Is Levon Ter-Petrossyan & Cln really the answer?
Posted by kronstadt on November 2, 2007
Bonaparte is back. And suddenly there is a lot of hype about Levon Ter-Petrossyan’s almost unexpected re-emergence on the political scene. This hype is also worrying as it is indicative of how volatile and *individual-orientated* the political atmosphere in Armenia is. Levon has made a 90min speech mostly criticising the existing regime, he has shown us no real alternative and no real manifesto or directions as of yet, though what is really worrying is that suddenly the public is already all hyped up about his re-emergence. Armenian politics is still about particular individuals, rather than concrete policies and directions. So I thought I’d throw in some of my reflections and analysis to clarify my position especially since we’ve been previously accused of being LTP supporters mainly by the writers from the Russophone blogosphere.
Levon Ter-Petrossyan’s arrival on the political scene is no doubt an important consolidating force. Before his announcement of his intentions to stand for elections there was no real unifying factor (or, more precisely – Individual) for the opposition to unite around. In effect, there was no proper opposition in the country. LTP’s presence changes all that, which is also why the Kocharian camp is already showing signs of being threatened.
Levon Ter-Petrossyan and the forces that have gathered around him are an opposition, no doubt. But are they an Alternative? I seriously doubt that.
Levon Ter-Petrossyan is a liberalist. He’s just another technocrat. The bottom line is that he is a believer in free-market economy and capitalist economic and social relations. Does he or would he offer an alternative that addresses the requirements of working class? I doubt that. Would he repel the anti-unionist laws that are in place today? I doubt that. Would he remove the barriers for cooperative organizations? I doubt it. Would he decentralise sovereign power? Would he devolve the decision-making power to self-governing bodies (hamainqs)? Again, I doubt that.
Furthermore, although like never before Armenia needs and craves for freedom of information and civil liberties, this does not necessarily mean that a full blown liberalist economic formula is the answer to the economic problems at hand. What Armenia needs today is the return of Ideology – an ideology that would be original to stale liberalist discourses of 20th century that have proved to lead to centralisation of power under the ruling economical elite, corruption of values and capital accumulation. Like never before Armenian craves for a package of policies that carries an emphasised Social and Communal (hamaynqayin) and Communitarian (hamaynqakan) character, rather than a nationalist, liberalist or technocratic one.
At the time of Soviet collapse Armenia was among the very few countries who had a self-contained and self-sufficient food production. In case of total isolation, Armenia had a self-sufficient mechanism of production and distribution of all the basic food essentials at moderate and affordable prices. In a good-old liberalist fashion LTP initiated a move away from that kind of structure, and Kocharian continued that. This is one of the immediate economical and security issues that need to be addressed, though I have serious doubts that LTP is the one to address it.
Nevertheless, I should point out that the main bundle of accusations against LTP is totally out of historical and economical context. It’s misleading and false. These accusations are usually reminding us of the economical collapse and hardships in early 1990s (the LTP years). And these hardships are always blamed on LTP – quite unfairly. This is one area where LTP cannot be plausibly accused, and here is the reason why: The way that Soviet production was organised is through a multitude of centrally controlled and state-organised production relations that span across the republics – i.e. a factory in Kyrgyzstan and Moldova would be manufacturing parts for another factory in Armenia where those parts would be assembled into a gadget, which in turn would be shipped to Ukraine to be assembled into the final product, which would be distributed through Moscow. YerAZ automobile factory and the Orbita factory were a good example of how this state-controlled and centrally planned mode of production worked. After the Soviet union collapsed and privatization had set in, these production relationships started to disintegrate. In effect, the factories were still producing products for other factories in the newly independent republics that no longer needed them or even had closed down. Furthermore, the opening up of the Soviet economy and the unmonitored “dumping” (exporting goods to a particular country at non-profitable price level) practices by the USA and other major capitalist industrial powers, basically killed the demand for Soviet-manufactured goods, which were of comparatively lower quality, packaging and marketability, and resulted in a massive outflow of liquid capital that was not designed for open global economy. Anybody who reads research papers about this particular episode of history of post-Soviet space can confidently tell that this was the primary cause of the economical collapse and hardships that were experienced by all the post-Soviet republics. Levon Ter-Petrossyan in his tiny little Armenia had little to do with all this.
Nevertheless, I need to ask: if LTP is elected won’t he overthrow the Kocharian Clan only to replace it with his own LTP Clan? Won’t he go hunting down all the businesses that have established their comfortable little profitable enterprises under the protective wings of Kocharian, Bargavach and HHK, only to replace those with petty enterprises under his own Cln? Yes, that’s quite a possibility. And that’s what you get when there is no proper ideology and no system of materially-grounded analytical thought in the country’s political terrain. In effect, what you get is a political atmosphere of no hope, no alternative, no direction other than the liberalist capitalist one that we already have in place. That is why people are easily hyped about particular individuals, rather than particular policies or directions.
To conclude, I think LTP could be instrumental in bringing about more freedoms, civil liberties and human rights, and an environment where once can conduct business facing less threat from the ruling economical elite. Yet, I cannot see how LTP can put the country on the long-term economical path that addresses the malice of Global Capitalism.