Nichifor Crainic (pseudonym of Ion Dobre; December 22, 1889, Bulbucata, Giurgiu County – August 20, 1972, Mogoșoaia) was a Romanian writer, editor, philosopher, poet and theologian famed for his traditionalist activities. Crainic was also a professor of theology at the Bucharest Theological Seminary and the Chișinău Faculty of Theology.
Crainic was a contributor of poetry to the modernist magazine Gândirea. After become disenfranchised with the publication progressive views, rather than disassociate with the magazine he became increasingly intertwined in leadership positions in order to de-modernize it. At the end of a series of intellectual sparing within the publication itself, Crainic managed to wrest control of the magazine and institute a sea-change in editorial character supporting mystical Orthodoxy.
He developed an ideology given the name Gândirism (from gând – "thought"), a nationalist and neo-Orthodox Christian social and cultural trend. He edited Gândirea magazine, and collaborated with numerous other publications such as Ramuri, România Nouă, Cuvântul, and Sfarmă-Piatră. He was also the editor in chief of the newspaper Calendarul.
Nichifor Crainic became a leading pro-Fascist figure in the political turmoil of the late 1930s, openly praising Mussolini and Hitler. He was an ideologue of Anti-Semitism, although his prejudice was a defense of the Gospels rather than a vision of racial hierarchies. His beliefs were a major influence on the Iron Guard legionary movement, although Crainic viewed himself as a supporter of the legionnaires' rival King Carol II. In a 1938 essay, he theoretised the "ethnocratic state" as applied to Romania:
- "Our state has been a monarchy throughout its history. Monarchy is what gives this state its continuity. The crown of Romanian kings symbolises the greatness of the people and the permanence of Romanian awareness. (...)
- The ethnocratic state differs profoundly from the democratic state. The democratic state relies on population figures, without distinction of race or religion. The basis of the ethnocratic state is the Romanian soil and the Romanian kin. (...)
- Today, people of other races and creeds live on Romanian soil. These have arrived here through the means of invading (as the Hungarians have), through colonisation (as the Germans have), or through skillful infiltrations (as Jews have). (...)
- The Jews are a permanent danger for any nation-state."
A fulfilment of ethnocracy was to be achieved through the means of a monarch-led corporatist system:
- "Once popularised and accepted by the entire nation, carried out by government teams hand-picked from professional elites and controlled by Parliament, [a plan to redress Romania] will be overseen by His Majesty the King.(...)
- The corporatist regime culminates in the kingly authority."
Crainic advocated creation of a Romanian spirit that was “antisemitic in theory and antisemitic in practice.” He applied his theological and rhetorical skills to breaking the Judeo-Christian relationship by arguing that the Old Testament was not Jewish, that Jesus had not been Jewish, and that the Talmud, which he saw as the incarnation of modern Jewry, was, first and foremost, a weapon to combat the Christian Gospel and to destroy Christians.—Yad Vashem, BACKGROUND AND PRECURSORS TO THE HOLOCAUST Roots of Romanian Antisemitism The League of National Christian Defense and Iron Guard Antisemitism The Antisemitic Policies of the Goga Government and of the Royal Dictatorship
He was appointed Minister of Propaganda for the Ion Antonescu regime.
After the Soviet army defeated the Germans and occupied Romania, Crainic went into hiding. A trial was conducted in his absence and he was found guilty of crimes against the people. He was eventually caught and imprisoned by the authorities of Communist Romania in 1947, and spent 15 years in Văcăreşti and Aiud prisons. He was expelled from the Academy by the Communist regime.
Between 1962 and 1968 he was the editor of the Communist propaganda magazine Glasul Patriei ("The Voice of the Motherland") - a magazine published in Romania by the Romanian Communist regime but sold only abroad, which they used as a tool to try to influence the Romanian intellectual émigrés to be patriotic and not work against the Communist Romania.
Described by the historian Zigu Ornea as “always adaptable” (249), Nichifor Crainic (1889–1972) joined and left a number of these groups while repeatedly attempting to establish himself as an ideologue who could draw the various ultra-nationalist parties together into a united front. ... Crainic occupied senior positions within right-wing regimes between 1940 and 1944, and after he was released from prison in the 1960s the Romanian Communist Party used his talents and reputation as an informer and a “reformed” ultra-nationalist to add credibility to its regime.—Clark (2012: 108)
- (Romanian) Cicerone Ionițoiu, "Victimele terorii comuniste. Arestaţi, torturaţi, întemniţaţi, ucişi. Dicţionar C", p.245
- Crainic, Programul statului etnocratic
- Roland Clark (2012): Nationalism and orthodoxy: Nichifor Crainic and the political culture of the extreme right in 1930s Romania, Nationalities Papers: The Journal of Nationalism and Ethnicity, 40:1, 107-126
- Peter F. Sugar, Eastern European Nationalism in the Twentieth Century, University Press of America, 1995 (includes transcript of Crainic's essay)
- The Report of the International Committee for the Study of Holocaust in Romania (on the Romanian Presidency site) - a review of the several Anti-Semitic doctrines, including Crainic's, that contributed to genocide of the Holocaust.