Moldova: two and a half nations
BSSB.BE neweasterneurope.eu 22/01/2019
Danube Ex-USSR Moldova
* «All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.» George Orwell
Their rule lasted for almost nine years and were not the worst when it came to social policies. The rule of one party did block any chance of social mobility for a whole generation of young people, who looked towards Europe. Local business also had its ambitions and development hampered by the Voronin clan. In 2009, after a wave of protest, power was taken by four center-right parties.
The Democratic Party and the Our Moldova Alliance represented state patriotism. The Liberal Party was a unionist party, while the strongest Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova attempted to pursue a new idea that could be defined as European Moldovanism. The idea of European integration was the unifying component of that coalition.
There divide between a Romanian cultural identity and Moldovan patriotism was becoming clearer. In 2010 I asked the leader of the Liberal Democratic Party of Moldova, the then Prime Minister Vlad Filat about his attitude to Moldovan patriotism and the Romanian national idea. He answered that the sentiment towards Romanian culture does not contradict Moldovan patriotism, where the attachment to the state is fundamental.
“One could claim, that one speaks Romanian, while at the same time being a patriot of the Republic of Moldova. If an Austrian speaks German, it will not mean he is not an Austrian patriot” – he added. It seems most his supporters and the other parties in the coalition were of the same mind.
The ruling coalition was already under pressure in 2013, but the real collapse came in the beginning of 2015, with the aforementioned “theft of a century”, that infuriated Moldovans. No one had any illusions anymore, with the European idea just being a cover for oligarchs and politics to shamelessly loot and take over the state.
- Even if there were hopes in the beginning, the governing coalition did nothing in its six years in power to create a modern Moldovan patriotism. There were no new symbols or a common language that could build a community.
- The only ideal that was supposed to unite citizens was European integration. Unfortunately, their government had compromised that ideal in the eyes of many Moldovans with their disastrous rule.
The old electorate of the pro-European coalition, upset and disappointed, removed themselves from politics entirely or supported new pro-Western political forces that came about after the protests against the oligarchs. A an effect Moldova has been ruled by a duopoly of two theoretically opposing forces: The pro-European Democratic Party controls the government and parliament, while President Igor Dodona supports a closer relationship with Russia. The cheap anti-Russian rhetoric of the democrats is good for Dodon – while his love for the Russian world is supposed to create a notion that only the current government is able to defend Moldova against Russian tanks.
(De)constructing a nation
It is often written of the Moldovans that they are an artificial nation, an invention of Soviet politics. This is not the most important problem. Every nation is after all some kind of artificial social construct, that came to be in some historical period. Some nations went through this process earlier, while other later.
A hundred years before the Romanian state appeared, no one had ever thought such a nation exists. The Russian sociologist Dimitri Furman claimed the Soviet Union constructed and deconstructed nations simultaneously. The Moldovans are a clear example of this.
It is interesting that the independent Republic of Moldova somehow retains the function of its previous Soviet predecessor. The Moldovans have their own state, which in turn guarantees unique experiences and creates a feeling of unity in fate.
The local political-business elite is doing everything in its power to halt the finalisation of the formation of the nation. Chances to build state patriotism have been missed twice already. The political-business elite that kept on looking to the West had the same role as the “green barons” of the kolkhoz nomenclature. It is impossible to build state (civic) patriotism while dismantling the state. This is why it is hard to be surprised people chose emigration or see a better future for themselves and their children in a union with Romania or closer to Russia. A little bit like: let someone else come and fix it.
The lack of a coherent national identity is good for the local oligarchs because it moves geopolitical identities to the forefront, which in turn makes it easier to control the emotions of the wider society. The politics of Russia and the West enhances this phenomena further. In the end, both sides support their own geopolitical representation giving them a chance to pull through. It is hard to say if something could change this situation. Perhaps only a demographic disaster that would cause the elites not to have anyone to prey on. This scenario is very real. The prognosis points out that if this pace of depopulation continues, Moldova’s population could decrease with 44 per cent by 2050.
This is a shortened version of an article that first appeared in the Polish monthly “Znak” (nr 756, May 2018).
The publication is not an editorial. It reflects solely the point of view and argumentation of the author. The publication is presented in the presentation. Start in the previous issue. The original is available at: neweasterneurope.eu