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Romania: symbols devour reality

The overwhelming excitement about the recent wave of mass protests in Romania shows that so-called public opinion is gradually losing the ability to think in political terms. 
It all starts from the media where the storytelling about the events in Bucharest has been  frameworked within the civic-society-vs. basket-of-deplorables cliche. Naturally, this explains nothing. 
Emotions are displacing politics. Public discourse is biased so badly that before anything is stated it must be made clear who belongs to which camp and the division is not really political. It often happens so that on both sides of the barricade we can find people with completely contradictory views, but they are either part of the enlightened, civic, open-minded, emancipated, democracy-and freedom-supporting party or they are the dark demoralized mass which endorses dictatorship, fascism or mafia rule. One can currently observe a laboratory example of this in the United States, but also in many European countries. It is exactly this process that has recently drastically erupted on the streets of Bucharest. 
The key word in Romania is ‘anti-corruption’. In the last decade it has acquired transcendental features. In the public debate it stands pretty much as the synonym for ‘good’ which finally prevails over ‘evil’ which translates into corruption, mafia, post-communism, non-European-ness etc. Just as in Bulgaria in 2013 and in Poland from late 2015 onwards, all the great reasons to protest are there, but the result can lead only to reinforcement of the rightwing, deepening the economic crisis and the drastic social disintegration.
In Bucharest it started with the new social-democratic government issuing a so called emergency decree which lowers the ‘anti-corruption’ bar by introducing certain changes in the penal law making it somewhat softer for potentially corrupt politicians. Rumours can be heard that the head of the ruling PSD party pushed it through in order evade his upcoming second trial. Maybe, although it is hard to believe that given the tough ‘anti-corruption’ atmosphere, any court would actually let him off. 
The real problem is that ‘anti-corruption’ has become a symbol of progress for the country, but this perception is absolutely false. The ‘anti-corruption’ crusaders have been gradually establishing a new order where most of the oppressive functions of the state apparatus are now animated by one institution called the DNA which is the agency created to combat corruption. Quickly it became not only the main lever for introducing drastic repression, as it had been allowed to engage the secret service, police, prosecution and judiciary in its autonomous actions, but also a new Securitate-like centre of power. Many DNA actions and court verdicts following it are viewed, not without a foundation, as political. 
So part of the population demonstrating against this stupid move by the current government are protesting not so much against corruption, but in favour of the ultimately repressive status quo and moreover in favour of President Klaus Iohannis who is one of the ‘anti-corruption’ celebrities. The current authorities have actually given the rightwing a great present. Not only the social democrats will now be viewed as ‘evil’ and ‘uncivilized’, standing against ‘civic society’, but also the chance is disappearing for some social reforms that Romanian society desperately needs. It causes great emotions and passionate reactions, but behind this spectacular smokescreen, terms like ‘democracy’ or ‘rule of law’ are being clearly attached to the repressive apparatus of the state which now, thanks to the outrageous move on the part of the authorities in Bucharest, will get new legitimacy. 

The myths behind the arms trade

The myths behind the arms trade

No to education on the cheap!