Articles by Florin Poenaru

Stones in the dark. The Brexit and the Left

During the Cold War, in the context of escalating tensions between Russia and China, a listener asks Radio Yerevan: “What do you advise: to drink Russian tea or Chinese tea?’ The answer comes in promptly: it’s wiser not to meddle with the business of great powers, better to drink coffee. It is the same now with the leftist options available in relation to Brexit: better just to have a coffee. The British and the European Left, more radical or more moderate, split between different groups and directions that the simple opposition Lexit/Remain cannot possibly cover, has once again surpassed itself, so ..

From hero to zero: The spectacular rise and the immediate decline of the Romanian president

There is nothing quite like it in contemporary European politics. Perhaps there never was. The story of the current Romanian president seems more of a farce, a figment of imagination, than a real story. As with everything Romanian, it would be deeply funny and amusing if it weren’t tragic. President Klaus Iohannis came to power in November 2014 in very contested circumstances. Trailing by 10% his main competitor after the first round –the then Prime Minister Victor Ponta – and pretty much unconvincing during the TV debates before the run-off, Iohannis was all but defeated. In fact, from the very beginning, ..

The Poor Must Die!

Note from the LeftEast editors: this article has been published in collaboration with the Balkan web-portal The original publication in can be found here. When the newly appointed Romanian Minister of Finance told reporters in an off-the-record meeting that Romanian workers should take a cue from workers in Brazil or India who are ready to work for pennies, she offered one of those rare moments when power speaks the truth. Unintentionally, the minister articulated both the entire trajectory of post-communist transition and also the current strategy for development of the technocratic government, appo ..

On the Fire that Sparked an Uprising

On October 31st during a rock concert in the underground club Colective in Bucharest a fire broke out, killing 27 and injuring another 200. Almost a fortnight after the total number of casualties reached 54, with many more still in critical condition in hospital. This was the biggest tragedy in the recent history of Bucharest and its social effects will still be felt in the foreseeable future. In the short run, this dramatic accident sparked a series of processes that are still underway and whose significance is still uncertain. In this text, I will try to highlight some of the social forces and processes that th ..

Old wounds revealed as Romanian court re-opens miners’ case

Note from the LeftEast editors: this article is published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croatian web portal Bilten.Org  In recent weeks the miners are back again: This time not on the streets, but on the public agenda. The Romanian High Court, following a decision of the European Court of Human Rights reopened the file dealing with the events of 13-15 June 1990 in Bucharest. After 25 years of stalled investigations, the prosecutors decided it is time for a fresh look. Two things are clear. First, this decision cannot be separated from the current wave of arrests shattering the Romanian political class. It contin ..

The National Bourgeoisie vs. the State Apparatus. Reconfiguring the state in Romania

It is perhaps the first time that Romania’s ongoing corruption scandals are more than just a scandal. They offer the possibility for serious theoretical reflection about wider social transformations. However, it is not because recent events dramatically altered the situation in new ways, but the opposite: recent events, precisely by their familiarity, allow us to see the situation anew. First, let me present, very briefly, the facts. Elena Udrea, an MP and former minister, was arrested on February 11 for several charges of corruption, after more than a week of intricate procedural formalities, including a late ..

“More of the same”: Elections without choice in Romania

This article is published in cooperation with the Serbo-Croatian web-portal Bilten.Org It is customary for people to complain that they have no real choice to vote for in electoral contests. No candidate is really much different from the other. They are so similar that it makes no sense to choose since there is no real choice involved. This is exactly the case of the Romanian Presidential Elections due to be held this year on November 2nd. This is so not only because all candidates are neoliberals under various guises, but also because none of them is really offering an alternative to the politics of the incumben ..

To make sense of Ukraine, we need to bring the class back in


Viktor Yanukovich started his career as a thug and he remained a thug as a political leader. His regime was corrupt, patriarchal, authoritarian, inefficient and class-biased. He definitely had to go. But whoever is cheering his departure following Saturday’s vote of the Ukrainian Rada is plainly mistaken. He was deposed not as a result of a popular uprising but following backdoor machinations and hidden politicking. The Ukrainian people in general and those protesting in Maidan for weeks were excluded from the wheeling and dealing, even though they were the first to take the bullet of the President’s thuggish ..

A Crucial Romanian Autumn

For over a month tens of thousands of people took the streets in the major cities of Romania. They protested against the project of an opencast mine in Roșia Montana, a small mining town located in the Apuseni Mountains. In the making for almost 15 years, the project is mired in controversy. Not only that the development of the project points to a complicity between state officials and the corporation but, perhaps more importantly, the scale of the ecological impact is beyond grasp. Some 12,000 tones of cyanide will be used to extract the gold, silver and rare metals hidden in the four mountains of the region, w ..

What has the European Union ever done for us?

-A note from Romania on Croatia’s integration into the EU- One should not be afraid to ask this famous Monty Python question in relation to the EU Empire. Seen from the Romanian perspective, 6 years after its integration into the EU structures, the answer should be clear. EU brought increased subordination to the rule of global and corporate capital; the flexibilization of domestic labor and its incorporation into waves of continental migration; the weakening of the state in relation to the bureaucratic structures of the EU and the subordination of the local political class to the interests of EU business and b ..