Արդյո՞ք Ա@լընտրանքը Այլընտրանք է
Posted by kronstadt on February 21, 2007
Is Ա@ԼԸՆՏՐԱՆՔ the real Alternative? “Diadromi” (Alternative) is the most widespread Anarchist newspaper in Greece, which can be purchased in most newsagents in Athens. “The Alternatives” is also a very reputable radical post-structuralist anti-authoritarian and anti-statist academic journal edited by leading scholars in International Relations and Politics. So what about this new movement that calls itself Aylentrank “The Alternative“? In other words, how far does radicalism and political imagination go in Armenia?
Yesterday Aylentranq held their first mass rally and Freedom Square. Many people went: A1+ says as many as 5000, ArmeniaLiberty says 1000, others say aprox 1500. But the numbers are not important at this stage — for the first rally even 1000 is good enough (considering that they don’t get any TV air-time). The rally was also attended by both the controvercial HHSh (liberal-nationalist) and the Hndchaks (Marxist Social Democrats), which is in itself an interesting development. There is also a brief Video here.
As A1+ reports: “the authorities are aware of the initiative’s goal, – “to capture” Freedom Square, and their take measures in this respect; 70-day concerts will launch on March 8. But the rally participants aren’t indignant at this fact as they will assemble in Freedom Square despite all obstacles.”
The occasion for gathering: 19 years of the Artsakh Movement, which was basically the Pan-Armenian Movement (HHSh) before it turned into a HHSh political party.
Gosh… has it been that long… I remember I used to go (or rather, be taken) to those first rallies when I was a kid. I remember there was this incredibly exhilarating sense of Danger(in Nietzschean sense) and uncertainty laying ahead and that was what made that feeling so rich and vigorous: we didn’t know what was going to happen and how, but we knew that at least from now on, it was going to be us – the People – in charge of our collective destiny. Be that war or earthquake or cold winters or economic collapse – we felt we could withstand it all for we were in it together, as long as we stick together and practiced Mutual Aid (which we did only initially, and which is ultimately irrational thing to do in conditions of market-economy). There was a ferment of fraternal love and friendship in the air, and it was definitely not the illusion of nationalism (for it was based on action and practice of Mutual Aid, rather than fetish of the idea of an imagined community).
What that was, was that we were engaged – engaged in danger, engaged with politics, engaged with Life, engaged with community and engaged with the history of our making. We belonged. We felt that we belonged to our future and our country, and that our country and the future finally belonged to us. That was Authenticity (in Heideggerian sense).
Obviously, it is that sense and that momentum that Ailentranq is trying to recapture. At the rally Nikol Pashinian said “We have come to this square to say that we are the masters of our country, the masters of its misery and splendor, its heroism and recklessness, its victories and defeats. What we want is a homeland with citizens, a homeland which is able to protect its citizens.” Hang on… I heard this dialectical form of postulating before: “we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty”. Is NP trying to be Armenian JFK?
I like and welcome the fact that it is a non-partisan Movement (as we have argued previously, that is what we would like to see on Armenian political plateau) and that is why I maybe see some potential in it. But then the immediate question that arises, is if they are a movement, then what is their philosophy? what is their ideology? which theoretical tradition do they adopt for analysing the past and cultivating the future? From browsing through their website I realise that they are generally meritocrats (each to his own abilities), which could work if the movement was actually initiating certain Empowerment programs for the peasants, cooperatives and unions on the ground. Either way, it is early to judge, but there is no mention of that in their website (unless I overlooked something). There is also this strange technocratic overtone to what they’re saying: there is still that central-source-of-all-authority in their rhetoric.
But the thing that really bothers me is the extent to which Armenian political thinking (both in the press and among people) is personality and charisma orientated (which is indicative of a dictatorial regimes). Both people and the press don’t look at the policies, philosophies or ideologies, but at “who is”. And so immediately fingers are being pointed: Nikol, Petros, Babik, Hrantus, Mher, Hrant, Aramazd, Davit
In a conversation with a friend few months ago I said that if HHSh has any chance of coming back to the political scene, they must undergo a total PR-makeover and probably change its name. Interestingly, CRD/TInotes “it was particularly interesting to note their reaction when the names of the members of the Karabakh Committee were read out. Perhaps it was unsurprising to hear louder cheers when Levon Ter Petrosian’s name was mentioned, but the loudest cheers of all were reserved for his Minister of Interior, Vano Siradeghian, who had his parliamentary immunity lifted and was charged with masterminding several assassinations before apparently fleeing the country. He is still wanted by Interpol. ” Do those cheers give away who is behind this new movement and what is this movement, or is there more to it? Could this Ailentranq be that large chunk of the originary HHSh movementthat was not included in the HHSh party? Ultimately, Ailentraq is an interesting project… like an Open-Source Aplications (to use IT jargon) — everybody can join in and contribute. They also urge others to rally in their immediate neighbourhoods, which is spot on as to how the inner workings of the Armenian communities is.
Ultimately, it is still difficult to make any sense of this Aylentranq with its “cool” 21-Century “@“-sign as its logo. But what is already clear is that their inability to put forward or identify with a unique political philosophy, and their choice to march under the good old technocratic liberal slogans, their dichotomizing framings of Us/Them (which is what the parties do, rather then the movements), as well as the obvious old HHSh overtone is already discounting their appeal. What’s more this socio-political initiavie calling itself “the Alternative” is expressive of just how myopic the political visions are, and how limited the political imagination in Armenia is.
They seem to be genuine good lads, but they seem to lack that broad global thinking which would see Armenia’s location in the context of global processes. At the same time there is another development of MIAK announcing itself as a political party, which is filled with mostly British-educated “soft-handed” careerists who seem to have some traces of that required global thinking, but (in terms of their actual policies) choose not to utilise it accordingly (so as to keep that competitive edge over the race for western donations).
The Alternative, as a concept, means difference in kind, and not just a difference in degrees. The real Alternative, in our opinion, would mean not the change of Government, but the change of System (change of structure, change of State from Republicanism and Parliamentarism to Direct Democracy of Self-Governing Hamainqs and Unions, change of the mode of organisation, change in the mode of association and of course, a radical change in mode of production) so that even the concept of governance is altered.
Once again, let us say that given the string of global crises and all the factors at play in the region and within the country, Armenia does not need another party or another ideology. Instead, it needs a Movement and a Political Philosophy. But given that the historically progressive forces, such as the Students, Organic Intellectuals, Philosophers and Trade Unions have surrendered their avant garde roles to media and journalism, it is not surprising that the contemporary debates about Freedom, Justice and Alternatives invariably return to the antiquarian and incoherent Liberal (or neo-Liberal) forms of rhetoric. Aylentrank is not the Alternative. Ա@լընտրանքը այլընտրանք չէ:
For now…. If Ailentranq could mobilise the masses, while learning from the amateurish mistakes of HHSh, that could be the only visible positive and maybe authentic development in the realm of the oppositions (which at present is dominated by Orinats Yerkir, Republic Party, HZhK, etc — parties that are filled with sly power-lusty politicians backed by fairly powerful businessmen). But it should be remembered that, ultimately, despite its flashy name and logo, Ailentranq is not an alternative solution. It only offers a different government (with different set of policies), but not a different mode of governance and organization.
The next demonstration of Aylentranq is sceduled for March 2, at 4:00 pm near Matenadaran.