When discussing corruption, my view is that Romanian corruption is not much higher than elsewhere, when comparing apples to apples. It irks me to hear people who try to motivate their compatriots with calls to make “corruption” like and idyllic West, because in so doing, they prove they do not know much about the West (or they have misunderstood what they’ve learned), and are also selling short their own country.
I’m afraid Gabriel Liiceanu, whom I’ve (sort of) met a while back, is becoming Romania’s Bill Cosby. Let me explain.
When people say Cosby’s name, they think of the sexual assault allegations. I don’t. I think of some sort of father figure, who gained a following and some notoriety as a result of his media exposure, used it to give unsolicited advice to “his people” (e.g., telling black people to stop speaking in Ebonics and to “start working”), only to spectacularly fall from grace when details of his own ethical lapses started to come to the fore.
Just like Cosby, Mr Liiceanu is famous (among other things) for having penned an “appeal to toadies” (ro: Apel către lichele), initially published as an essay, then parlayed into a book published at the publishing house he leads (PDF), from the height of a questionable ethical stature. The essay reverberates even today (evz-apel).
Throughout the years, Mr Liiceanu kept up the same overly judgemental attitude toward the issues of the Romanian agora, and to my mind, that is not a bad thing. Criticism is good. But whenever the critic allows his exigency to lapse, his entire demarche suffers. And it is especially cringe-worthy to discover that he treats his own trespasses far less severely than those of his targets.
Case in point: Mr Liiceanu gave a speech at the European Parliament where he quoted Liviu Dragnea as having said something the latter did not (bonus: it was about Kovesi). This allowed Mr Dragnea to claim, in successive Facebook posts, that this was an unwarranted attack not only on him, but on Romania’s image (fb-dragnea1, fb-dragnea2).
Noticing that the latter’s Facebook name is a domain name, I tried visiting it, getting instead the 403 error that is the first image, a screenshot. I think it is emblematic for the ethical errors in this matter.
So what are the full implications? I would first have to give Mr Liiceanu some brownie points for distinguishing between the “great” and the “little” corruption. In all fairness, the two are often interrelated: when I decided to fight against a small case of poor customer service in the tourism industry, I’ve discovered farther ramifications.
To be soon continued.
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