Alliance” organization, has written that he was part of the “team” that “edited” the seven page chapter on the Romanian Revolution contained in the Report of the Presidential Commission to Analyze the Communist Dictatorship of Romania (PCACDR). He is not a scholar and most certainly not a scholar of the December 1989 events. A textual comparison of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution and Vladimir Tismaneanu’s chapter in a Dawisha and Parrott edited volume from 1997 is unambiguous: the introductory two paragraphs of the Report’s chapter are taken verbatim in translation from p. 414 of Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter, and other verbatim paragraphs, sentences, and phrases from pp. 414-417 make up parts of the rest of the Report’s Revolution chapter without any reference to the 1997 chapter. As the author(s) of an earlier chapter in the Report cite(s) Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter (see p. 376 fn. 55) correctly, this leaves really only two possible explanations for the failure of Iliesiu et. al. to cite that they have borrowed wholesale from Tismaneanu’s 1997 chapter: a) an absence of scholarly knowledge, or b) an attempt to mask their dependence upon and deference to Tismaneanu, the Chair of the Commission, since the citations that do appear are the exact citations from the 1997 chapter and claims are translated word-by-word, so much so that Iliesiu et. al. did not even bother to change verb tenses despite the passage of a decade. Iliesiu et. al. can attempt to avoid answering questions and attempt to change the subject, but the textual analysis is unambiguous: Tismaneanu’s unattributed 1997 chapter forms the bulk of the Report’s chapter on the Revolution. The only question that needs to be answered is: why and why are they unwilling to admit the textual identicality?

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Only years later, was it revealed that Stelian Tanase was the author of the chapter on December 1989.  Tismaneanu predictably is unwilling to assume responsibility for a clear case of plagiarism.  Instead, he appeals to the fact that the work from which these words is taken is in the global bibliography and that because he wrote it and is part of the Commission it can’t be considered (auto-) plagiarism (spoiler alert:  neither explanation would pass muster in American academia)!  What he does not address, nor does he seem to understand, is why Tanase’s unattributed use of the Chairman’s words could be a problem.  The reason is what fellow Romanianist Tom Gallagher identified in 2006 as the nub of the problem:  Tismaneanu’s construction of a patron-client network.  My guess is that Tanase did what he did, out of laziness, lack of time (the chapter, as did the entire report, had a compressed time window), and, significantly, out of deference to the Chairman, the patron of those on the Commission.  The point is, as I note above, not everybody pursued this path–see the other chapter where use of Tismaneanu’s work was cited–and the Chairman did nothing and has done nothing to correct this error…because this is about patron-client relationships and the view of the Chairman of the Commission–despite protestations to the contrary–that the Final Report is indeed The Final Report and is above criticism and correction (particularly if he is no fan of the critic and person pointing out the error).

Din 1989 incoace Tismaneanu nu a ezitat sa le puna piedici istoricilor care nu danseaza dupa cum canta el….Am o problema cu Vladimir Tismaneanu, care poate fi facuta publica el vrea sa construiasca o retea vasta, de tipul patron-client, in istoria contemporana si in stiintele politice, care nu difera de ceea ce a facut PSD-ul in domeniile pe care dorea sa le controleze. Eu nu vreau sa realizez ceva silimar, iar ambitiile mele sunt modeste: vreau pur si simplu sa colaborez cu alti cercetatori independenti. Dar nu vreau sa ajung la situatia in care invitatii la conferinte si chiar accesul la materiale de cercetare sa depinda de bunavointa unui individ puternic si a retelei sale. Deja sunt mai degraba naucit sa aflu ca sunt persona non grata la Universitatea Central Europeana din Budapesta, pentru ca l-am provocat pe principalul aghiotant al lui Tismaneanu din aceasta institutie. Nu pot sa tac, cand o persoana care are misunea de a investiga un sistem politic inchis, configurat de valori orientale, aplica aceleasi valori in propriul ei domeniu de activitate.


Cred ca va inselati. Textul a fost scris de Stelian Tanase, membru al CPADCR, a fost editat de doi alti membri ai Comisiei (nu de mine), apoi a lucrat pe el dl Sorin Iliesiu. Este vorba, totusi, de Raportul Final (asumat de toti membrii Comisiei), nu de ceea ce, sarcastic, numiti “Marele Raport Final”. Oricum, care este eroarea? Sunt lucruri eronate acolo? Semnalati-le. Ati asteptat acest dialog al meu pentru a o face? Restul, imi pare rau, tine de zone care sincer nu ma intereseaza. Nu folosesc atacul la persoana ca strategie retorica, imi repugna. Oare si Dvs?

Nimeni nu cauta scuze, lasati de-o parte, daca va sta in puteri, tonul de procuror. A fost conventia facuta publica: toti am pus la dispozitie ceea ce-am scris spre a putea fi inclus in raport. Veti gasi si pasaje din alte scrieri, inclusiv ale Monicai Lovinescu, so what? Figureaza in bibliografie? Ce vreti sa spuneti? Ca m-ar fi “plagiat” cineva? Ca m-as fi “auto-plagiat”?


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