Armenia doesn’t need another political party — it needs a MOVEMENT!
Posted by kronstadt on February 8, 2007
The fact that there are so many parties in Armenia might not actually be a bad development (given that there is the right type of constitutional setting to cater for such a development). Of course, that’s not what the Rebiblican and Parliamentary system desire, but at least it shows that people care and are involved with political life of the country.
Now it’s not something that should be disqualified as a necessarily ill development on the grounds that it won’t work within the configurations of Parliamentarianism (after all the struggle should be to make Democracy work, and not the Representative Parliamentarism 😉 ). Instead, we should be asking how to re-structure the political system in such a way that would accomodate and make the best use of such political diversification (something that many political scientists, for instance, would praise).
As the parliamentary elections rapidly approach, and as the political campaigning in the form of Kartofil-distribution has already began, it is both interesting to observe the hopes for democratic processes, but at the same time, it is all ultimately laughable. No, I’m not talking only about the quality of arguments and the level at which they take place. What is really amusing is the way that there are so many political parties, all feeding into the same game-plan. Their discourses are all so predictable: “the truth is on our side, we know what people think, we are going to get elected” (or at least, “we are going to get minimum of so-many seats”), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. And the media is following (or maybe, initiating) the same mode of discourse – the same game-plan.
Sooner of later this field of democratic Babel is going to crystallize into groups, camps, tribes (call it what you will)… there will be Conservatives (Republican Party &Co), Liberals (all so many), and if we’re lucky, maybe some Pseudo-Socialists (like Labour or Pasok). This is the end of the game-plan. Soon we will be left with simple choice of either voting for the Puppet-on-the-Right or the Puppet-on-the-Left. It is already predetermined by the structure of the system, which will lead us to Pseudo-Democracies like in so many Republics in the west or around the world.
When I hear those passionate speeches (from both/all of the sides) about how they are going to emerge victorious and finally set things right and bring the near-messianic Bright Future or Prosperity or Democracy or Strength and Power (or all of these together), I sense that idiotic, dogmatic and narcissistic overtone that defined the great dictators of the 20th century who competed to shape that century to their will.
Question: where do these people get such a confidence and arrogance that they know better?… know better what all of the Armenian people need and want? … know better how to conduct diplomacy and foreign affairs? …know better how to stimulate socially, environmentally and ethically responsible economical growth? They all strike me as ultimately POPULIST!
The current debates, as they do within all Pseudo-Democratic structures, revolve around personalities. But there is no sense of Direction – no sense of a systematic analysis or perspective; no sense of intellectual vigour that could mobilise the people into that great sense of immediacy and engagedness that was in the air in 1987-1991 (please don’t get me wrong, I’m not proposing that Armenia needs yet another idee-fix or ideology). Instead, the stand-up “politicians”, in accordance to the good Liberalist protocols, point fingers at each other: they question each others virtues, abilities, personalities, appearances, views, and (mostly, standardized) policies, but they don’t question the STRUCTURE!
In effect, they all, universally miss out the broader picture. After all it is the structure – the setting, within which the game-plan of political life is set, that already predetermines the outcome. There is an overwhelming sense of tyrannical Lust for Power in all of their speeches. It’s almost like listening to a child who due to his small size and powerlessness, finds himself doing all sorts of absurd things so as to gain attention and to pretend that his is in control. “I am the Lizard King, I’ll get you anything. Will you die for me?” There is also an antiquarian notion of “Power” and how the Power works, that these people seem to inherit from the 20th century. They still inherit that 18th century rationalist belief that Power works from top down – that a perfectly rational and ordered society can be organised by decrees from the Central Command-Post down the lowest strata of society. Maybe, if these people are so clever, they need to read what 20th century social scientists had to say on how Power really works.
The internal dynamics of Society and Culture are quite distinct from those of the perfect hierarchy of a disciplined Army. This is something that Armenian politicians and “Social Scientists (Statisticians)” alike will need to get through their thick skulls sooner or later, if they wish to move into the 21st century. Power can only work in a harmonious and, indeed, powerful way only when it springs from below to the top – when a society and its institutions and processes are organised from bottom up, and not from top down. (Please pause to contemplate this proposition). For this reason, Armenia does not need yet another political Party that will rally like a stand-up comedian or a stand-up philistine or a stand-up imbecile. Political parties are the institutions of the 20th century (for instance, in UK Labour membership is down to 110,000 and Conservatives have only 70,000 memebrs left). Parties are institutions of the past: this is the information age, not the industrial age. Parties are institutions that can, and soon are, controlled by the economical elite (oligarchs and bankers). They are good instruments for deceiving people and temporarily controlling the mass, while strip-robbing the country and its people, but one thing that they are not good for, is for cultivating a culture of participatory democracy, dignity, integrity, self-respect, pride and Power. What Armenia needs today is a MOVEMENT. Yes, a Pan-National Movement that would start from the grassroots of the lowest of social classes; which will be driven not by central leadership, but by an idea/platform and a set of principles and ethics; which will first prioritise direct on-the-ground activism of Empowering people, over gaining parliamentary seats; which would help peasants, and later workers, to restructure their modes of production and decision-making in such a way that would allow them to conquer and control their own governance (restructure the constitution along the Swiss model), culture, knowledge, finances and production. Only through this Movement can we once again regain that sense of immediacy, directness and engagedness with our land, our country, our history and our future.