I was elated but very suspicious when communism failed suddenly in Eastern Europe in 1989. I suspected that the communist elites had decided to go underground to recoup and gain the trust of the west while attempting to rebuild their ranks.
The communists’ economic system of surplus was such a dismal failure that it was necessary to hide for a while. People were starving literally and figuratively for capitalism, economic freedom, personal freedom, religious freedom, and a better life for their families. They had reached the breaking point where suffering would change into revolt.
The Romanian military finally turned against their handlers and joined the exploited and long-suffering citizens, deposing the brutal and totalitarian regime with its despised dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena.
The former communist rulers and underlings scurried like rats, forgetting to destroy all the damning evidence and documents collected over decades of terror, describing the utter depravity of power and abuse against unarmed and defenseless citizens, who were tortured, imprisoned, killed, and their personal possessions, savings, guns, homes, and land confiscated.
Thus began the difficult road to build a free market, a democratically elected government, and to recoup through the justice system the wealth confiscated by the communist goons.
The problem was that those in power were still the former communist elites who had given themselves new titles and affiliations to various parties that were now forming the fragile and corrupt parliamentary democracy.
One former communist party apparatchik after another took the helm of the country. Money borrowed from the west and earmarked for economic development seemed to disappear overnight. The new rulers started amassing vast fortunes and companies with the money and property confiscated from innocent citizens accused of political dissent during the prior communist regime.
The former proletariat (the workers – and we were all workers) benefited in several ways, primarily in the increased standard of living.
1. Thousands of churches were built, Bibles and religion could be practiced openly again.
2. The borders opened to the European Union and a mass exodus of temporary workers commenced.
3. Food became plentiful – no more bare shelves, endless daily lines, fights over food, and empty markets. Well-stocked supermarkets and malls opened in larger towns.
4. Higher education became more accessible to all and tuition was low. When it was free, communist party members’ children had first choices.
5. Primary and secondary education became globalized, Romanian history forgotten, while students were more and more alienated from their own cultural identity, encouraged and prompted to become “global citizens.”
6. The gypsy population, the Doma people who call themselves Rroma, migrated back and forth to the EU in search of work and lucrative businesses in the West.
7. People could now afford to take trips and vacations abroad and were allowed to do so.
8. Citizens were no longer watched by the Security Police all the time.
9. The population was free to own guns, hunt, and fish.
In spite of some progress, no accountability was put in place because people did not understand democracy, having been ruled by one tyrant after another over the centuries. People were indentured slaves from the moment they were born.
We did not own anything – the communist elites staked their claim to other peoples’ homes, land, anything on the farm, chickens, pigs, cows, milk, goats, sheep, vegetables, corn, wheat, eggs, cheese, or whatever a farmer produced.
Citizens welcomed capitalism with open arms – it was a new era they dreamed about from movies they had seen on TV and popular series like Dallas. Things began to privatize and the political class was born from the seeds of the former commies now turned into venture capitalists with other people’s money.
Without any vote or referendum, the political class started to dismantle and sell, piece by piece, the aging and non-profitable communist industrial base, factories, steel plants, refineries, oil wells, minerals, coal mines, gold mines, and to cut down forests for timber. The money was pocketed and shared with other politicians who proceeded to build a huge population control machine – cabinets and agencies meant to control and terrorize, much more powerful than the previous communist dictatorship.
When the money was spent and the economic crisis ensued, the political class cut salaries 25 percent and pensions 15 percent. The people objected to this forced austerity vehemently, but nobody listened to them. The political class was in trouble and needed more money.
The political class spent the public money, billions and billions of dollars, and all they had to show for were ill-designed infrastructure projects, roads full of potholes, high unemployment, interstates that few people could afford to use, and walking around money for meager briberies for low information voters who were used to the communist nanny state and were unable to think or care for themselves independently. Historical buildings were left to crumble and rust, museums to decay, factories were abandoned, and streets turned into slaloms of pothole avoidance.
The corrupt political class dismantled the old regime and created new institutions, not because the country could not exist or run without them, but because cronies wanted special business treatment, special interests, a special position, or a title they’ve always dreamed of holding without much education, merit, or effort and were willing to pay.
Every year the new legislative coalition created new organizations, new structures, new bosses, new state secretaries, undersecretaries, new ministers, mayors, prefects, new institutions, and an ever richer industrial complex.
The former members of the political class never went away, they remained in the system and bloated it, corrupt and without a moral compass, disregarding the law, evading taxes, bribing, and further corrupting the entire political class system.
The economy was always in a state of collapse under communism. The population welcomed “capitalism” with a child-like naiveté and enthusiasm. They woke up eventually when they realized that this capitalism was of the crony variety. The neo-communists and their crony capitalists pushed the theft and corruption to the highest level.
Government is now huge, turned into a monster by the political class while the people have watched helplessly, unable to stop its growth and escalation of power. The former commies and the new recruits are now the crony capitalists and the political class.
The few honest politicians get lost in the struggle for power. The political class is composed of parties of liberals, democrats, social democrats, national liberals, communists, labor, and other prominent minorities that dictate policies for the entire country.