Controversy follows death of Romanian poet

by Sandra Juncu

Romania stands divided, following the death of Adrian Paunescu, politician and poet, wept by some and blasphemed by others, sending the impression of a country still troubled by its communist past.

Adrian Paunescu next to Elena and Nicolae Ceausescu

The media and prominent political figures turned this event into a national tragedy but many voices are urging history not to forget who this man really was. Unfortunately the appeal against amnesia is taking a backseat and receives little or no press coverage, raising the alarming question of the real progress Romania has made in twenty one years since the fall of communism and casting a shade of doubt upon the unbiased and neutral character of the fourth estate.

Adrian Nastase, leading member of the powerful social democrat party PSD, ( politician with a dubious past of his own, after being involved in corruption scandals) offered his deepest sympathies, commenting: “If the Gods of Olymp could live amongst humans and geniuses do the same from time to time – Adrian Paunescu came to stay with us for a while (…)”

To his admirers, Adrian Paunescu is a talented poet who should not be judged by his faults, but in the light of his good deeds. He  published countless volumes and went on to be a Senator after the fall of communism. His televised funeral attracted high ratings and a crowd of over a thousand people who came to pay their respects.

Train Basescu, the Romanian President, declared that hearing the news of his passing saddened him: “I received this news with sadness. Through his literary activity, the poet will remain in the memories of those who appreciated the craft of his creations, his constant plead for national values and the generosity with which he promoted generations of young poets and artists.”

Adrian Paunescu was not a simple artist that lived during the dictatorship of Nicolae Ceausescu, he was his poet laureate and became, through dedication to the cause and countless odes sang  to the communist leader, one of the most luminous artistic figures of this dark era in Romanian history. Infamous letters and lyrics dedicated to Ceausescu, his wife, family and the Party stand evidence of the extent of his political affiliation. One of these letters was discovered and published by Romanian newspaper “Cotidianul” in 2008; it contains, among other words of adulation, passages such as “Long live your Highness!”, “you have a divine spark within and you are being led forward by personal genius”, “i never doubted your great love for the truth” and “so young and so courageous, so lucid, such a realist”. All of this was happening at the same time as anti-communist dissidents who were fighting for their right to free speech and other basic human rights were jailed, tortured or assassinated by the regime.

Twenty one years ago people revolted against the system in a bloody revolution, even if this freedom came at a crippling price. Adrian Paunescu lived a privileged life during communist times and continued to do so after, denying his extreme praise of the regime and keeping close connections to other ex-communists. This is why a part of the country’s population is outraged at the fact that he was walked down the last path with military honors. Even if the journalists decided to keep quiet about this story, blogs and independent news forums ( such as Hotnews.ro) counted high numbers of readers, posts and comments, speaking out against, as one headline reads, “the dead winner“.

In an attempt to raise awareness, Prof. Vladimir Tismaneanu, a Romanian and American political scientist, comments on his blog: “Adrian Paunescu was not just <a man on a ladder>. He was a man trying (and actually succeeding) to climb on the ladder of power and to obtain a unique status in the drab Romania of those years, to envelop a sordid and humiliating reality in the vestments of initially seductive metaphors, that proved later on to be gongoristic and pompous. His talent died out because he abandoned it. Anyway, Adrian Paunescu was not just a poet (good or bad, by personal preference), but an earnest publicist, magazine editor and animator of public shows in which he would praise the dictatorship. He was one of the architects of the Ceausescu-esque utopia, he himself was an institution in that dictatorship.”

‘Capitalism: A Love Story’

Capitalism A Love Story

The 'American dream'

by Scott Norton

Michael Moore’s new documentary, ‘Capitalism: A love Story’ , attempts to broach the subject of corporate greed in American society and begins by illustrating the fact that one percent of the population in America control ninety-six percent of the wealth. Moore’s latest movie is thought provoking as well as extremely moving in the way that it puts a face to the victims of the ongoing recession, but, it reeks of hypocrisy on the part of Moore, who no doubt earns a pretty penny from intellectual property rights. Moore is a great social commentator, yes, his crude tactics attract the public’s attention, yes, but unfortunately this movie does not deal with the real reasons behind capitalism’s failure.  Mankind’s greed!

He, Moore, points the finger at the major corporations and the banking system. He lays blame solely at the feet of the wealthy one percent and rightly condemns the underhand practices of big business. But, while these are the men and women (mostly men) who control the economy and perpetuate wealth inequality, it is the majority who cling to the ideal of the ‘American dream’ who allow these inequalities to continue and prosper. Moore has bypassed or omitted the simple fact that everyone wants this wealth and neglects to criticise the protectors of capitalist society; his viewers the people.

‘Capitalism: A love Story’ is a shallow attempt at addressing serious issues concerning not only Americas economic society, but every capitalist society in the world. It glosses over the fact that it is everyone’s greed, and not just corporate greed, that has led to booming house prices and record levels of individual debt.Tracing the rise of Capitalism and depicting the struggles of those worst effected by the recent economic recession is all well and good but this documentary only skims the subject and uses almost ludicrous tactics to captivate the viewer’s attention. Wrapping wall street in crime scene tape and standing outside banks with a a dollar sign bag declaring that you want the taxpayers money back serves only one purpose, publicity. I have no doubt that Moore believes he is opening the American publics eyes to the problems facing capitalist society but, he surely must realise the hypocrisy of his argument when he deposits his royalties cheque in the same banks he is protesting against.

Moore is correct however. Capitalism no longer works for the majority, if it ever did, and it will be up to us, the people, to come up with an alternative that does. Socialism and Communism are two already available alternatives to Capitalism but neither has been proven to be any better than that which we have already embraced. In the working models of Socialism and Communism we can clearly witness the inequalities already evident in our own society, so it should not only be our goal, it should be our duty to provide an original working alternative to our failed Capitalist experiment.

It is our duty as members of society, regardless of race, class, religion or political standpoint, to ensure that individual economies, as well as the world economy, are  built upon a foundation that will not crumble under pressure, will not discriminate and perpetuate inequality and, most of all, will provide every man woman and child the opportunity, at least, to succeed in life and enjoy freedoms which we claim, as democratic societies, to already possess. Inequalities have only widened and it is high time that these inequalities are addressed properly without the aid of gimmicks and publicity stunts.

A Triumph for Capitalism?

By Ben Graham

20 years ago, East and West Germany were united in jubilant celebration as the Berlin wall was demolished. Thousands that had not seen their family and friends since the wall was first erected in August of 1961, were allowed their first glimpse of life on the other side of the wall.

This week marked the 20th anniversary of the momentous occasion, with firework displays and parties throughout the city to celebrate. There is even a 1500 piece domino toppling set to mark the chain of events that led to the collapse of the communist instated iron curtain. The irony is clear in the use of dominoes; once used to represent the way one country after another would topple the world into communism, now seen as a metaphor for the means by which each communist country seemed to follow suit and abandon its basic societal structure.

It was on this day 20 years ago that the press conference in which travel restrictions for those in East Germany were lifted by the SED government, leading to the destruction of the wall and the signaling of the end of communism in Germany.

However, this day is not to be seen as the day capitalism triumphed over communism, or the day the West broke down barriers set up by Eastern European communists. instead this day should be remembered for its biggest impact upon modern society, namely the re-uniting of families and communities that should not have been separated nearly half a century ago.

For many, the fall of the Wall represented the fall of the threat of communism, the end of The Cold War and the beginning of better understanding between countries. Yet the years following East and West Berlin’s reunion has seen a number of conflicts and tensions arise, suggesting perhaps that even without the threat of communism the West simply can’t feel safe.

One thing for certain is that those celebrating in Berlin tonight have the best reason to be jubilant. While many in the West celebrate this day as a landmark in the fight against communism, the citizens of Berlin are simply celebrating the bringing together of a country that has been ravaged by both war and occupation, and the hope of moving on to a better, undivided future.

China to strengthen ties with outcast neighbour North Korea

by Christian McBride

China has committed to strengthening ties with it’s politically outcast neighbour North Korea. This can be seen as a move on the part China to keep a potentially volatile neighbour close to them in  to avoid potential future aggravation. North Korea having recently driven forward in its missile test program, having successfully test launched missiles theoretically capable of reaching well into Japan, China and Russia against the will of the UN it can potentially grow into a threat if left out of the political community.

This should not be seen so much as Communist countries banding together as they had done under the 20th centuries communist bloc. The older communist alliances were bound together by ideology where as Dr Luke March, a political lecturer at Edinburgh University specialising in Soviet and post Soviet relations, observes that “North Korea is some what an aging communist dinosaur, clinging to a ‘retro’ style of communism, where as in China it’s pretty much a capitalist country with a communist party in power, it’s just a label.” However other regional powers have pressed on Beijing to use crucial control over supplies on energy and other resources to North Korea in order to curtail Pyongyang’s missile development program.

This development does give rise to some political heat in the wake of recent actions by India and South Korea undercutting recent easing of tensions with North Korea. But recent actions have gone towards the easing of Nuclear tensions.

photo courtesy of coxandforkum

photo courtesy of coxandforkum

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