Reparations for Recent Historical Injustices. The Case of Romanian Communism (pages 151-162)

Horaţiu Traian Crişan

ABSTRACT: The debate concerning the legitimacy of awarding reparations for historical injustices focuses on the issue of finding a proper moral justification for granting reparations to the descendants of the victims of injustices which took place in the remote past. Regarding the case of Romanian communism as a more recent injustice, and analyzing the moral problems entailed by this historical lapse, within this paper I argue that overcoming such a legacy cannot be carried out, as in the case of historical injustices situated more remotely in time, through the means of selective reparations, such as restitutions or compensations. For, even though they are justified from the perspective of rectificatory justice, selective reparations do not fulfill the requirements of social justice. Rather, I argue that the fall of the Romanian communist regime should have been followed by an equal distribution of all properties illegitimately seized by the state, to all adult Romanian citizens at that time, in order to attain the imperative of equal distribution of property among all citizens. The equal distribution thesis is the only way through which the Romanian society could have complied, at that moment of political and social renewal, with the requirements of justice. I also aim at explaining why other principles of justice, which either have or could have been implemented, cannot be properly justified. Finally, I analyze two main objections which could be invoked against my thesis, namely the economic efficiency objection and the legal realist objection.

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