Icons, old and new - (pages 7 - 8)
You sell the wool for only one French franc, as this is all you can afford, but when you buy it back, it costs you twenty. Where do you take the other nineteen French francs? You make this sum by selling some other products, for instance wheat. However, wheat is obtained with hard work and brings little profit. For getting a grain of wheat, you must work a whole summer. Everything depends on rain and wind, while foreign tradesman processes wool, so increasing its value ten times in ten hours. That is why the peasant has to work a whole summer, in order to pay for a luxury object ordered abroad.
The quality of industrial work is different. An artist paints a beautiful icon, then sells it and, for ten years, he can live like a real gentleman. A woodcutter works day in, day out, and hardly can live from hand to mouth. There is such a difference between the two kinds of work! The former one works with ease and pleasure and earns a lot of money, while the latter works hard and earns very little. Is there any resemblance between the two? Could the woodcutter ever equal the artist, though his work is worth so little? This is the case of our nation, too. We agree that a wheat producer nation should live decently, but it will never afford the luxury of industrialized nations.
It is obvious that we should not remain an agricultural nation, but become an industrialized one, at least to meet our own needs. First things first. First, we should be an industrialized nation and only afterwards we could have the laws and the institutions of the industrialized nations.
For example, let us say that somebody has a palace and his revenue comes only from a fifty-acre strip of land. Could that person live like a lord and have many servants for this revenue?
So: what does an agricultural nation mean, as compared to an industrialized nation? It is like comparing a hardworking ordinary peasant to a landlord owing 100,000 acres of land.
No mater how smart, communicative and industrious the peasant might be, he still cannot afford to live like a boyar. It is obvious to any wise person in what way we managed to implant those foreign institutions in our country. These manoeuvres are far too expensive for us.
After having seen that sovereignty, liberty, equality and fraternity cost us half a billion French francs in debts and eighty million French francs a year, let us now see how much the robbing past government of the landlords cost us, such a poor people.
This cost amounted to around 22 millions for both provinces governed by two rulers. Maybe this sum was spent on nothing. The poor and badly governed population might have perished more quickly than today and during the famine people might have died in the streets. Let us see.
We open Curierul romanesc (Romanian Messenger) of August 5, 1840 and read the following: 139,263 people were born and 90,207 died between 1837 and 1839. This means that, in less than three years,the population has increased by 48,993 people (let us say 50,000 to round it) only in Wallachia. In Moldavia we could talk of about 40,000, as the population increased regularly, the same as in Wallachia.
However, the population grows in geometric, not in arithmetic progression. If landlords had been still governing, nowadays we should have had around four million inhabitants, but we actually have less than four million, so the Romanian population is less numerous than in 1840.
What else can we read in Curierul romanesc? Let us see: Along the last three years 4,441,106 kilograms of corn and 299,700 kilograms of millet were stocked in warehouses. What do we have in our barns now, apart from as many kilograms of liberal empty talk? Anyway, what can we read further?
The income of village treasuries has been lately registered around 2,357,483 lei. How much money do we have in the village treasuries now? We have debts and only debts, as nowadays even rural communities owe 10,000 to 20,000 francs and the state owes five hundred millions.
According to liberals, ruling landlords stole and were rather harmful to nation. Let us suppose they are right and landlords were the worst people of all. This supposition costs us nothing and pleases the liberals. Yet, it is certain that the population was then on the increase. During those years of crisis, people did not starve, as there used to be many weddings and baptisms and people enjoyed anniversaries and feasting Still, maybe today we have more legal guarantees for justice. Let us see.
Somebody finds a wallet before the owner loses it. What is the judicial consequence?
The mentioned crime is exposed. Afterwards, first the mayor beats up the culprit, then the peasant is arrested and misses ten workdays, estimated at one French franc each. This way, the man wastes ten French francs in all. The attorney spends some days on this case, instead of dealing with a more complicated case, so we have to add some other ten francs wasted. We could count already twenty French francs. The judgement in court costs ten more francs, so we have thirty French francs by now. The accused one is sent to prison for two summer months, where each day is worth one franc. So we have sixty francs and the final sum that we obtain is ninety French francs. The prisoner goes back home, where his plot and vineyard are overrun with weeds. All his summer work is useless and his loss amounts to one hundred French francs, so the total loss is one hundred ninety francs. The man pays the taxes, and then he will be broke for a few years, just because he found a wallet lost by another. Let us not mention again that he was also beaten.
Nevertheless, how was it in the past?
X reported Y's deed to the landlord and he got his wallet back. Y was flogged in order to be taught a lesson, then he was set free to go and mind his own business. He was punished rapidly, honestly and for free. Nowadays, he is beaten a couple of times and he also loses everything he owns.
Then did we really need French laws? When fencing off a part of the neighbours' land, fishing in a forbidden pond or having some profit out of a mill, the French laws about "lapis" now judge us. Did we really need all those thousands of lawyers, thousands of mayors and vice-mayors, notaries and councils?
This is indeed the reasoning of a stupid person. What do we have in exchange? A greater culture maybe?
Not at all. If we judge a culture by its writers, then I am afraid we must admit that Eliad and Asachi were ten times better educated than Mr. C. A. Rosetti, Mr. Costinescu, Mr. Carada or Mr. Fundescu. Similarly, Anton Pann was more talented and wittier than one hundred bastards now showing their 'esprit' in the newspapers. In the same respect, any comedy written by C. Balacescu is more original than all Mr. V.A. Ureche's writings. We should not forget that the generation of vicious landlords included our best writers till now: Alecsandri, C. Negruzzi, Bolintineanu, Donici, Balcescu and so many others. We should also remember that people spoke a beautiful language that both the king and the peasant could understand. And people really obeyed what the king decided. Law was law, indeed, unlike today.
Nowadays the king gives orders to the dog, the dog to the cat, the cat to the mouse and the mouse hangs the orders to its tail.