Futureshock: Fascism in Romania’s future

In Bablion, we trust… no one.

Romanians would like a magnificent, majestic and heroic King who embodies the will of the nation, but without giving up their sense of freedom- a freedom that was handed to them on a blood-splashed silver platter by former intelligence bosses who wanted a bigger slice of pie than they could get under communism. While Romanians do not want another dictator that sets himself up as the new boss, they secretly yearn for a new kind of fascist leader who will bring a doctrine of action, make things happen, and renew national pride – a pride that communism took from them long ago.

The future is shocking; the future is the new facism

As an emerging market, Romania is an exciting place to be. I remain inspired by the prolific change that I have seen realized in the last seven years. In fact, Bucharest is an exciting place to be – London and Paris are tired cliches in comparison. Investment opportunities abound in agriculture, commercial and residential real estate, education, finance, hotel and resort development, online advertising, publishing, services, and more.

It is a shame that they can’t get their politics right- the inexorable corruption and capricious politics of discreditation provides an opening for a new fascism.

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The rise of a new kind fascism does not threaten business, investment and private property because the tools of capitalism provide contenders with the immense wealth and power needed for a fascist leader to emerge to the center stage as an authentic national hero. Already, the new fascism subverts the democratic dynamic of a nation (good of the people) into a corporative state where national policies are decided by captains of industry and business. This has become particularly clear regarding conflicts on legislation between the European Union and the Romanian state.

Surprisingly, support for the new fascism is growing on the left with an emphasis on Romania’s development as a European nation and the populations great indignation for the shame that Romania has long suffered for the unfortunate reputation of gypsies (Roma) abroad and embarrassing European perceptions. This support comes out of the left with the disillusion and disappointment in democratic capitalism to provide Romanians with a meaningful, rewarding, and quick way forward. As in the case of Russia, Romania was unprepared for the challenges, self-sacrifice, moral demands, intellectual rigor, and participation that is required to make democratic capitalism flourish.

A large population of forced pensioners who struggle to survive on 100 Euro per month pensions bring much doubt to the validity of democratic capitalism today. Generally speaking, there is a lot of anger and resentiment from important demographic groups. If there is a need for scapegoats, there is an ever more pressing need for hope, dignity and pride. The next five years may be the most vulnerable.

The way it is

The Romanian government’s practical approach to minimum wages, pricing of subsidized public utilities, progressive taxation of capital through salary taxes and other means… continues to suggest that there is a lack of coherence about democratic capitalism at the highest levels of Romanian government. Too often, public servants are too busy helping themselves than solving urgent issues of an emerging nation and fledgling member of the European Union.

The stage has been set for authentic national heroes to step forward and make things happen.

Inadequate medical services, pensions, laws and courts, banking regulation, and an academically-bankrupt educational system are tell tale signs of the morally and otherwisely corrupt liberalism going on. Self-serving politicians are not simply guilty of making bad decisions in their race to become overnight multi-millionaires, but many of them entered politics with this purpose in mind.

Immediate hardship, high unemployment and mounting inflation complement the illicit accomplishments in business and industry. Unfortunately, the accomplishments are owned by the few and the disappointments, by the many.

A doctrine of action, an anti-ideology, and national pride would be welcomed with open arms by young and old- regardless of reason and regardless of the anticipation of great mistakes and profound fallacies.

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The threshold is near; an economic disturbance may be all that is required.

Hare. Hunter. Field.

All of which makes Romanians susceptible to the imperatives of a fascist leader that does things in a decisive manner, talks less. If there is a questionable and dark past, this will not matter to Romanians. In fact, Romanians have more confidence in oligarchs that raised vast fortunes from nothing- lacking formal education, profiting by intrigue, and becoming multi-millionaires overnight.

In fact, new money oligarchs represent the realization of the Romanian dream- a dream that involves beautiful women, expensive cars, and the kind of money that buy you out of any kind of problem. Owning a bank or investment fund will be useful but economic power only builds a demagogue’s eminence among business and industry.

However, to be a great hero, he (not she) must also be a populist. And great populists are those who not only can say stupid things to the media without embarrassment, but they must also command conventional media through advertising or broadcasting/publishing. More importantly, a popular oligarch must have the prolific reach and impact of online media in his pocket.

Romanians would like a magnificent, majestic and heroic oligarch who embodies the will of the nation, but without giving up their sense of freedom- a freedom that was handed to them on a blood-splashed silver platter by former intelligence bosses who wanted a bigger slice of pie than they could get under communism. They do not want another dictator that sets himself up as the new boss.

Culture and Cultural fatalism

In communist times, there was no other choice than to accept propaganda and national pride as false consciousness. So too the population acquiesced to years of confusion and misinformation, outrageous scandal, vulgar mismanagement, and a lack of “customer service” from government services. Cultural fatalism and inefficacy in diplomacy, government, law, and politics go hand in hand.

Cultural fatalism precludes the need for extreme nationalism; in fact, Romanians do not have a great passion for their nation, people and culture. The only problem they have being Romanian is that they are embarrassed by themselves, and this is a rub.

Although Romanians are proud of their intellectuals, poets and artists in a distant and abstract manner. Romania is somehow anti-intellectual and it generally lacks appreciation for high culture and arts. They do not support aspiring artists and intellectuals- though oligarchs do take advantage of them. In fact, there is a strong preference in the population for bare walls, unrefined folk music, drinking and sex. Not that there is anything inherently flawed with these things, but there is room for more in a person’s life- even in Bucharest.

A wide spread lack of good taste is more than obvious in women’s fashion, entertainment choices, and residential exteriors.

Below is a popular reality television show about an oligarch, Iriniel, and his babe. Irinel paid for it. Both.

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Nor do they take education seriously- students or professors. Students and young professionals want to learn and increase their earning potential but if they could plug into a terminal that would feed them the information, they might put that much effort into the process. At least the young feign interest; adults do not even pretend that adult education could be interesting.

It is that lack of good taste, good sense and open-mindedness to complexity that make them an easy target for aspiring fascists- especially voters in the countryside.

The New Fascism

Big money and style, intrigue, national pride, heroic gestures, popularity contests, and discreditation of opponents are the obvious means and signs of the new fascism. Explicit racism, anti-semitics, discrimination, hatred, violence, terror and the suspension of civil rights do not seem to define it nor would these things make the new fascism more compelling to the Romanian people. Neither religion nor military parades would rally together a hive. There is a need for personality- to love or hate. And if hate- hate is accompanied by envy and a certain respect, with envy.

The new fascists can solve problems in a more subtle manner- including the strategic removal of opponents. Unlike Mussolini or Hitler’s preference for terror, the new fascism will not win by a show of military or brute force. They will win through collusion, brand, popularity, “customer experience,” and a prolific online strategy. They will win with the die-hard support of those who aspire to overnight wealth, success, and fame.

They will win over the people as authentic national heroes who made it big because they are are shrewd, clever, irreverent, transparent, and share the public’s complete disregard for law and order, sophistication, education, hard work, and good taste.

He who can take the traditional media by the tail AND the lion share of the online media and advertising will have the unique opportunity to rise above other contenders in the coming years. Fortunately, the contenders do not understand these modern mechanisms of power and influence- even when they own a few channels. The emphasis of potential contenders is on money, who they own, and who owns them.

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Stan Faryna
January 12, 2007
Bucharest, Romania

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FEED UPON other popular posts by Stan Faryna:

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About Stan Faryna

Stan Faryna is a member of the IAB European Leadership Council and National Director of the Interactive Advertising Bureau Romania. He is the founder and co-founder of several technology, design and communication companies in the United States and Europe including Faryna & Associates, Inc., Halo Interactive, and others.

His political, scholarly, social and technical opinions have appeared in The Chicago Defender, Jurnalul National, The Washington Times, Sagar, Saptamana Financiara, Social Justice Review, and other publications.

Mr. Faryna is editor-in-chief of Black and Right (Praeger Press, 1996), a landmark collection of socio-political essays by important American thinkers including U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Copyright

Copyright 1996 to 2008 by Stan Faryna.

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