Armenian Libertarian-Socialist Movement

Global, Caucasian and Armenian politics in anarchist perspective

What else is there left to do?

Posted by kronstadt on May 11, 2007

The voter apathy in Armenia is no surprise to me.  Rather, this apathy is in itself another way of looking at Armenian political landscape today.  Maybe even this apathy is an expression of another ideology…

Lets take an average working class citizen of RA — Poghos-Petros, as an example.

Right… so what does Poghos-Petros see in front of him?  First or all there are all too many holes that the government has meticulously created to insure that it’s parties HHK and BHK smoothly and unquestionably get elected and that one of Rob’s favorites smoothly succeeds him.  Some of these holes include the highly questionable results of the census which show the number of citizens living in Armenia being well above the estimates (despite huge emigration outflow) in the last 2 decades.  Then there is the question of state monopoly over TV.  Then there is the dual citizenship with a clear design not to integrate the Diaspora but to stage a major electoral fraud and to import even more Dashnak nazis into the country.  Then there is the question of fairness of the election campaigns.  HHK and BHK gets a lot more publicity and can afford a lot more lavish adverts, concerts with sexy Russian chicks and TV airtime, and what not.  Then there are another hundred or so similar too.  In short, what does Poghos-Petros already see?
1) that the balance is disproportionately on the side of the 3 pro-government parties.  That the opposition stands no chance to even compete in terms of ideologies (IF they had any uniquely differing and practical ideologies in the first place).
2) that elections are not going to be fair
3) that there is a high chance that the vote will not be even counted, and/or that the HHK, BHK, ARF will find their ways to forge the elections one way or another
4) that these elections are an insult to the inteligence of any self-respecting common man

And when Poghos-Petros sees all this, when he is presented with the following options, which one is most RATIONAL to choose?
a) to sell the vote for 5000 Drams, and at least make some money out of it (cause Poghos-Petros knows that whether he does or not, one way or another HHK, BHK and ARF will find a way)
b) to hold on to his vote, proudly go to the ballot box and maintain confidence in Armenian democracy.

And when Poghos-Petros sees all of the above, and when he knows that the elections are not going to change anything, what other way does a public have to express its will?
a) Voting
b) Praying, Hoping and Waiting for the divine intervention
c) Revolution

If the elections are unfair and mean nothing, what else is there left to do?   It is then the citizen’s DUTY to overthrow the system and to replace it with a system through which his individual choice can be systematically expressed.  One must remember that one one does not live for democracy’s sake, but vise versa: it is Democracy that is there to help facilitate a meaningful political life.

Maybe current voter apathy has an explanation after all.  Maybe this apathy is a statement in itself.  People have just simply lost faith in this system.


8 Responses to “What else is there left to do?”

  1. People have just simply lost faith in this system.

    I think that this is probably the main point, although I’d add that both the radical opposition calling for “revolution” are not able to replace it. Instead, they simply want to supplant themselves in the positions of others.

    Anyway, regarding street protests, I think that any opposition group should campaign against all odds in this election. In a sense, if the international observers scream foul on Sunday, they have the right to protest the outcome.

    Some opposition parties did this — OYP, Heritage, NDP etc — but the radical opposition didn’t. They have no solutions to Armenia’s many problems and have so far offered no alternative to it.

    I think this is also another reason for the apathy because the number one response from most people I speak to here is that “they’re all the same as each other.” This is also another reason why many take their “bribes” so easily.

    Still, we’ll see what will happen on election day. I think we can guess what will happen, but there’s also another point. If there is a lot of falsification tomorrow, and if certain “moderate” opposition parties join any protests, then there could be a genuine mood for change among a wide spectrum of types of people in Armenia.

    However, you also have to realize one thing. That is, the concept of feudal benefactors such as Tsarukian does appeal to a large number of people. There’s also another issue. Civic education does not exist here, but it needs to. People have to understand that they are citizens of this country and should be in control of their own destinies within the framework of mutually accepted laws.

  2. […] ALS Movement speaks a lot, but says one thing: “People have just simply lost faith in this system”, as duly noted by Onnik in the comments section. […]

  3. kronstadt said

    Onnik, What I’m saying is more than just “People have just simply lost faith in the system”…

    But first about Impeachment. As I said before “Aylentraq@ Aylentranq che”. As one anarchist in Yerevan said “I was reading the poster and went to their rallies and all they were saying is criticizing Rob and Serj and Gago. But as they say Aylentranq they dont say in which direction. Any direction our of this quagmire is an alternative – but that’s not the kind of answer that people want”. If you ask me, I don’t think that Impeachment presents a viable alternative. Do I think that they are going to change the direction of Armenia? No. Do I think they offer a solution that will integrate the people? No. Do I think they are populist? Yes. …but there are other reasons to loosely support Impeachment for now.

    Given the electoral fraud that is imminent, and the unfairness of the campaign that was already seen, the only chance that the opposition stands is to stand united. But they failed to unite because of Demirchian as well as because they are a bunch of stubborn power-lusty gits (excuse my French), who believe that only they are right and that only they have something to offer, and that only they can rule better then others. Another major reason for the crisis is the death of ideology and te rise of the Liberal-Institutionalism that celebrates the death of ideology… which is why BHK proudly presents what it calls an “inadventurous” path. Of course people like Nikol Pashinian have a lot to say and a lot to offer for the short run, but they don’t for a simple reason that they want to keep Impeachment as a blank canvas for all these rival opposition forces to unite over.

    And of course I understand the appeal of the concept of feudal benefactor. It works for people who have not been shown or have forgotten how things ought to be: that is it not natural that one person sports $500million, while another person is quite content to work for $4/day. This is also related to the issue of the Death of Ideology and lack of vision. Yet there is more to Tsarukian’s appeal, which is his appeal among middle-classes, who say “if he managed to build such a business empire, then he is a good manager and we will manage to build a prosperous armenia” (of course such accounts intentionally forget about how exactly Gago’s business empire was built)

    However, you have to realise one thing. The general mistrust of authority (any authority) runs deeply throughout Armenian history, literature, culture and even language (liguistic inuendos, significations and etymologies). Armenians haven’t had a king for nearly a millenium. Over the centuries the communities developed a very unique mode of communal self-governance and autonomy, which obviously left it’s impact on Armenian culture, literature and language. Furthermore, Armenians are very freedom-loving, communitarian and communicative people — this is something that again comes from many events in history. Maybe one needs to read deeper into such lines like “they’re all te same as each other” and “What’s the point? Nothing will change for ordinary people no matter who’s in charge. It’s all nonsense,”. I think it would be very arrogant, and above all misleading, to assume that just because these ordinary city-dwellers and peasants didn’t study in Oxford or Taft or LSE, they don’t see through the sherade of BHK and HHK and HHD. I think instead of evaluating this atitude against the yardstick of Western-style Representative-Democracy and Liberal Institutionalism, it would be more productive to recognise that maybe it is not the kind of model of democracy that works in accordance with Armenian socio-cultural dinamics. And maybe re-configuring the democratic system in accordance with Armenian cultural values is what people demand when they utter these phrases which are easily taken as nothing more then voter apathy and lack of civic education.

    Another point to remember is that Western democracy’s and civil liberties and human right and what not… are not built on simply voter motivation, or fair campaign practices, or rarity of electoral fraud etc. Oh, no… they are built on long struggle by workers who went through a lot of trouble to gain strong Trade Union rights and worker-organization culture.

    Orinary people in the west have long realised that rights are not given – they are taken. They have also understood that an individual vote (even if it is counted) is not a bargaining chip n this broad long historical game of Class War.

  4. nazarian said

    “Orinary people in the west have long realised that rights are not given – they are taken.”

    Amen to that.

  5. farrebls said


  6. Geralyn said

    A plsinaegly rational answer. Good to hear from you.

  7. I love the sentiment of Ulla's comments. As a lifelong sewer I can really understand the benefits of having her clothes made for her – perfect fit, better fabrics, attention to detail, they last forever etc. You can't ever replicate that in off the peg clothes, although that is not to say that buying RTW means being less creatively dressed. I suspect that getting your clothes made would be prohibitively expensive nowadays unfortunately.Love your blog by the way. I only found it recently but glad I came across it.

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