“In 1989, Communism finally collapsed,” writes Mihail Neamţu, a Romanian thinker and public intellectual, in this week’s Acton Commentary. “On our first official post-communist Christmas holiday, my family was hoping that the political landscape of Eastern Europe would quickly be shaped by healthy democratic institutions, secure private property and free trade, economic competition, as well as a robust sense of personal responsibility.”
Nearly 20 years later, the anticipated reforms have been abandoned, the economy sputters, and Romanian society remains stubbornly statist:
State monopolies still govern the transportation, healthcare, energy, and education sectors. Local governments do not embrace merit-based individual mandates for mayors, school principals, and hospital managers. Nepotism and profligacy are rampant. However, the most lethal threat to this young democracy comes from the undermining of the independent judiciary. In recent years, various courts have sentenced to jail a large number of media tycoons and Members of Parliament, including the former Prime Minister Adrian Năstase. The Socialist Party, which is currently in power, wants to reverse this trend abruptly.
Neamţu reveals the depths of Romania’s hardships, and the reason he’s optimistic that a free and virtuous society may yet take root in his home country, in this week’s Acton Commentary. Read his full commentary here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton Commentary and other publications here.
(Photo credit: An anti-corruption protester holds a sign saying, “Don’t legalize thieves” in Bucharest in January 2017. Mihai Petre. This photo has been cropped. CC BY-SA 4.0.)