09 July 2012

Guernica and Romania

I want to refer you lovely readers to a website I have somewhat recently started following.  I came across this article a few days ago and wanted to share it.  Guernica is a thought provoking online magazine that integrates art and politics (with some intermarriage of economics).  They're really not all that separate, but they tackle all with the same tenacity and unite them in a fresh and interesting way.  I would try to work for them if I wasn't planted in Chicago--I'd love to learn how to run an independent magazine.

via thebestfilms.net
I was naturally drawn to the article because of Romania, but also it's discussion of how the communist past affects the mafia politics of today.  As Balkan states continue to vie for EU membership and Poland remains a large player in that sphere as well, the past that Europeans don't necessarily forget (but rather conveniently forget to mention) makes a huge difference.  Andrei Ujica says in the interview:
The political class in Bucharest will be confronted with the strictures of the European community. Romania can no longer cherry-pick Europe’s cultural aspirations while continuing to behave according to tendencies inherited from Ottoman occupation. Nor can it continue a dictatorial autonomy based on the principle of “non-interference [from the outside] with internal affairs,” Ceausescu’s oft repeated phrase. Meaning, it can’t spend European funds autonomously, despite the resistance of the remaining and delusional old guard of politicians, who don’t want to accept reality. As a full member of the European Union, Romania must respect certain ruling guidelines. The moral code befitting a European identity cannot be stated more directly than in the two simple enunciations that we have to make here: former PM Nastase, sentenced to two years in prison for corruption, must serve his time (which, finally, he has been forced to do), and current PM Ponta, unmasked by the international academic community as a plagiarist, must resign from office.
 This comment could not be more salient!  Timely!  Necessary!  It's tough talk when it come to a moment in history when Europe has to put real oomph in the idea of "befitting a European identity".  No one has truly clarified what a European identity is, but I'll bring up a point made in this book:
Perhaps the term "European" is increasingly effective because of its inherent slipperiness.  In eluding definition, it embraces the shifting nature of contemporary identity, this refusal to be bordered…Reality outruns definition.  There is no real sense––not yet at least––of anyone wanting to draw attention to the "great European novel" in the same sense that the world anticipates, rightly of wrongly, the "great American novel," but that might be because there is still no final lockdown on what "European" actually means.
 The idea of European identity is not mean to box everyone into a homogeneous mass, but to give a reigning sense of inclusion.  If that wasn't true, the EU wouldn't fight for the protection of dialects and national languages or similarly ambitious cultural preservation projects.  The idea of a great European nation/political body is not the same as the United States or the USSR, but perhaps a bit closer to the African Union in spirit.  Though I read a lengthy article on the original conception of the EU as an European United States, I honestly think that would be far too ambitious.  Perhaps I'm the naive idealist who thinks it's possible to have political and economic supranational ties without completely destroying national identity.  Lest we forget, there was a national consciousness back in the Habsburg days of yore.  There has always been an attachment to an ethnic/group identity no matter what the political umbrella.  It's not so easily erased, as Ismail Kadare's book has also illustrated (and it was written as an allegory of Albania and the USSR, giving even more relevance to the topic at hand).

In conclusion, to be continued…

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