Political immobility (II)



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Let’s take another recent film as example. This time, it is the cinematographic adaptation of a contemporary novel, ‘I Am an Old Communist Hag’. The movie does not excel artistically, but illustrates better than others a reality that should make us think. The main character is a woman who regrets the past, when she was working in a factory, had received an apartment and almost shook hands with Ceausescu, who was to pay a working visit. She hid her party card behind an icon (a suggestive attitude for the ‘dialectical’ relations between religious and ideological beliefs) and her dream was to restart the now destitute factory. What catches the eye is the lack of sensitiveness for the moral denunciation of communism (the disadvantages being for her within the limit of inherent hardships of life), so we can even be envious of the regime’s capacity to secret protective bubble in which many of its adepts, most usual people, live in almost complete immunity.

Some sort of big transparent bubbles, like in Bosch’s painting ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’, which made the political context not only bearable, but even desirable. But it is only a perfect alibi, because the main character of the film/novel ignores the essence of the regime like a wife ignores the ‘key’ of the family’s economic success, when she had a husband with a ‘special’ status in the dynamic of the regime (it is not the case of the husband in the movie, a completely average person). Proof of her post-communist status, as representative (like many others) of a subsistence economy, constrained to surviving from the goods accumulated ‘before.’ This induced moral ‘innocence’ represented one of the big (propaganda and organisation) victories of the regime.
It is not by chance that those who wanted to dislodge the communism had to take into consideration this psychological reality. And not wait for an inevitable disenchantment. What surely placed them before other moral dilemmas. Like those of Dostoyevsky’s character ‘The Grand Inquisitor’ (‘from the novel ‘The Brothers Karamazov’), who considers himself in charge with the ungrateful mission of assuming (at the risk of his own damnation) the ‘dirty job’ of securing a comfortable happiness for the masses, though one deprived of freedom. This probably was also a dilemma of Karol Wojtyla, who left communist Poland for the top position at Vatican. If we schematically divide the population of communist regimes in three – bigger and smaller profiteers, ‘innocents’ (like the aforementioned female character) and more or less obvious opponents – Wojtyla evidently belonged to the last category. His anticommunism had deep psychological roots, also strengthened by the religious labelling of communism as a devilish phenomenon, worth being radically combatted. This made the Polish pope grant moral, but also financial support to the trade union `Solidarnosc`, which hardly survived the brutal repression in the early ‘80s. The problem however is the source of the money. It is believable that it came from IOR [Institute for the Works of Religion], the bank of Vatican. But IOR has been, for several decades, at the centre of big financial scandals. The most spectacular dates from the years it was financing `Solidarnosc`, when `Banco Ambrosiano`, an important Catholic private bank based in Milan goes bankrupt and its president, Roberto Calvi, who ran from Italy fearing a sentence, is found hanged under a London bridge (it will be demonstrated that he was murdered. The Milanese bank had fundamental connections with IOR and its businesses in fiscal paradises had little to do with the initial precepts of its activity, when all it took a customer to open an account was a (Catholic) baptism certificate and the recommendation of the parish priest. Even more serious, there also were accusations of money laundering, involving important sums related to the Mafia. In brief, Wojtyla certainly must have had to choose between not becoming decisively involved in anticommunist politics and turning a blind eye to the source of some funds for a cause considered to be so noble. Certainly, the historic actions are not pure, they always have ambiguities and doses of injustice, even when they are beneficial to many. But some contradictions are hard to swallow. If some Italian Catholic priests fell victim to the Mafia, others take profit on its financing (as in the famous case of a prominent rogue entombed, in the ‘90s, in a historic Vatican church because he was a generous financer of the ‘Christian education’ of parish youths). The problem pertains to the role of a Church in society. Wojtyla, for instance, fought the communist regime for the right of Polish Catholicism to not being reduced to social ghetto. Thus, his ideal became a complete involvement of Catholic believers from all over the world in the various activities of society. An involvement not without ambiguities and doubts, as denotes `Opus Dei` or `Comunione e Liberazione` [Communion and Liberation], ecclesial organisations that generated even ministers, some of whom later were in the middle of political-financial scandals also favoured by privileged relations between the members of castes. Or like the authoritarian right-wing regimes of South America, which were supported by a significant part of the Catholic clergy, flattered by the special appreciation once again granted to Catholicism.
As we saw in Romania too, the anticommunism of post-communism was a successful propaganda move, which legitimised politicians and parties in the name of an obsolete ideal. Avoiding a confrontation with real problems and actually masking an insidious political immobility. Same as the communist regime succeeded in keeping a vast category of ‘innocents’ in protective bubbles, post-communism secreted other protective bubbles for those who inhibited the moral conscience, comforted by the ideal of an anticommunist pseudo-crusade. The afore quoted phrase of ‘The Leopard’ seems so actual: everything changed (capitalism instead of planned economy, NATO instead of the Warsaw Pact, free movement abroad and even relatively easy emigration instead of the old interdictions, private property instead of state one etc.), but the essence seems almost identical, It looks like a fundamental political immobility, which cannot be treated for now.

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