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.

Marius Stan’s PLAGIARISM and the Scourge of Patron-Client Relations among Romanian Intellectuals (I)

(purely personal views as always, based on three decades of researching the Romanian Revolution of December 1989)

On 7 December 2020, New Eastern Europe posted an interview of Marius Stan by Simona Merkanaite: And what to my wondering eyes did appear…but in reading the interview, there, for several paragraphs, I find language that is awfully familiar. Awfully familiar, because I wrote it. Stan’s plagiarism is pretty obvious, so obvious in fact that I did not have a difficult time convincing senior editor Adam Reichardt of it. The topics (including discussion of the Securitate using the taint of the Soviet Union among a strongly anti-Russian population as a means of isolating intellectuals and dissidents, not just military officers and party officials…which was a pretty controversial claim at the time…as can be found by its scarcity in discussion of the Ceausescu era), the order of the topics, the citing of Linz and Stepan (see Mr. Stan, I cite what I use), the use of the words “quixotic,” “suicidal,” and “fringe” (especially the term “quixotic”!) are all dead giveaways to the fact that Stan was lifting from my 2000 article in Europe-Asia Studies, written and published while I was still in academia (

Editor’s note: Parts of this interview were found to have been lifted (in some cases nearly word-for-word) from an article published nearly 20 years earlier. The interviewee did not cite the article, but we are adding its full citation in the footnote for further reference and to give credit to the original author. We apologize for the oversight. [Cited article and for further reference:[1] Hall, Richard Andrew. “Theories of collective action and revolution: evidence from the Romanian transition of December 1989.” Europe-Asia Studies 52.6 (2000): 1069-1093.]

Personally, I have little doubt that Mr. Stan knowingly plagiarized my work. After citing Kotkin (“a big name”), he launches into the discussion lifted from my work. If you go to Kotkin’s book, you can see in the endnotes that Kotkin cites my 2000 article. My guess is Stan read Kotkin, and then went and got my article, which he then decided to crib from.

Uncivil Society: 1989 and the Implosion of the Communist Establishment

By Stephen Kotkin

Of course, I will get to why I think Mr. Stan plagiarized my article, specifically why he did not cite my name and where the article came from, below. Anyway, I first reached out to the interviewer, Simona Merkainite, to highlight the plagiarism. No response from her. So I then reached out to Adam Reichardt, who handled this transgression in a timely and professional fashion. I also attempted to reach out on FB to Marius Stan. He refused to respond and promptly blocked me (what does that suggest to you?!). I have contacted several members of the advisory board of the Hannah Arendt Center Bucharest, where Stan is the “Research Director.” I was clear, as I will get into for a number of reasons below, that I wanted to bring it to their attention, but did not ask for any sanction against him, stating, people make mistakes, it should not have a disproportionate impact on their career, but that Stan must not plagiarize again.

One of the members of the advisory board, who was kind enough to respond, still perhaps in disbelief, asked/asks a legitimate question, if this was somehow an accident, a misedited quotation, why was Stan not standing up publicly to clarify the situation? To which I would respond: INDEED!

An advisory board member also CC’d Professor Vladimir Tismaneanu, who is the President of the Advisory Board, on a response back to me, asking Tismaneanu to convene an online meeting of the advisory board to discuss the case at hand. That was some ten days or so ago. Tismaneanu has still not acknowledged that request and as I understand the board has not met.

But, of course, that was not enough for Tismaneanu, who is infamous among Romanianists for posting allusive tirades on his PUBLIC FB page. If it is useful for Tismaneanu–say he is criticized by someone on the left, by a nationalist, by someone on the extreme right, by someone he is already publicly in a dispute with and that person’s name is well-known–he will identify someone by name. However, when it is not, he will go euphemistic. Whenever this happens, a good first step is to look up what was said or written in the Romanian media or blogosphere about Tismaneanu in the previous 24-72 hours, and/or to inquire of Romanian readers of his public FB page, who his target du jour (that would be, the target of the day!) is? Of course, this is sheer strategic cowardice, because Tismaneanu can always deny it was about the target in question, because he never used the name, and then he can accuse the target of imagining that they were the target, in effect gaslighting them…Pretty underhanded, no? (For the many people who have been targets of Tismaneanu, they know whereof I speak–ironically, but predictably, Tismaneanu himself does not like when other Romanians use this tactic against him).

The following was in the hours after the advisory board member had made Tismaneanu aware of my message

Vladimir Tismaneanu  · Timpuri urâte pentru cei onești, splendide pentru ticăloși: Spune-mi cine-ți sare la beregată ca să-ți spun cine ești. Se plătesc polițe, se construiesc filiațiuni fictive, se inoată, adeseori in haită, in ape tulburi. Ce putem face? Să cultivăm simțul realității si să fim atenți la ceea ce se ascunde îndărătul chemărilor la vigilență preemptivă si punitivă…

“Ugly times for the honest, splendid times for the wicked: tell me who is lurching at your throat and I will tell you who you are. Scores are settled, fictious affiliations are built, they swim, often in packs, in dangerous waters. What can we do? We can cultivate a sense of reality and be attent to what hides behind the calls for preemptive and punitive vigilance…”

Allow me to translate the translation here. Stan is the Honest party, I am the wicked: because Stan is on the side of Good, my going after him tells you I am bad. It is all about score settling (so the act itself–plagiarism–doesn’t matter!…moving the goalposts!), building fictious alliances (possibly a reference to my invocation of a member of the advisory board being an occasional research contact), and I swim as part of a pack (an animal, shark, unlikable animal, in pursuit of trouble–dehumanizing, othering language). What can we do? (He is already doing it) We can cultivate a sense of reality (here he is hoping that other members of the advisory board will minimize and relativize the act of his mentee, co-author, and friend, Mr. Stan) and be attent (aha!) to what hides behind (so it is about an agenda, not about the objective fact of Stan’s plagiarism) the calls for preemptive and punitive vigilance (reference to my reaching out to an advisory board member, although he conveniently ignores my call against punishment…something very different than how Tismaneanu himself has dealt with me and others)

One might get a sense in reading this that Tismaneanu could care less about Mr. Stan’s plagiarism, because of who Stan is and who the person Stan plagiarized from is, at least from Tismaneanu’s point of view. It is about the context, not the content of the plagiarism. Pretty revealing, isn’t it?

to be continued

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