"I am convinced that our country will become a powerful and a rich state. The 21st century will be ours for sure."
This is one of the most popular statements by Vazgen Sargsyan. After these words Armenia stepped into the 21st century and for twenty years resisted the consistent, total and constant attacks unleashed against it. Our country resisted for twenty years and fell afterwards. Armenia was once again seized by those whom Vazgen Sargsyan had removed in his time.
Vazgen Sargsyan was a creative man and like all people engaged in creativity was highly emotional. In his speech he noted, “We are an emotional nation and emotionality is not always a bad thing. Rather, it can often turn out to be quite beneficial”. He sensed instinctively that Armenia truly possessed all the necessary preconditions to own the 21st century. However, as is always the case with creative people, he failed to calculate the steps to take hold of the century…
Regardless of the source of inspiration for such an idea, there was, certainly, some reason in his statement. Armenia was a newly-independent state which, being situated at one of the most important world crossroads, possessed the most efficient army and the most united society in the region. No pipeline, railway or any other infrastructure could ever cross the region without taking into consideration the position of Armenia. If we made the right use of these factors, the world “powers” would have to consider our opinion.
The laws of mass and energy conservation are not only the pillars of Physics, but of economy and hence, of politics. When the “century” is owned by one, it, simultaneously, stops belonging to any other one. You cannot create your own “century”, you can only take it away from the one it belongs to. The Ankara Declaration was signed on October 29, 1998. Vazgen Sargsyan was murdered a year after that.
The Ankara Declaration was later signed by the presidents of Turkey, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan under the auspices of the US Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson. Three weeks after the murder of Vazgen Sargsyan the inter-state agreement on Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline was signed in the Istanbul Office of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) – an agreement which would not have existed had Armenia been able to keep Shahumyan or at least not to lose Vazgen.
With the help of the program being planned since 1993 and finally implemented in 1999 Europe started to solve its energy security problems, the US started separating the Central Asia from the Russian Federation while the regional actors were engaged in solving their local problems. The 21st century was seized by Azerbaijan instead of Armenia, since there, unlike in Armenia, there was one who came to power by slaughtering his own nation and later successfully blaming it on Armenia.
The demise of the idea of “Our Century” was quite normal and is to teach us a good lesson. We ought to investigate, analyze and make conclusions from the important episodes of the modern history of Armenia, otherwise we will be doomed to celebrating moral victories only. And there was, certainly, a moral victory even in this case. Maybe Vazgen Sargsyan was not brilliant at strategic planning, but he sure realized who he was playing against. This was one of the standard episodes in the history of our nation when the crazy one or the fool demonstrates his courage and stubbornness and perishes achieving only a moral victory, thereby becoming the symbol of only an unbending will with no regard to the “unbending” mind, unfortunately…
The lack of the “unbending” mind proved to be the cause of the series of moral victories and physical defeats of the last 1600 years which came to implant in us what existentialist philosophers called ressentiment (tr. Resentment, indignation, grudge, bitterness). Ressentiment occurs when people blame others for their frustration - an acute emotional state resulting from one’s own misfortunes. The feeling of inferiority brought about by defeats and their consequences, in its turn, led to a system of values and moral norms which were supposed to fight against the source of frustration or at least ignore it. This system of values was then exploited so as to make the subject which had, in fact, caused the inferiority feeling seem less important, i.e. the Persians, Romans, Turks, Arabs, Tatars who had won us objectively were transformed in the public consciousness into subjectively defeated ones so as to conceal our own guilt. The ego created a fake enemy to veil one’s own deficiencies. In case of absence of such an enemy among strangers, the role was taken on by the locals – Armenian Apostolic Church, princes, people from Karabakh and quite recently The Republican Party and the wealthy in general. This, roughly speaking, is the formula of deep grudge.
There is a widely held opinion that Armenians despise any rule. Though being true on the whole, this formulation, however, is incomplete. Armenians bear deeply rooted hatred towards anything strong and powerful. Since Armenians did not succeed in being strong, they started hating the powerful ones and power, therefore the right and the good. Nietzsche brilliantly explained this phenomenon in his work On the Genealogy of Morality. The abovementioned Ressentiment, or as I mentioned, grudge gave rise to two fundamental types of morality – master morality and that of a loser or as Nietzsche called, slave morality. The system of values of a master is based on the understanding of good and bad, whereas that of a slave – on good and evil. Moreover, if good means nobleness and bravery for a master, a loser considers evil everything that is good for the former and good which is despised by the master. The slave justifies his own wickedness, dishonesty and laziness and other vices to oppose the strong. The ides of punishment, the basis of morality, is rejected by the same logic. If the one with the psychology of a master views punishment as the main method to distinguish the good from the bad, the core of the restoration of justice, the slave associates it with the arbitrariness of evil forces. Being good means being unpunished for a slave and being punished, in any case, is evil. Any expression of rebel of a slave is accompanied with chaos and anarchy just because of inability to acknowledge the necessity of punishment. The essence of the “morality” of a slave lies in Utilitarism, i.e. in pragmatism, pessimism and cynicism deriving from it. Here lies the secret of our humor…
This is the inversion of values which deeply implanted grudge in the Armenian society. Being strong in Armenia you automatically turn into an object of envy and therefore, of hatred. The person with a strong character at best is labeled as haughty, the just – merciless, the reserved one – a snob, the man of manners – biased. Nietzsche assured that this inversion of values inevitably leads to “the rebellion of slaves”.
The Azeris, on the other hand, were quite fortunate since they had never had a state, nor a history. They had neither seen Babylon, nor Byzantine. Objectively their self-worth could not have been exaggerated and hence, they have been free from public inferiority complexes. If it was necessary to cultivate a field, they did so. When it was time to breed sheep, they did it and when it was needed to have 12 children, they did so, too. They lived in barns without experiencing frustration of any kind.
Germans, unlike Azerbaijanis, had both history and empire and despite all ups and downs Germany has always managed to stand up since it had Hegel, Nietzsche, Weber and Sheller whose words contained so much light that could enlighten even the most illiterate and proud German. These geniuses did not let their societies heal frustration with a system of false values. Instead, they constantly created challenges the victory over which helped cure psychological wounds. The ideas proposed by all these philosophers, by the way, were anchored on those introduced by Homer, Plato, Cicero, the Old Testament, Rousseau and others. These were ideas which, in their turn, were based on the same four universal virtues – wisdom, common sense, courage and justice.
We, Armenians, unfortunately ignored the light emanating from both world enlighteners and local “Narekastis”. Things got even worse by the fact that the sole source of light in us was the church with its Judean dogmas, which, initially were cultivated on the grounds of “slave-mindedness”. In the Roman Empire Christians were the slaves of “Ressentiment” who, unsurprisingly, revolted and with no less surprise, ruined the empire. We stepped in the 21st century with firm belief that it was not us, not the slave inside of us, nor the the “grudge-holder” that was to blame, but Persians, Turks, Russians, Armenian “thieves” who ruled us from time to time. To punish those “guilty” ones we used to invent idols, fake messiahs who would win moral victories for us, phony victories which we turned into legends through the inversion of values. We took bad for good and called the good evil.
Vazgen’s words contained our millennia-old history with all its charm and misery. It included our genetic memory, our dreams and crazy character, our accursed adventurous nature and contempt towards natural science and laws of the Creator. The 21st century is not ours yet because of the abovementioned ressentiment and its consequences which we have not overcome yet.
The right is the strong one. The right and the strong are the same. This is a philological reality. Romans call it virtue, Greeks - ἀρετή, Armenians - առաքինի. Being right and strong means the same in all civilizations. For thousands of years it has been comprised of only four constituents - wisdom, common sense, courage and justice. We did not heed to Nietzsche, nor did we listen to our Narekatsi.
Had we done it, we would not have let Vazgen Sargsyan and his junta, yes junta, look evil in the eyes of the population. We would not have allowed the public to be filled with so much hatred towards the light radiating from Vazgen’s strength/truth. We would not have allowed even the thought of “Stop drinking our blood” to occur to anyone when speaking about Vazgen. We would not have made it possible for anyone to celebrate his death and abuse it years later remembering the same tragedy with phony compassion. Even the most skillful orator would not have been able to make us believe that at wartime electricity was earthed or that the privatization of institutions and the break-up of the collective farms was right. No one could have convinced us that Kocharyan has stolen 4 billion dollars and Sashik - half of the rest. No one could have made us believe that the patriots who had spilt blood in the battlefield are ready to return our lands and slave-minded grudge-holders are ready to protect those lands at the cost of their lives. We would not have allowed anyone to turn Manvel into a “thief of tinned meat” and an ordinary liar into another fake messiah despite the amount of money that the people engaged in creating chaos in this besieged fortress had received from foreign countries.
Everything happened as expected. We lost because we were meant to lose. We were not right. Nor were we strong. Hating the foreign strong one who ruled us, we started hating strength and power as such and at critical moments we killed the strong ones among ourselves since we could not tolerate their existence out of envy. We needed to be virtuous to win. We needed to be wiser, much more sensible, much more courageous and a lot fairer towards ourselves to win. Victory has no place for illiterate and impertinent people. Our pacifists should have been afraid of the label of a pacifist and not of meeting their death in the battleground. Our deserters should have been sentenced to death if we wanted to win. Everyone should have been punished. Everyone should know what punishment is from childhood and it must be unavoidable. Victory is achieved with or on a shield, not with love. Love is possible after victory and towards the one who has been defeated. The right has always been the same from Homer to Sartre, from Achilles to Vazgen.
It is noteworthy, that we have always been distinguished with our attitude to justice though very often it was revenge that came to satisfy the thirst of justice. As a matter of fact, justice seems to have been the most important value for us throughout our long history i.e., at least one of the virtues, the most important one, has always been in our hearts. Sadly, instead of being just and fair towards ourselves we have sought to demand justice from the world around.
Hayk and his men considered Bel and Babylon unjust and left it. The descendants of Hayk regarded Persians and Rome unfair and “left” Great Hayq. They doubted the truthfulness of the God who could hint his own son that he could represent his own wife as his sister in return for his own security and material well-being. Deep down in their hearts they rejected that God and his son. Our ancestors viewed Ottomans unjust and “left” Kars and Van. Our fathers called Moscow unfair and “left” industry, collective farms, scientific and research institutes. Left alone in this besieged fortress we attached the label of the unjust not only to Vazgen, the “head of the junta”, but also to Levon, Robert, Serzh and will do the same with Nikol in the near future… However, along with calling them unjust we did not try and punish them fairly, rather we took revenge on them, revenge typical of a “grudge-holder”. Instead of justice and punishment exercised by the winner we caused harm. Harm instead of punishment. The difference between justice and revenge lies in the very difference between punishing and harming.
On the one hand, this is a sad story about stubbornness and its dire consequences, on the other hand, it serves as a testimony of an incredible, unbelievable, legendary will power and faith. In the long run, after the second glass the Armenian revolutionary dwelling inside each Armenian shouts “death or freedom” literally repeating the motto of Hayk Nahapet (Hayk the Great) and all his descendants.
This incredible and unbending strife for justice that is dwelling deep in our hearts is not only the main and fundamental characteristics of our type, but of the inner strength, as well, which is able to take us out of this endless circle of moral victories. This chain must be cut because there is nothing else “to leave”. There is no north where we could escape the claws of totalitarian liberalism. Moral victories are not possible any more. There is no alternative to facing the war and winning it.
The 21st century can still be ours if we accept the challenge. It means challenging ourselves in the first place. It means challenging the “slave” inside ourselves, the “grudge-holder” who has changed the places of good and bad. It is going to be a real fight for the restoration of true morality, fight for the right, good and strength. Strength which is reflected in will, rather than in muscles or the army, in the will to become wise, sensible and brave. The army, economy and well-being are merely reflections of the will.
Besides, considering the tiny land left from our natural area, natural resources and technological advancement we are doomed to be not only wise, sensible, brave and fair, but the wisest, the most sensible, the bravest and the fairest. Like wild animals who are doomed to be in the elite of food chain, we are doomed to make up the elite of humans, otherwise we will have to adapt, merge and vanish.
We are destined to death in all cases when we do not strive for the best. Our three million in this eight-billion world will either be the best, or will die away. There is no minority which adapts. The one that adapts will merge with the majority and will become mediocre, a statistical average. A minority can either be right, or not existent at all. We must get closer to the light of God, acknowledge the laws of the nature, get educated, improve, be the best, live best of all and go beyond all.
This is the destination we should direct the energy and passion that have accumulated for centuries as a result of indignation, craziness and inborn strife for justice.
It goes without saying that it will not be possible to restore, improve and correct what has been ruined for more than a thousand years and put it in a good shape to withstand the challenges of the 21st century in one year or even in a decade. If it took Moses 40 years to take his “slaves” out of the desert in disguise, we will need at least an equal number of years to take our own “slaves” out of the “desert” irrespective of the technological and informative progress we enjoy.
Time, certainly, is a strategic priority in shaping social behavior and tactical planning should be anticipated with regard to this strategic priority. Only a national state can serve as the most plausible guarantee to win time, a state which is doomed to be a besieged fortress both economically, geopolitically and ideologically. We should create defense rings, build walls out of the fortress in correspondence with the challenges and conduct a relevant economic and social policy inside. The strategic goal compels to build such an infrastructure potential which will make it possible to fight for 40 years being in blockade and providing multi-storey circular protection at diplomatic, economic, social, scientific and other levels.
State governance model and economy must, first and foremost, be able to provide for effective multi-storey defense infrastructures, secondly, positive demographic dynamics, thirdly, proper education for its citizens, fourthly, reliable alliance relations with external subjects with which our country shares common interests. These are the four tactical priorities.
To achieve the tactical priorities mentioned above we need to undertake comprehensive reforms.
Every citizen in the besieged fortress is first of all a soldier regardless of age and sex. Each person must clearly know his place and role both during passive actions (at workplace or at an educational institution) and in active defense actions (at the frontline or at the back). The diplomatic corps, armed forces, civil society, state institutions and viable circles of the Diaspora must institutionally get ready for ever-lasting, decades-long military actions.
Taking into account the current demographic trends and global migration tendencies it is necessary to pay special attention to information policy. Meanwhile, legislative, tax-related, pension and ideological grounds promoting birth-rate must be introduced. The statistical average couple in today’s Armenia cannot have only 1,3 children and hope that the country will compensate them the pension gap resulting from it from its natural resources. It is necessary to encourage the creation of such groups which will voluntarily express readiness to serve as an example and restrain the destructive influence of post-modernism on their society. The exceptional role of the Armenian Apostolic Church must be singled out in this context.
It is necessary to introduce two basic narratives of education and upbringing in general - the strife for the four universal virtues – wisdom, common sense, courage and justice, and the three civil principles – state, responsibility and counter-effect. Right from childhood citizens must be brought up, educated, developed striving to reach the two narratives mentioned above. To this end, not only educational institutions should be used, but also the whole arsenal of cultural, sports and youth programs. A special scientific emphasis must be placed on History and the objective and comprehensive illustration of the Armenian History, in particular. The Armenian historiography with all its inglorious failures of the last 1600 years must serve as a solid ground for the development of the Armenian critical thinking. Not only the dark pages of the past, but also the controversial episodes of the modern history of Armenia such as October 27, March 1, July 17, April 23 must be closed forever after objective, legal and historiographical investigations.
The pillar of the foreign policy doctrine must be the normalization and development of relations based on compatibility of common interests. Diplomatic efforts must be directed to those areas where there is a basis for objectively mutually-beneficial cooperation. It is necessary to refrain from establishing relations not only with subjects demonstrating explicit hostile attitude towards us, but with their supporters and patrons, as well. The interest of the country, rather than fairy-tales of a false system of values must be the visible and tangible basis of foreign policy.
To implement the reforms and to create the infrastructures mentioned above, we must consolidate and defend the whole national resource store be it a national resource, financial capital or a consumer market. It is necessary to introduce a progressive taxing mechanism for individuals and regressive mechanism for legal entities. The enlargement of institutions must be encouraged not only by tax privileges, but also by protection both against imports and for exports. Replacing imports with local production goods it is necessary to restrain consumption, encourage saving and capital investments. Tuition fees must be preferred to party expenses, investments in the field of self-development must be given preference to expenses for a new phone or clothes. It is necessary to restore the tax on luxury goods at least until poverty level has reached 10%. The state must oversee not only the destructive influence of those who try to hide their own complex of inferiority with luxury, but also the abuse of harmful habits.
These and numerous other reforms can be possible only in case of statehood based on firm grounds. It is critical to exclude the influence of foreign agents on all the four branches of government. The fake discourse of human rights must also be excluded. The same is true of placing an individual above collective well-being and above the state - the main guarantor of that well-being. People will not be equalized claiming that they are equal. Only animals can be equal which apart from being equal, don’t have a nationality, religion, a family, past and… future.
The state must stop being viewed as a parent or a homeland. Rather, it must be perceived as a child, the child of all its citizens. Leaving him is immoral, feeding him is the duty of each of us. His success is the greatest reward for all of us. In this country the monopoly of using violence, as well as that of the threat of its use will be vested in the authorities. The mechanism of decision-making will not change in this country despite the number of people demanding it in the streets, in social nets and elsewhere. This will become a state of decent people and the state will compensate to the people in accordance with their merits starting from the right of vote to pension and the burial site. In this country the punishment for immorality will be fair, severe and inevitable. Any encroachment upon justice be it physical, informational or political will be viewed as encroachment upon the state.
This is the way to create a united and unitary state, to restore the 21st century we have lost. We must not let super powers ignore this small rock lying on their path. They must take into account our opinion not because we carry out the orders obediently, but because we don’t and still carry on…