Romania Of Rebirth, 1939

Speech delivered at the 28 June 1939 session of the Chamber of Deputiesexcerpts (...) We have had, esteemed members of the Chamber, Parliaments that claimed to be speaking in the name of democracy, and were all eagerly flaunting their concern for the working class or for the peasantry. Yet I wonder: when did these two social classes ever have a real, authentic representation? Now and again two or three candidates would show up, barely squeezing out of the administrative terror, two or three peasant coats would occasionally turn up. It took the present regime to facilitate the admittance to the Assemblies of an important number of workers and craftsmen.It was necessary for this regime to come to power for this unusually large representation of the peasantry to become possible. I confess that I am filled with pride when I glimpse villagers from all corners of the country sitting in these benches – from Bukovina and Banat, from Bessarabia and Wallachia, from Transylvania and from the seaward lands. There have been, esteemed Deputies, such Parliaments that claimed to be representing the bourgeoisie.But, as often as not, trade and industry were represented by lawyers. For the first time these categories have now a notable participation in the Parliament.This is why I said that we have in the current Parliament the first true national representation and this is why I am deeply grateful to be addressing such an Assembly, whose life is now guaranteed.But, esteemed Deputies, how have we come to be in this plight? What exactly brought it along? And by what means was the new regime established? With your leave I will dwell for a moment on this matter and explain my understanding of this process.First, esteemed Deputies, the old regime was not overturned. It fell of its own accord. The old regime was not chased away, but was forsaken by its own agents.It is an interesting aspect to underline because it also explains why the new regime was so enthusiastically saluted by the country and why the former regime is beyond restoration. Yes, esteemed Deputies, early last year the signs of disintegration were already obvious. How had this state of decay been reached? It would take too long to outline the evolution. I, for one, reckon it can be brought down to three facts. Personal ambitions had divided the country into seventeen rival factions. The fights between them had caused individuals to fall into disrepute. And the obsession with power had cast the concern for national interests into the background. The complete impotence of the political parties became obvious with the December 1937 elections, when a majority government could no longer be constituted. Then also became obvious the absence of any sincere ideal, of any political creed. The most bizarre coalitions did away with even the possibility of an ideological orientation. The very foundation of the party regime was undermined by the petty calculations of the leaders. In that gaping void, what could the solution be?Gentlemen, a last attempt was made then. From all popular manifestations, a general preference for the nationalist idea had clearly emerged. It was natural therefore to resort to a formula that fitted with this trend. A man was brought aboard whose worth as a human being was beyond debate and today I honor a debt and from this platform I bring pious homage to the talent, patriotism and Romanian spirit of Octavian Goga. But what could one man do in those moments, as long as he was forced to keep to the old tracks? The dissolution process was far too advanced. And then we witnessed a number of actions that proved that, at the core, the political parties were beyond redress when it came to the great interests of the State.They stuck to the old club preoccupations. Thus demagogy ran riot. At some point we had come to have up to one thousand public meetings a day! Villages had all been invaded. The most suspicious of elements, hiding behind individual liberties, were out and about stirring the spirits. Bloody incidents proliferated. It would have taken the whole army going after the propagandists for order to be established. And in the meanwhile signs of disbelief multiplied. In a matter of days several billions had been withdrawn from bank deposits. Then the person who is addressing you today took upon himself the burdensome task of maintaining order. I believe, esteemed Deputies, that never has any politician been faced with a more difficult choice.Still I wavered not. I reckoned that I had the patriotic duty to give an exact account to my Sovereign of the real situation in the Country.Gentlemen, in order that this historic moment should be made clear, I have to declare that the smallest details were known, their meaning weighed and solutions contemplated. In the midst of the confusion, of the general discouragement and cowardice, a single man stood calm, resolute and unhesitating: His Majesty the King. And if ever in the course of the history of this country the Crown has truly acted as a savior through its role as an arbitrator, through a courageous initiative, that role was fully enacted on 10 February 1938. We were standing, esteemed Deputies, on the brim of the abyss. Before us loomed two choices: either to wage civil war or to submit to strangers. And in that hour the King saved the Country!At once that memorable government was formed, which brought together the former Council Chairmen, and was headed by our venerable Patriarch. And they started to build the new regime, at a pace and with a deployment of energy truly unsuspected. The whole country stirred. It sufficed one decisive act for our nation to regain its peace. And the plebiscite on 24 February was but the expression of the unanimous aspiration for renewal and salvation. What was the method adopted by the Government in these new circumstances? What were the means?There has been talk, esteemed Deputies, of dictatorship. Words have no sway over me. But, pray, what kind of dictatorship is that? Instead of demagogical tolerance, which yesterday masked the fulfillment of personal interests, we have placed authority in the service of state interests.Individual liberty? Very well! I would like to ask who in this country has ever been hindered from developing their own personality, from exercising their profession, who has ever been prevented from earning their living? So, human liberties, indeed!But the liberty of debauchery, the liberty to destroy the Country, never!Therefore, reestablishing order, strengthening the idea of authority, restoring the rights of the state; this is the first task of the new regime.Esteemed Deputies, what also characterizes our regime, what constitutes its idiosyncrasy and its worth at the same time is that it consisted neither of a new political party defeating the old ones, nor of a new social class or generation replacing others, as has happened elsewhere. No, our revolution was rather a revolution of the hearts, a change of mentality, a wonderful reassessment of consciences. It immediately involved everyone active in the country. That is why you have seen the same process illustrated in three successive manifestations. The plebiscite raised over 99% of the entitled voices in favor of this regime. Enrollment in the Front of National Rebirth, and the latest legislative elections when the voters' participation was exceptionally high, came to reinforce the process already complete in the hearts of the people. I can see in the current Chambers, alongside so many new faces, all the personalities who have had a valuable contribution in the past. The mobilization is now general. Was there anywhere anyone who expressed disbelief or skepticism? I do not know. Maybe there was. But I confess, gentlemen, that this is something that does not concern me in the least. In fact, from the very first moment, every time someone asked me what I thought of certain oppositional elements and what steps I would take against them, I gave an invariable answer: none, because this opposition is of no interest.And, gentlemen, I did that neither out of ignorance of the realities, nor out of disdain. No, indeed. I said that out of the conviction that, with a revolution like the one we have had, it is the active principle, not negativism, that must always prevail.And indeed, who could have started a contrary movement? Leaders of the old parties? They had failed in their own time. The negative spirit, the lack of impetus and lifelessness brought them down just when they were controlling it all. Could such people resurface in an age when precisely vitality and audacious initiative were in demand? Besides, what could they have risen for? To get where? To a situation similar to the catastrophe they had led us to? Therefore, inability and impotence were to bring the country back to where it was supposed to perish. You see, gentlemen, these are things that go against nature, things one need not fight, for they collapse on their own. And there are manifestations that sound like sinister echoes of sad and desolate times.This is why I stated that, by virtue of a vital principle, the country is going forward and looks sympathetically down on the few unable to dissimulate the bitterness caused by things lost forever because of their own errors.The country moves forward, esteemed Deputies, for what characterizes the spirit of the times and what the new regime has succeeded in giving this country is optimism.Yes, gone is that mentality whereby criticism was a dogma, denigration was the main preoccupation and disheartenment and panic-mongery had the very soul of the nation paralyzed.Now this nation has regained due faith in its own strength, in its own merits, in the part it has to play and in future. But, esteemed Deputies, mention ought to be made that the serious internal crisis that we have gone through was concurrent with the foreboding signs of great turmoil in the rest of Europe.We were weak at the very moment when clouds were gathering on our borders and issues were raised that might have put Romanian interests at stake. I have said it once, I am repeating it now. What would have happened if international events had caught us divided and downhearted? What would have been the odds? Could it be that our own weakness would have rendered the adversities stronger?Such questions as these give even greater historic significance to the 10 February act. By restoring internal order and national solidarity it managed to put the Romanian nation and state in a position where they could bounce back and defend themselves in the most troubled international context, and why should we not lay modesty aside and say that this new Romanian situation contributed to European equilibrium. Besides, this is the unanimous belief. Suffice it to see and listen to the numerous foreign delegations that have visited us on the occasion of several national events, to grasp the esteem and admiration they express towards our renewed country.It suffices to follow the accounts in the written press in all countries to come across echoes of the same impressions. It suffices to see the interest awakened by the mere presence of our emissaries abroad.Decidedly, never before has Romania enjoyed such prestige beyond its borders, and it is with justified pride that I have to emphasize it.Our foreign politics? It is very clear. Esteemed Deputies, in the wake of bloody sacrifices twenty years ago we have succeeded in having all the territories inhabited by Romanians, that were ours by rights, acknowledged; thus the Romanian state achieved its unity as a nation. Henceforth Romania was no longer to claim any territories beyond its borders; it was to make politics of peace. It had to develop inside, from a social and economic point of view, by making good use of its numerous and various riches and by improving the livelihood of the people.A tranquil endeavor, therefore. One that could be achieved also with peaceful contributions from without. Naturally, our assets are to be employed exclusively for the completion of our historic mission. But exchanges of goods with other countries are necessary and useful undertakings. To this effect we have at one point concluded a Convention with Germany. I have presented before to the National Council of the Front the economic significance of this document and the advantages we are entitled to expect of it. One thing only will I now repeat: the government is determined to apply this Convention in all honesty.I also said back then, in order to clarify the importance of this convention, that it was not exclusive in character and that we were willing to conclude similar agreements with other states.And indeed it was not long before we signed two economic conventions of great importance with France and England. Therefore, as I stated from the very beginning, we had every freedom to deal with economic issues wherever our own interests demanded it. This is, esteemed Deputies, the state of our politics of peace and our economic relations with the other states. As for political relationships, our foreign policy is dictated by one preoccupation and one preoccupation alone: the defense of our borders.

by Armand Călinescu (1893-1939)