Last week, Adrian Severin has just been condemned to 4 years in jail for corruption.
Who is Adrian Severin? Well, the “cash-for-amendments” former Romanian MEP. Until then, Severin (62) wasn’t seen as one of those politicians who bend their spine through the intricate, booby-trapped system of clientelism that forms the very nature of Romanian political life, whatever the protagonists‘ party affiliation.
A Social Democrat, and a former foreign minister, he was an MEP since Romania‘s accession in 2007, leaving behind the incessant infightings, and the media-controlled political wars that rage permanently back home. Adrian Severin managed to float above the political cesspool without as much as glancing down at its murky waves. Instead of being sucked into this, he made his way to Brussels. There, he became afflicted by what the ancient Greeks were calling “hubris”.
“Hubris” is the permanent state of mind of the hero who thinks he is invincible. The man touched by hubris is guilty of arrogant happiness. It is the feeling of impunity that brings arrogance. The sufferer of hubris, of this delusional insanity, believes that he rightly benefits from supernatural luck. He lives in a permanent state of autosuggestion.
The Greeks considered this a form of madness. They knew that nothing lasts forever. In the end, the hero is doomed to fail, and he finally falls.
The mental state of hubris always ends in comical disaster, usually not only for the hero, but also for those around him, who followed him and believed in him.
These people, who think they are great, fall tragically and unexpectedly, sometimes with a comical effect, so huge is the contrast between their past glory and the swiftness of their fall.
Before being hit by hubris, Adrian Severin was one of the younger stars of the Romanian social-democratic party. Sure, he had comitet some gaffes.
In the 1990s, when he was foreign minister, some funny hacks came to ask him whether he didn‘t find revolting that water flowing out of Bucharest taps contained too much hydrogen, in the scandalous proportion of two atoms of hydrogen for each atom of oxygen.
Promptly, Severin started a tirade against this unacceptable situation and promised that he would make sure the situation is efficiently solved… showing thus that he ignored what every schoolboy knows: H2O, the chemical formula of water.
The incident should have made him aware of traps and on the lookout for mischievous hacks… But the person afflicted by hubris can’t believe that disaster might strike, brought twice by the same kind of people.
In Brussels, in 2011, there came to him some villains from The Times, thinly disguised as lobbyists, with that ‚cash for amendments’ proposal. Severin, and two other MEPs, swiftly accepted. Grotesquely, carelessly, Severin even sent the journalists an invoice by email.
The trio was exposed, but unlike the two other lawmakers –from Austria and Slovenia– ready to accept payments for pushing villainous amendments, Severin has not stepped down and served as an an independent MEP, after being expelled from the Social-Democratic group, until the end of his term in 2014.
Even by Romanian standards, he is outstandingly unrepentant and unashamed. In 2012, he was charged by Romanian prosecutors with defrauding over €400,000, but he still wouldn’t resign.
He even went on to give a lecture in Bucharest on the “myth of corruption in Romanian politics”, and kept sending to journalists press releases with his thoughts on various topics, like the situation in Ukraine, or the global warming. It was his way of taking revenge on the press.