Blaming the Victim

I’ve been keeping my hands clean of the quagmire of Moldovan politics for a while, but this and this is simply too outrageous to ignore.

My translation:

The speaker of the Parliament, Andrian Candu, who is the godson of the oligarch Vladimir Plahotniuc, said that it is the citizens of the Republic of Moldova who are truly to blame for a culture of widespread corruption.
“When a child is born, the parents bribe the doctor. Later, the parents give a bribe to get their kid into kindergarten, elementary school, high school and then the university. At that point, the citizen has learned how to be corrupt. Through our own behavior, we have created corruption.”

Holy shit!

This kind of logic is evil because it seems like it makes sense when you first look at it. Sure, the majority of Moldovans have been involved in giving bribes or taking some kind of payment “under the table” or doing something else not strictly in line with the official rules. But if you think about it for a second, you realize that these ordinary people are responding to a corrupt system, not the primary cause of it.

Sociologists call it blaming the victim. If a burglar breaks into your home, it’s your fault that you didn’t secure it better. If someone sexually assaults you, it’s your fault for not trying harder to resist. And if your kid needs to get into a good school, it’s your fault for paying off a teacher or administrator.

The modern use of the phrase comes from a book written by William Ryan in 1971 called Blaming the Victim. His book deals with how African-Americans in the United States are blamed for social problems, but the theory has been widely adopted for a number of different situations.

A quote from the book:

The humanitarian can have it both ways. He can, all at the same time, concentrate his charitable interest on the defects of the victim, condemn the vague social and environmental stresses that produced the defect (some time ago), and ignore the continuing effect of victimizing social forces (right now). It is a brilliant ideology for justifying a perverse form of social action designed to change, not society, as one might expect, but rather society’s victim.

That’s Candu’s mentality exactly: it’s not society and the people in power in that society who need to change, it’s the little people who go around paying bribes who need to change. And he’s the “humanitarian” just trying to help the poor widdle people of Moldova.

The F-Scale

What makes this all worse is that Candu is being toted as the Great White Hope, the “inside” guy who is both pro-European Union and also a member of the “opposition”, aligned with the Socialists and others who see the current government as illegitimate (which it is). Candu is the leader of the “Truth and Dignity” (DA in Romanian, which means “yes” in both Russian and Romanian) Coalition that’s supposed to be the “great compromise” between the Russian-leaning Socialists and the loathed pro-EU faction that is tied to widespread corruption and the theft of the century.

Except that Candu is no rebel. Besides being arch-villain Plahotniuc’s godson, he’s also a wealthy elite who has spent most of his adult life outside of Moldova working for multinational firms and high-flying businesses. He’s a guy who can fly abroad on a whim living in a country where protesters are camped outside of the parliament demanding that their pensions be increased to 100 bucks a month.

Candu only returned to Moldova six years ago, when his godfather signed him up for the Democratic Party (which Plahotniuc controls) in 2010. Like a comet streaking across the heavens, Candu rapidly went from being a simple member of parliament to deputy speaker, to deputy prime minister, to the Economy Minister to his current position (as of 2015) as speaker of the parliament, the third most powerful politician in the country. Not bad for a day job.

Candu is clearly playing a long game, being simultaneously aligned to Plahotniuc and also the guy who leaked the Kroll Report (that sunk former ally Vlad Filat, now convicted of several crimes), a guy who marches in the street with the opposition protestors, defending Moldova’s barely surviving path towards the European Union while simultaneously collaborating with the Socialists and renegade Communists that are dead set on terminating Moldova’s pro-EU future.

It’s clear that beyond all of his talk about reforms, Candu believes that it’s the ordinary citizens trying to survive in this quagmire of a country who are to blame, not the institutions that he represents.

It’s also pretty clear that Candu would score pretty high on the fascist scale, especially on questions 8 and 11. And we know how he’d answer question 12, as he’s currently trying to sue an opposition television channel for “insulting his honor” for 30 thousand Euros.

Romanian politicians are pretty ballsy but I don’t think that even they would have the audacity to say that widespread corruption is primarily the fault of the ordinary people.

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