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Bucharest
October 23, 2021
EDITORIAL

Spoiling children has consequences

Politicians, too, have children, same as the leaders of communities and successful entrepreneurs. These children do not grow up like the others. They are exposed to particular privileges and temptations, and are proud of their parents’ position. We might say that they start in pole position, are spared from responsibilities in their early years, and have an easier access to “life’s pleasures.” They benefit from a favorable conjecture in society, which is inaccessible to others, or comes at a very high cost for average people. Coming to their parents, they have special relations with their children. Their social status, and the self-conceit deriving from it, makes them prone to a particular way of educating their children, imbued with the feeling of belonging to an ‘elite’ and with increased protection, if needed. This turns spoiled children into drug traffickers, interlopers, street hooligans, even murderers. The so-called ‘beizadele’ – the Turkish word used to designate the sons of princes, brought up in the shadow of their fathers’ authority and impunity – may also become meritorious adults and even outclass their parents, through their real qualities. Others stay with the crowd – neither brilliant, nor despicable persons. This phenomenon of spoiled children turned criminals deserves an analysis only because it reflects a number of fundamental flaws of the Romanian society. The corruption used by parents to promote their ‘spoiled brats’ is not something specific only to Romania. Not so long ago, an embarrassing row sparked at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science which, in the context of generous donations by Libyan foundations, granted a doctor’s title to Said al-Gaddafi, the dictator’s son. This is not a phenomenon specific to the new Romanian capitalism. Nicu Ceausescu, the son of the former communist dictator, was the protagonist of many scandals which included accusations of murder, rape and personal injury. Other spoiled children of communist apparatchiks had similar evolutions. Still, there is something specific to the present-day phenomenon. There are two defining aspects:

First, there is the education received at home and its excesses. When you are rich and influential, arrogance is the main temptation. Pride, honor, vanity – these attitudes often get mixed up. Sometimes they act as social stimulants, while other times they cause damage. One may build very useful institutions, while also thinking one deserves everything. Power can corrupt at all levels, so protection measures are needed. Some of these are legal measures, but others pertain to conscience. Let’s not forget that corruption is an endemic issue in the Romanian society. No political party came with efficient measures against it. The lack of ideological projects also had this connotation of avoiding a frontal attack against corruption. Corruption is also driven by an implicit philosophy of life. Privileged relations, arrangements that ignore the general rules, using various levers of influence, a whole superstructure parallel to that of state institutions – this social phenomenon ignores the moral implications of the project that forms the basis of the current social construction.

An ideological project also establishes priority values for a society.

The massive decline of the role held by ideology in Romanian politics over the last years widened the gap between “rules” and mentalities, with effects that go all the way down to the family environment. What are parents’ expectations about their spoiled children? They want their children to have the same kind of success in society they had themselves, sometimes based on controversial moral criteria. Of course, parents shouldn’t always be blamed for their children’s aberrations. Some are corrupted by the entourage, others just by being over-spoiled and exempted from responsibilities, so they grow up in a “protective bubble.” Add to this the disarray widespread throughout the Romanian education system, heavily relying on fraud, and it’s easy to understand why some spoiled children are drawn to a life of crime.

More than a century ago, Dostoyevsky strongly attacked a conception ‘en vogue’ in those years, which tried to exonerate the poor for their crimes, justified by their subhuman living conditions. No, crime has motivations beyond social conjectures and is not specific to either rich or poor. But there are favourable moral contexts, such as the moral inconsistency of many successful careers.

The second essential aspect is that of real discrepancies present in the society. Democracy is often nominal in matters that deserve an unbiased stance. One of these is the access to a ‘fair’ Justice. The aforementioned drawback of politics deprived of ideology resulted in rushed, tacit and marginal debates on the Criminal Code. In other words, the discussion about the legal philosophy – which is not just a matter for experts and also pertains to the ideological implications of political projects – was approached almost exclusively by the legal experts of the teams appointed by the ruling power. If Justice is so discriminating that the criminal sons of VIPs receive a preferential treatment, the model of corruption loses nothing of its “prestige.” The goal must be the redemption of the sinner, but this should not only be the chance of the rich and powerful.

Regardless if it pertains to Education, Justice or the labour market, the discrepancies of chances cannot be ignored in their actual implications and long-term consequences.

Asked about which are the important ministries of a government, philosopher Petre Tutea answered: Justice and Education. This proves the special influence they have upon social mentalities.

On the other hand, parents may adopt different options, but this pertains to more complex pedagogic options. In the past, some successful industrialists used to send their children to work as blue collars in their factories, others used to send them on long trips, so they can learn how to take care of themselves. Others spoil them and offer them education and careers, along with their full support. Between these extremes there is a whole range of nuances. Except for this, spoiled children are neither better, nor worse than the youths belonging to other social classes.

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