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Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

There are those who seek it, and know it not.  There are those who once were there and should return.  There are those who deny it, yet in truth, belong.

I am speaking of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

I have encountered countless people who are ideologically essentially a perfect fit in the ARF. They get together and have heated, heartfelt discussions with others like themselves.  They are active politically or societally.  They care deeply about Armenian issues.  They are motivated by the impulse to improve the human condition.  There are even people who know full well what the ARF is about and know they would mesh with it very smoothly.  Yet somehow, these people who are every bit as much a Tashnagtzagan in heart, soul, and thought as I am, have not found their way in.

The number of those who were once in the ARF, and now are not, is legion.  The causes are varied, some reasonable and understandable, others not.  Some are still out due to the emigration rules of the 1970s and 1980s.  Others simply did not have the time to be active and dropped out.  Still others are out because of what boils down to personality clashes.  Obviously, some had fundamental differences with the organization and left or were expelled—these cases sadden me, but are to be expected in the political world, and I speak not of this class of people.

The third group is the most difficult.  These are people who for some reason or another have a problem with the organization, which, upon real scrutiny, turns out to be a mirage.  Some have what I’ll call an inherited aversion.  For various reasons, their parents or grandparents were in opposition to the ARF.  Yet they (the current generation) have never looked beyond their family’s stories to see what the ARF is about and simply carry on that oppositional approach.  Others complain of the ARF’s approach rather than the substance of the issues.  Interestingly, I’ve noticed that many who fall into this group share the characteristics they complain about the ARF having!  Still others have a generational or geographic aversion.  I have heard comments to the effect of “the ARF is old school, not current and modernized” (can’t that be said of any institution, organization, or political party that has existed more than a quarter of a century?), or that the ARF “is a Middle Eastern organization” and doesn’t fit in the West (by that measure Catholicism shouldn’t exist beyond Italy, nor capitalism much beyond Great Britain and Western Europe).

So whether you are interested in national issues, social justice, or are just plain a political animal; whether you’ve never checked out the ARF, were once a member and now aren’t, or if you think it’s the worst thing to appear on the Armenian scene since Vasag Siuni; please, take a good look, and join us, we’ll all be better off.

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4 Comments

  1. John Lorenz said:

    Garen jan,
    I have a few comments.
    One can be as much a “Tashnagtsagan” in heart, soul, and thought as you are without being a member of the ARF. “Tashnagtsaganootyun” is a conviction, not a membership.
    Whereas the “inherited aversion” comment you made is true, an “inherited blind affection” symptom exists and thrives as well.
    Stay healthy… Hike & bike!

  2. Jacques said:

    How does one become a member? What is the process? How much does it cost? What is expected of members on a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly basis? What are meetings like? How are leaders elected, decisions made? Etc. These are questions that need answers. You can’t just ask us to join without telling us what it’s about. Ideologies are just words on a piece of paper. The Republican Party of Armenia has an ideology similar to the ARF, so do many other organizations. Why the ARF?

  3. Ara said:

    I wish it were not so-but the ARF is tough to support.

    It does seem to take a supportive position for the people of Armenia but only when the interests of Armenia and the ARF’s largely Western Armenia centric agenda are thought to coincide.

    It seems to exhort the people of Armenia to sacrifice their interests by not making the difficult to swallow accommodations needed to get the border with Turkey open. This is so, even if keeping the border closed is a pinprick to Turkey but a strangulated slow death to the small Republic with a shrinking population.

    The reality is that Armenia needs Turkey more than Turkey needs Armenia. Turkey and Azerbaijan have to do little more than watch the patient bleed out. The ARF as attending physician encourages the patient to show his toughness and resolve by not taking any steps that may save him.

    The actions and positions of the ARF signal more interest in avenging 1915 then establishing a viable Armenian Republic by 2050. To a population that seems desperate to vacate Armenia-the ARF offers continued sacrifice for the agenda of the comparatively comfortable diaspora and a 19th century economic philosophy clothing itself as social justice.

    Maybe I have it wrong in whole or part. Maybe the ARFers are about to board planes and emigrate to Armenia to fill the spots of the departing-maybe they are going to invest serious capital in the Armenian economy and advocate reforms to allow that capital infusion to yield profits that can be reinvested and grow jobs rather than redistributed in the name of social justice-maybe take steps that in the short term that may not move the ball forward on Western Armenia because they now realize that a economically strong and a well governed Armenian polity is a major pillar for that dream.

    My guess is the ARF will double down-continue to be outraged by any pragmatic steps if it comes at the expense of removing a pinprick for Turkey. Call for more sacrifice by the people of Armenia and continue to blame everyone else as the Republic of Armenia continues to implode.

    I suppose these thoughts are dispatch with the labeling of the writer as Turkish. My lineage 4 generations back does trace to Kharpert but I’m American.

    The ARF is sincere but seems more similar to an Albatross around the neck of Armenia than knights on horseback riding to the rescue.

  4. Daron said:

    “or if you think it’s the worst thing to appear on the Armenian scene since Vasag Siuni; please, take a good look, and join us, we’ll all be better off.” Garen, you are insulting Vasag Siuni with your lack of Armenian history knowledge. I’m sure you didn’t take the time to research history sources other than the “traditional” pro religion source. And ARF is a progressive organization…

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