“Take Ionescu, a pioneer of GloCalization”

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Article published on JurnalulBucurestiului.ro website

Paper presented at the National Conference “Take Ionescu” – 100 years since the death of the great Romanian diplomat (2nd edition) at the Cultural Centre “Carmen Sylva” in Sinaia by our permanent correspondent prof. dr. Narcis-Stelian Zărnescu (editor-in-chief of the Romanian Academy Magazine “Academica”, scientific secretary of Section X – Philosophy, Theology and Psychology of AOȘR – Romanian Academy of Scientists).

Editor’s note. Composed by combining the concepts by globalisation and localization, the term as such was first used by the British sociologist Roland Robertson in Globalisation (1992) and then in 1995 in the chapter “Glocalisation: Time-Space and Homogeneity-Heterogeneity” (in Global Modernities) and defined as a “compression of the world and intensification of the consciousness of the world as a whole”, as a process that simultaneously encompasses tendencies of universalisation and individualisation. Robertson took the similar Japanese concept from marketing and introduced it into social science discourse. It was then taken up by Canadians Keith Hampton and Barry Wellman, referring to people and humanitarian or commercial activities that are both localised and global in scale.

Detailed. Glocalization or glocalism is a term formulated in the 1980s in Japanese(dochakuka), later translated into English by the sociologist Roland Robertson and further developed by sociologist Zygmunt Bauman to adapt the landscape globalization to local realities so as to better study their relations with international circles.

  • Creating or distributing products and services designed for a global or international market, but modified according to local laws or culture.
  • Using electronic communications technologies to deliver local services globally or internationally. Craigslist and Meetup are examples of web applications glocalised .
  • Creating local organisational structures that operate on local cultures and needs to become multinational or global. This behaviour has been followed by various companies and corporations, for example by IBM .

The term “globalization” is considered ambiguous and contradictory in its semantic universe used and abused; for this reason, Bauman, wanted to introduce “glocalization”, without wanting to find there a political sentiment of opposition to globalization (as for example antiglobalists ). Global and local can be seen as two sides of the same coin. An organisation can be better understood by looking at the dual nature of glocalisation. Location is often ignored because of too much emphasis on globalisation. Moreover, in many cases, local forces are constantly striving to mitigate the impact of global processes. These ‘forces’ can be recognised by efforts to prevent or modify building plans for multinational corporations such as Wal-Mart . Glocalization considers that the foundation of society in every age has been and is the local community, from the interaction of individuals, organized in increasingly larger groups, present in a territory. The organisation of these groups certainly constitutes a set of ‘systems’ which become ‘subsystems’ if they are linked to more complex organisations. For example, the family is a subsystem of the neighbourhood system, but the neighbourhood is a subsystem of the city system and so on. Globalisation starts its analysis from simple systems to more complex ones, while globalisation seems to favour complex systems, very often ignoring the implications of sub-systems, and places at the centre of its ‘philosophy’ the individual, the human person, the person’s local material and immaterial heritage and the group to which they belong. It does not ignore the dialectics that derive from the meeting-encounter of different groups in the system-subsystem logic, but never loses sight of the micro in its relationship to the macro. He attaches importance to the free market, but believes that it can never be considered a “primum”, as the market is one of many human functions that has taken on many facets over the centuries. Glocalization gives importance to communication between individuals and groups defined in space and time and how new technologies have fostered an acceleration of transformation processes, considering it necessary to subject the content of communication to serious analysis, which, mediated by new technologies, can suffer from distortion, superficiality, banality. A common mistake is to think that glocalisation puts the emphasis on the local and globalisation on the global. This is not correct because glocalization, while ideally placing the micro-group at the core of its analysis, is aware that it grows, develops, interacts with other increasingly complex groups up to today’s complex globalizing realities. The meaning of the word “local” is in fact extended by the unambiguous incorporation of local realities which remain in all respects significant subsystems. Geocalization does not ignore the presence of globalizing forces, which it indeed examines in their genesis and implications, but is firmly rooted in its general systems theory and the close interaction between geopolitics , geoeconomics and geoculture .

Finally, Glocalisation (a portmanteau of globalization and localism ) is ‘thesimultaneous emergence of universalizing and particularizing tendencies in contemporary social, political and economic systems’. The notion of glocalization “challenges simplistic conceptions of globalisation processes as linear expansions of territorial scales. Glocalisation indicates that the increasing importance of continental and global levels goes hand in hand with the increasing importance of local and regional levels“. Glocal, an adjective, by definition, is “reflecting or characterized by both local and global considerations”. The term “global management” in the sense of “think global, act local” is used in corporate business strategies, especially by Japanese companies expanding abroad. Many international organisations are already working in the spirit of glocalisation. These include Glocal Forum which has been active since 2001 in the field of city-to-city cooperation.

Our Europe today is fast approaching Take Ionescu’s Europe: the same tensions, the same subversive or dictatorial tendencies, the presence of war at the borders, the same “struggle of life”; almost the same dominant European powers, almost the same petty and immoral economic and commercial interests, expressed brutally and aggressively; the same general confusion and refusal of dialogue.

That is why Take Ionescu, a visionary, courageous, charismatic diplomat, valued by partners and adversaries, is needed again today.

Before continuing to applaud him, to raise tributes and ephemeral statues of words, I would like to recall N.D. Cocea’s opinion about Take Ionescu.

Instead of a collegial captatio benevolentiae, I propose an acid, slightly caricatural portrait, sketched in 1914 by one of the great diplomat’s contemporaries: N. D. Cocea, a Balkan Robespierre, an irresistible Don Juan, a ruthless polemicist.

Here are some excerpts from N. D. Cocea’s text, entitled Take. The scene seems, indeed, taken from Caragiale’s comedies:

“She climbed up to the rostrum with meek movements, like a lady swinging her roundness, knowing that a hundred eyes were watching her from behind, lifted her tie with one brief gesture, with another smoothed her moustache and began.

Grandstands packed with ladies and political partisans. The deputies, in large numbers, all eyes and ears. […]. Mr. Tache Ionescu appeared fierce, charming and radiant…

And it was beautiful.

You know that I have no less than exaggerated admiration for Mr. Ionescu’s genius. Although his friends and employees in the press are always going around flipping through elementary history textbooks comparing him to Jesus and Napoleon, I have always found it impossible to be convinced by the self-serving praise of some, or to share the well-paid idolatry of the priests of takist fetishism. […].

Yesterday, in the Chamber, we spent two hours in pure takist admiration. I was listening to him talk. I half closed my eyes and swayed to the rhythm of the sentences. Tache Ionescu’s vocal chords are not the happiest. The voice is not deep and manly. More sharp, with a spiky tone. If there is a hermaphroditic orator anywhere in the world, I’m sure that hermaphrodite must have Mr. Ionescu’s effeminate organ. Yet I listened spellbound. I was getting drunk on words, phrases, periods, sliding one after the other, as if they were smeared with Vaseline. […]. He said nothing and talked about everything. He spoke with an admirable ease that could only be compared to the serene confidence of a man who imagines he knows everything because he talks about everything. […]. And Mr. Tache Ionescu dared to speak like that, without knowing and without understanding anything of the troubles of a people who put their last hope in him today, after having vainly put it in the prestige of the army and in the glare of the embassies, and in front of 50 or 60 fools in the Chamber who listened to him with their mouths agape.

How can I not admire him? How can I not bow down before this man who fools everyone, who soaks them with the water of empty words, who is tainted, the son of a bankrupt and morally bankrupt himself, up to his neck in conversions, in transactions, in real business… And not admire him? I admire you, Take! “ [1] .

[Take in Facla, year V (1914), no.145 (5 March), p.1]

For recepptological balance and psycho-historical symmetry, I reproduce Nicolae Iorga’s portrait of the young politician:

Take Ionescu, the son of a merchant and businessman from Ploiesti, had attended secondary school in Bucharest, so that, compared to the boyars of his generation, he can be considered as a product of our school organization, in what is good: initiation in the ways of the country, knowledge of its people, but also in what is less good: a certain lack of intellectual discipline, the formation of a firm character, which is acquired in contact with the old civilizations.[2].

Of course, almost any people, and the Romanian people is no exception, needs myths and models. Moreover, like its leaders, spiritual, political, cultural. Generating a model is done by hyperbolizing exaggerations and censoring flaws and failures.

It is obvious that the caricaturing pamphlet written by N. D. Cocea, presents, in a grotesque and partisan way, another facet of the personality of the great diplomat, but enough to make us think or to revolt.

But I will come back to the working hypothesis I proposed: Take Ionescu, a pioneer of glocalization.

Let us briefly recall the semantics and logic of this concept, launched almost two decades ago and lost in the conceptual effervescence of international relations.

Globalization, a concept used in various fields – from geography and sociology to political science and communication – has been on the conceptual market since the 1990s, and is still at the top. The fusion or hybridization of the two concepts, localization and globalization, being of Japanese inspiration, the phrase “global localization” will generally be conventionally cited as a precursor of the notion of glocal. On the other hand, the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary, pluralistic nature, as well as the heuristic effectiveness of the concept, have been demonstrated and confirmed by countless studies and applications, in the European, Far Eastern or American areas.

Roland Robertson, Erik Swyngedouw, Victor Roudometof and Tomiyuki Uesugi (Seijo University, Japan) are just some of the researchers who have been studying the mechanisms and dynamics of this complex phenomenon for decades. Let us also mention a remarkable Dictionary of Geography[3], somewhat recent, which defines the concept of glocalization as integrating two sub-concepts: local and global, in their dynamic, contingent and bidirectional dialectic.

In the horizon of glocalization, it can be said that Take Ionescu managed to overcome his era: he thought globally and acted locally.

No doubt our history, like many other histories of peoples who have shaped time, space and the destinies of mankind, could be rewritten from the perspective of glocalization, a modern, partly artificial and cold concept.

We can imagine – who could stop us? – a global project of rewriting national historiographies, through the filter of modern and postmodern concepts, to the extent that such a difficult effort of overturning canonical values, of rewriting and deconstruction would be worth the effort. Putting the pieces back on the world’s chessboard in a different, more efficient way; restarting the subtle political, economic and financial games that have been lost over time could be a fascinating project, although there is the treacherous risk of utopia. An exceptional model of alternative historiography is due to a famous British historian, also translated into Romanian: Niall Ferguson, author of numerous studies of counterfactual history.

Was Take Ionescu a pioneer or a precursor of glocalization? Was he a glocalist avant la lettre? Was he a glocalogen? Yes, no doubt.

Here’s an example of his glocalist and prophetic vision, taken from Cascade of Thrones:

Take Ionescu was one of the few Romanian politicians with a comprehensive understanding of realities and his own vision of the evolution of historical events. The prophetic statement of the politician in the summer of 1914, in an article published in La Roumanie, entitled La cascade des trônes, is edifying:

“This has been war for five years. England will enter, Italy will enter, we will enter, and America can’t not enter. Even Japan will enter. Woe betide mankind! But I am sure of one thing: that the Allies will be definitively victorious and that I will see Greater Romania with my own eyes.

And we will see other great things. We will see many thrones crumble; we will see the birth of the almighty America; we will see the predominance of the Anglo-Saxon race; we will see mankind take a great step to the left, to revolutionary socialism.

But the general upheaval will be so formidable that a terrible poverty will grip mankind for many years to come. From one crisis we will enter another. And remember well: my generation and yours will see Great Romania, but they will not see good days! “[4]

But if we make an exercise of applied glocalization, we will notice that the first glocalist was Decebal, followed by all the lords of the Roman Countries. So this phenomenon, discernible in the area of international relations, is immanent and defines political practice and pragmatics. In this case, to call Take Ionescu “pioneer of glocalization” is not a fake, but a rhetorical procedure, which reveals unforeseen irony in the effigy of the great statesman.

Some examples from the practice of takist glocalization:

  • Take Ionescu was a supporter of Romania’s entry into the First World War, the Great War or the War of Nations, . Global war, fought in Europe, which lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918 and involved more than 70 million troops, including 60 million Europeans. Take Ionescu advocated that Romania join the Antanta or Triple Entente, a political-military bloc created shortly before the First World War and formed by France, the British Empire and the Russian Empire. The Convention on Romania’s accession to the Antanta was signed on 4/17 August 1916.
  • As Foreign Minister he participated in the signing of the 1913 Bucharest Peace at the end of the Second Balkan War. The negotiating team, of which he was a member, had to mediate tensions between the Bulgarians, Greeks and Serbs. And, as Maiorescu[5] confesses in his notes, the organisation and management of the Conference were modelled on the Berlin Treaty of 1878. It is easy to see, therefore, the discrete and complex glocal network that ensures the functionality and dynamics of institutional mechanisms. But the fun, the parody, the carnivalesque, the subversive farce, specific to the Romanian mentality, which doubles or sabotages, more often than not, the sobriety and dignity of a historical event, is also present in this case, as we discover in Constantin Argetoianu’s 1913-1916 records:

“We had been playing war across the Danube, in Bucharest we played the Congress of Vienna. Only the stench of onions and the smell of mastic and brandy had replaced the scent of Johannisberg […]. However, the Bucharest Peace was a great success for Romania […].”[6].

  • He participated in the initiation of the Little Antante[7]The so-called “Small Entente”, an alliance formed between 1920-1921 by Czechoslovakia, Romania and the Serbo-Croatian-Slovenian Kingdom in reaction to Hungarian revisionism following the Treaty of Trianon, which stipulated that the northern part of the Republic of Croatia and Vojvodina would be integrated into the Serbian Kingdom; Slovakia and Ruthenia – today the Transcarpathian Region of Ukraine – would be ceded to Czechoslovakia, and Transylvania and the eastern part of Banat to Romania.

“A war – wrote Take Ionescu – does not end with the signing of peace treaties. It goes on in the very souls of peoples, and it is the duty of statesmen to create and maintain a state of affairs which will convince those who would seek to overthrow the newly established order of the meaninglessness and even the danger of such an attempt.”[8]

  • He was an active militant in the struggle for the national unity of Romanians abroad.

Catastrophic decisions. Fatal mistakes. Paradoxical elements. Which are part of the psychological and moral structure of the politician.

Take Ionescu is a contradictory, paradoxical and often unpredictable character. Contemporaries accuse him, not infrequently, of choices and decisions lacking basic ethics:

Constantin Bacalbasa, for example, believes that certain political motivations of the young Take are purely careerist:

“Take Ionescu’s ideal was not to become an apostle of ideas, but to make a political career as quickly as possible”.[9] Or: “In reality, the reasons were determined by personal ambitions, pursuing a quick career.”[10]

He began his political career in 1883, within the National Liberal Party, being elected deputy in the III-Ilfov College. He left the National Liberal Party two years later, in 1885, becoming a member of the liberal group “Dizidența”, together with Constantin C. Arion, Constantin Dissescu, Alexandru Djuvara, Nicolae Fleva, Lecca brothers, etc. It is worth noting, for the chromaticism and the psycho-moral and political complexity of this world, the observation of Kogalniceanu, who ironically called these young people “Irodes of Vicleim”[11]. That is: the descendants of Herod, the murderer of innocent children in Bethlehem, the city of David, where, according to legend, Jesus, the Messiah, was born. In short, these young people, including Take, were true antichrists, for this old Macchiavelli from the Targul Iesilor.

“Thus young men like Take Ionescu, Dissescu and a few others settled down, from an age still unacceptably young for a regime in which liberals were required to undergo a long and tiring apprenticeship with many exams.” [3] :p. 41

The eternal dissident and “traitor”, Take Ionescu, will leave liberalism and will join the Conservative Party in 1891, so that in 1908 he will establish the Conservative-Democratic Party.

During his political career, Take Ionescu held a number of ministerial positions, such as Minister of Public Instruction and Religious Affairs (1891-1898), Minister of Finance (1904-1907), Minister of Foreign Affairs (1912-1914) and finally President of the Council of Ministers (1921-1922).

Following his life, dominated by ambition, energy and political will, we discover that in the brilliant mind of the man Take hides a big Dinu Paturica, expert in efficient moral acrobatics. Iorga will only say : “the lawyer Take Ionescu, who became, by talent, an important factor in a party of nobles.”[12].

The researcher Anastasie Iordache, a good connoisseur of the period and of the historical character, relying also on the observations of his contemporary Nicolae Iorga, transcribed in Supt three kings [13] wrote:

“Without a big name and without wealth, Take Ionescu was aware that he would have a hard time making his way through the thicket of a political life that was not very conducive to accepting him, except in inferior positions, that is, to contribute to the rise and shine of others with names and wealth. As he would later say “when I started in politics, everything was against me”.”[14] [1] :pp 22-23

Versatile, plagued by ambiguities, proud bearer of the Pinocchio complex, Take Ionescu is nevertheless accepted by his contemporaries. The tolerance of I. G. Duca’s tolerance is exemplary and inexplicable:

“Poor Take Ionescu, this has been his eternal curse since he joined the Conservative Party, namely to resort to half-measures and the most hermaphroditic solutions because his intelligence showed him that the democratic requirements of our times could not be removed, and his party needs and his petty personal ambitions always required him to sacrifice on the altar of a party doomed to perdition the obvious findings of his nevertheless penetrating mind. “[15]

Take Ionescu’s first ministerial term was marked by two major political problems.

The first was support for the Romanians in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Take Ionescu, without the knowledge of any of the members of the government, secretly fed the struggle of the Transylvanian Romanians for national liberation from the ministry’s funds.[26]:pp 153-155

This practice of Take Ionescu was to be publicly “exposed” by the new head of the National Liberal Party, Dimitrie A. Sturdza. Sturza’s gesture stunned the entire political class, as all governments had tacitly proceeded in the same way, and he put both the government and the beneficiaries of the Ardennes in an embarrassing situation.[25]:p. 94

Metropolitan Ghenadie Petrescu

The second problem was the replacement of Metropolitan Iosif Gheorghian by Ghenadie Petrescu, an affair that shook the Romanian Orthodox Church to its foundations and ended three years later with Ghenadie’s cathexis and the resignation of the Prime Minister, Dimitrie A. Sturza.

The clergy marriage law, desired by the Conservative government, brought advantages and disadvantages to the church. It has been tidying up unregulated matters since time immemorial. At the same time, it enshrined the dependence of the church on the state. Iosif Gheorghian, Metropolitan of Wallachia and close to the liberal opposition, did not agree with the adoption of the law as proposed by the government. Thus, he resigned from high office. Take Ionescu and the Conservative government set out to find a prelate more sensitive to the initiatives of the government. They found him in the person of Ghenadie Petrescu, Bishop of Argeș.[27]

Titu Maiorescu considered Take Ionescu’s action as a “mistake”, mentioning that “the reasons that prompted Take Ionescu to do this are unknown, but in any case the choice turned out to be a bad one.”[25]:p. 173 Minister Take Ionescu proposed, and the government and parliament approved, the repeal of a legal provision that did not allow Ghenadie’s appointment. Through these political manoeuvres and in defiance of the law, the state political leadership has practically succeeded in bringing the church under its thumb. “Wrong to both repeal a good law and propose a bad election”.[25]:p. 79

On 9 April 1900, the government is reshuffled, with Take Ionescu replacing General Manu at the Ministry of Finance, who is out of his depth. Take Ionescu takes over the management of an unprecedented budget deficit, with the immediate task of balancing it.

The measures adopted by the government at the proposal of the finance minister included: the introduction of 11 new taxes and duties, the disposal of significant parts of state assets and holdings, together with significant staff cuts and severe cuts in public service spending.[29]:pp 32-47

The result of these austerity measures has been almost catastrophic for Romania’s economy. The budget drawn up by Take Ionescu ended with a deficit of 35 million lei, almost double the largest deficit ever recorded in the country’s history and which would only be exceeded by the deficit of the 1917 budget, when the country was at war with two thirds of the territory under occupation.[30] After only six months of implementation, they led to the economic crisis entering its acute phase in the last days of July 1900, prompting the King to dismiss the government on 7 July 1900 and replace it with a Junimist government led by Petre Carp.[24]:p. 128

reference

Wallerstein, Immanuel. (1974). The Modern World System, Vol. I. New York: Academic Press.
Wallerstein, Immanuel. (1984). The Modern World System, Vol. II. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Wallerstein, Immanuel. (1988). The Modern World System, Vol. III. New York University Press.

[1] Taken in Facla, year V (1914), no.145 (5 March), p.1.

[2] Nicolae Iorga (1932) Supt Three Kings, f.d.e., Bucharest, pp.41-42.

[3] Susan Mayhew (2015). A Dictionary of Geography (5 ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press; Victor Roudometof (2020). “Glocalization.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Communication. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [www .oxfordbibliographies.com/obo/page/communication].

[4] Take Ionescu, “The Cascade of Thrones”. In La Roumanie, 24 August 1914.

[5] Titu Maiorescu (1995) Romania and the Balkan Wars and Cadrilateral, Bucharest: Editura Machiavelli, sqq.

[6] Constantin Argetoianu (1913-1916 / 1991). For tomorrow’s people memories of yesterday’s people, vol. II, Part IV. Bucharest: Ed. Humanitas, 1991, p.41.

[7] Eliza Campus (1997) Mica Înțelegere (2nd edition), Bucharest: Editura Academiei Române, sqq.

[8] Idem, ibid., pp. 159-160,

[9] Constantin Bacalbașa (1928), Bucureștii de altă dată 1871-1884, vol II, Bucharest, 1928, p.42.

[10] Anastasie Iordache (2008) Take Ionescu, Bucharest: Editura Universal Dalsi, p.33.

[11] Idem, pp. 24-25.

[12] Nicolae Iorga (1932). Supt three kings. Bucharest: f.d.e., p.20.

[13] “Take Ionescu, the son of a merchant and businessman from Ploiesti, had attended secondary school in Bucharest, so that, compared to the boyars of his generation, he can be considered as a product of our school organization, in what is good: initiation in the ways of the country, knowledge of its people, but also in what is less good: a certain lack of intellectual discipline, of the formation of a firm character, which is acquired in contact with old civilizations.” [Nicolae Iorga, Supt trei regi, f.d.e., Bucharest, 1932, pp. 41-42].

[14] Anastasie Iordache (2001), Take Ionescu, Bucharest: Ed. Little Wallachia. Monograph reprinted by Universal Dalsi Publishing House in 2008.

[15] I.G. Duca (1981-1982). Political Memories, Munich: Jon Dumitru Verlag, I, p.13.