We do learn from history but what we learn from history is generally slanted toward the things that concur with our prior prejudice. We tend to pick and choose the parts of history that suits our purpose. We seem to have an innate ability to ignore history that does not deliver our desired outcome. How else can we possibly explain our tendency to follow the policies and practices of societies and civilizations that have repeatedly and so miserably failed?
If you visit and browse nations of all political stripes and listen to their citizens then you will learn from recent history. You may begin to revisit your current wealth of knowledge for answers that seem to conflict with what you are witnessing first hand. You begin to challenge the origins of information that fly in the face of fact. It becomes disturbing to discover or rediscover the thoughts and observations of individuals such as Aristotle, John Adams, Oswald Spengler, Ayn Rand etc.
Equally disturbing is the realization that the source of that same dismissal of history is the smug suggestion that we are in modern times so this new ‘Age of Enlightenment’ protects us from the failures of the past.
Of all the despotic oligarchs perhaps Romania is one of the most pronounced example of political subjugation of its people. Lack of ‘Term Limits’ allowed Communist Party Leader Nicolae Ceausescu to turn Romania from the typical short lived benefit of socialism, with world leaders of the 70’s visiting and admiring Romania’s ‘Shining City on the Hill’ to its inevitable downfall into moral decay and devastation. You may well ask, how could this happen?
Ceausescu and his gaggle of know-it-alls placed an inordinate amount of resources and faith in the reputed supremacy of academia. Academia wilts like a flower in the face of corruption, cronyism, inane and debilitating rules and regulations. Over burdening the taxpaying citizens drove their underground economy, devoured their commerce, and generally impeded the country’s ability to meet its obligations.
The Ceausescu regime caused one of the most successful agricultural exporting nations of the Eastern Block into a nation that now must import much of its food. Academia tried but failed to replace Romania’s agri-expert farmers who fled the country primarily to farm in Spain. Now much of the county’s fields lie fallow.
Ceausescu scared away investment to such a degree that his abundance of oil and ‘Oil Export Revenue’ turned into the ‘Need to Import’.
As recently as spring 2010 nearly 500 doctors abandoned their home country of Romania.
Observing the consequences of not learning from History
As things tightened up and Romania began its decline the Ceausescu regime embarked on an ever escalating crusade to buy prosperity and to spend its way back to health. Their crowning achievement was the building of the world’s second largest building (second only to the US Pentagon) as the predominately vacant Romanian Parliament building. Is it possible that this privately desired edifice was the predictable final straw.
A study of Romanian communism within this autocratic/repression dialectical framework, examines the relationship between ideological fanaticism and public policy in the Ceausescu regime. It discusses the ways in which the regime used tactics of manipulation, persuasion, and repression to cope with threats it saw as simultaneously domestic and foreign. The theory behind this approach, therefore, could be applied to ANY OTHER cases of repressive, autocratic dictatorship.
Following their inability to hide financial abuse and fiscal failure the Ceausescu regime began a campaign to stifle descent, the right to free speech, and suppression of civil liberties. In desperation they began to use their secret police to chase down their own dissenting citizens for torture and murder. Many of the same communist individuals are still in charge but now they refer to themselves as socialists or liberals. They are still standing in the way of Romania’s progress by continuing with debilitating impediments. They have burdened their businesses into oblivion or migration.
On December 21, 1989 Ceausescu and his wife stepped out onto a balcony to receive accolades from a gathered crowd of 350,000. What they got were jeers and boos, a 2 hour trial on the 23
and were summarily executed by firing squad on Christmas morning!
Corruption is still part of daily life in Romania, with almost half of Romanians admitting to paying bribes.