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No Way In, No Way Out

No Way In, No Way Out

Scratching beneath the surface of socio-political matters results in a multitude of findings and novelties. It is time that enough answers were given to the everlasting questions which naturally follow the inquiry into the reasonableness of dominating conceptions and policies. Gone are the days of a vigorous desire to make up for the “barbarity” of the past and build up ideals on the fertile land of the human mind. Instead of this, we are witnesses to an open confrontation between the remains of this desire (becoming ruinous) and the emergence of a cycle which, although seemingly new, learns from the goods and bads of history and looks forward to putting a halt to the illusions of a well-intentioned world in its bulk, but not so as regards the elites behind it. Following these hypotheses and beliefs, the European and then the national perspective are considered in this article, fundamentally bordered by the individual perspective. We unapologetically dismiss any attempts to “total objectivity”, typical of a world of make-believe.

Our age has, much like previous ones, a series of characteristics that sets it apart from all the others, among which are the preoccupation with philanthropy, kind deeds and especially the acquisition of knowledge. Inherited from the Christian heritage of Europe, the relatively new secularized bonheur of the modern man, occasioned by aiding the less fortunate, fulfills the empty spot left by the actual structure of society, which is noticeably different from the days of our grandparents. One of the most well-known philosophers, Friedrich Nietzsche, is generally regarded as being the main character who dedicated his life to the question of the impossibility of replacing a dead God (“God is dead. We have killed him”) with a new form of spirituality, another raison d’être. Moreover, his influence over diverse schools of thought and politics is a good reason not to associate his work with a distinct group of people. “The advent of nihilism”, which he obviously stated that he “feared”, will continue to be a challenge for us even in the time of our grandchildren. 

“No one has cared for Europe as much as you have!” 

Since Nietzsche, Schopenhauer and all the brilliant minds the 19th century are not our contemporaries, in more recent times, one of the ways to fill the void of nothingness was the attempt to establish peace after two world wars, reconfigure mentalities and change national psychologies. Desires of an intellectual aristocracy taking the reins of Europe have been shaped into political projects among which the European Union is the most important one. Amidst what many have called “a European crisis”, the core of the Union is shaking, because of the aging European elite which is about to leave the seats for a new generation of EU leaders lacking the tact and the power of their predecessors. Anyway, it is not new to talk of the rise and fall of this European Empire, for many others have already done that. I want to remark on an aspect less noticed, which is the decline of the “European” idea(l) – the cultured and cosmopolitan European citizen, able to speak multiple languages, a fine connoisseur of various cultures, a gentleman in spirit and mind. This so-called “gentleman in spirit and mind” has evolved in the 21st century into the figure of the (European) “expert”, whose elegant suit has turned into a floral shirt or white collar, whose cabinet is now a TV studio or a professor’s desk, whose books written by the founding fathers of the Union are now electronic devices filled with statistics and social media apps.

This alienation of the original ideals of the European man differ in such a high degree from the reality of the European institutions and the disorder that emerges thence and expands to the nations of Europe, that everything has culminated in one of the most prominent members of the Union saying “Goodbye”, when in 2019 the United Kingdom officially left the Union. Having now become a recurring attitude after an “incorrect” political choice, a subversive campaign of pathologizing the Brexiteers of suffering from countless phobias and isms and calling them out as isolationists was in fact a symptom of a declining power of political management on behalf of the European leaders. In addition to this, persisting in such accusations would mean the impossibility of ever convincing the suspicious people of the UK to be in favor of an eventual return to the Union. The recent Euroscepticism is not a counter-reaction to what was supposed to be the “change” of post-war Europe. The EU chose not to listen to its people and had to learn the hard way about dealing with the discontented Europeans.

Nowhere to be found were the new European man and woman, now endowed with ideals of peace and communion instead of the “brute” thought of the past, and nowhere to be found will they be for the next decades to come. The intellectuals of today, after having graduated from a few universities and having written a few books (almost every time on social aspects), armed with credentials and circular awards, thought they would be able to dictate new norms and even scientific facts, for science is no longer the field of exactness and undeniability of the basic principles, but rather a volatile political weapon which can be aimed overnight through the power of the press. Again and again, they have successfully pretended to represent the “intellectualism” towards which the hatred of “anti-intellectuals” and “anti-Europeans” were directing their “ignorance”. This obsession for “intellectualism”, backed by a supposedly natural association to “respectable” people and the institutions they represent, has turned against the very same people, since the average voter and citizen is not as preoccupied regarding abstract ideas and long-term plans for the entire humanity or the people of a continent, but rather prefers to pursue his or her own interests, detached from the inane appeals to “unity”.

Their polls and estimations of the past have proven to be wrong, and any acceptable margin for error has long been abandoned. They promised armies of critical thinkers, able to stay away from the dangers of anti-democratic thought, as if democracy was born in Brussels. Savvy dandies and unconventional young federalists, masters of witty jests and quotes from the works of any great European writer or thinker might have to step back every now and then when their political ends are not met by the public opinion or further fight against opposing ideas through well-structured censorship and commanded defamation – pretending to protect and ensure that public opinion does not exceed certain “limits” established beforehand, the international authority which EU possesses, in alliance with an endless web of global organizations “fighting for Human Rights” and the adjacent NGOs, regulate the “free market of ideas” when sensible subjects are addressed and debated. If one is to read the works of the “Unionists” of our continent, it is obvious how the so-called love for culture they promote means merely an inorganic liaison with the past, for the European pieces of heritage have come to be museum exposés, not only materially, but also spiritually. Visionaries sympathetic to the idea of a European Federation like Count Kalergi (having traced the idea of a European Federation in his well-known “Pan-Europa”), Otto von Habsburg or Altiero Spinelli proposed a Union founded on the basis of culture as represented by the great Europeans of the past, devoid of national borders and prejudice or economic interests inflicted by foreign (i.e., non-European) powers. Today, instead of a communion based on culture, we rather have a clash of cultures, revolted masses and dissenting individuals which make up said masses. 

“I hate the authoritarianism of communism, I have only a pure intellectual interest in Marx” 

The people are always right. This means they are also right in doing wrong. It would be a dangerous mistake to accuse the entirety of a nation’s citizens or even the whole of humanity of being guilty of “immorality”, so-called wrong (political!) choices, or decadence. As far as reality is concerned, the concept of “power to the people” seems to be as unrealizable as other failed ideas of the past, therefore it is only the same political elites who master the art of leading the masses. The traditional political spectrum is fading away day by day and a new struggle is being bred out the confrontation between people who adopt, belong or return to the concept of Conservative Revolution as opposed to Progressivism. As the present situation is unfolding before our eyes, in both camps there are smaller divisions with ideas and objectives that are still contradictory. The next few years will be decisive in creating a clearer divide of the two “camps” and might stir up events otherwise unimaginable in our times (keep an eye on “Italexit”!).

In any case, given that we have seen politicians belonging to almost all political schools of thought making suspicious “compromises” with their proclaimed rivals, the kernel of the argument resides perhaps in the popular mentality, far less affected by political interests which are deemed suspect.

The European Union is the most important international organization due to the fact that it plays a multilateral role on the world scene and encompasses most of the states of Europe. The EU has the greatest magnitude in terms of significance of the idea of Peace. It being seen as “a crying child” caught between the two big bullies of the world – Russia and the United States – did not help the peace and safety of the Union, but it aided its symbolic significance, that of the peaceful rebirth of Europe. The relevance of the Union has constantly diminished from all points of view, ever since the big events of our age happened, such as Brexit, the migrant crisis, the rise of “populism” as opposed to “political correctness” and its hidden interests, the complete transformation and identification of “Europe” with an unclear system of “European values” and the abandonment of the idea of nation-state, in favor of an unrealizable United States of Europe.

The new helmswoman of the European Commission, Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, brought a healthy breath of fresh air to the configuration of this institution, simply by reviving for a short period of time the hopes for the democratic leitmotif of change. Yet her impact went no further than that. She is part of the Christian Democratic Union, usually seen as moderate in ideas and policies and the solution to an equilibrium in the Parliament. The President of the Commission is trying to fill the shoes of her predecessor, another dedicated EU politician, Mr. Jean-Claude Juncker, who has probably been the quintessence of the Union ever since his appointment, with both his distinct qualities and regrettable flaws. Maybe Mrs. von der Leyen will have the occasion to imitate the man she described with the following words: “No one has cared for Europe as much as you have!” – on the 28th of November this year, when 200 years will have passed since Friedrich Engels was born, all this after the same Mr. Juncker passionately defended Karl Marx’s legacy in a speech held in the Cathedral of Trier also on the occasion of Marx’s 200th birthday, when a statue of the founder of communism was erected there (Marx’s native town), a generous donation from the Chinese Communist Party. No made-up excuses as we have seen in other cases (“I hate the authoritarianism of communism, I have only a pure intellectual interest in Marx”) have been made by the former President of the Commission, given the bloody legacy carried out until today by the old and the new communists alike.

Let us turn back a little bit and continue by stating the obvious. Constructed around appeals to pacifism and other rusty pretexts, the much-dreamt-about international solidarity and “European integration” was made futile by reality itself, which was unknown to the officials in their bubbles. Due to their rootless and nomadic lifestyles and never-ending pilgrimages throughout Europe to preach their ideas in prestigious universities and famed secluded events, politicians have lost their sense of reality so much as to imagine that the crisis they (intentionally) provoked can be presented simply as “errors” of the system. The hereabouts of the “surprising results” of certain elections reside in the regrettable work of these people, who by no means mentally belong to the continent of Europe. Perhaps having started as young idealists enamored with the idea of a global nation under the directives of a benign technocrat, thus seemingly abolishing any conflict and war (obviously along with national borders and any notion derived from the idea of nation-state), they are now subjected to the contempt of a changing Europe. In the end of this paragraph and with the required humor we might remark how delusional the project of a federalist Europe seems now, as imagined by the Italian Communist Altiero Spinelli in his manifesto for a United States of Europe.

In the context of a global peril like the Coronavirus, the disarray and unrealistic promises within the Commission in particular and the Union in general have recently been taxed by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, who said that “European solidarity does not exist. That was a fairytale on paper.” The reason (among many others): the EU has made it clear that Serbia, an aspiring member to the Union, is not allowed to import medical equipment from the Member States, since it is being rationed allegedly in the name of the European citizens.

After the general consensus that democracy is the best political system for the post-war world, we have seen over the last few decades the crystallization of the idea that only a liberal-progressive democracy, “open-minded” and flexible in its principles and laws, is acceptable for our times. One valuable insight into the crisis and failures of Liberal Democracy is provided by the British philosopher Anthony Ludovici in his well-known work, “The Specious Origins of Liberalism: The Genesis of a Delusion”, where many predictions and explanations were made, highly relevant for the actual emergences. The mere passing of the time does now always mean imminent progress.

The realistic future of Europe (not the “correct” one) stands in the possibility of the reformation of smaller political, social, economic alliances. For instance, the concept of “Intermarium” was seen as viable even inside the EU, working in parallel with it. This is more of an “emergency solution” in reality. Even so, if we have been the witnesses of an unprecedented change over the last 20 years, would it be laughable to pretend that in another 20 years or more, many things will have turned upside down? The point to be made here is that regional alliances are the future European nations are heading towards, and any attempt to “reconfigure” the European Union will never get it back to its lost glory of not too many years ago. 

“The civilizational ‘us’ and the extracivilizational ‘them’ is a constant in human history” 

Considering all these as a Romanian adds an extra flavor to the topic and spices up the story. Owing “its soul and its heart” in such a great measure to the EU for the economical salvation the Union is said to have provided, the affiliation since 2007 has been considered as a blessing, and from many points of view rightfully so. There are enough voices, from the common man to the “expert”, that can illustrate the Romanian saga inside the EU.

I suppose most people would find nothing controversial in my saying that the last glimpse of national dignity was crushed by the entrance in the Union, the largest part of it having been lost long ago with another blow, this time given to the institution of monarchy by the commissars of another multinational empire of the soviets. To keep a long story short, “The Romanians Are Coming” (as explained in the eponymous British tv series first broadcasted in 2015) and will be coming side by side with our brothers in mocking, the people of Bulgaria, and with other economic immigrants belonging to the member states welcomed in the EU in the year of 2004. In general, the Eastern half of Europe is a planet of its own, and no one knows for sure if “The West” includes this half as well, or where its borders end. Endless waves of cheap workforce and (mostly young) specialists have left the country, many of them for good. Eleven years later after the 2007 moment, Romania was reported in a United Nations study to be the 2nd country in the world (after the ripped-off war-devastated Syria) that lost the highest number of citizens due to immigration. For Romania, this included losing a third of its youth. In the same year, reports showed that there were more Romanian children born abroad than in the country. Now probably having reached the number of millions since 2007, too many children have grown up brought up by their grandparents, far from their parents who left to take care of the seniors of Western Europe (and these exiles are expected to become a majority in a not so distant future) pick fruit, drive trucks, clean up houses or work in laboratories, banks and other institutions. In the case of wealthier parents, they choose to take their children with them more often than the people who do the lower paid jobs. Most of the children left behind get to see their parents on holidays, usually on Easter or Christmas, otherwise growing up on their own and having to deal with the hardships of life alone. Entire villages and even towns like my own have suffered a seemingly irreversible transformation over the last years – the diminution of the young population has left behind abandoned neighborhoods, where the elder and the disoriented social misfits lord over the shabby streets and the gray communist blocks. When asked about their children, the elderly respond immediately and summarize in a few words the life of their “westernized” offspring. Particularly the old women (“babushkas”) can be easily recognized as distinct from the “modern granny” of the West – their kerchiefs and wrinkled skin differ strikingly from the Spanish señoras, careful at having their nails done and their visages embellished with make-up.

Some people might be naturally adventurous and want to work, live or travel like migratory bird (Europeans inherently possess a sport in their character, as a wise man said), but there is a long way to come until the reality of something which is not even a zero-sum game, for the Eastern countries are losing millions year by year, while Western Europe receives packages of tens of millions of new-comers, not only from Eastern Europe, but more or less from everywhere else, while the native population is sinking under the political (“demockrazy”) economical (“crapitalism” – Coronavirus made us richer with millions once with the monetary injections in our economies!) and social (progressivist) systems, which by no means create any incentives for establishing a family.

Normally and ideally, it would be very thick ice between a historical make-up between the two halves of Europe as illustrated above, but the situation of our time will nowhere in the future ever make it possible. The much-needed reconciliation to the conflicts which emerged from the reality of the striking differences between the eastern and the western half of Europe would pave the way to a real and genuine (non-economical) “cooperation” of the European states. In general, mutual respect between nations is mostly gone and “European integration”, socially, is still an illusion. The cooperation between France and Germany owes its success to the outcomes of history, not politics. In order to particularize, Romanians are joined by the Bulgarians (as mentioned earlier) when seen as beggars, thieves, low-skilled workers (and as it is well known there are in truth many low-skilled workers), burglars and scoundrels of a dark complexion. The author of this article is aware of the contrary reactions it may stir by writing these lines, but also of the ridicule specific to being quiet on a subject which is on the lips of an infinite number of Europeans. Whose fault is this? One more question: who is to blame? Is it a good and fair idea to condemn the people of the western countries of “intolerance”, “xenophobia” or whatever? Or is it a good idea to find the magic wand which would instantly heal Eastern Europe from the wounds of communism and hundreds of years of fighting Ottoman invaders and Romania from an existence on its knees, with maybe less than 60 years of relative peace before the 1989 moment (if we take into account the years from gaining its independence (1878) to First World War (1914-18), then the interbellum period with 20 other years). Romanians are not wont to blame foreigners for their situation, but rather to degrade themselves to the core, and maybe this is better than having a victim mentality, so appreciated and promoted nowadays. Ironically, at least of this aspect some might be proud. 

“We are an exhausted people, kicked out of history” 

“The curse of the ‘Abroad’” has already been remarked quite a few times by the fine observers of the society (for example here), although “curse” may not be the best word in this context. In the Romanian press (and that of other countries from the East), the pronoun “we” has become a symbol of incapacity and the harbinger of bad news regarding the latest deeds of our co-nationals, as reported in the media – “Once again We are the shame of Europe”; “We are on the last place in...”; “We have failed again to do...; “We are incapable to...”; let us not forget the voice of the average Romanian – “We are a people of... (idiots, slaves, plebs)” is generally the most utilized refrain. Moreover, classifications similar to the racial ones by and on themselves are a reality that has deeply instilled in the mind of the author of this article – “The Romanian is a lesser man.”; “Romanians are 3rd worlders”; “The Romanian is a filth”. What is different from other suffering countries is that this psychosis for both the “abroad” and especially for our “inferiority” has reached peaks that are shameful to the core. “Samuel Huntington’s observations summarized in the above quote (“The civilizational ‘us’ and the extra-civilizational ‘them’ is a constant in human history”) offer valuable insight, mostly regarding the mentality of former empires and great powers. For Romanians, the opposite is true. The ‘abroad’ has always been civilized, while we Romanians were not. We identify as being outside of the civilized world.” Let us attempt a translation of the last lines of “A Sincere History of the Romanian People”, written by professor Florin Constantiniu: “So far, they (the Romanians) have become strawberry-pickers in Spain, abused workers in Italy, mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan (for 70-80 dollars a day). The future is gloomy: WE are an exhausted people, kicked out of history.” Ion Luca Caragiale, the most prominent “typologist” of our country and the master of representing the local humor and habits (mostly the bad ones) has become merely a “weapon” to be used when the “natural inferiority” of the Romanian man is to be demonstrated. However, Caragiale’s sole aim was far from being only to demonstrate through his admirable work that “The Rrrrrromanian” is a depraved animal whose fate is to be a “slave” (picked from the modern folklore), but to “tax” the misdeeds and flows of the Romanian social classes in the 19th century, therefore not to “punish” Romanians, whom he loved through his plays and novelettes.

On a different note, the paralysis of the Romanian society is unsurprisingly reflected in its political situation. In over 30 years of democracy, only one generation of politicians succeeded the former, and not even this one completely. The same chameleonic people who were educated during the former political regime or even active within it are still there, at the desks of the nation, making laws and wreaking havoc. Additionally, the same parties have been dominating the political scene for the last 3 decades, even though some of them are now reformed under different names. I dare say that even in the last 150 years two parties have constantly been at the top – the National Liberals and the Social Democrats, without considering the deceased National Peasants' Party, just like the then class of peasants, whose children are probably far away now. The problem goes even deeper: not only that the supply for new political organizations is not fulfilled by anyone or anything, but the demand seems absent. The vibes one gets from the rest of society direct one to the cursed idea that the choices to be made are extremely limited and in no way possible to be expanded. This is reflected in the existence of countless “center-right” parties (genuine right-wing principles usually rust in their political programs) as opposed to the Social Democrats, who are closer to the idea of a flawed and unholy national-communism than to the modern idea of the Left. No far-left, far-right, green, socialist-orientated, progressive or something close to Christian democracy, as we can observe in other countries, but always busy with the nonsense of a “semi-presidential republic”, in which the Head of the State is more of a representative and intermediary figure who has to handle the “toreadors” from the grand political arena. The feeling of irreversible prostration or blockage is perceived, but not acted upon.

Otherwise, Romania is keeping up with globalization – the fancy French language of the aristocrats has been replaced by the English slangs of the youth (in Romania the latter are called “The Beautiful and Free Youth” – always with a vulturous desire of “fixing up” their country until they leave for Belgium or England). The fascination for any other country wealthier than their own is for Romanians a subject to debate with the occasion of every single family meal and something that in a few more decades will have taken roots in our mental structure, supposing it has not yet done so. In opposition to the “audacity” of a leader of a country like Serbia, aspiring member to the EU, it is impossible not to remark how after more than 13 years of EU membership, criticizing the Holy Union is still a taboo in the public eye in Romania and is the equivalent of the end for any political career and not only. A telling image is that of the last year, when on the 9th of May an informal meeting of heads of state or government was held in Sibiu for the EU members. At the arrival of EU officials, when getting out of their cars, a large crowd of respectable and decent people was applauding each official, no matter if most of them had not the scarcest idea who or what the praised politician was or meant to the Union, except the easily recognizable figures of Chancellor Merkel and President Macron. The very idea of belonging to the metaphysical Union was the supreme argument for the obligation to receive our guests in the warmest manner possible. To be fair to the end, in the private discussion of the average man, “Oh yes, they don’t care about us either” can however be heard every now and then even when briefly referring to the EU.

In conclusion, the European Union is for some an endless money bag, for others a Promised Land, but with no other significance than a pure utilitarian one: “Europe” has become an idea molded in whichever shape and form it happens to be and nothing more – its ridicule and unpredictability are not an indication of something positive; any national affiliation might well be relegated to a secondary place in the face of the greater challenges which an “interrelated” humanity creates – COVID-19 might not be only a threat to our health, but also an “excusable” reason to establish surveillance-states in order to “protect our citizens”, mindlessly destroy the economic system so many people are dependent upon and thus skyrocket unemployment rates and ultimately destabilize family and human relations. And because not only in times of crisis does disagreeing with the Government make one prone to being fined or merely silenced, the essential matter after a period of restlessness and unheard agitation rests in keeping up with the times by means of strong human ties, surrounded by good friends and faithful family members. Today, youthful elders and old-souled youngsters mix up into the effervescence of this epoch. Any notion of the time pales before the unknown which is yet to come. Seeking refuge into nervously “admiring beauty” or into the eternal “proletarian sedatives”, such as alcohol or its more modern siblings is indeed a path to be followed. Any way one looks at it, the actual questions will unmistakably learn their answers. There is no better day to expect, let us remember the hardships of yesterday from the stories told by our grandparents. Christians are waiting for the Eternal Kingdom to descend from its unseen world to our places and deny the existence of better days. Idealists prefer to give birth to such times on their pieces of paper. Others just “go with the flow”. And since the choice is “democratic”, expect countless other options. 

References 

Constantin-Parke, G., “The Curse of the ‘Abroad’: A Romanian Perspective”, (Online), Available at: http://www.themarketforideas.com/the-curse-of-the-abroad-a-romanian-perspective-a489/.

Turp, C., (2018), “New Statistics Confirm Romania’s Demographic Catastrophe”, (Online), Available at: https://emerging-europe.com/news/new-statistics-confirm-romanias-demographic-catastrophe/.

Digi24,, (2018), “Cel puțin 630.000 de copii născuți în străinătate de românii care au emigrat. Datele surprinzătoare dintr-un raport OECD”, (Online), Available at: https://www.digi24.ro/stiri/actualitate/social/cel-putin-630-000-de-copii-nascuti-in-strainatate-de-romanii-care-au-emigrat-datele-surprinzatoare-dintr-un-raport-oecd-1161085.

 

 
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OEconomica No. 1, 2016