In the ‘20s, the legionnaires dreamed of turning Romania into ‘a sacred country like the Sun in the sky.’ In the Christian imaginary that was motivating them, this was equivalent to a garden. In other words, Romania should have become a real blossoming garden, in both spiritual and social terms. One of their propaganda obsessions was represented by the riches of country, robbed by foreigners. The garden had become an empty field, dilapited and robbed. They were environmentalists for the sake of patriotism, greens avant la lettre. For a still agrarian country, industrialisation also had a traumatic dimension.
Forests were disappearing, the underground was starting to be exploited on large scale, chemical pollution was beginning its sad career. Which later culminated with the big projects demanded by Ceausescu, interested by the (pretended) economic benefits, in total contempt of the consequences upon the environment.
The economic autarchy deserved, in the eyes of communists, any pollution. Copsa Mica was only the most famous of the many cases of lethal indifference. And now the garden has been robbed not by foreigners, but by locals. But the globalisation of the last post-communist decades brought foreigners back in the game. Today’s greens see them as cynical predators. After centuries of capitalism, we cannot be but nuanced. Benefits are always accompanied by bad effects. The legionnaires were millenarists, they had an aberrant faith in the paradise on earth, in an impeccable garden. But the target is different, according to the wise saying: the effort that is not aimed at turning Earth into a paradise, but at preventing it to become a hell. With this regard, environmentalism finds a serious legitimacy. The centuries of industrialisation, of capitalist competition followed by unrestricted consumerism have generated severe environment issues. In a country like Italy, for instance, the problem of waste gave birth to a new concept: the ‘ecomafia.’ In an era of ‘human rights,’ the right to not being intoxicated, not having one’s environment destroyed and not being threatened by pollution-induced disasters cannot be ignored.
For the young Victor Ponta, Romania must not be a garden. At least not a botanical one. On the other hand, it could be a beautiful industrial park. Where workers merrily bring home their wages, while entrepreneurs fill the country’s coffers with taxes. An idyllic capitalism, born by the mind of the admirer of Che Guevara. It is a strange thing how the Romanian left (unique, after a long campaign of mergers) reached a point in which it haughtily ignores elementary humanist sensitivities. All in all, the European left evolved in parallel with the protection of the proletariat, which meant a generalisation of rights at the time of modern democracy. In the past, children worked in factories, a day of work was long and exhausting, there were no holidays, work conditions were often insalubrious, while professional diseases made ravages. Let’s not forget that ‘the Chinese miracle’ of today is also the result of a very low standard of labour protection. With often very tragic consequences to the population. Especially in relation with the spectacular evolution of the recent history of the West, where the social-democratic political family brought an important contribution. Of course, unemployment will always remain a thorny issue, but Europeans no longer accept so easily any job, in any conditions.
But the ‘leftist’ sensitivity is inherently green today. Same as during past decades in the West, environmentalism is interwoven with other political and cultural sensitivities. Not precisely the same as in the ‘60s, with the sexual revolution and the anti-authoritarian revolts. Plus, today’s environmentalism is more transversal, as it picks sympathies not only from the left. As a matter of fact, neglecting the green dimension means being politically obsolete, ideologically backward. In the past, the priority danger was the nuclear danger, in the perspective of a military clash. Later, the heat moved upon the civil nuclear industry. But many other industries were also targeted. Such as mining. But the needs of civilisation will not allow simply shutting down the polluting industries. It is however possible to circumscribe them. The ‘bio’ culture will coexist with various industrial cultures, the problem is the relations between them. Environmentalism cannot be limited to ‘natural reserves.’ One cannot live in a barren field, we need gardens around. ‘Economy’ and ‘ecology’ have the same root. This is what a whole political class ignores. Could this be blamed on the local post-communist mentality more consonant with a predatory economy? To which adds an often ambiguous relation with the networks of economic influence, which maintains a regime which is somehow oligarchic. As some theorists of present-day left say: communism was a monopolistic hyper-capitalism. Could it be that our post-communist left tends moving the same direction?