Octavian-Dragomir Jora
Octavian-Dragomir Jora
Professor, Ph.D., Habil., at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, where he has cultivated and developed interests in comparative economic systems, critical/creative thinking, and geo-politics/geo-economics of cultures and civilisations. Dr. Jora is involved in epistemic communities – i.e., board member of the Romanian Economic Society, the Research Center in International Business and Economics, etc. Recently, he received the Woodrow Wilson Scholarship from the Romanian Cultural Institute for research conducted in Washington, D.C., United States of America. He is (co-)author of numerous scientific works (100+ titles), as well as of journalistic op-eds, essays, pamphlets (1000+ titles), his works being distinguished over time with plentiful and prestigious scholarly and mass-media awards. Also, dr. Jora is editor-in-chief of the Œconomica journal and founder editor of The Market for Ideas pop-science magazine (Curriculum Vitae)
Enlightened Minds’ Derby: Oxford vs. Cambridge

Enlightened Minds’ Derby: Oxford vs. Cambridge

In the beginning, there was the… bludgeon – in an episode of the “town vs. gown” saga. The first faction – that of the trueborn townsfolk; the second one – of the academics – alien and politically privileged as opposed to the locals. In 1209, following a harsh clash between the two Oxford factions – NB: a town with academic activity dating as far back as 1096 –, several studious individuals fled to Cambridge and laid the foundation of the university with the same name, yet bringing with them the same social tension. Nicknamed “Oxbridge”, given their common historical and institutional features, the two venerable English universities have developed a mutual condescension over time. Though aristocratic and non-aggressive, it was seemingly even more defiant in its staunch refusal to “name the other”: i.e., to those in Cambridge, Oxford remains, bluntly, “the other place”. Centuries of “grey-matter” warfare, following the original battle of fists, led to these two universities accumulating both intellectual/human and financial capital. Their combined wealth: £21bn! More


Independence through Interdependencies

Independence through Interdependencies

The study titled The role of regional cooperation mechanisms in the current geopolitical context – opportunities and challenges for Romania, authors: Octavian-Dragomir Jora (coord.), Marius-Cristian Neacșu and Cezar Teclean, under the auspices of the European Institute of Romania, attempts to offer a lecture entry-point – one of the many potential ones – regarding Romania’s regional cooperation mechanisms, useful not only to the purveyors of external policies, but to all those who internalize its shortcomings. This approach attempts to make itself useful by signalling the multitude of interpretations of the international reality, which goes from the level of the common citizen all the way to chancelleries and which demands a smart reconciliation and a sage reconnecting at maybe the hardest calculable parameter when it comes to the very existence and functioning of a state: the national interest.The formulated conclusions – out of which a brief excerpt is republished below – emphasise, rather than exhaust, the wide range of possibilities of regional cooperation, in a heterogeneous/eclectic set of catalogued formats/mechanisms, which must be detached, before anything else, from the realm of monotony and rigidity. We are talking about promising, uncharted fields, but also about upsetting redundancies; about lucrative components, but also about bureaucratic laziness; about room for national initiative, but also about convenient conformity. These aspects are further complicated by the upsurge of the contestation of the international rule-based order. Here is a concise inventory of some generic ideas – concentrated in 10 points – which emerged from the research process, while a bit more extensive summary, preceding the study in full (in Romanian) is to be retrieved here. More


Let’s Not Let the Politicians Play Bits and Bytes!

Let’s Not Let the Politicians Play Bits and Bytes!

Before the political elections (about a year or so before), on the day of the vote and a little while after, the citizens remember the values of the Polis: the social contract (a subtle notion), democracy (more declaimed than digested), the rule of law (or the primacy of laws, which become frail when legality does not rhyme with justice). In the rest of the time between electoral cycles, we find ourselves, usually, in the posture of citizens nursing a profound displeasure towards the elected, who either forgo the promises for which we voted, or they deliver precisely the promises we did not vote for. Somehow, in between elections, power becomes something wielded by a few of “us”, as is the case on election day, when a majority of a narrow minority wins the day and decides the collective future. It leads to many people being in hock to the opposition, which is waiting for another turn of the wheel in their favour. This is the curse of the “social contract”, the high priests of the status quo assure us a bit cynically! More


Sustainability, Cause It’s Better than All Else

Sustainability, Cause It’s Better than All Else

The Brundtland report – Our Common Future (1987) – represents the catechism of durable/sustainable development, defined as that type of “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. Sustainability puts two disciplines/social sciences to work, in a deliberate debauchery: economics (preoccupied with the efficient satisfaction of subjectively arranged individual needs, with the social stock of available scarce and, thus, precious resources) and ethics (preoccupied, amongst other things, with the moral validation of the exercise of violence/coercion, knowing that the scarcity of resources generates conflicts in a society). Therefore, economic sustainability is based on the ethical axiom according to which it is the responsibility of each and every generation to “preserve”/”conserve” an amount of “capital” goods deemed necessary in up-keeping a “level of income” sufficient enough for the future ones. More


Azimuth, Romania

Azimuth, Romania

The political-economic phrase “regional cooperation mechanisms” is dry enough that it brings in tow a serene attitude, which neither Romania’s voluptuous imaginaries, nor its immanent vicinities seem to pan out. Central and Eastern Europe, extruding towards the South East – the softly symbolic geographical notion which includes Romania –, has always possessed a lively geopolitical tectonic, prone to extremely brutal outbursts and worldmaking shifts (i.e., featuring as some hotspot for the two world wars), and a latent geoeconomic magnetism too (i.e., due to its fine resource pools and in spite of its dire infrastructures). These traits have remained somehow unchanged for centuries, only to be recurrently re-evaluated. More


A Midsummer Night’s Chilling Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Chilling Dream

Climate changes and armed conflicts – as facets of, basically, the “non-human” physical nature and of the “dehumanised” human nature, respectively –, when fatally intertwined with each other, bring us closer to Apocalypse nightmares. The mental cohabitation between ecological anguishes and the anxieties of belligerence is the product of the Cold War era’s madness (as in MAD – mutual assured destruction). A doctrine of deterrence, MAD highlights the fact that every nuclear confrontation between superpowers can only end with the annihilation of both, regardless of who was at first on the offense and who was on the defence. Such an infamous possibility also had a climate-related dimension. Either the thermonuclear explosions will broil Earth’s fluids like a boiler (some sort of a “Heat Death”), or they would release a cloud of particles in the atmosphere, blocking the solar radiation (generating an “Ice Age”), the horrific result would be a residual human-inhabited area to oscillate agonizingly between scalding and drowning, between freezing and extreme hunger. Even though the industrial rivalry, including the peaceful kind, remains the main target of the accusations that it devours the environment and disrupts the climate, war, even the regular genre (though it has been recently becoming more and more hybrid in nature) imposes itself as a research subject in relation to climate risks. More


 “To Know” – That’s the Essence of Journalism!

 “To Know” – That’s the Essence of Journalism!

The daily journalist is the professional who doctors us against informational nightmares – the wordplay I prefer to use in order to summarise this vocation (which is vocal in both a literal and a figurative sense). And I use that metaphor because, paradoxically, it is “in broad daylight” when “the night of the mind” acts with a most uncommon ferocity. This saying applies with particular accuracy to the so-called science journalism. This specialised form of journalism only managed to become its own thing starting in the second half of the twentieth century, occupying today a significant portion of the written, audio-visual and online press. Science journalism must be produced and consumed as something more than a mere form of entertainment. Sure, it diversifies our field of understanding of the world and of life, but its purpose is not to delight – even though it has curiosity (and curiosities) at its core –, nor is it to distract – though it successfully deviates from the trivialisation of reality and, equally so, from its vulgarisation. One of the harsher “stress tests” it was confronted with was the Covid-19 pandemic, which consisted of a mix of fake news and pseudoscience that oscillated between (or was even maintained by) “occult conspiracies” and “official statements”. More


“Twin transitions” and (the Transformation of) Art

“Twin transitions” and (the Transformation of) Art

The future of what is currently happening in the European Union (although the process we are discussing is ultimately and inevitably global) constitutes the beginning of the “twin transitions” that may find us, decades from now, in the following scenario: we will start our day in a smart and clean house (energetically and aseptically), looking out the VR window that shows us the weather status up to the air quality level and indicates the optimal time to spend outside from a health care index perspective; we will have breakfast after seeing the sustainability score of the menu’s food, with delicacies, by the way, coming from high-tech farmers who take care of their crops by buttoning in the cloud, connected to Big Data, open source weather platforms, fine sensors, and autonomous tractors; we use the washing machine when the dynamic electricity tariff is in our favour, for we are brave prosumers and suppliers in the grid, thanks to strategically mounted solar panels on the roof; we go to work, not yet counting among the lucky digital nomads with flexible telework regime, 4/24, 4/7, waiting for some well-deserved e-leisure hours reserved, for example, for culture; we have the choice between immersing ourselves, through the AR headset, in the captivating Metaverse for a play (where, no, we will not be spectators, but we will play Horatio, in Hamlet, replying to the immortal Laurence Olivier’s avatar) or we can order a Cézanne exhibition at home, as in the old days, at the Tate Museum (projected 16K on the white and versatile walls of the 3D printed and luxuriously finished house by Obi-One, the painter robot of the 100th Romanian unicorn); nostalgic, tired of e-books, we take a book from the vintage memories shelf and sit under the retro-futuristic lamp, in which an old LED bulb from Electromagnetica stubbornly functional has fused with the glass recovered from our great-great-great-grandfather’s oil lamp, a hero at Mărășești WWI clash. Always and everywhere, the cultural-artistic experience integrates us (as well as distinguishes us) in/from the environment, together with our exosomatic extensions (of instrumental, technological nature). More


Where We Head to When There’s Nowhere to Run

Where We Head to When There’s Nowhere to Run

The phrase “life is a struggle” aptly describes the experience of writing about anything other than the ongoing war a year after Russia’s attack on Ukraine, but so much has already been written on the topic (and so much will yet be written – in vain, though) that a distraction would be welcome for the sake of mental sanity. Thus, we “struggle” with the temptation to join the “library” division of the corps of strategists operating deep behind the front lines, specifically the “armchair reasoning” battalion of the “ex cathedra” regiment. Nevertheless, it is impossible to keep at it indefinitely, for the boomerang of wandering thoughts will follow its own course, no matter how much one may try to shift one’s mind away from the unceasing horrors. In Sci-Fi literature and cinema, the desolation of Mother Earth following a (nuclear, technological, environmental etc.) cataclysm is usually coupled with the remaining population fleeing to the unknown worlds of outer space and/or retreating to the catacombs of what’s left of the planet, partially sedated through immersion in surrogate cyber-realities. In other words, it is an outward and/or inward escape. More


Memories from the Future of the European Union

Memories from the Future of the European Union

The “science of future” (future studies, futurology) represents, at least, a paradoxical expression. Before anything else, the future’s flaw is not the fact that it is a too complex web of events, but that it… has yet to happen; we can see it/dream about it, but we cannot “know it” because it neither disseminates “news”, nor emanates “science”. Afterwards, the future is (will be) just one, although there are a lot of probable and plausible futures in the minds of the professional visionaries; and, ironically, absolutely all of them are cursed to never match the real future.  More


“The Market for Polities”: On International Institutional Competition

“The Market for Polities”: On International Institutional Competition

The Role of State in Varieties of Capitalism conference – SVOC2021 – was organized by the Institute of World Economics of the Centre for Economic and Regional Studies, Budapest, Hungary and Democracy Institute of Central European University.At this years’s edition, I have delivered a presentation entiled “The Market for Polities”: Citizens’ Welfare (as Consumers of Public Goods) by Way of States’ Competition (or Cartelization), that was based on a paper written together with Mihaela Iacob. More


Three “Mister K” and Our Recovery from Eastern European “Kafkian” Absurdum

Three “Mister K” and Our Recovery from Eastern European “Kafkian” Absurdum

In Kafka’s novel, Das Schloß [The Castle], there is a gentleman bearing the name “K” who unsuccessfully tries to obtain a hearing with the enigmatic ruler of a bureaucratic citadel dominating, physically and psychically, an alienated village community, to secure a living in that surreal neighbourhood. In Der Prozess [The Trial], a certain Joseph K. gets arrested and accused by an obscure authority for a crime never unveiled, either to him or anyone else (including the millions of readers of the novel). In Amerika [America], the main character, Karl Rossmann, lives a David-Coppefield-ian life within an illusive and deluding “new world”. All three novels are part of the “absurdist literature”, are unfinished and are posthumous. Even though Kafka didn’t experience communism, his novels can be seen as a crude premonition of that epoch. In the present essay we shall speak, however, about three different characters whose names start with the Kafkian effigy “K” and whose professional careers were devoted to the extraction of Eastern Europe from the absurdum of communism: the Polish philosopher and historian of ideas Leszek Kołakowski (1927-2009), the Hungarian economist János Kornai (1928-2021) and the ex-President of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus (b. 1941). More


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