This is going to be a lengthy article, because I want to translate to English an older Romanian piece titled "the war with the press", but before I can meaningfully do that I'll have to provide some introduction as to the local context that article draws from and is built upon.
So, as you've perhaps heard, Romania was part of a Warsaw pact, which on the other side of the Iron Curtain was then and has since been referred to as "being communist". This may seem a doubtful claim to you, and I have a lot of sympathy for the theoretical considerations underpinning that doubt. Nevertheless, I am quite certain the description is actually quite factual.
Communist Romania was being run by a [national]i communist autocratii and was mired in exactly the sort of problems Russia was experiencing under Khrushcheviii. The deadlock was eventually resolved through a bloody coup, creating two unequal forces in the field.
One of these, originally called Frontul Salvarii Nationale (National Salvation Front) had the support of the entire low level bureaucracyiv and so managed 9x% results in the first electionsv. It then split, rejoined, morphed and generally evolved like any spot of dog vomit (the mold, I mean) through FDSN, PDSR, PD, PDL, PCvi, PSD, UNPR, into what's the Romanian left of today. It originally ran under blue colors, but early on moved to red and stuck to it. Generally a number of roses were involved, perhaps owing to Ion Iliescu's rosaphilia.
The other of these was never too distinct, outside of a vague identification with "the right". Closer to "the right thing" than any sort of political right, this existed embrionically as the "historical"vii parties in 1990, scoring a combined 4% or such. The political landscape remained dominated by the reds throughout the 90s, with the notable exception of Emil Constantinescu'sviii mandate, 1996-2000.
Then the reds came back in a major way, scored another, illegal third term for their Iliescu patriarchix, and under one Adrian Nastasex so certain were they of their victory that they actually changed the Constitution to extend the presidential term from four to five years. Then Traian Basescu, the right candidate, came from nowhere and obliterated Adrian Nastase, scoring the first five year term. He would later obliterate a very inept, US-backedxi Mircea Geoanaxii for a second. That second term is drawing to an end, and so yet again a very self-assured left, secure in its imaginary victory under Victor Pontaxiii, was preparing to celebrate. Except, Klaus Iohannis completely blew them out of the water. Here are some helpful maps :
The blue part is historical Transylvania, the place I'm from, a place that happens to be the craddle of both modern Hungaryxiv and modern Romania, and the bigger part thereof. Generally, the red (especially in the 2nd) follows neatly the map of poverty in the country, and to a large degree also the map of illiteracyxv.
So, to wrap this up : the socialists have always had control of the low level state apparatus, 1989 - 2014. This includes "the press", because like everywhere else "the press" is in Romania a tool of crowd control, like welfare distribution. Panem et circenses, right ? And so it came to pass that in 2004 "the press" declared Nastase the winner but Basescu won again. And then in 2009 "the press" campaigned for a whole year against Basescu. Everyone on the red sidexvi was so very certain of victory they made that poor guy jump like an idiot, but Basescu won. And now in 2014 "the press", after five years of campaign with a hysterical amplification never seen before in the past year or so, again declared Ponta the winner. And he... lost. Not to Basescu this timexvii, but to a rather inept german.xviii To anyone, anyone just as long as it's not a red. As it turns out, a dead sparrow could run against the "certain to be victorious" red candiate and win the Romanian elections.
And now, this monstrous introduction finally done, the article in question : Razboiul cu "presa".
“Nobody can win the war with the press!”xix
At the onset we have to plainly state two points, otherwise rather banal :
I. Traian Basescu won the war with the "press". In spite of three months' worth of counter-campaign in overdrive, following a year of counter-campaign au ralenti, Traian Basescu won his second and last term. He didn't win it with anyone's support, he won it by his own self, he marched all over the faces of two "press trusts", broke off their arms and used them to beat both over the mouth until they begged for cold water.xx
As a result of this, the political importance of the press has diminished markedly. If up until 2009 the press saw in Cotrocenixxi an enemy that still perhaps needed it, things have changed now. Until 2015 it can stand on its head for all it matters, it won't interest the president to any degree. They have nothing to offer him anymore, and as such they can not be, and could not be, invited to any sort of table. Not to negotiate, not even to eat.
II. The thing called "press" in Romania is not a guild, and not even a professional association at all. It's a crowd of louts. Men who would, in a civilised country, bag groceries and wipe floors, women that'd spend their days walking along the highways of Budapesta or Berlin found themselves "working in the press" in a Romania that, truthfully, has not that many highways.
It is abusive to speak of the "press" in Romania today as it was abusive to speak of the press in pre-war Romania (Caragialexxii dixit, Eminescuxxiii dixit). I couldn't fit the argument list here like I couldn't fit it in folio. There's not even any need to read Trilema Presei to get an idea, merely open a "newspaper". Any one. Or a magazine. Any one.
Yes, I agree, there are some, a few, two-three individuals who could in principle be journalists, who appear, sometimes and on occasion, as to be doing actual journalism, for real, like pros. Doesn't matter. Even if you're a true and honest admiral, for as long as you're saluting from within a cardboard box there's no room to speak of War Fleets.
These two observations take me to a question : said press not being a profession, what is it ? Because the fact that there exists a herd of ten or a hundred thousand individuals who clamor their apartenencexxiv to a group they call "the press" is not open to discussion, but quite evident.
Well... what could it be ? Like the parties, like the sindicates, like the old and the new secret services, like the snakepit of governmental "business", it's a means. A means to what ? A means to breach the public treasury. It's that simple.
What does the press want ? Money. What does Hossuxxv want ? Money. What does SPP wantxxvi ? Money. What do Hrebenciuc or Voicu or Voiculescu or Vantu want ? Money. How do they plan to reach this money ? By building a crowbar, as large as possible, as sharp as possible, out of an alloy as strong as possible, with which to crack open the public treasury. That's the whole story.
What's that crowbar ? Well, it's a sort of power. Brutish, without words and without the need for words. It's in no case a principle, or an idea (not that they won't try to put the idea of principle, and the idea of idea, to pull the cart with the crowbar - of course they'll try).
The great sadness of the press, in the current field of battle, is that it's left entirely without the point of its work. That's why they're screaming that "nobody wins the war with the press" : because someone has won it, and it's becoming obvious to all the other actors that the press, by and large, doesn't matter.xxvii It doesn't elect presidents, it doesn't ruin candidates, it can't even "bring people in the street", as it clamors.xxviii. Not even when there exist certain and ample fonts of public displeasure. Two weeks of sad wankery, in which they replayed thousands of times the same seconds filmed in the narrowest of angles so as to somehow parlay 200 people into "a revolution" proved to everyone interested, and proved abundantly, how socially irrelevant the "press" actually is.
What fate awaits them ? Well, the fate that awaits the defeated in all premodern societies, because Romania's still a feudal state. This if 25% salary cuts every 2-3 months haven't yet made that point clear enough.xxix
The funny thing being that while this local cvasi-drama plays itself out, the press is dying all over the world. But a different press, dying of different reasons. Entirely different, press, entirely different, reasons.xxx
Is it better to die, if you're a fly, on the Waterloo fields, together with thousands and thousands of people ?
The third one they've lost, you understand me ? Fifteen straight years! Fifteen straight years of impotence while claiming power, irrelevance while clamoring relevance, oblivion while claiming importance.
The moral being that there are wars that can't be won, like the war on gravity, or the war on Bitcoin. There are also wars that can not be lost, like the war on the press.
Perhaps much more importantly : there is no future for "democracy", there is no future for "progressivism", there is no future for all the numerous things that horror calls itself that dares not speak its own name. There is in fact no future for socialism in this world. It's a political epiphenomenon, like the hat fashions that flourished in its period. A quaint anachronism, a comfortable and often sought refuge of ignorance, stupidity and laziness, the hopeless edifice plain immorality built to try and protect itself from the working of the elements. It won't stand, it can't stand, it has not what to stand on nor is there glue strong enough to keep its puss together.
The power of the press, much like the power of the hobgoblins it draws from, is entirely a figment of your imagination.———
- Every attempt at an implementation of socialism in practice readily fragments, exactly for the reasons that make socialism not work in general. So in World War I you had the national-socialists in Prussia at war with the international-socialists in France while the imperialist-socialists in England looked on ; then in World War II you had the national-socialists in Germany at war with the international-socialists in Soviet Russia, while the consumerist-socialists under Roosevelt looked on. Both the bloodiest conflicts in human history, internal quarrels of socialism, which through its confounding effects on the human intellect and its numbing powers on the other parts of the human psyche managed to unleash destructive energies never before known on this green Earth. As far as socialism remains a going concern, whether it masquerades as "democracy" or anything else, the sort of destruction seen in the socialist century must remain the periodic fate of humanity.
Anyway, to me these distinctions are uninteresting. Whether it be national or international socialism is about as relevant to my eyes as discussing whether the goat you're trying to marry is male or female. Sure, as far as goats are concerned gender does - to a degree - matter. But you shouldn't be marrying a goat in any case!
So, yes, Ceausescu's was the sort of socialism that kept raving about "neamestecul in treburile interne" ie, sovereignity principle, as opposed to say Lenin's views of socialism as a "historical necessity" or w/e it was supposed to be (correct after a fashion, by the way - stupidity is pretty much the only historical necessity humanity has so far known). Nevertheless, this in the end is a distinction without any difference - not least because should somehow any of the "sides" to the debate prevail, within a generation at the very most it will have fragmented (again exactly for the reasons that make socialism not work in general) and you'd be exactly back where you started.
But, for the student of human stupidity, the national part does yield some pretty amusing artefacts in the vein of retrofitting of history to ideology - exactly in the way consumerist-socialism does it with all the "global warming" paralogies, but also with the added benefit of distance. Kinda hard to laugh at the queen's ridiculous headdress as a loyal subject of the crown, much easier to do looking at all those ridiculous maharajahs, isn't it ? So yes, to hear the remnants of that once ruling class go, "we come from the ducks who come from the trucks" aka "the entire world spawned in Romania millenia ago". Certainly puts in perspective all the nonsense coming out of the less educated, less civilised and therefore more active Arabs, Indians and so forth, doesn't it ? Not that it should surprise anyone that the same paleomythologies would echo all through the world of similarly minded people. [↩]
- Romanian used "tyrant" for this right after the Revolution, then "dictator" won out. Then a few years later it was just cup (aka ceasca, a very familiar contraction of the guy's name, and etymologically a false friend - his name comes from ceauș, a lowly Ottoman functionary, sort-of a doorman, not from cup). [↩]
- With the only difference that Russia was rid of Khrushchev within a few years, whereas Romania was stuck with Ceausescu for almost three decades. Towards the end, the original intellectual base (a lot more solid than contemporary and ulterior pious fraud would indicate) was collapsing under the weight of senility, resulting in episodes such as :
[...]I'm off to Moscow to sign the contract, I sign it and around noon Milea calls :
- Victor, come back quickly.
- Of course I'm coming back, not like I'm going to remain in [defect to] Moscow.
It was pretty sad there too, they were living worse than we did. And Milea said :
- Victor, don't sign the contract.
- That's done, I signed 10 am.
- Ouch, what do we do ? Come home quickly and I'll explain.
So I return and Milea tells me that Elena Ceausescu came into Ceausescu's office, stuck her hand in the pile of works on his desk, started going through them, throwing them around and making comments. "What do we need nine MIGs now, what does the Army* need airplanes for ? We've no money to pay the debts" and so on. "Let them not be bought anymore!" and she takes the thing out and blocks it.
Ceausescu sent the order along to Milea by phone, that the contract is of no further interest. I come back to Bucharest, Milkea tells me this and now we're confronted by a situaiton with no aparent outs, basically what they wanted was not to tell the soviets that the contract was off and instead simply not pay for it. No precedent existed for such a thing, the behaviour was turning into that of a state without credibility. This is an important point.
So I went to Stefan Andrei** and I say to him : "Look what befel us!" and he says to me :
- Tell Vasile to make the report again, exactly the same as it was***, send it on its way so it makes it to the pile on Ceausescu's table again. I'll pick it up in a month. ****
And indeed, three weeks later he had the approval we needed. Then he called me, gave it over and on this basis I could make the payments as per the contract. We ended up with 18 or 24 MIG 29s. But I didn't bring them for my own private enjoyment watching them fly, I brought them over to defend the country with them*****. I want you to understand my position. It's easy to say "Stanculescu was close to Ceausescu, or to Elena, and betrayed them" but one has to grasp how dangerous for the Romanian state Ceausescu had become, and her especially.
* In Romanian "Army" just means everything. The airforce is part of the army.
** Foreign Affairs minister at the time and a talented diplomat in any case.
*** You have to account for the state of technology at the time. No, that thing hadn't come out of a word processor, it had come out of a typewriter. Copies were not as trivial as "just print it again".
**** Think about it. A pile somewhere, with a one month lead-in. Because socialism does not work, that's why.
***** At a recent joint exercise with its the NATO allies, the Romanian pilots designated as the "enemy" through being the only ones actually flying MIGs managed to down everyone (cached), including the expensive US pilots, without being touched. This is how that started. [↩]
- The higher levels ended up either in prison or in the shadows, hence all sorts of national psychopathologies re "securistii". [↩]
- The commies had this habit of supposedly winning by 100%. A dubious accomplishment.
In any case, the original deal in the morrow of Ceausescu's beheading was that this thing is to be a caretaker to organise elections. Then it unilateraly decided to also run in them. People were pissed, leading to the Universitatii movement that summer - which is something you might wish to look into seeing how it's the prototypical "maidan" movement. Whether the NATO foreign affairs "experts" copied this original thing into their arsenal or actually had invented it prior and been trying to apply it since the 80s is still debatable, but the similarities remain striking. [↩]
- Amusingly, "Conserviative Party". The pocket party of an ex-communist media "magnate", in the sense of idiocy. [↩]
- Supposed continuators of the leading Romanian parties at the onset of World War II, the Liberal and the Peasant's parties. These were decapitated by the invading Russians back then, some scant septuagenarian survivors coming from exile for the occasion, Corneliu Coposu and Ion Ratiu perhaps the most notable among them. [↩]
- The guy turned out to be one of the most inept presidents Romania would ever have, in spite of having been touted as you know, "a break with the ills of the decade brought about by the refurbished commies". Think Carter plus Dan Quayle, captive in the body of Al Gore level of inept. [↩]
- The original 1990-1992 short term, then the 1992-1996 term makes two. The pretext was that "the first one didn't count", and it was alleged in the 2000s that perhaps the extension of the presidential term is at least in part so that Iliescu could get yet another one (because, again, the shorter ones don't count!).
This may seem outrageously improbable to you, especially if you came of age in a saner time. However, this inclination to grandiose if improbable design is a common flaw of socialists of all stripes, and quite characteristic of say the US socialist party under Obama. It flows quite naturally from the intellectual breakage engendered by their bizarro ideologies - once you accept the socialist utopianism as a mode of thought, no contact with reality is either probable or even possible for any sort of continuous interval. [↩]
- Romania's most famous closeted homosexual. Never came out, because reasons. [↩]
- And in some part for this reason. [↩]
- The famous "jumping scene" : Geoana Prostanacu' A Invins. If you're fluent in Romanian, the things Geoana says are extremely amusing to this day. He doesn't know he's lost yet. He thinks he's won. He lays it on pretty thick. [↩]
- A cocky, uncouth, clueless youth, and likely Nastase's ephebos. In any case, they publicly enjoy a "mentor-pupil" relationship.
On his own, the man is known for a political marriage of convenience (with Daciana Sarbu, the daughter of a major red party baron) and an extremely ridiculous affair where he tried to usurp the country president's role at Bruxelles, in spite of common sense as well as an extemporal ruling of the Supreme Court, only to be predictably refused access by the organisers, after which he had to swear before the special prosecutor prosecuting the matter that he was basically in town shopping and just you know, wandered in, with no intention, thus giving the lie to a few hours of collected prior footage showing him claiming the contrary. Otherwise, there's also the part where he acquired an unearned PhD (like everyone else in Romania), then claimed his PhD is legit and he'll resign if the matter is proven otherwise, then the matter was "proven" otherwise (entirely without merit, for that matter), so he's stuck with that dangler on his tail as well. [↩]
- Their only good king to date was named Matei, and was born in Cluj in the house of a Romanian by the name Iancu de Hunedoara. You should see his castle in Hunedoara by the way, it's the thing Disney kept copying during its classical period. [↩]
- With the help of bloggers at the time active around the fain project (a Romanian digg, only much better), we hacked (in the Auernheimer sense of that term) the servers of the local Ministry of Education, extracted the marks data for the entire country and published it all, by county (grep for "rezultate"), along with various stats later on (Average marks by gender ; Histogram by county ; List of Romania's best Highschools). As to this last one, if you're innocent of the country's ethnogeography : #1 is in the Eastern extreme, where that spot of blue is. #2, #3, #4, #5 and #6 are all in Transylvania. #7 is in the capitol of Moldavia, in the North-East).
The proximate cause was that the very inept Ministry in question was unable to keep a webserver up so kids could see their examination results (also they were trying to deploy some sort of flash atrocity), and so everyone was stuck walking to the examination centers to read the marks off a piece of paper in a window. The situation resulted in quite the stampede in many places, until the data went up on our sites at any rate.
Notwithstanding that nobody else in "the press" had the data, they nevertheless never cited us, because reasons - Trilema was never part of the bezzle, not the tiny one in Romania, not hence. Notwithstanding that nobody in the Ministry had statistics of the quality we published, nobody got fired either. Because again, reasons. [↩]
- They insistently call themselves "democrats" here too, lawl. [↩]
- Who was pretty much the devil incarnate, if you followed the press at all. They do this thing where they repeat the same stupid thing on and on and on each day and then tomorrow and the next for hundreds of days on end. Whether it's right or wrong no longer matters, what happens is that the receptor has to resolve the cognitive dissonance somehow, and that's either turning them off or accepting the nonsense, usually on some sort of nonoperant level. [↩]
- There had been no presidential debates in the first round. Then for the 2nd round, the reds invited the (at the time) 2nd place to a list of encounters, on sets of their various TV stations (Romania TV, Realitatea TV, B1 TV and Antena 3), to be moderated by [their] "journalists" (I don't think you can imagine what this means, but I think you'll see it soon enough in English too, the way things are going). The eventual winner answered that debates should happen on some sort of public forum, he's not going to some gangland stripclub to get mugged. He suggested the Parliament's building, but Ponta refused this counteroffer.
People nevertheless thought it silly to have an election without debates, and so a number of intervenients (the Presidency, the Vest University in Timisoara) proposed to host the debates. Iohannis readily accepted, Ponta refused. Eventually Iohannis did go to the socialist's "press" dens, where he [appeared to have] performed exactly as poorly as you'd expect. [↩]
- This was some self-congratulatory bit of wishfulthinking constantly repeated by the press in question at the time, because hey, if you believe it really-really hard it'll be the case! [↩]
- Sorry, Romanian idiomatics. Tough job. [↩]
- Presidential palace, ex residence of the Romanian kings. [↩]
- Indisputably the guy that wrote the software Romania runs on. [↩]
- Supposedly Romania's national poet. He's not bad, but allow me to recount an anecdote of my own life.
So, five years ago a Romanian "academician" (about in the sense Obama is a Nobel laureate), a leftover shithead from the communist days with absolutely no scholarly merits whatsoever by the name Eugen Simion delapidated a couple million dollars under the guise of creating a digital version of a large pile of manuscripts Eminescu left behind. The results of this process were appallingly poor (roughly speaking, a $5 CD filled with digicam shots of [some of] the pages in question, unsearchable, useless and in any case unavailable). The Romanian "intellectuals" wondered sterile-ly why is this not being prosecuted. So, I filed with the Romanian Anti-corruption Special Prosecutor's Office.
Needless to say, the matter was not actually prosecuted, and the guy didn't actually end up in jail. The "intellectuals" in question didn't find within their intellect the actual backbone to speak publicly, much prefering talking into their own asses as they were doing back in the old days - except back then with the much better sounding but ultimately hollow excuse that "they had no choice". This time they had a choice, but they... well... they choose not to run, I guess. Like last time.
Meanwhile, the "press" agents of the left (obviously, Eugen Simion was a key member of the PSD of the time, obviously, most of those millions went into their campaign finances, obviously etc, what'd you expect!) went into their usual "but who is this guy" (Mircea Dinescu, Mircea Badea etc), as if that's what matters in a fraud investigation. [↩]
- From French, appartenance. Belonging. [↩]
- Bogdan Hossu, forever "leader" of CNS „Cartel Alfa”, a syndicate. [↩]
- Serviciul de Protectie si Paza, roughly the equivalent of the US Secret Service. [↩]
- A point you're well advised to reflect upon. You may think that it does, currently, matter. But whence does this notion come ? Is it perhaps something you've heard ? Like where, on TV ? Is it something you've read ? On one of their websites ? Well... [↩]
- There were a string of TV-instigated "protests" and "manifestations", for years running. The picture there is funny because the guy in focus, Victor Ciutacu, has meanwhile left the reds, and so he's no longer mentioned, at all. Before leaving he was however a great and notable intellect of extreme importance. Funny how easily such things go away. The guy completely covered by his arm, in the red shirt (Mircea Badea), is still working, fifteen years later, saying the same things - and he's still a notable intellect, according to the reds.
But anyway : there were a string of such protests, they never amounted to anything notable, a few hundred people or whatever. The Romanian Revolution, which the press in question has been trying to emulate and claiming to emulate by contrast enjoyed a participation of two to five million, quite a different story.
In any case : the Romanian TV proved that it can't actually generate action, no matter how much effort it puts into trying. Bear in mind that the only difference between Romanian TV and your local TV on this score is that your local TV is not likely stupid enough to prove the matter. Otherwise, they're both equally incapable of generating action, and both equally inclined to lie about this simple fact. And it's not just a matter of TV, either. It's "the press". Because publicity is a complicated thing. [↩]
- This prediction came through, meanwhile. Consider : chick makes 1500 per show, 18k for the whole season, pre tax. And that's a star. [↩]
- Even funnier in retrospect : your press died, dear English speakers, to be replaced with a rehash of Romania's defeated cvasi-press of the 2000s. It's probably the same physical people, too, "professionals" with "experience", more than happy and well used to work for empty promises instead of salaries. The results visible in today's publications are certainly consistent with this theory. [↩]