Romanian society has seen in the last decade a number of government changing and mentality shifting social upheavals. Back in 2012 the anti-austerity protests were started and joined by people from all classes. They were violent, as this has always been the way state power and its repressive institutions act on those it exploits and uses.
But the 2012 protests also represented something much more important. They showed the more economically secure and comfortable members of our society that things in Romania were taking a downward turn, from bad to worst. They sparked the impulse of revolt, that necessary sentiment of indignation for them to examine the society in which they live and to take up civic arms to counter the ruling elite.
Gradually they started to understand their role in society, but on the way, the poor and the precarious could not find similar views with them. Why? Because justice is not equal in a centralized state and a commodified society. In theory the law applies to everyone, but wealth, political status and social position, most of the times leads to immunity or to mock sentences. The privileged will always get special treatment when they have to face lady justice!
So what happened?
They started being active in informal groups, in NGO’s and in newly founded political platforms and parties. But while the Rosia Montana campaign, which followed in the next few years, gathered people from all classes to struggle for ecological and social justice, against big money corporations and corrupt politicians, the 2017 protests represented a massive surge of civic participation against a singular concept, one which is closely tied to centralised political power and capitalist relations, that of corruption.
People found the source of the problem, the most feudal, nationalistic and neoliberal party in Romania, the Social Democratic Party. I say feudal, because that is the mentality on which they base their internal hierarchical structure on. I say neoliberal because, much like every political party in Romania, and much like most of the political and social elites in the country, on a larger scale, this is the economical discourse which has been fueling all of their economical and political action. Yes, rampant capitalism is tearing this society apart! And last but not least, I say nationalistic, because they play around with patriotic, national and religious symbols and discourses as long as it suits their political agenda.
But their opponents in the streets have taken a similar tone. They use national symbols and discourses, they focus on dividing society (mainly the old versus the young), they use a deliberate and perverse ideological discourse (red plague, communists etc.) to brand their enemy and further advance their neoliberal and nationalistic discourses, even though the left in Romania is far from being an active political voice and certainly not represented by the Social Democratic Party. Much like many aggressive political movements, they use a language of hate against any one, or any category of people, who does not fit into their fixed set of ideas, or, even worse, would act against them in one way or another.
The fact of the matter is that this civic discourse is an elitist one, it’s designed and used by the middle class in their favor, acting as a means for some political entities and groups in the current civil society to force their way to power. So it’s easy to see that by acting within the structures and mechanisms of state power, they end up propagating the mentality of power conquering in the process.
State and capital will always give birth to corruption, and fighting corruption by not seeking to change the political and economical system will only lead to a changing of the ranks of he corrupt.
Changing the dominant discourse
But how should local anarchists react to this struggle? Should they ignore them, as they have done so far? should they try to join the people protesting in order to make their presence felt? Should they try and change the discourse all together?
One thing is for sure in this author’s opinion, anarchist should never turn their back on any struggle which has a moral and social foundation. They should be the ones pushing for change if the the discourse deviates or is not true to the principles of freedom and equality, to take it from the hands of liberal or any form of right wing influencers and media outlets. They should be the ones on the streets, doing missionary work, talking to the multitude and the diverse, and presenting them a clear and simple message, one capable of reaching the intellectual and the worker.
One thing is for sure, in order to have a real impact for the rest of the population the current critical discourse should put the entire justice system into question. Taking the side of certain judicial institutions uncritically and fanatically, would only lead to a break with the mass of the population. Combating the changes proposed by the Social Democrats in their quest for total power, a sort of illiberal and autocratic governance, should not be the only goal.
In truth, there are numerous issues which should be raised regarding the working of the Romanian justice system. The fact that it’s not accessible for most of the countries poor and destitute, the fact that there isn’t practically any public control over judges, prosecutors etc. also represents a problem. The fact that they can only held accountable only by their peers should also raise questions. It’s not surprising that the current judicial system is represented by a cast, and a powerful one at that, which can act without fear of repercussion. They are dealing with people’s lives, their faiths and the mere thought that they can’t be contested is to say the least criminal.
But what would be the ultimate goal? A critique of the judicial system in the hopes of some reformist agenda? No, a critique of state power and all forms of authority starting from the so called judicial system of the state. Exposing the class based principle within the current system of law.