Excerpt by Julianne Stanford at TheCollegeFix:
The difference between ideas and facts is lost on leftist scholars
Today Professor Florin Curta is a professor in medieval history and archaeology at the University of Florida, but his road to the sunny vistas of north-central Florida came by way of communist-controlled Romania, where growing up he grappled with empty grocery stores, power outages, and an oppressive government that discouraged creativity and free enterprise.
Curta grew up under the iron-fisted regime of Romanian President Nicolae Ceaușescu, a dictatorship characterized by unrelenting state-control, extreme poverty and widespread dilapidation and deprivation. Ceaușescu was overthrown and executed by firing squad in 1989, leaving his country in shambles.
Curta, meanwhile, managed to earn his bachelor’s degree from the University of Bucharest in 1988, and left his country in 1993, having been invited to pursue a Ph.D. at Western Michigan University after delivering a speech before the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Mich.
He hasn’t looked back. Discovering academic and personal freedom unlike anything he could have in post-Communist Romania, Curta permanently relocated to America.
“There’s a certain atmosphere in which scholarly thinking can grow in the United States that it cannot grow in any European country,” Curta said. “I left after communism collapsed, but it was a regime that left a deep, deep imprint on people’s minds. Even though there was no official communism in the government, a lot of people continued to think in communist ways, specifically in the academic world.”
Curta is one of the world’s most distinguished scholars in medieval history and archaeology – and is co-founder of the University of Florida’s medieval and early modern studies center, where he directs its certificate program.
He recently shared his experience growing up under a communist regime and discussed the rise of socialism in America during a phone interview with The College Fix:
Tell us about growing up in communist Romania. What was the quality of life?
Curta: Stores were completely empty. There was no food. There was a black market where you could buy some things, but obviously at much higher prices. Besides the fact that there was no food, every now and then electricity would be cut off in the apartment, at a sudden moment in time. You would not know when and for how long. Sometimes there was no running water at all, and there was no warm water at all. We’re talking about life in an urban environment, we’re talking about an apartment, not one or two, but thousands in which people lived in such conditions. I was in college in that time, and I remember actually studying in the library with gloves on my hands because it was so cold. So not a happy place.
Socialism appears to be a popularly embraced ideology in American academia. Why do you think this is? What is so tempting about this mindset?
Curta: I think that there’s an idealism that most people in academia, specifically in the humanities, share. We live in an era of ideological morass, especially with the collapse of communism that has left no room for those idealists in the academic world. No matter how you can prove that system doesn’t work, with an inclination to go that way perhaps because most people associate socialism with social justice, while the former is an ideology with concrete ideas and concrete historical experiences, while social justice is a very vague abstract notion.
You have to understand, the difference between ideas and facts is what is of major concern here…
Read Professor Curta’s full interview by Julianne Stanford at TheCollegeFix.