In the late 1970s, my grandfather’s older brother, already in his nineties, was pressing his almost deaf ears to a little portable radio still hoping to hear that “the Americans are coming” to “save us” from Communism. He died in 1979 while seesawing some wood in his courtyard.

Before the Communists came to power, he had been quite prosperous. He had land, mills, tractors, horses, and a house in downtown Botosani beside his house in the countryside. He had been one of the first in his county to own an automobile. He had been a National Liberal politician. He went to Law school in Bruxelles. And, more importantly, he was of peasant and country priest stock. He was not born into money. He just worked hard and showed true grit in managing both his inherited land and the land awarded to him by the pro-Agrarian Romanian government for his brave fighting in World War One.

After the Communists came, both he and my grandfather, who had been a public notary, were branded by the Communist officials as “tools of the oppressive bourgeois reactionary regime”. But my grandfather’s brother still managed to survive and to buy that small radio whence, he hoped, the “Voice of America” might someday announce the American landing and our liberation.

I’m not sure about other parts of the world, where the U.S.A. chose to involve themselves in various liberating endeavors during the last twenty years. Romanians really looked forward for the coming of “the Americans”. For us, “the Americans” were not, as Joseph de Maistre would say, just some counter-Soviets, but something different from the Soviets. And if the Soviet occupation of Eastern Europe meant an overpowering dose of social engineering, “the Americans” were supposed to free us from any social engineering. To this extent, the coming of “the Americans” was supposed to be something akin to a Conservative revolution as it would bring back not some government-regulated and mass-enforced normalcy, but normality itself: a life built around personal and public integrity, and without having to kowtow to some ideological “commissar” in order to survive, a life in which you could prosper in an honest way.

Sadly, the fall of the Communist regimes in 1989 did not signal a return to normality, but a new level of social engineering. In the aftermath of 1989, a Hungarian student, who came to study at an American college, said to her professors: “To us it feels like jumping from Orwell’s 1984 (Communist Hungary) into Huxley’s Brave New World (Neoliberal U.S.A.)”. And indeed, after 1989, Romania and the rest of Eastern Europe have had Brave New World on top of 1984.

Grassroots America has not been wiped out with the ruthlessness and method that presided over the eradication of grassroots Eastern Europe. Here, nobody selected the best farmers, engineers, politicians, students, workers or priests to imprison, brainwash and/or kill them. In Eastern Europe, Communism destroyed not only the intellectual elites, but the professional elites, the grassroots, too. That is why it is harder for Romanians to oppose the Brave New World. By leaving it spineless, the Communists turned a nation into a population to be scattered or molded at will. The Romanians are not lacking in energy, ideas or lucidity, but in those organic forms of social cohesion that Communists almost utterly destroyed. Subjected to decades of social engineering that aimed at pruning their natural elites, Romanians have been, since 1989, an easy prey for the Neoliberal managerial elites.

The Neoliberal managerial elites, largely subsidized by American foundations such as the Soros Foundation for an Open Society, came with their own ideology (Neoliberalism), their own “party line” (about an “open society”), their own big corporate interests, and their own “commissars”. The European Union added its bureaucratic heavy-handedness and its own brand of political correctness to make things even worse. The corporate Neoliberal networks of the “Right” attacked any voice arguing for a truly Conservative movement with arguments of the reductio ad Hitlerum sort.

Twenty years passed since Ceausescu fell and Romania does not have a genuine Conservative party yet. We have phony conservatives, who once worked for the Securitate (Romanian secret police) and are now nostalgic after the “good old Communist times,” phony libertarians, holding well paid governments jobs, and neonazi kooks. And above all, we have an intellectual Neoliberal/Neoconservative Right whose main job is to delegitimize any genuine Conservative discourse and to tell Romanians that worshiping both God and Mammon is the real thing to do.

The Communists falsified our history by exaggerating, at their convenience, our Slavic (in the ‘50s), or our Thracian (in the ’70-’80) roots. The Neoliberals are falsifying our history by shriveling our “patriarchal” past in the required politically correct manner. The Communists confiscated the peasants’ land and crammed them by force into factories. The Neoliberals have bought cheap the peasants’ land and then scattered them all over Western Europe to do menial works. The E.U. claims that we have too many peasants (50% of the population is living in the countryside), that we must halve them at the very least. The idea is to abandon anything having to do with a subsistence agriculture in order to focus on E.U. subsidized large farming and monocultures. It is the second big enclosure.

In the immediate aftermath of the Communist collapse, there was much talk in the West about the truly Dickensian conditions in the Communist orphanages. But there is no talk today in the Western media about the ordeal of the present generation of children; many of them are growing up in Romania raised by their grand-parents or their relatives as their parents went to work in the affluent E.U. countries. There have been many cases of seven, eight or nine-year-olds committing suicide because they missed their mother, gone with the wind of an illegal job in the E.U..

When I pointed out such tragedies, induced by an economic engineered mass migration to the West, a Romanian Neoliberal advocate retorted: “ It is the gift of liberty”. If one criticizes consumism, the Neoliberals answer with “anti-anticonsumist” arguments. Financed by Coca-Cola, by Atlas Foundation, by the Soros Foundation, or by Microsoft, the Neoliberal minions are the voice of globalization in Romania. We have, thus, not only a remittance economy, but a remittance intellectual life, too.

Any argument in favor of Distributism, of a peasant and a small property economy, any preference for the local over the global is rejected by Neoliberals with sneers about “paseism,” “fascism,” “obscurantism”. Whatever does not come from “the West” is “provincial”. And the only thing that comes from the West through these mercenary channels is global financial capitalism and its appended moral “values”. The old Communist internationalism has been replaced by the new Neoliberal cult of the “global markets” and the religion of those abstract, as fluctuating as the stock exchange, “human rights”. Even the historiography of Communism has fallen prey to this fashion: the Communist regime is now criticized mainly for its oppression of minorities. Yes, it is true that various minorities have been subjected to various degrees of persecution during the Communist regime. But not all of them and not for the most of time. To criticize Communism based on its transgressions of “diversity,” a Neoliberal core value good for business according to the University of Illinois scholar Walter Benn Michael, is misleading. It is missing the point to state that the Communist regimes were mainly the tyranny of a minority (the Central Committee and their secret police guards) over a majority. And missing the point that the vast “white working classes” (peasants and workers) were the main targets of Communist oppression means missing the possibility to rebuild the country according to the real priorities after the fall of the Communist regime.

The Communist regimes might have been “sexist,” or “racist”. And yet their main crime was their horrific attempt at dehumanizing whole peoples and wiping out many of their elites. In encouraging, subsidizing a politically-correct criticism of Communism, the West legitimized a politically correct discourse and deligitimzed any discourse that might have opposed both Communism and Neoliberalism on historic, organic, religious, communitarian grounds.

After the Communists eliminated our organic elites and replaced them with ideological guardians, the Neoliberals have dissolved our traditional discourses so that there is no moral center left. Indeed, many Western political analysts talked about how some former Communists redeemed themselves by becoming big capitalists. As if you could redeem yourself for terrorizing a nation by subsequently looting its economy.

In between the Communists throwing overboard whole social classes and the Neoliberals “debunking” all Eastern European patriarchal “myths” that could have helped bring Romania on its feet – there is not much ground left on which to build a vigorous participatory democracy. Neocon inspired social engineering transforms people into freeloaders of the West or into xenophobic partisans of the East (as an extreme nationalist reaction to it). The only way out of such an unhappy situation would be an alliance between middle America and deep Romania along with a strengthening of a non-corporate, non-social engineering oriented American presence in Romania. We still wait for the Americans. But please stop sending in the Neoliberal suits instead.

18 COMMENTS

  1. Ahhh yes, the big visage up on the Oz Screen flings accusations of “obscurantism” at the little folk as some lightening bolts go off in the background.

    You shall wait a very long time expecting some authentic Americans to come to the rescue because we here in the Secure Homeland aint seen one for some time ourselves. There is no end to folks spouting “American Interests”, “New Global Realities” , “They hate us for our freedoms” , “To Big To Fail” and any of a number of codes for Imperial Over-reach but as far as the Americans you would like to see come to the rescue..fugeddaboutit. Unless of course, you’d like a little bombay Door Nation Building, then…well then , its showtime.

  2. This was a very sad and infuriating post. It is sad to see that the same labels and roadblocks have been erected all over the world towards establishing a legitimate localist conservatism working to create social capital and preserve cultural distinctiveness.

  3. A sad post indeed! A few years ago I traveled a bit through the rurliest parts of Romania, especially the famously folksy region of Maramures. I went there hoping to satisfy an itch to witness real live Europeans wearing their native costumes outside the false haven of a “Folk Festival.” The pint-sized straw hats and brazenly Pauline kerchiefs, nubby lambswool everything, heirloom belts and vests; all to be found in Romania, and donned without a hint of affectation. The land itself is also captivating, full of life, luscious– so very many fields and mountains teeming with cultivated yummy things. I have never been so charmed by a foreign country, and I’ve been to quite a few.

    It was, at the same time, an endangered habitat, so to speak. Up close one couldn’t help but notice that that those Pauline headscarves were made of mystery plasti-fabric, and not a few homes were decorated with satellite dishes. More troubling was the perpetual eye-rolling of some of the young people. I suppose they were a little anxious to move to one of the bigger towns nearby, or some place even loftier, perhaps a real city with glossy Western European-style shops. And then there were the more enterprising men in the villages, utterly ready to sell every last shred of authentic culture to the Tourism Bureau (and tourists such as myself.)

    At the time I assumed Hollywood and its pop cultural associates were the principal culprit, but obviously there is something more sinister at work.

    It’s heartening to know that there are voices in Romania like Mr. Platon’s. God preserve Romania!

  4. I am old enough to remember the Hungarian uprising of 1956, and how America and the West stood by, doing nothing. This was the same Eisenhower’s America which had, through the Voice of America and other means, urged the East Europeans to rise up against their Soviet masters. When they did, Eisenhower played golf. Then Hungary, and all of Iron Curtain Europe, waited for America; now they wait for Brussels.

    Perhaps the West was afraid of a nuclear exchange with the Soviets. But I suspect the Soviets–with a far more fragile industrial base–were even more afraid of it, no matter what they said to Dulles or Eisenhower. But at any rate the help did not come, and Central Europe was left to free itself 40 years later. But in fact, they just changed masters. And not even that. In Russia, the country has settled into the autocratic rule of a former KGB agent, and not a few Eastern Europeans look on the days of communist rule as times of relative security.

    I am about to embark on a trip to Romania. My message is mainly, “Don’t wait for the Americans and for damn sure don’t wait on Brussels (like the Irish).” Romania is a rich country-in natural resources. Rich in fields, pastures, minerals, fish, minerals and every gift a loving God can bestow on a nation to make it prosperous. This is the “Romania profound,” under all the imposed layers of communism and euro-socialism-capitalism. It is the same message that the FPR gives to the American South, or West, or North. It is the only message that will work in this age that will see, is seeing, the breakup of globalist capitalism and its various offspring.

  5. I also remember Hungary in 1956, Berlin in 1953, Prague in 1968. In Berlin, the U.S. faced off against the Soviets. There is a famous photo of an American tank facing a Russian tank muzzle-to-muzzle at Checkpoint Charlie. The Russian commandant, sensing that the two sides were about to come to blows, drove his American counterpart through the back streets of E. Berlin, which were a parking lot filled with Russian armor. That, so the story goes, prevented war then and there.

    The remarkable thing about this whole long period of the Cold War is that we did not experience World War III. The two sides took out their aggressions through proxie wars that cost hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of lives. Bad enough, true, but not nuclear war.

    No, the Americans are not coming. Perhaps that is not so important today. Perhaps the Romanians will be able to find their own way out of the socialist-EU swamp, with the rich resources they possess, in the twilight of the Pax Americana, as we await the next large movement in history.

  6. As I understand it, Mr. Platon makes the point that the Americans sent the wrong boys to help the Romanians clean up the mess the Communist left. Like the EU bureaucrats, those globalist Americans (libertarians, neocons, “human rights” and corporate activists etc., etc.) started to prescribe the wrong medicine. The Eastern Europe is a place where Americans are still loved and welcome. It all depends on what one understands by an American. The American, Romanians had in mind, was the one that won the World War II and opposed the “commies” in Vietnam. John Wayne or General MacArthur type of hero. An idealized hero maybe, but very much real for them. This was the archetypal American Eastern Europe loved. Due to its isolation during the Communist times, Romanians did not understand that US and the whole Western world have changed as much as they did. After 1989, The American think-tanks and “democratic organizations” started to “engineer” the Romanians, not along a John Wayne type of “American man” but along the ideological lines of an abstraction: the global consumer and the obedient, political correct Euro-global citizen. The same process of social engineering, that started in the 60’s in the West, was exported to Romania and Eastern Europe. Well…wrong move. It took a while until people realized that Soros is not the quintessential American and Mises Institute Romania not really the defender of the Statue of Liberty, and “the cultural and gender studies” not exactly in accordance with the Orthodox faith. Now when the king is naked, Romanians are left confused and hopeless. It will be a mistake for the Americans to abandon Eastern Europe, a region where they still might feel “at home”. It’s not about America pouring more money. It’s about America advocating different values, replacing the failed neoliberal utopia with some Front Porch Republic type of values – an alternative to both socialism and the Romanian robber capitalism, an alternative that could cohere with their own traditions and aspirations. Neither Romanians nor the Americans can afford to be isolationist any more. Maybe we need a “Localist International”, something like Adam Webb suggested in “A Path of Our Own.”

  7. Dang it, I was waiting for the Romanians. Sorry to disappoint, but we ain’t coming. Unless you want a bunch of nihilist suits telling you how you have to grow your economy and develop a corporate oligarchy, and of course – buy more stuff, I don’t think you want us to come. We don’t make anything, we don’t think anything, even the music is ca-ca. Did you guys ever get that vampire thing figured out? Vampires are all the rage here in “Middle America”. Count Dracula with a Roma running mate could be the ticket in 2012.

    Sorry to be a putz Mircea, I liked your essay, but to ask the bankrupt for a loan is not likely a good strategy.

  8. Excellent look at how the effects of Communism have removed so much of the grassroots from Europe and how the academic Left actually criticises movements that related to the masses of people in the extremely rich farmlands of Eastern Europe.

    It is still true that the much greater radicalism of the (small) urban working class made a prevention of Communist takeover hard as Europe developed (I have never seen a watertight refutation of the viewpoint that the Marshall Plan prevented Communism taking over most of Western Europe and turning the continent into a sea of warring Marxist states), but the point that “personal and public integrity” is largely gone from the former Soviet bloc nations is one that I have not the slightest doubt about and is far too seldom mentioned in serious cultural or political discussion today.

  9. Thank you very much for your generous comments. My essay was partly prompted by articles such as Justin Raimondo’s “Exporting Political Correctness Through Force of Arms” (Chronicles, October 2009) arguing that U.S.A.’s “compulsion to crusade” for “human rights” does not “arise simply from an abstract multiculti devotion” for human rights, but is mostly a result of “every ethnic lobby, from the Moldovans to the Manchurians, lobbying for ‘human rights’ in the motherland”.

    In other words, we’ve brought it upon ourselves, and the American (governmental and private) export of neoliberal values has more to do with our own plotting than with the nexus between a global corporate economy and its ideological underpinnings embodied in the homo oeconomicus. I don’t know much about the composition, financing and aims of the “ethnic lobbies” in Washington (who finances, who handles, and who listens to them?), but in my own country, Romania, American “human rights” posturing resulted in an unprecedented (at least since the 1820s-30s) wave an sympathy for Russia, seen as the “conservative” alternative to American Neoliberal advocacy of globalization and political correctness.

  10. As for Dracula, Coca-Cola was among the corporations interested in building a “Dracula Park” in Romania. The project was scraped due to grass-roots opposition.

  11. “the American (governmental and private) export of neoliberal values has more to do with our own plotting than with the nexus between a global corporate economy and its ideological underpinnings embodied in the homo oeconomicus.”

    Related to this, Paul Gottfried’s ‘Liberalism trilogy’ is well worth reading.

  12. As for Dracula, Coca-Cola was among the corporations interested in building a “Dracula Park” in Romania. The project was scraped due to grass-roots opposition.

    Ah Mr. Platon – any country that has people with such good sense doesn’t need Americans!

  13. A “Localist International”……this just might be preposterous enough to warrant pursuit. I’d like to offer a lofty anthem and it involves an orchestra of kazoos and a final glorious chorus of Bronx Cheers.

    Please don’t take this as a criticism of your nicely expressed sentiments Dan, the phrase just set my ironometer a jangling and I had to let loose.

    Still though, a million little obscure locales united in a simultaneous exhortation of “K.M.A.” to the various meddlers, freebooters and world-improvers who are the real Draculas of this so called “modern” era. Another few decades and the “terrorist trunk” will have the most divergent and comprehensive contents known to man.

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