The Law and the Line

Garen Yegparian
Garen Yegparian

Garen Yegparian

BY GAREN YEGPARIAN

Laws are made to regulate interactions between and among people and governments.

Laws are made to codify systems of behavior that are beneficial.

Laws are made to express the social contract that is presumed to exist between governor and governed.

Laws are made to prevent bad outcomes or promote good ones.

Laws are made to be broken is an often heard smart-alecky remark, akin to the Armenian saying “necessity dissolves the law.”

Most people agree that “the law” – as somewhat grandiosely referenced, is a good thing.

But what happens when the law starts to become a problem or the source of problems. Of course it can be changed, but those actually making/formulating the laws must agree that it should be changed. We are constantly witness to situations where there is insufficient support for changing laws, frustrating many who would like to see those changes implemented.

And, it gets much worse in a dictatorial system of government where one person or a very few people can change or not change laws based on their whims.

But perhaps the worst is when laws, legitimately enacted and (initially) enjoying broad support, become tools in the hands of governments or affiliated elites to oppress citizens or hide their corruption and misdeeds.

How then to proceed?

There is of course a fairly well established tradition of civil disobedience and other forms of citizen action. But what if these approaches make no headway. What sectors of society end up controlling government to the detriment of other sectors of society?

How long must people bear the abuse, beatings, corruption, degradation, exile, fear, graft, harassment, impoverishment, jailing, kleptocracy, lying, misgovernment, nepotism, ostracism, payoffs, quid-pro-quos, rapaciousness, stress, torture, unfairness, vices, etc. imposed by a government and its cronies?

When is the time to shift from the actions that saved Mashdotz Park to actions such as those taken by the self-anointed “Sasna Dzrer”? When should the native American protesters at Standing Rock respond with violence to dogs unleashed to bite and harass them? When does the “small steps” or “incremental reform” approach to improving our societies become insufficient?

A line from Victor Hugo seems to provide the answer: “When dictatorship is a fact, revolution becomes a right.”

But then how do we establish that fact? Where is the line to be drawn between acceptable and acceptable use of the law? When should the line between peaceful and violent, bloody, revolution be crossed? Who should bear the responsibility of keeping society away from these dangerous lines?

What should we as Diasporans be doing with respect to Armenia’s governance issues and the similar problems posed in the host societies where we reside? Who should be thinking and speaking to these issues? Scholars? Average citizens? Activists? Where do you stand?

Start determining where your lines are lest the law lead all of us to lose our liberties.

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4 Comments

  1. Hrair said:

    Ok you asked for it … Lol
    As far as Armenia part of your question is concerned ;
    I think “diaspora ” is concerned it should unjust , react and formulates its conduct ( I’m trying to say “”VERABERMUNK” lol) when it deals with the circles , powers who govern and are in power . Diasporas main concern and worry has always been to support the well being of Armenian statehood and people by contributing positively and constructively with all areas and means possible . What diaspora should restrain from doing is to mix any “government and or rullig force ” with our ideals and above listed goals and shouldn’t stand in line to get medals and swords from the same if that government / party / force is overstepping its legal mandates , is criminal and is contributing to demise and destruction of Armenian statehood and people living there . IE Current government …
    As far as what “diaspora” should and shouldn’t do in different countries it lives , I have answered what it I think should do as far as helping to advance policies
    that can help Armenian statehood and its relationship with the host country , and generally it should be actively and positively engaged in the political , social and cultural life of the “host / citizenship country ” . Engaged as a unit for Armenian related issues and as individuals when lical / national issues are at hend . Each persons activity level, political and social affiliations should be the right and business of the
    individual .

  2. Robert Bedrosian said:

    Garen,

    Thank you for a fine, thought-provoking article.

    No two ways about it: for Armenia, corruption/dishonesty is the biggest problem. The best we in the West can do is to try to teach by example…if possible. We can show them how it MIGHT be done, minus the corruption. Remember, the United States once had its own era of “banshee capitalism,” and many of today’s first families profited from that robber-baron era. Still, despite the U.S.’ faults, we are paradise compared to today’s Armenia or the ex-Soviet states. It is only in this relative sense that we can preach and teach, since we have lots of corruption and problems here, too, along with unresponsive, and dishonest leaders.

    When it comes to teaching by example in Armenia, the American University of Armenia, is, literally, an example of a positive approach, and the many projects by the churches, AGBU, and wealthy individuals, are too. AUA’s School of Business Management needs to involve itself more in characterizing and reforming the business climate there. I don’t hear much about the Business School’s activities. Why don’t they make “case studies” from real life? Let them examine the various sectors of the Armenian economy and show where the weaknesses and strengths are. Then they should publicize their findings, in print and on the Internet. Let the government agencies respond. Put them on the defensive. Western papers like Asbarez could give prizes for the best exposes and the best successful innovations. The prizes need be only articles of praise and recognition, but they could shine a light on problems, and achievements. AUA’s Business School is a perfect platform for making investigations and suggestions.

    Because of Armenia’s corruption/dishonesty problems, sunshine is needed in everything they do, along with full legal accountability.

    The Opposition might try it on, too: what would happen if they had parliamentary discussions about “Sunshine Laws?” Let them examine, hold up to the light, and debate just what these “alien” concepts are, and how they work. Why not make the branches of government actually work effectively for a majority of the people, instead of spinning a cocoon of artificial reality around everything?

    Progressive change could be brought about using teach-ins in the different spheres of Armenian daily life. This is where the Opposition should be “on the streets.” In the United States, too…maybe anywhere governments operate.

    They should be asking out loud: “What is wrong with the way we are doing things?”

    The strategy of hunger strikes and unreasonable demands for the head of state to resign do not address these problems. They are dramatic and headline-grabbing, and rallying cries, but the Opposition usually does not go beyond symbolic, absolutist demands. Why don’t they have more public discussions about what is needed? Have more teach-ins and sit-ins and invite government officials to participate. Put the government on the defensive over their actual policies and don’t let the issue be about mistreatment of detained protesters.

    Armenian civil society needs to morph itself into a Shadow Government, not just making demands but presenting reasoned alternatives. Every time the elected government does or says something which is objectionable, participants in that Shadow Government need to turn on the floodlights, have public discussions, issue detailed counter proposals, and hold protest teach-ins.

    There are a variety of venues in Armenia for dissidents to publicize their ideas. Their very own institutions are, and must remain, the most important. But the institutions that Westerners have set up in Armenia also are ideal platforms for this, and have the advantage of being “safe” from the government and its tricks, so far. The process has already begun, but they need to turn up the volume.

  3. Manuk Pogosysn said:

    It is time Armenians start supporting Republicans (and even libertarians), and move away from Democrats.

    Alex Jones, from InfoWars, fought the “Young Turks” (a name so reprehensible, that it is the equivalent of NAZI) a group of Turks and one Armenian, who are huge Hillary supporters – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4pX53AqpUs. Alex Jones is recognizing the Armenian Genocide on his show on almost every occasion. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fU5pv8X-BLg – check between 30 and 40 minute mark) Which mainstream news site does that?

    Alex Jones, from InfoWars, did more to fight the Turks than 99% of Armenians. Alex Jones has stood up for Christians in the Middle East and Trump and Alex Jones are very closely aligned. With respect to Hillary Clinton, she is happy with killing for the sake of killing. With respect to Muammar Qaddafi, a secular leader in the middle east, she said “we came, we saw, he (Muammar) died.”

    The Clinton Crime Family was also responsible for bombing innocent Serbs, co-religionists of Armenians. The Clinton Crime Family is no friend of us Armenians. Let’s vote Trump – http://www.clintonmemoriallibrary.com/clinton-crime-family-exposed/

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