Thursday, October 04, 2007
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MORE ON PATRIOTISM
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Our problem, which is also the world’s problem, is not the underworld but the overworld, i.e. the men at the top. When the underworld stages a massacre, like Al’s St. Valentine’s Day, its victims may or may not number a dozen. But when states commit massacres, its victims may number in the millions.
“What we need is solutions,” the average dupe is brought up to say, thus implying these solutions don’t yet exist, and they need to be discovered by a visionary, another messiah, who will appear among us out of nowhere and be our savior. This, needless to add, is a rumor created and publicized by our propagandists who are so used to playing the blame-game that it doesn’t even occur to them that they are our problem and the only solution is getting rid of them. Either that or to convince them to get out of their box by learning to think not as leaders of men (or mini-sultans and neo-commissars) but as servants of the people.
What do the people want? This is a question they don’t even bother asking perhaps because they already know the answer, which is strength through consensus, and peace and prosperity.
People who preach patriotism pretend to be ignorant of misguided patriotism, the kind that dehumanizes the enemy and ultimately legitimizes hatred and serial killers on a massive scale.
Some philosophers and creators of closed systems of thought like Saint Thomas Aquinas and Karl Marx may speak of just and unjust wars and revolutions. But as Toynbee points out somewhere in his monumental STUDY OF HISTORY, just wars have a way of becoming indistinguishable from their counterparts, because once put into motion they create their own rules and forget those formulated by the likes of Aquinas. As for revolutions, they succeed only in replacing one set of rascals with another.
Patriotism and wars may save the hide of a tyrant or increase the size of his dominions, but they are not the solution; and if they are, they have not solved any one of our problems.
This much said let me add that there is nothing wrong with patriotism in itself as long as it is a sentiment between you and your homeland. But when it is politicized and organized, it is invariably coupled with militarism, and the ultimate aim of all militarism is slaughter. And slaughter is slaughter. To say if my enemy slaughters my family it’s bad, but if I slaughter his it’s good, is the kind of moronic primitivism that rightfully belongs to the jungle.
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Friday, October 05, 2007
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WHERE THERE IS NO VISION
THE PEOPLE PERISH
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Verbal abuse in the name of Armenianism is not patriotism but hooliganism. I am not casting aspersions. I am only confessing past sins. But if the shoe fits, you are more than welcome to it.
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When I was young I thought the aim of an argument was to win it by silencing the opposition, and the surest way of achieving that goal was by raising my voice and escalating the personal attacks. Another tactic was assuming superior airs, making dogmatic assertions with the clear implication that only an idiot would dare to contradict them. As for dialogue and consensus: I considered both to be anti-Armenian activities. It never even occurred to me to suspect that my way of winning an argument may result in alienating a fellow Armenian. And I know something I didn’t know then. To alienate an Armenian is to carry on Talaat’s policy of extermination by other means. To silence a fellow Armenian by means of verbal abuse or censorship is also an unconscious admission of the fact that we don’t deserve to live.
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We lie when we blame others for all our problems. We deceive ourselves when we brag we survived where many others perished, when our survival is nothing but a slow-motion death of a thousand cuts, most of them self-inflicted. We flatter ourselves when we say we are smart. Some of us may indeed be smart, but collectively and politically we are no better than perennial dupes of foreign and domestic manipulators. Consider the evidence of history: at the turn of the last century we were taken in by the empty verbiage of the Great Powers and the Young Turks. Even our ablest statesman, Krikor Zohrab, not only trusted Talaat but also risked his own life to save his from the secret police of the Sultan. In the Soviet Union we were taken in by Stalin’s b.s. In the Diaspora we fought for Hitler. That’s right: Armenians fought for both Hitler and Stalin and their only tangible achievement was killing one another. And today we believe in our own propaganda, and that’s the worst thing that can happen to a nation: to believe in the flattery of their baloney artists whose favorite line is the one immortalized a century ago by Yervant Odian: “Send us a little money.”
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Nothing I have said so far is new or original. My line is neither novelty nor originality. I have only been paraphrasing and repeating what has already been said by far better men than myself. What I have said above may be said to be a variation in a minor key of Zarian’s dictum: “Our political parties have been of no political use to us. Their greatest enemy is free speech.”
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If you think I am being negative, consider my two main sources so far: the Bible and our literature. After writing these lines I came across the following passages in Santa Teresa of Avila’s BOOK OF MY LIFE, in a chapter subtitled “Advice to World Leaders” (page 150): “There is so much deception and duplicity here on earth. A certain person persuades you that he is your friend, and then you find out that it was all a lie. Who can live in a world so rife with deceit and betrayal?” And, “No one believed those who expressed themselves better than I have.”
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Saturday, October 06, 2007
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SITUATION / SHITUATION
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A Kurd was being interviewed on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and I was immediately struck by the way he was bragging about Kurdish history and culture. Was it possible that all oppressed and divided people were indoctrinated to think, feel, and speak the same way? And even more to the point: have they ever been successful in fooling anyone but themselves? The suspicion that we may be no better than Kurds became a certainty when I undertook the task of translating three books by Zarian – actually, four (the fourth, like so much else, remains unpublished and very probably will never see the light of day). That’s when I started writing critical commentaries. At first no one objected. Partisan as well as non-partisan papers printed everything I wrote, probably thinking my critical barbs were aimed not at them but at the opposition. Only when it became clear that I was targeting all sides indiscriminately did they pull the plug. To those who say they did the right thing because I am a bad influence, I say: Relax, no harm done. No respectable young lady ever lost her virginity to an obscene book; far better men than myself have failed to breach the stone walls of our collective consciousness; and for every dissident, we have a chorus of pro-establishment pundits, brown-nosers, and ghazetajis who sing our praises during the day and dig our graves at night.
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The question all patriots should ask themselves is: Why is my patriotism right and my enemy’s patriotism wrong if both spring from the same source and aim at the same goal, which is slaughter of the enemy?
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And here is an example of speaking with a forked tongue: We like to identify ourselves as a peace-loving civilized nation and not as ruthless bloodthirsty imperialist barbarians, and yet we brag about our Dikran the Great and his ephemeral little empire.
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Richard Millet (French writer and critic, b. 1953): “I thought literature was immortal. I thought the French language and France were immortal. I know now that not only are they mortal but moribund.”
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