EDITORIAL

Anachronism

Having fully profited from the advantages of their political engagement for twenty years, the ‘lustrable’ now afford adopting a law that removes them from the game. In other words, instead of a termination of ‘employment’ in one’s prime, an anachronic termination at retirement age. How many of the prime-ministers, ministers of county council presidents we have had in office all this time would have been there if the lustration law had been adopted at the beginning of the 1990s Not few. At least at  a personal level, the face of Romanian politics would have been completely different. All the more so as, in politics, ant leader has a whole team behind him. Even the leaders who would have not been ‘lustrable’ were backed by teams full of ‘lustrable’ people. It was, of course, a question of human resources, but also a matter of spheres of influence. A ‘lustrable’ politician already had his connections he could lean on in his new power responsibility, an advantage that was not that accessible to everyone. On the other hand, we can only wonder what our political life would have looked liked with the ‘lustrable’ figures in it. First of all, the otherwise unsubstantive polemic on anti-communism wouldn’t have been legitimate beyond a historiographic and intellectual debate. To make the opponent’s position frail, people were often threatened with their ‘track-record’ in order to accept to be marginalised and, in some cases, it was completed by another threat: the exposure as a former informant. In fact, the dispute over the former Securitate records has been more vivid than the one on lustration in the Romanian public space. But such an association goes farther than that, for culpabilities were transferred almost exclusively onto the shoulders of those who were forced to collaborate. From case to case, the constraint would be dosed with a mutual interest (money, trips abroad, social promotion), but, anyway, the image is still the one of vulnerable, naïve or profiteering victims. Some former Securitate staff had their image torn by disclosures, yet many of them continued their careers not just in the new SRI, but also in political parties, in positions of responsibility in state institutions or in companies working with the state. Gliding the debate to the repressive apparatus of the former political police, the strict political responsibility was actually minimised.  The famous point eight of the 1990 Proclamation of Timisoara had been a dead letter until the current Lustration Law, adopted in a totally different spirit and different context after 22 years. Party activists who allegedly participated, if not for conviction, at least for the conscience of a pact, were not held liable in anyway. With the exception of a few members of the communist leadership brought to trial in early 1990s and, in general, pardoned after a while, such a part was never an inhibiting stigma. The only official document is still the presidential report condemning the communism, itself emerging amidst a political war and handled in such a way as to empty it of its effect of reflection on ideological questions. In other words, the political intention of cleansing, with the due relativism, of course, the public and moral space, of delineation from irresponsible ideologies has been lost. It turned into a mere blackmail weapon used with cynicism. This is also what happened to the Lustration Law. An embarrassing anachronism, but also an attempt to arrogate a symbolic merit. If we cut into the flesh of the new law, we will find quite a few confusions. It is not very clear who will be penalised. At the same time, the discrimination between potentially elected and potentially appointed officials is just a way to avoid the veto of the Constitutional Court. Since we live in a representative democracy, the difference between the two categories is fundamental. It’s as if one said the vote replaces a principle. Or, in more vulgar terms, if the people elected him knowing his past, the lustration principle does not apply. It’s a form of redemption through popularity, but a gangster can also be popular. Not to mention the laughable phrasing of the law details in order to keep certain people of the power safe from all doubt, starting with the prime-minister and his successor to the helm of SIE. Under such conditions, lustration is anachronic, ridiculous and improvised.

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