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Four paradoxes of the Romanian thinking

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Autor: Adrian Severin 25 Noi 2008 - 00:00

Recent research has put in evidence several Romanian paradoxes. Thus, the majority of the Romanians feel the lack of leadership, of authority.



Romania is seen as a village haunted by thieves. Amateurs of village protection and attracted by state-authoritarian paternalism, the Romanians are seeking for their impassioned leader. Without his whip, they are demobilized and goalless. On the other hand, however, the Romanians have a total distrust in the elites and reluctance towards leaders. The egalitarian size of their profile is quite obvious. Anyone who appears as a leader is challenged. Whoever comes out in front and asks for the political power loses popularity and credibility. By definition, the leader is seen as selfish, corrupt, greedy, lazy and a liar.

Romanians do not have any confidence in institutions either. The Parliament, the Government, the Justice, the Police, the Mayors, the ministries etc. are seen, at best, with suspicion when they are not treated with contempt or even hatred. A survey shows that the legislature is perceived to be the tip of corruption. How can an institution chosen to adopt the collective and eminently general procedures be corrupt? Corrupt parliamentarians exist, of course. However, most of them should be corrupt to talk about a corrupt Parliament. If institutions are despised, the individual functions that compose it are valued.

Romanians trust functions, meaning their miraculous ability to transform a ridiculous character in a respectable one. The Parliament is bad, but the parliamentarians are coveted. The degree of favorable assessment of a person increases when they occupy a public position.

The correlation of the described paradoxes shows that Romanians are looking for non-institutionalized elites, individual leaders. How can they work in a modern society outside the institutions? This explains the preference of the Romanian for the presidential republic and unicameral parliament reduced to a symbolic dimension. That is, for a facade democracy that hides a populist-authoritarian regime.

Romanians want the change and want it to be radical, which means that they are deeply disappointed by their lives. However, I cannot say what the change consists of. They know they want something, but they do not know what they want. The consequence is that any change is suspected to be either superficial, therefore insufficient, either apparent, therefore false, either negative, therefore wrong. The lack of ability to define the content and the target of the change, together with the lack of trust in elites and institutions, makes the nervousness induced by the await of a general change associate with rejecting any concrete change.

Anyway, the Romanians are scared by the increases in prices, but they are relatively calm when it comes to the unemployed rates. The connection between prices and labor is not admitted. The problem of keeping prices under control is left to the state, that is to the institutions and elites that the people don’t trust in. The productivity of labor is not seen as an essential variable for the dynamics of prices, including the price of labor, the wage. The level of the prices measures the quality of life, with no relation to the quality of labor. Therefore, probably, the lack of jobs is only a secondary concern.

Compared to such a collective schizophrenia, why do so many politicians spend money to be elected? Such a society cannot be governed! The answer is that the election is that, by taking over the legitimate power, they will be able to use it illegitimately in order to promote agendas that don’t have anything to do with the electorate. However, nobody has a specific reason to complain. We deserve each other!

How can one get out of the vicious circle created by the paradoxes described? The only natural way is the one of sufferance. It seems that Romanians want to experiment all the wrong political solutions and bear all the costs before they find their trust in leaders and institutions. But will time be that patient?
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