The Shrewd Ecumenicism of the Encyclopedia of Romania: Biopolitics, Ethnic Cooperativism, and the Peasant State
Ion Matei Costinescu
Faculty of Sociology and Social Work University of Bucharest
Abstract: The thesis of this article is that The Encyclopedia of Romania was embedded within, as well as helped to define, a large and shifting biopolitical field of human sciences and governmentality. The cognitive interest of this field resided in searching for a template of national subject-making cum citizenship creation. Crucial to this undertaking was the diagnosis of blockages hindering the transformation of the Romanian peasants, seen irrespective of ideological bent as the putative bearers of “nationhood”, into active political subjects, insofar as, like in any nationalist endeavor, said citizen-subjects were preferred over purely autonomous political agents. I substantiate these arguments by focusing on two contributors to the Encyclopedia, namely the philosopher Constantin Rădulescu-Motru (1868-1957) and the economist Gromoslav Mladenatz (1891-1958).The cross-disciplinary intersection of Rădulescu-Motru’s philosophy of culture with Mladenatz’s cooperativist ideas makes manifest the biopolitical presuppositions of the intellectual and ideological field structuring the Encyclopedia of Romania.
Keywords: Encyclopedia of Romania, biopolitics, Constantin Rădulescu-Motru, Gromoslav Mladenatz, cooperativism, nationalism, citizenship.
The publication between 1938 and 1943 of the first four volumes of The Encyclopedia of Romania (Enciclopedia României) represented an important moment in the conceptual consolidation of the nation as an object of social scientific study and field of socio-political intervention. The brainchild of Dimitrie Gusti (1880-1955) and his collaborators at the Romanian Social Institute, the Encyclopedia was conceived as a synthesis of the monographic sociological approach elaborated by the Bucharest Sociological School in the course of investigating Romanian social reality, especially rural life. Originally conceived as a six volume undertaking, of which only four saw the light of print due to the advent of the communist regime, the project drew on contribution from noted intellectual figures, as well as technocrats and government officials. This was to be a genuine national monograph compiling the current state of research across virtually all fields of social inquiry. In this sense, as I have argued elsewhere, the Encyclopedia contributed the elaboration by the Bucharest Sociological School of a nationalist epistemic regime well-suited to the dual task of nation-state consolidation and modernization of rural life.
My present thesis is that this nationalist epistemic regime was embedded within, as well as helped to define, a large and shifting biopolitical field of human sciences and governmentality. The cognitive interest of this field resided in searching for a template of national subject-making cum citizenship creation. Crucial to this undertaking was the diagnosis of blockages hindering the transformation of the Romanian peasants, seen irrespective of ideological bent as the putative bearers of “nationhood”, into active political subjects, insofar as, like in any nationalist endeavor, said citizen-subjects were preferred over purely autonomous political agents. This is because the agency of political subjects could potentially be mobilized and directed towards removing the blockages in the path of national construction and socio-economic progress, while at the same time circumscribing their agency by means of the scientific certainty, ostensible epistemic closure, and power/knowledge mechanisms that made the identification of their potential for agency possible in the first place. In short, the beauty of this encyclopedic project was that empowerment/knowledge was inherent, circumscribed within, yet at the same time enabled by power/knowledge mechanisms. As Gusti lyrically described in the preface to the first volume, the Encyclopedia was to be a source of collective strength, providing as it did the image of a nation with all “the gifts of a distant and glorious origins” which nonetheless displayed the “creations and potential” of a people in “full development”.
As such, the sense of epistemic closure which the Encyclopedia sought to present was in fact predicated on the attempt to screen, compile, and contain the ideologically broad array of disciplinarily diverse and often contradictory diagnoses/prescriptions of and for the nation’s ills. The multiplicity of views and the intensity inherent in the debate regarding the country’s path of development was caused by the awareness that the Greater Romania created in 1918 remained, even by the late 1930s, an unfinished project of state construction in ideological, institutional, and economic terms. This latter point has been already been well substantiated in the extant literature and needs no further elaboration. Thus, there is little doubt that that the Encyclopedia was effective in disguising the sense of anxiety felt by nationalist intellectuals and state-makers in the midst of the ongoing economic crisis and increasingly ominous international situation of the 1930s behind a position of epistemic authority that willed itself unassailable.
Before proceeding with our discussion, a brief definition of terms “biopolitics” and “governmentality” is necessary. As elaborated by Michel Foucault, the terms are distinct though interrelated. “Biopolitics” is typically understood as a quintessentially modern style of government that strives to foster and regulate life in all aspects ranging from health and reproductive practices to habits and customs. In this context, “governmentality” refers to the specific means – such as the social sciences but not only – whereby governments render populations into objects of knowledge and targets of government intervention. In short, the concept of governmentality links government actions to the modes of thought that make them possible. The key point here is that societies are only gradually governmentalized, the more so since governmentalization presupposes the internalization by the populations in question of specific types of political rationality. This enables them to govern themselves individually and collectively in ways that serve the politically prescribed ends. 
I will substantiate these arguments by focusing on two contributors to the Encyclopedia, namely the philosopher Constantin Rădulescu-Motru (1868-1957) and the economist Gromoslav Mladenatz (1891-1958). What these two figures had in common was that, although they were not members of the Bucharest Sociological School, they were supportive of its dual project of social research and social reform. More importantly, they illustrate the broad range of contemporary disciplinary and ideological approaches towards activating the biopolitical potential of the peasantry. A distinguished interpreter of culture with a penchant for elaborating political doctrine, Rădulescu-Motru embodies what may be termed a “culturalist” and largely non-empirical approach towards identifying the habits of mind and power structures that inhibited the social and political regeneration of the Romanian people. By contrast, Mladenatz enjoyed an international reputation as a pillar of the cooperativist movement, being not only one of its chief theoreticians, but having also served in an official capacity as President of the National Cooperation Office (Oficiul Naţional al Cooperaţiei) – not incidentally a position also held at one time by Dimitrie Gusti.
For Mladenatz, as well as for Gusti and Rădulescu-Motru, to say nothing about the many other thinkers associated with the Peasantist ideological current and its various agrarian-based doctrines of socio-economic development, the organization of economic production on the basis of cooperativist principles, especially in rural areas, was one of the keys to national regeneration. It was not only a means of accumulating the types of capital necessary for economic development but, as importantly, a way of fostering the sense of communal cohesion, social responsibility, and pride in national belonging necessary to transform peasants into active citizens capable and willing to participate in the vital task of national construction. Consequently, it is precisely the cross-disciplinary intersection of Rădulescu-Motru’s philosophy of culture with Mladenatz’s economic ideas that reveals the biopolitical presuppositions of the intellectual and ideological field structuring The Encyclopedia of Romania.
The Biopolitics of Constantin Rădulescu-Motru
A cultural conservative in the vein pioneered by the Junimist movement, Rădulescu-Motru’s intellectual trajectory accordingly retained a militant yet broad-minded skepticism concerning the suitability of Western institutional and cultural forms in the Romanian context. This skepticism was, in fact, remarkably flexible and sufficiently adaptive from an ideological and political standpoint so as to enable his initial political conservatism to evolve into a more progressive direction. By the late 1920s, he was firmly ensconced in the National Peasant Party, having come to represent a more centrist ideological stand within the party as opposed, for example, to the left-leaning economist Virgil Madgearu (1887-1940) or the young social scientist and cultural critic Mihai Ralea (1896-1964).
Influenced by the ideas of Wilhelm Wundt’s and the discipline of Völkerpsychologie (folk psychology), Rădulescu-Motru’ evolving stance concerning the ongoing westernization of Romanian society, evidently an eminamently controversial process, originated in his seminal Romanian Culture and Politicianism (Cultura Română Şi Politicianismul). Originally published in 1904, this work articulated a vision of Romanian society premised on the conceptual distinction, fashionable at the time in the German (and not only) social sciences, between “Gemeinschaft” and “Gesellschaft”, that is between “community” and “society” or “culture” and “civilization”. One might even say that this opposition became the organizing metaphor of Rădulescu-Motru’s subsequent intellectual evolution. From this perspective, the rootless and artificial institutional structures and cultural forms of “civilization” replicated and spread themselves though mimesis, being to a certain extent modular. In contradistinction to authentic “culture”, which needed to undergo a wide-ranging spiritual rebirth if it was to become truly national, the transplanted ensemble of laws, institutional arrangements, and cultural trends constitutive of “civilization” existed in contradiction with the underlying spiritual foundations of the Romanian folk and its venerable traditions. More specifically, the author in effect identified “civilization” with “politicianism”. This he defined as a “type of political activity, – or better said a craft-like practice of political rights, – though which a few citizens of a [particular] State, tend to and sometimes succeed in transforming public institutions and services from instruments for the realization of the public good, as they indeed should be, into vehicles for achieving personal goals”.
Adding insult to injury, this process of institutional appropriation and spoliation of the public good(s) unfolded with the willing consent of its victims. Its mechanisms of legitimation were internalized and embedded in the collective consciousness of the Romanians though the operations of the dominant, representative constitutional political order. It was only in constitutional states, decried the author in genuine conservative aggrievement, that “the exploited legally acquiesces to the act of spoliation committed against his very self.” From this standpoint, the task was to identify the specific cultural patterns and traits which simultaneously rendered the Romanians vulnerable to “politicianism” and provided the social and spiritual resources to overcome it.
Although Rădulescu-Motru believed that ethnicity was rooted in biology and heredity, he nonetheless affirmed that the essence of culture, alternatively described as the spiritual fundament of a people, consisted in replacing instinctual behavior with conscious activity directed by reason. There was, however, an dialectical movement in play here, in that the replacement of instinct by culture resulted in automatic habits, beliefs, values, and patterns of behavior that were in practice very similar to instincts.  These deep-seated patterns constituted the very postulates of collective identity and the fount of a people’s historic traditions. Such collective habits of mind and behavior could, in turn, be identified in a way that would allow for “the possibility of controlling their course and, if necessary, change their direction.”
Ultimately, such premises were incompatible with a politically conservative stance. This is because they implied the need for new mobilizing ideologies, innovative methods of popular education and, above all, novel types of state organization designed to nurture and shepherd the Romanian national character to its full potential. This insight, as well as his belief in the urgent need for a new form of Romanian nationalism organically connected to its socio-cultural context, transformed Rădulescu-Motru into a moderate modernizer and instrumentally selective westernizer comfortable in the post-World War I National Peasant Party. That being said, the demise of the old agrarian order and the virtual disappearance of the economic basis for the Conservative Party as a consequence of the 1921 agrarian reform surely provided an additional incentive for reassessing his political views.
The political abode of agrarianists who saw in the massive 1921 land reform a significant step in the “peasantisation” of the state, as well as a much-needed measure to banish the specter of social revolution, The National Peasant Party also included to a diverse collection of “third way” advocates. These politicians, scholars, and ideologues sought to provide Romanians with the techno-scientific conquests of modern civilization while at the same time preserving the best features of their traditional identity and way of life. There was a general feeling among them that only a new kind of peasant state, which at the minimum meant a state that would serve the interests of the demographically dominant peasants, would insure the “Romanian” character and genuine independence of the newly enlarged Greater Romania. This was a self-declared “national” state challenged by the burdens of an insufficiently modernized, predominantly rural economy, numerous ethnic minorities, as well as irredentist neighbors. But whereas economists such as Virgil Madgearu and Mihail Manoilescu (1891-1950) – who also found a temporary home in the party on his rightward journey towards corporatism, Carlism, and ultimately Legionarism – based their prescriptions for a specifically “Romanian” path of development on a diagnosis of the country’s peripheral status in the international political economy, Rădulescu-Motru looked towards a spiritual renaissance that would sweep away the obstacles placed by “politicianism” in the path of national progress.
His assessment of the country’s ills was not as incompatible with those of Madgearu and Manoilescu – the latter also a contributor to the Encyclopedia – as it might first seem, for he retained the classic conservative mistrust regarding the socially corrosive effects of big capital. This dovetailed quite nicely with Madgearu’s and Manoilescu’s economic critiques which were, moreover, mirrored in his evaluation of “politicianism” as a product of Romania’s cultural dependency vis à vis the West. Clearly, then, there was a need to recast the cultural fundaments of national life.
This was to be a non-fascist form of national palingenesis in the guise of a supposedly new type of nationalism, which he duly produced in definitive form in 1936 under the quite indicative title of Romanianism: The Catechism of a New Spirituality (Românismul. Catehismul Unei Noi Spiritualităţi).As an old-new spiritual foundation for the Romanian people, “Romanianism” necessarily involved both a critical and a constructive aspect. The critical dimension stemmed from the need to improve the harsh conditions of rural life and correct unhealthy distortions in the national character brought about by the parasitical structures that interfered with the organic development of the Romanian people. By the same token, the constructive element was premised on the dictum that
Military defense, agricultural and industrial work, cultural education through church and school, the state of public health in cities and villages; all the activities, when all is said and done, upon which the organization of a nation conscious of its vocation in the world is based, can be accomplished only emphasizing and making the most out of the qualities possessed by the members of the nation.
Here was the blueprint for engineering the rational and productive citizen-peasant. Nourished by ancestral tradition and an organic connection to the soil which endowed him with a “Godly national mission”, this new type of man was to be a morally and esthetically superior political subject. For such a national mission surely transcended the grubby utilitarianism of the reasoning autonomous subject envisioned by liberalism while eschewing the crass philosophical materialism of the left. The latter was the type of fallacy against which the National Peasant Party needed to be internally vigilant, warned Rădulescu-Motru. He had indeed long argued that nation must take precedence of class. Whatever internal differentiation the Romanians had experienced through the vicissitudes of historical fortune, the peasantry remained the biological reservoir and cultural basis of nationhood. It was, in a sense, the only genuine social class. Notwithstanding its own internal divisions, the peasantry possessed perennial spiritual qualities typical for all Romanians. Consequently, it was right and proper that the peasantry had acquired a “dominant position” in the state as the result of the 1923 advent of universal suffrage. By his lights, this was the only way of insuring the “national and unitary” character of the state. At the same time, he was deeply suspicious of class-based politics, arguing that it was a mistake to concentrate solely on satisfying the “voting peasant’s immediate interests” – by which he surely meant the peasantry’s still persistent hunger for land despite the recent agrarian reforms. This would only perpetuate social strife and division, which was inimical to the peasants’ and therefore the nation’s permanent interests. The proper role of the peasantry, therefore, was to serve as both repository and agent of a new kind of national consciousness. It was the project of creating a new type of peasantry that brought Rădulescu-Motru intellectual and political agenda in confluence with that of the interwar eugenists and, more importantly to the present analysis, that of the Bucharest Sociological School.
The Science of Social Psychology, the Psychology of the Romanian People, and the Peasant State
The Gustian School was actively involved in fostering the kind of institutions – namely cooperatives, peasant schools, and cultural houses – which all Peasantist thinkers deemed essential for developing the social organization and ethos of a peasant state. More significant still was the fact that monographic sociological research could identify by means of empirical research the natural (i.e. territorial or what Gusti called “cosmological”), biological, and psychological attributes that formed the foundations of “Romanianism”. Be that as it may, it is important to note that the relationship between Rădulescu-Motru and the Bucharest Sociological School was asymmetrical. There are several related reasons for this asymmetry.
Firstly, this was because the Gustians were an ideological diverse, yet above all pragmatic group. Their primary concern was with acquiring the kind of empirical knowledge about rural society useful for nurturing the social institutions of a peasant state and constructing functional organizations to serve it. In light of the practical challenges inherent in this monumental undertaking, matters of ideological rectitude were of decidedly lesser importance. As far as Dimitrie Gusti was concerned, persons of Rădulescu-Motru’s erudition and standing were welcome, indeed needed, to participate in the great task of national construction. Of course, such collaboration could only take place if such persons were broadly in tune with the Gustian vision of a social-scientifically guided society. This was certainly the case for Constantin Rădulescu-Motru. But Gusti and his close collaborators would have no truck with Rădulescu-Motru’s brand of philosophic idealism. They rejected his contention that the “spiritual life” of the Romanian people could not, ultimately, be interpreted by means of empirical data, no matter how useful and necessary these may be. Absent a very clear or at the very least unfragmented understanding of the people’s spiritual telos (finalitatea spirituală), claimed the philosopher, the empirical data is, in effect, no more than a set of indicators needing further discussion and interpretation. The Gustians, however, had their own vision of sociology as a positive science and would have regarded Rădulescu-Motru’s stance as, at best, an epistemological conceit. Nonetheless, there was a sufficiently broad affinity between the two parties so as to entrust Rădulescu-Motru with the task of analyzing for the Encyclopedia the collective psychology of the Romanian people.
Titled the “The Psychology of the Romanian People”, this text is only one of two contributions to Chapter II of the first volume, the chapter being entirely dedicated to “The Population of Romania”. The essay was preceded by a fairly thorough demographic survey of Romania, including some census information such as occupational data and prosaically titled “The Population of Romania”. This survey was co-authored authored by the doctor, demographer, and Gustian monographer D. C. (aka Mitu) Georgescu together with the prominent statistician, doctor, and eugenist Sabin Manuilă. All this gives us an indication of the essay’s importance in the overall textual economy of the Encyclopedia.
In keeping with the scientific tenor of the analysis which preceded his own contribution, and indeed of the entire Encyclopedia, Rădulescu-Motru began by laying out his view of social psychology as the discipline best suited to studying the “spiritual life of social organisms”. These kinds of biological metaphors, paradoxical to be sure, yet revealingly in their biopolitical implications, abound in the author’s excursus on social psychology. This was, after all, a “science” whose object after all was the “soul of a population” or it’s “supra-biological reality”. However, he went on to explain, social psychology was not a “free science”, in the sense that it could not produce knowledge solely on the basis of logical postulates, empirical data, and experience. Rather, this was a science constitutionally subordinated to the “spiritual destiny” of the particular folk which it studies and served.  In short, its mission was to foster the spirit of “Romanianism” and help it materialize in institutional form.
Synthesizing and abbreviating his previous diagnoses of Romanian society, the author found the Romanians to be, by virtue of their “hereditary nature”, naturally “persistent in work”, patient, as well as inclined towards traditionalism and conservatism. These innate qualities, however, were distorted, one the one hand, by unsuitable institutional and cultural forms imported from abroad and by the rigors of their collective historical experience, on the other. The latter process had forced Romanians to develop patterns of collective life adapted to land hunger and the danger of foreign invasions. Accordingly, the collective and conformist character of work in the village which, presumably, had evolved as a necessity for survival, found its dialectical counterpart in the private utopia of the individual peasant. For in his secret heart, “the Romanian” aspired to escape communal constraints and exercise absolute sovereignty over his personal plot of land, no matter how minuscule this might be. This was precisely why communal agricultural work took on a quasi-anarchic character, being hampered by a veritable tragedy of the commons. Peasant conformism only went so far as to induce the individual to exert himself in the manner he believed the others villagers would work! Logically, therefore, this resulted in undisciplined and irregular work habits, since the Romanians liked to “work in bursts”, as well as in a general lack of economic resourcefulness and technological innovation.
Just as worrisome, if not more, the contradiction between the imported “bourgeois spirit” and the “Romanian soul” resulted in deficiencies in the mindset and practical habits required for good political citizenship. Whereas social progress in the West was sustained by the square-jawed effort and risk-taking initiative of its citizens, in Romania more than a century of western-inspired education had failed to create similarly engaged citizens capable of creating a “national commerce” and a “national industry”. The problem, of course, did not reside solely with the economically and politically passive peasant masses, deprived as they were of viable role models and genuine leadership. On their part, the educated strata – the cultural bearers of “politicianism” – embodied a deformed type of bourgeois individualism. In the process of cultural translation and adaptation, bourgeois individualism had mutated into egocentrism and a profound sense of entitlement. This “subjective individualism”, as the author labeled it, had had a corrosive effect throughout the entire body politic. For elites, this took the form of dependence on a bloated state apparatus turned into a legalized spoils system, which they regarded as their rightful abode and means of personal advancement. Shielded from the rigors of economic competition and sustained by the security provided by bureaucratic sinecure, this system enabled the acquisition of social status and standing. In short, western-inspired “subjective individualism” had transformed law-breaking into a sign of “greatness and “power”. It thus came to pass that a generalized disrespect for the law characterized both those who wrote the laws and those for whom the law was written.
This diagnosis demanded the elaboration of a new politics of culture promoted by institutions grounded in and capable of valorizing the authentic spiritual structure of the Romanians. The quasi-anarchic mystical collectivism of the peasants and the individualism of the elites could be rationally disciplined and corrected only by means of a state based on the interests of the peasants. Rădulescu-Motru had already elaborated the doctrinal aspect of “Romanianism” in his 1934 Ideology of the Romanian State (Ideologia Statului Român). The practical social and economic reforms advocated therein were in tune with the Peasantist mainstream. These reforms included measures such as extending social insurance to the rural population, state regulation of the grain trade, combating administrative corruption and so forth. However, for Rădulescu-Motru the primary function of the peasant state was to promote the spiritual and moral rebirth of village life. The starting point of this renaissance, he argued, was “the principle of cooperatively organized production”. As he saw it, this was the surest way to combat the bourgeois individualism that had infested the nation’s political institutions and economic life.
State-Building, Ethnic Cooperativism, and Citizen-Making
It is the intersection of Rădulescu-Motru’s political ideology with the ideas of the cooperativist movement that makes manifest the presuppositions of the wider biopolitical field which they both helped construct and within which they functioned. Inspired by Charles Gide’s (1847-1932) creed of social solidarism, Romanian cooperativism originated in the antebellic period. It had been promoted, among others, by exponents of the peasant-oriented Poporanist cultural and political current, including notable figures such as Constantin Stere (1865-1936). Cooperativism first acquired a legislative framework in 1903, but it was not until the interwar period that the movement came into its own, having been transformed into a vital instrument of state policy and nation-building.
According to the theorists of the cooperative movement such as Gromoslav Mladenatz, an acknowledged economic expert and author of an internationally well-received history of cooperative doctrines, cooperatives were the foundation of a social economy tailored to the needs of a peasant state. In contrast to liberal economic and political doctrine, which understood cooperativism as based on rational self-interest, Mladenatz regarded cooperatives as instruments for concretizing “an organic conception of cooperation” and a “most efficacious means” of nurturing a social ethos of solidarity and mutual aid. This was best encapsulated by the Gustian slogan, to which Mladenatz wholeheartedly subscribed, of “cooperative social camaraderie, cooperativist social love, and cooperativist social service”. Yet this was a spirit to be fostered and institutionalized along ethnic lines, by means of legislation and propaganda of word and deed. As we shall see, the interwar period witnessed the development of what may justifiably be termed interwar as ethnic cooperativism.
State intervention in the development, control, and financing of cooperatives was initiated shortly after the end of World War I with the establishment of the Central Savings Bank of Cooperatives and Redistribution of Land for Villagers (Casa Centrală a Cooperaţiei şi a Împroprietăririi Sătenilor). Subordinated to the Department of Agriculture, the mission of this organization was to implement the agrarian reform. It was a vehicle for consolidating and ultimately guiding the small landholding economy of the Romanian peasants, especially since the legally stipulated redistribution of land was designed in their favor and at the expense of large or communal landowners, many of whom were of minority origin. In fact, it was in response to such measures that, by taking advantage of legal loopholes and official neglect, national minorities retained and reorganized their own cooperative institutions. This they did in order to consolidate the bases of their own national life and promote ethnic autonomy within Greater Romania. In this context, the land reform succeeded in securing Romanian peasant support for the prevailing political and economic order.
Yet the Romanian cooperative movement remained plagued by difficulties. Among the chief culprits was a combination of insufficient state financing and excessive state tutelage, and which also saw both the National Liberal Party and the National Peasant Party trying to assert control over the movement, not only as a matter of policy but as a matter of patronage an short-term political gain. Urged on by advocates of cooperativism, progress was made in remedying these deficiencies, particularly in regards to increasing the autonomy of the cooperatives. This was accomplished by means of the 1929 and 1935 laws on the organization of cooperatives.
Nonetheless, the structural deficiencies of Romanian agriculture remained daunting. The core of the problem resided in the peasant household (gospodăria ţărănească) and its afferent small landholdings. These were rightly perceived by rural economists and sociologists as the fundamental units of rural economic production. Whereas for ideologues such as Rădulescu-Motru, the “real institution of the peasant household” constituted the salutary antidote to economic individualism, cooperativist economists were much more concerned with the ways in which this venerable establishment contributed to the perpetuation of economic backwardness. Despite the land reform, demographic growth contributed to the ongoing fragmentation of small plots among family members. Small plots not only made it difficult to sustain families, but also inhibited the development of large economic units capable of producing surplus. Compounding these difficulties was excessive taxation, the shortage of modern tools and machinery, problems in accessing non-usurious credit, as well as peasant dependence on intermediaries in marketing agricultural goods. Despite considerable progress in establishing credit cooperatives, the cooperative movement had not been very successful in addressing the more fundamental issues of land fragmentation and rationalization of agricultural production. 
As Mladenatz and other theorists of the movement saw it, the solution to these critical problems resided in encouraging the voluntary formation of land-leasing cooperatives and/or association of small individual landholdings into larger economic units. This also implied the elaboration of specific methodologies for apportioning the products obtained with a view towards the gradual elimination of all income obtained by means other than labor.  These were indeed logical solutions. Yet, by and large, peasants remained suspicious of these kinds of measures, partly because they perceived them as government-sponsored attempts to deprive them of what little land they had acquired. The dearth of rationalized production thus continued to plague Romanian agriculture well into the 1940s, a problem likely rendered even more acute under the stringencies of wartime. This is why, even at the late date of 1943, Mladenatz’s analysis of “Cooperatist Policy” (Politica Cooperativă) for the Encyclopedia insisted on the need to organize cooperativist propaganda on a systematic basis.
The expose on “Cooperatist Policy”, which constitutes the main focus of the present analysis, and his article on “Cooperative Enterprises” (Întrepinderi Cooperative) constituted Mladenatz’s contributions to a chapter entirely dedicated to the topics of “Cooperation and Insurance”. The chapter was part of Volume IV, titled The National Economy. Circulation, Distribution, Consumption (Economia Naţională. Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum). Volume III had focused on the economic frameworks and production aspects of the national economy. The fact that the Encyclopedia dedicated an entire chapter to the question of “cooperation” – a subject also touched upon in articles concerning other aspects of the economy –, attests to the fact that learned opinion continued to consider cooperativism as one of the keys to modernizing the economy and consolidating the nation-state. In fact, the article on “Cooperative Enterprises” is thirty seven pages long, far exceeding most entries in the Encyclopedia. Because they were entries in a work of reference, Mladenatz’s contributions do not represent a significant departure from his previous writings on the subject. Together with the immediately preceding article on the evolving legal framework of cooperativism authored by the attorney and Minister for National Economy under the Antonescu regime I. N. Finţescu, these contributions presented in condensed form the intellectual origins, accomplishments to date, and continuing challenges of the cooperativist movement and of its various types of economic enterprises (i.e. rural credit cooperatives, consumer cooperatives etc.). However, the issues Mladenatz chose to emphasize are significant because they have a direct bearing on the far-reaching project of endowing rural life with the virtues of increased rationality and economic efficiency.
In addition to the aforementioned call for systematizing and increasing cooperativist propaganda, Mladenatz concluded his discussion of cooperativist policy by underscoring the need for creating technically proficient cooperativist elite. In additional to providing much needed specialized and managerial skills, these cadres would embody the virtues required of cooperativist leaders. Signaling that this was an ongoing and very necessary project, Mladenatz informed the readers that in collaboration with Dimitrie Gusti he had developed just such a “complete program of organizing cooperativist propaganda and education”. Hence, despite its ostensibly scholarly character, the tone of the article is exhortative. In stark contrast to the putative cooperativist principles of self-organization and free association, the vision expressed in therein is essentially dirigiste. There is a grim determination here to forge ahead despite, or perhaps precisely because of previous setbacks. This signals a shift towards a more top-down and coercive approach in the matter of organizing agricultural production and transforming peasants into agents of socio-economic modernization.
On one level, this new approach bore the imprint of the short-lived and ill-fated experiment with corporatism enacted during the royal dictatorship (1938-1940) of Carol II. The Carolinian Constitution had replaced the previous (1923) framework of parliamentary democracy with representation via “colleges” organized by profession. It was also in tune with the 1938 Social Service Law, which was enacted right before the instauration of the royal dictatorship. Inspired by Dimitrie Gusti, the law mandated the compulsory organization of university graduates into “a quasi-military hierarchy” of social workers whose “multi-directional pedagogical mission” was to promote the modernization of the rural world. Gusti, however, was not the only cooperativist to embrace authoritarian solutions. The number of noted Peasantist intellectuals, including Mihail Manoilescu and Constantin Rădulescu-Motru, who had once evinced democratic leanings but who eventually embraced corporatist solutions and joined King Carol’s National Renaissance Front is too numerous to be ascribed to simple political opportunism or to a sense of patriotic duty occasioned by the dire internal and external political situation. On a still deeper level, this shows the considerable affinity between the doctrines of cooperativism and corporatism. In this sense, the novel and manifold biopolitical aspects of the Carlist experiment, which also envisioned an urban mission for the Social Service, are less important than the fact that it fell in line with the longstanding and heterogeneous Romanian tradition of biopolitical theorizing, now crucially homogenized by the Encyclopedia’s shrewd ecumenicism.
The affinity between, one might even say interpenetration of cooperativism and corporatism was aptly expressed by Mihail Manoilescu when he defined the latter as the historical necessity of organizing “national solidarity” on a “concrete and practical” basis. This was mandatory, he claimed, in order to foster the “spirit” (starea de spirit) necessary to overcome “all the material and economic exigencies” confronting the nation as a result of the postwar transformations in the “structure of the world economy” and in the “international division of labor”. It would have been difficult indeed for any cooperativist theoretician to disagree with Manoilescu sentiments.
So serious and difficult was perceived the agrarian problem to be, so vital to the imperative of national survival, that even critical questions of individual and collective (self) empowerment became, perhaps inevitably, subordinated to the search for viable templates of socio-economic modernization. What mattered most in this framework was finding the forms of economic and political organization best suited for activating the biopolitical potential of the peasantry. In this context, the wide-ranging yet compressed format of The Encyclopedia of Romania functions as an ideal focalizing lens though which to examine the confluence of cultural theories, national ideologies, economic doctrines, and government policies that configured this hegemonic field of biopolitical production.
Costinescu, Ion Matei, (2012), “On Modernity and Nation-Building in the Projects of the Bucharest Sociological School”, Revista Transilvania, no.11-12, pp. 79-85;
Costinescu, Ion Matei, (2013), “The Nation as Epistemic Regime: On the Bucharest Sociological School, State Consolidation, and Interethnic Relations”, Sfera Politicii, no. 175, pp. 70-76;
Dragomir, Elena, (2010), “Development Characteristics of Interwar European Periphery: The Case of Romania and Lithuania’s Agriculture”, Revista Română Pentru Studii Baltice şi Nordice, Vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 60-62.
Finţescu, Ion N., (1943), “Legislaţia Cooperativă”/ “Cooperative Legislation”, in Dimitrie Gusti, C. Orghidan et al. (eds.), Enciclopedia României, Vol. 4. Economia Naţională – Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum / The Encyclopedia of Romania, Vol. 4. The National Economy – Circulation, Distribution, Consumption , Bucureşti: Imprimeria Naţională, pp. 621-627;
Foucault, Michel, “Governmentality”, in G. Burchell, Gordon & P Miller (eds.), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, pp. 87-104;
Foucault, Michel, (2008), The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–1979, trans. G. Burchell, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1-22;
Gusti, Dimitrie, (1938), “O Enciclopedie Românească”/ “A Romanian Encyclopedia” , in Dimitrie Gusti, C. Orghidan et al. (eds.), Enciclopedia României, Vol. 1. Statul / The Encyclopedia of Romania, Vol.1. The State, Bucureşti: Imprimeria Naţională, pp. VII-IX;
Hitchins, Keith, (1994), Rumania, 1866-1947, Oxford: Clarendon Press;
Hunyadi, Attila Gábor, (2012), “National Economic Self-Organization Models”, in Attila Gábor Hunyadi (ed.), State and Minority in Transylvania. Studies on the History of the Hungarian Community, 1918-1989, trans. M. Caples, New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, pp. 27-59;
Larionescu, Maria, (2013), “Economia Socială şi Cooperaţia în România. O Perspectivă Socioistoică Comparată”/ “Social Economy and Cooperativism in Romania. A Socio-Historical Comparative Perspective”, Revista Calitatea Vieţii, Vol. XXIV, no. 2 , pp. 109-136;
Livezeanu, Irina (1995), Cultural Politics in Greater Romania, Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press;
Love, Joseph, (1996), Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment on Romania and Brazil, Stanford: Stanford University Press;
Madgearu, Virgil, (1924), “Doctrina Ţărănistă”/ “The Peasantist Doctrine”, in Dimitrie Gusti, Nicolae Iorga et al., Doctrinele Partidelor Politice. 19 Prelegei Publice Organizate De Institutul Social Român, Bucureşti: Cultura Naţională, pp. 65-88;
Manoilescu, Mihail,(1934), Filozofia şi Doctrina Corporatistă/ The Philosophy and Doctrine of Corporatism, Bucureşti: Tipografia ziarului “Universul”;
Manuilă, Sabin and D.C. Georgescu, (1938), “Populaţia României”/ “The Population of Romania”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol.1. Statul, pp. 133-160;
Mladenatz, Gromoslav, (1926), “Problemele Actuale ale Mişcării Cooperative Mondiale” / “The Current Problems of the World Cooperativist Movement”, Arhiva Pentru Ştiinţa Şi Reforma Socială, Anul VI, no. 1-2, pp. 75-103;
Mladenatz, Gromoslav, (1937), “Posibilităţile şi Dificultăţile Cooperaţiei în Satele Româneşti” / “The Possibilities and Challenges of Cooperation in the Romanian Villages” , Sociologie Românească, Anul II, no.2-3, pp. 108-111;
Mladenatz, Gromoslav, (1943), “Politica Cooperativă” / “Cooperatist Policy”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol. 4. Economia Naţională – Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum, pp. 628-633;
Mladenatz, Gromoslav, (1943), “Întrepinderi Cooperative”/ “Cooperative Enterpises”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol. 4. Economia Naţională – Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum, pp. 633-670;
Rădulescu-Motru, Constantin (1904), Cultura Română Şi Politicianismul / Romanian Culture and Politicianism, Bucureşti: Librăria Socecu;
Rădulescu-Motru, Constantin (1934), Ideologia Statului Român / The Ideology of the Romanian State, Bucureşti: Tipografia Bucovina;
Rădulescu-Motru, Constantin, (1936), Românismul. Catehismul Unei Noi Spiritualităţi / Romanianism. The Catechism of a New Spirituality, (Bucureşti: Fundaţia Pentru Literatură Şi Artă “Regele Carol II”;
Rădulescu-Motru, Constantin, (1938), “Psihologia Poporului Român”/ “The Psychology of the Romanian People”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol.1. Statul, pp. 161-168;
Turda, Marius, (2008), “The Nation as Object: Race, Blood, and Biopolitics in Interwar Romania”, Slavic Review, Vol. 66, no., pp. 413-441
 Ion Matei Costinescu, “On Modernity and Nation-Building in the Projects of the Bucharest Sociological School, Revista Transilvania, no. 11-12 (2012), 79-85; Ion Matei Costinescu, “The Nation as Epistemic Regime: On the Bucharest Sociological School, State Consolidation, and Interethnic Relations ”, Sfera Politicii, no. 175(2013), 70-76.
 Dimitrie Gusti, “O Enciclopedie Românească”, in Dimitrie Gusti, C. Orghidan et al. (eds.), Enciclopedia României, Vol. 1- Statul, (Bucureşti: Imprimeria Naţională, 1938), VII.
 See, for example, Keith Hitchins, Rumania, 1866-1947, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994); Irina Livezeanu, Cultural Politics in Greater Romania, (Ithaca & London: Cornell University Press, 1995).
 See Michel Foucault, The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–1979, trans. G. Burchell, (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008); 1-22; Michel Foucault, “Governmentality”, in G. Burchell, Gordon & P Miller (eds.), The Foucault Effect: Studies in Governmentality, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1991), 87-104.
 Constantin Rădulescu-Motru, Cultura Română Şi Politicianismul, (Bucureşti: Librăria Socecu, 1904), III. All translations from Romanian are mine.
 Ibid., III-IV.
 Ibid., 124.
 Ibid., 124-125.
 Madgearu and Manoilescu largely agreed about Romania’s dependent status in what today is the world-system analysis sense of the term. However, they came to have sharply divergent political views. Whereas Madgearu militated for a politically democratic state in which the peasantry as a class would hold political power, Manoilescu regarded the peasantry as a much more heterogeneous social category. Initially, he believed that peasants’ interests would best be served in a conventional democratic state, yet by 1934 he had come around to a much more dirigiste vision. The only way to overcome economic underdevelopment was through the rational organization of the rural economy in large productive units capable of producing surplus, as well as by promoting industrialization though enforced savings. This, he felt, would best be achieved through a corporatist state structure. A most significant aspect of such a mode of organization was the social mission of corporative bodies, since they were meant to inculcate the practical habits of cooperation and imbue the working population with a new sense of social discipline and national solidarity. For an analysis of Madgearu’s and Manoilescu’s economic theories see Joseph Love, Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment on Romania and Brazil, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996). A more detailed exposition of their political views can be found in Virgil Madgearu, “Doctrina Ţărănistă”, in Dimitrie Gusti, Nicolae Iorga et al., Doctrinele Partidelor Politice. 19 Prelegei Publice Organizate De Institutul Social Român, (Bucureşti: Cultura Naţională, 1924), 65-88; Mihail Manoilescu, Filozofia şi Doctrina Corporatistă, (Bucureşti: Tipografia ziarului “Universul”, 1934).
 Rădulescu-Motru, Românismul. Catehismul Unei Noi Spiritualităţi, (Bucureşti: Fundaţia Pentru Literatură Şi Artă “Regele Carol II”, 1936), 14.
 Ibid., 31-32.
 Rădulescu-Motru, Ideologia Statului Român, (Bucureşti: Tipografia Bucovina, 1934), 34
 Ibid., 26-27.
 Ibid., 28.
 For more on this topic see Marius Turda, “The Nation as Object: Race, Blood, and Biopolitics in Interwar Romania”, Slavic Review, Vol. 66, no. 3(2008), 413-441.
 Rădulescu-Motru, “Psihologia Poporului Român”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol. 1. Statul, 162.
 Sabin Manuilă and D.C. Georgescu, “Populaţia României”, in Enciclopedia României, Vol. 1. Statul, 133-160.
 Ibid., 161-162.
 Ibid., 162-163, 166-167.
 Ibid., 167.
 Rădulescu-Motru, Ideologia Statului Român, 33.
 Gromoslav Mladenatz, “Posibilităţile şi Dificultăţile Cooperaţiei în Satele Româneşti”, Sociologie Românească, Anul II, no.2-3 (1937), 108-109.
 Dimitrie Gusti, Sociologia militans: Spriritul cooperatist şi propaganda pin fapte, apud. Mladenatz, “Posibilităţile şi Dificultăţile Cooperaţiei în Satele Româneşti”, 109.
 Attila Gábor Hunyadi, “National Economic Self-Organization Models”, in Attila Gábor Hunyadi (ed.), State and Minority in Transylvania. Studies on the History of the Hungarian Community, 1918-1989, trans. M. Caples, (New York: Distributed by Columbia University Press, 2012), 27-30.
 See Maria Larionescu, “Economia Socială şi Cooperaţia în România. O Perspectivă Socioistoică Comparată”, Revista Calitatea Vieţii, Vol. XXIV, no. 2 (2013), 115-117.
 Constantin Rădulescu-Motru, Ideologia Statului Român, 33.
 See Larionescu, “Economia Socială şi Cooperaţia în România”, 120-121; Elena Dragomir, “Development Characteristics of Interwar European Periphery: The Case of Romania and Lithuania’s Agriculture”, Revista Română Pentru Studii Baltice şi Nordice, Vol. 2, no. 1,(2010), 60-62.
 Gromoslav Mladenatz, “Politica Cooperativa”, in Dimitrie Gusti, C. Orghidan et al. (eds.), Enciclopedia României, Vol. 4. Economia Naţională – Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum, (Bucureşti: Imprimeria Naţională, 1943), 631.
 Dragomir, “Development Characteristics of Interwar European Periphery”, 62.
 Mladenatz, “Politica Cooperativă”, 631.
 By way of comparison, the previously discussed essay by Rădulescu-Motru’s comprised only seven pages and even Manuilă’s and Georgescu’s demographic survey did not exceed twenty seven pages.
 Ion N. Finţescu, “Legislaţia Cooperativa” in Enciclopedia României, Vol. 4 .Economia Naţională – Circulaţie, Distribuţie, Consum, 621-627.
 Mladenatz, “Politica Cooperativă”, 632.
 Zoltán Rostás, Strada Latină nr. 8, (Bucureşti: Curtea Veche, 2009), 8.
 Manoilescu, Filozofia şi Doctrina Corporatistă, 5-6.