#CorruptionKills and the Romanian Neoliberal discourse

11 Mar , 2016 Op-Ed

The #CorruptionKills slogan is maybe one of the most remembered mottos that endured after the „Colective”-related protests of last winter in Romania. A significant part of the people that occupied the University Square in Bucharest last winter have acquiesced to the main assumption of the neoliberal discourse, that the tragedy in the Colective Club happened because the state and the economy were filled with corrupt people and this caused the death of almost 100 youngsters. Indeed, the Colective fire happened probably because of improper arrangements and maybe illegal actions of state officials and the owners of the club, and this fits very well into the neoliberal discourse.

As a friend said to me a few days ago, the neoliberal movement transformed the anti-corruption fight from an instrument for reforming the state and enhancing the quality of life of Romanian citizens into a purpose in itself. Their aim is no longer to reform the state and to protect democracy and the human rights through fighting corruption, they transformed the anti-corruption fight into the main goal of the movement, the only thing they are fighting for. They transformed the means to achieve the goal into the goal itself. The process has become the purpose of the process. This is extremely visible in the current debates around the recent decision of the Constitutional Court regarding the right of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI) to assist the prosecution with phone tapes, it is like the Apocalypse is upon us.

One of the main exponents of the neoliberal movement, Mrs. Monica Macovei, MEP, even declared that “[i]n a country where criminality is high, the human rights cannot be fully exercised”, arguing that we shall limit the exercise of human rights to fight criminality.

Fighting corruption just for the sake of fighting corruption is not a smart way of doing things. I’m not saying that corruption is not a scourge on the Romanian state and society, but fighting corruption must be the instrument through which the public welfare and interest are served, not the other way around.


2 Responses

  1. Filip says:

    The instrumentalization of anti-corruption by (civilian or military) elites against perceived political threats is nothing new in the developing world (e.g. Putin’s early anti-corruption and centralization policies, the current investigations in Brazil, the anti-corruption drive in China and so on). In some cases it seems to be a reaction against social mobility/turmoil engendered by previous economic or political changes (remember that in Romania it started in the early 2000s with lower class people such as Mischie and Sechelariu and it seems to end with Udrea, an ambitious provincial woman with Roma connections in a rather conservative and racist society). Sometimes it is a sign of business decline, see the various TV oligarch investigations in the era of Internet.
    But, of course, the use of the corruption discourse usually indicates that the society is changing, so there’s probably something more than the instrumentalization.
    To be honest, I’m somewhat surprised by the decision of the Romanian Constitutional Court. I would have expected the military bureaucracy to be more entrenched. But I suppose those forged PhD investigations were a sign.

  2. Andrei says:

    I’m pretty sure that Macovei’s comments meant that as long as a country is corrupt, there is no way to properly protect human rights. As such if human rights are to be protected, corruption must be kept in check.

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