Affirmative action – a historical perspective

Editor’s note: This article is also available in German, Romanian and Portuguese.

The concept of affirmative action comes, at least in modern developed world, in the same package with the wider concept of political correctness – or more precisely, the part of political correctness that deals with identity politics[1] as it was called in the ‘80s in the UK and is still called in academic circles in present-day Europe. The problem with the implementation of the concept of affirmative action is that it invariably becomes a system of expropriation[2] and a tool of ideological control.

This is all too obvious in present-day Europe in academia, in the institutions run by the State, and it might become the norm in the private sector soon enough[3], unless some finally wake up.[4]

“He who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it.”

For those that haven’t seen totalitarianism first hand or for those with very little interest in history outside of what’s being taught in schools, this idea of affirmative action seems rather new, innovative and even progressive. Regardless of one’s opinion about the concept, most Western Europeans seem to think that it’s a rather new concept, no older than the ’70s. That’s all fine and well except that the concept of affirmative action is in fact much older.

After World War II, several countries disappeared altogether from the map (such as Ukraine, Estonia, Lithuania, etc.) and several others were placed behind the Iron Curtain and were named The Eastern Block. The Eastern Block then became the theater for a reign of terror that lasted 45 years.

The concept of healthy origin

Right after August 23, 1944, King Michael I of Romania was deposed and the first Communist government was installed, headed by Dr. Petru Groza. Once in power, the regime realized that it needed legitimacy from the intellectual elite as the Party did not have an identity that could be propagated in a positive manner for the masses. This need for legitimacy was hard to fulfill among the intellectual elite considering the fact that most of the intellectuals were „part of the bourgeoisie and land owner’s elite” and, consequently, reluctant to embrace the ideals of the New Man. Moreover, most of the intellectuals belonged to schools of thought that were aimed at promoting cultural pluralism[5] as opposed to the ever-increasing ideological barriers imposed by the new regime almost everywhere, including and especially in the academic discourse[6].

The options for the members of the academia were clear: obedience or disappearance through various silencing processes, starting with expulsion and ending with house arrest and even physical elimination.

Among the very first institutions targeted by the new regime for ideological reorganization was Academia. The Romanian universities (of Bucureşti, Cluj, Iaşi) were subject to a process of administrative purification[7].

Long story short, after the new Education Act of 1948, the principles that would lie at the basis of the selection process for higher education would be “the file” and the student’s politically healthy origin[8].

Through special regulation, starting in 1948, 30% of openings in universities were set aside for the offspring of peasants and workers. This led to a change in the social structure of students, as the number of students coming from very poor social strata increased, coupled by a decrease in the number of students coming from the bourgeois milieu[9][10]. Moreover, as time went by the quotas grew and toward the end of the communist regime in the ‘80s, the decision was left to each university who chose to admit only students with a healthy origin so as to avoid any conflict with the Party officials or with the State-controlled press. This is the result of naming and shaming the organizations which stepped even mildly outside of the “ideals of the multilaterally developed socialist society”.

In late ‘50s and early ’60s the concept of healthy origin was extended to almost all aspects of life. The principles that were aggressively promoted included State truths like collectivism being superior to individualism, collective possession being superior to private property and that all people are absolutely equal.

To be fair, the original Communist ideology included what was called “materialism,” in which facts were deemed more important than feelings. That sounded great, until the Party started manufacturing its own facts to fit the Party line (sound familiar?).

Also, in those times (late ’40s) it became the State’s official position that the behaviors of each person are not determined by the individual’s own thoughts or feelings but by the social class to which that individual belonged. Using this “truth” – those that had an “unhealthy” origin were subjected to a re-education process (see The Pitești Experiment[11]) whilst those that had a healthy origin were promoted into high administrative and political positions regardless of their education or training, thus instituting the practice of total reversal of values at the societal level[12].

Is today’s affirmative action really so different?

We’ve already seen how people can and are being denied promotion for having the wrong sex and the wrong skin color[13]. One cannot choose his sex or skin color, just like one cannot choose the family to which he or she is born. But, just like the old Bolsheviks in late ‘40s Romania, the new PC-oriented elites are driven by the idea that an individual’s behavior is dictated by the class to which that individual belongs.

Courts routinely rule that State-sponsored misandry and racism against Asians in the name of “diversity” is OK[14] and it doesn’t constitute anything immoral[15].

Just like an “all capitalist school” or even a “liberal-democratic school” was unimaginable in communist Romania – the same seems to be true in today’s progressive worldview where an “all boys school” would be seen as inherently “oppressive” and “exclusionary” – while at the same time, nobody seems to have a problem with the all-girls schools, women’s hours and other similar concepts. Just like in late 1940s Romania, the establishment is now openly promoting a conflicting dichotomy of values and behaviors.

The Bolsheviks told us that the “bourgeoisie-oriented majority is the problem” and sought to change that by force. The PC-oriented regime also tells us that the majority culture is the problem[16] and are seeking to change that by social coercion and economic bullying. Can you imagine the uproar if a Sudanese politician would have said that Sudan’s problem is the black majority?

The European Union has a “zero tolerance” policy for violence against women[17] and urges men to “speak out” against violence[18] – but only against the violence perpetrated against the least affected demographic. The same European Union couldn’t care less about the violence against men and whenever it bothers to mention it, it explicitly blames it on “hegemonic masculinity”[19] or other similar feminist-oriented claptrap which has little to no connection with factual reality.

History repeats itself on a wider scale and many seem to think that these ideas are new and not really so dangerous. Well, history shows that not only these ideas are alarming, but can ultimately be deadly.


[1] – Rick Muir, Margaret Wetherell – Identity, Politics and Public Policy – p. 9

[2] – Bill Lind – The origins of Political Correctness: „When a white student with superior qualifications is denied admittance to a college in favor of a black or Hispanic who isn’t as well qualified, the white student is expropriated. And indeed, affirmative action, in our whole society today, is a system of expropriation.”


[4] (in German) – News report regarding several EU nations gathering to oppose the European Commission’s proposal regarding forced gender quotas in private companies’ boardrooms.

[5] – Gabriel Asandului, Teodora Ghiviriga, Laura Asandului – The condition of the intellectual élite in communist Romania. A historical perspective – p.2

[6] Cătănuş, D., Regimul comunist din România şi problema intelectualităţii. 1956-1965. Intelectualii români în arhivele comunismului, Nemira publishing, Bucharest. 2006, p. 45-73.

[7] ibidem 5

[8] Cioroianu A., Pe umerii lui Marx. O introducere în istoria comunismului românesc. Curtea Veche publishing, Bucharest, 2007, p. 289

[9] idem 5, p. 3

[10] Anton, M., „Progresişti” versus „reacţionari”. Subordonarea intelectualilor. 1944-1955. Intelectualii români în arhivele comunismului, Nemira publishing, Bucharest, 2006, p. 23


[12] – International Journal of Humanities and Social Science Vol. 1 No. 13 [Special Issue – September 2011], Falls Irina, PhD (Assistant Professor University of North Carolina at Pembroke School of Education) – Family and Child Education in Communist Romania: Consequences of the Duality of Values and Behaviors



[15] – EDMUND L. ANDREWS – European Union Court Upholds Affirmative Action for Women, The New York Times, Published: November 12, 1997

[16] –  Sweden: Leading Social Democrat “The White Majority is the Problem.



[19] Role of Men in Gender Equality – European Strategies & Insights (EU report) – p. 10

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