'The void after August 23rd' - Translation from 'Free Romania' online edition of August 23rd 2010
On December 1st -among others' Romania's birthday- I thought a translation of a related article, by Bradford University Professor Tom Gallagher might do! I would have shared some thoughts on the event, if there was any... at least in Vienna.
But after unsuccessfully surfing the Romanian Cultural Institute and harassing acquaintances on the topic I decided to go online with a translated analogy to August 23rd and hopefully gather some reactions, for a reality check! I find it, in any case, less ironic than wishing 'Happy Birthday, Romania!' Would anyone dis/agree?
'Until 1989, on August 23rd the leaders of the totalitarian regime were celebrting year after year the overthrowing of others - removed from power in 1944 through the acts of courage of some patriots who were unfortunately soon to become victims of another tyrany, even more fierce. Today, not even the nostalgics of the communist times are particularly willing to invoke August 23rd as a symbol of the alleged fulfillment era. The reason behind such second thoughts is simple - on August 23rd citizens were forced by an entire army of cocksure public servants to participate - often in the conditions of a substantial physical disconfort - in al sorts of parades and honours to the Pharaoh ruling the country and its hangmen.
No matter how humiliating it was, August 23 was nevertheless a national class event - social level included. Its celebration was supposed to be representative of the dimensions and permanence beyond the partnership between the governing and the governed, although this was nothing but a mere chymera. Surprisingly enough, after December 1989 no other day ever managed to 'dethrone' the symbolistics behind August 23rd. The actual national day, December 1st, converted pretty soon into an elitistic event, marked by the politicians' perorations about 'The Great Union' and addressing an ever diminishing public. Maybe in 1990, when this part of Europe was undergoing a series of radical transformations, a day dedicated to national unity and implicitly to the Romanian specificities of Transylvania had its purpose. But we are presently living in a post-national world. Even with couple of Jobbik representatives confortably installed in Târgu-Mureş, the secessionist spectrum faded away quite some time ago. Moreover, given the general apathy of Romanians, I believe not even the emergence of a diabolic and adequately tempting offer - say, coming from foreign capitalists and which would presuppose the payment of a few billions Euro plus the creation of thousands workplaces in exchange of detaching parts of Transylvania - would cause any notable less anemic reaction than the one displayed concerning the project at Roşia Montană.
A few years ago, a national day dedicated to the return of Romania in the European family through its EU admission -and celebrated potentially not in the winter season, but in one of the many sunny days that the country is enjoying- may have seemed more natural. Nowadays however, after almost four (4) disappointing years as an EU member with full rights, most probably many less citizens still consider the moment of EU admission as a historic one. Consequenty, what followed after August 23rd is... another August 23rd. A reduced copy of it, still one re-edited on plentiful of occasions, by the same 'mobilizing groups', be it on the purpose of saving various leaders, or on the purpose of celebrating allegedly collective successes. Whereas those who took good care to convert the public wealth into several private pieces anyways prefer to rather celebrate in Snagov, Monte Carlo, Caiman Isles or at Phuket - this way a birthday celebrated in one of the exclusivist Bucharest restaurants or clubs eventually appears as an utterly stingily gesture. The newly rich are not ashame to exhibit ther wealth in the countless glossy magazines which, until the crisis began, didn't seem to miss an audience. The less scrupulous part of the media quickly learned to anaesthetize common sense, especially the aesthetic sense of the public, so as to determine it first to accept and afterwards to crave for the latest news about various clans of oligarchs - now present 24/7 in written mass media as well as on TV. The Ceauşescu's would undoubtedly feel extremely amazed to conclude, on the one hand how easy it is in fact to fool the masses and on the other hand how well their IInd and IIIrd raws did in propelling themseleves to the status of national wealth inheritors' - disarming with professionalism and guts an entire nation - transformed into an amorphous and pauper mass, pasive at the devalidation and injustice occuring in front of it.
Presently, no feast of the newly rich runs even the slightest danger to be disturbed by the furious crowd, as it happened in 1987, when in Braşov the hungry workers dashed the party activists gathered to cram. Romania gives off, currently, nothing but acute resignation, accompanied by the desire to emmigrate. At least 10% of its physicians already took the path of the West, showing their backs to the country which chose to allocate for health expenditure the smallest percentage of its domestic product in the entire EU. During this month, not less than 86% Romanians expressed during an opinion poll their wish to search for luck across the borders - a quite clear signal of the expectations they got to nurture towards their own country.
In the 50s, the German Democratic Republic was facing a genuine exodus of its population, however not even then the number of refugees to the GFR equated that of Romanians willing to leave. Back then, the authorities in Berlin and Moscow agreed upon solving this problem by creating the Berlin Wall. Romanians, already deprived even from events that could awake a minimum of interhuman solidarity, reached that point where their greatest dream is the way to the airport - if possible, one way. Under these circumstances, Romanian authorities would do well to understand that the prognosis on their country's future is, unfortunately, an extremely reserved one.