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August 15, 2022

Monologue in Babylon

Ever since the Antiquity, the dialogue (dialogues) has been seen as an active modality of communication between two or among several persons, in order for them to find a common place of understanding. From the very perspective of its negotiation feature, the dialogue is regarded as an attribute of the democratic society. However, its usage today, also during the current election campaign in Romania, frequently contradicts its core meaning. Instead of presenting the objectives with which, for instance, the presidential candidates claim to bring before the voters, the dialogue among all these politicians with pretensions most often causes division, dourness and even verbal conflicts. The only positive trait that is preserved for this unfortunate kind of dialogue is its ability to uncover the psychology of the interlocutors. Political interlocutors who, today, in this country, arrogate the claim of being ‘previous speakers’, therefore ‘the first’ to have issued a certain opinion. This sense of false ownership makes the dialogue in our political, but also economic and social life, gain an exclusive character of revendication or imposition of a certain solution beyond the limits of any reasonable possibility.
This is why the current dialogue in the election campaign often unfolds in a totalitarian climate, it’s a ‘get him’ endeavour, where each interlocutor seeks to diminish his or her opponent down to annulment. The limits of reason and common sense seem to have vanished, they each end up talking on their own or to his/her own language. In this way, even the debate on some of the most serious matters such as healthcare, education, quasi-general poverty and so on melt and disappear in the crossfire between enraged interlocutors. When one advocates a higher social benefit for children, the interlocutor rushes to accuse him of discriminating against people who still collect unemployment benefits. When one supports the introduction of measures to help agriculture, the other one accuses him of ignoring the industry. The village is opposed to the city, motorways compete with railways, so on and so forth. The right or left (things aren’t exactly clear in that department) wing of a party demands the political party in question should run in election on its own, therefore not in an alliance and without tacit solidarity. The opposite wing of the same party says the best way to do it would be … in the opposite way. Under such circumstances and with such ‘arguments’, it is no surprise that each candidate in election can only see and hear himself.
The current campaign for the election of the future president of Romania shows us once more that we live in a  society where every politician says what they want, how they want and when they want, without any reference whatsoever to the idea of communication, message,, rigour or national interest. It is a perpetual monologue in Babylon, where every politician believes he/she is entitled to just about anything, that he/she is the wisest of the wise or at least the saviour of the city. It’s an individualism pushed to the absurd, like in a huge Hyde Park indulging in a cheerful oblivion, where they each exult in a caricatured manner for the heroic fact that HE, indeed, exists. The only reference point for this ‘existence’ ‘s money, preferably in hard currency. Those who have it become loud, aggressive and demanding. Those who have not it are silent and retractile. In all this, the source of money no longer matters. This is one of the explanations for the preference, in the last twenty years, for massive loans, smuggling and tax evasion, criminal sale of assets, whilst the modalities of resuscitating national energies, capitalising on the immense reserves of labour and creation stall in the best case.
An old saying states that, if you want to help your hungry friend, you should give him a fishing rod, not fish, and teach him to fish. Teach him how to help himslef. In the field of paremiology, one can find numerous such calls to labour (‘this wonder available to anyone’, as Nicolae Iorga, one of Romania’s most industrious ‘workers’ was defining it). Nonetheless, among the numerous and costly Romanian social welfare programmes, it is exactly labour protection that is missing. Years ago, laid off miners were given hundreds of millions of lei in compensation, but no one showed them how to start the much publicised ‘business’. They spent the money and they are still struggling to survive. Many industrial assets have been sold, the money vanished, there is no more claimed refurbishment, but pollution grows. All this happens in a so called time of dialogue, actually a time of dialogued monologues. Even when they look each other in the eyes, the ‘professional’ speaker can only hear and see himself. The energy of our politicians is mainly manifested through words which, crowded, end up crushing and annulling each other.
How are such hydras possible? However diverse they may be, the answers to this question cannot divert the responsibility of decision makers. They ardently plead for dialogue, but one where their own political interest should prevail over the national interest. This explains the fact that our politicians first feel democrats, liberals, socialists etc and only last Romanians, although the situation should be reversed. This is also the root of their inability to synthesise and spot the essential. In their plea for dialogue, as well as in its concrete organisation, Romanian politicians first and foremost seek self-glorification and as many advantages as possible for themselves. Debates based on such dialogue are often compared to a masquerade, to a circus show rather than the authentic, value generating dialogue  that, since Plato, Cicero, Voltaire, Dimitrie Cnatemir, Petru Maior, George Calinescu and many others has enshrined human dignity, discarding falsity of any kind.

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