Who Is An ARF Member-Dashnakstagan

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The founding fathers of the ARF from left: Stepan Zorian (Rosdom), Kristapor Mikaelian, Simon Zavarian

The founding fathers of the ARF from left: Stepan Zorian (Rosdom), Kristapor Mikaelian, Simon Zavarian

BY GARO R. MADENLIAN

The following is a summary of the conditions the ARF Bylaws place on all those applying to join the ranks, and continuously demands of all ARF members, as explained by Nigol Aghpalian in his “Thoughts About the ARF – Armenian Revolution Federation” booklet, written in Armenian. This is not a literal translation but a summary of the principles behind these demands to become and continue to remain a Dashnaktsagan as explained by the author.

These requirements, and the principles upon which they are based, have remained the same until today, and will carry us into the future as we continue the struggle for justice for the Armenian people via the ARF.

Armenian Revolutionary Federation

Armenian Revolutionary Federation

The ARF Bylaws expressly demand potential members, and continuously demand the same from those in the ranks to: 1). Accept the ARF Program and adopt its Modus Operandi, Methods, and Tactics; 2). Submit to the ARF Bylaws and Decisions of the organization; 3). Put forth all their efforts to realize the ARF Program, Bylaws and Decisions via the ARF’s Modus Operandi, Methods and Tactics; 4). Join a Khoump [in the geographic area where you reside]; and 5). Pay membership Dues [set forth by the Regional Convention].

Thus, in order to be an ARF member, one must wholeheartedly and completely comply with all five (5) demands, and must do so simultaneously and not sequentially over time. The true Dashanktsagan accepts and adopts these principles, internalizing and implementing them; in essence, living by them.

The ARF’s calling and role make it abundantly clear that to do anything short would yield incomplete or defective members who, at best, can be sympathizers, allies, or supporters – many of whom can be found close to and on the same path with ARF at various times…but, as Nigol Aghpalian breaks each demand down and so exquisitely explains, they are not and cannot be Dashnaktsagans.

Nigol Aghpalian authored “Thoughts About the ARF - Armenian Revolution Federation”

Nigol Aghpalian authored “Thoughts About the ARF – Armenian Revolution Federation”

Accept the ARF Program and its Modus Operandi, Methods, and Tactics

The ARF Program is a political-economic concept that is fundamentally intellectual with a rational basis to achieve certain goals for the Armenian nation. The Program first presents its arguments and reasoning based on which it builds as a socio-political and economic outline – the realization of which is both desirable and feasible through action. It is a belief that it is possible to achieve the desirable result of overthrowing the ruling political and economic conditions for a better and just reality, and not an illusion or a dream.

The Program considers it possible to synthesize the detached, disjointed, and disparate efforts of man and mankind in a coordinated effort, bringing forth the overthrow of the reigning ruling and oppressive situation. It considers the accepted natural course of public life can be impacted positively with an organized effort to pave a new and improved direction. Thus, the ARF Program is not only the declaration of national demands, but the announcement of a certain mentality and Mindset for a realistic and attainable ideal.

Therefore, when the ARF Bylaws demand the acceptance of the ARF Program, it not only expects adherence to a specific structure of political-economic demands, but also a specific ideology and Mindset that those goals are capable of realization through one’s efforts.

The Dashnakstagan wholeheartedly embraces the ARF Program, including the political-economic demands with the Mindset that it is actually attainable, and adopts the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, through which it works to achieve the goals outlined in the Program.

Unfortunately, some accept the construct of the Program and its political-economic demands without adopting the Mindset, or vice versa; while others accept the Program but not the Modus Operandi, or vice versa, accepting only a portion of the Program or none at all. Thus, we are left with a number of scenarios where an individual only partially meets the first demand and thus cannot be an ARF member, Dashnaktsagan.

The ARF Member, Dashnaktsagan, Accepts the ARF Program and Adopts the ARF Mindset

1A: One who Accepts the ARF Program without adopting the ARF Mindset cannot be a Dashnaktsagan

The ARF member recognizes the importance of realizing the political-economic demands outlined in the Program, and believes with conviction that through its activities, hard work and collective effort, the ARF can shape public opinion, impacting and changing the direction of international and national forces, whether classes or international powers, to create a positive future.

Those who believe in the ARF’s political-economic demands and find them desirable, wishing they come to fruition because they will benefit Armenians, but have not adopted the Mindset that it is actually attainable through a coordinated and collective effort, cannot be members of the ARF. They may be naïve loyalists who believe things develop spontaneously in a natural direction leading to the realization of the Program; they are enlightened by the ARF Program regarding political forces and social movements, but do not see the need for an organized and collective effort; the Program does not incite or drive them to put forth any effort for that future. They are simply dreamers for whom the ARF Program accurately foretells of a positive future. At best, this person finds the Program desirable and believes it should be preached so people will have hope for the future.

The ARF Bylaws rightfully do not recognize this individual as a Dashnaktsagan because the ARF is an organization that strives and struggles for the benefit and welfare of the public; it takes action and does the necessary work. It is not merely a mental exercise, prophecy, or dream that will naturally lead to a desirable result, and thus is not a group of dreamers with a positive disposition.

The ARF member believes the Program is desirable and attainable through the decisions of the organization and a collective and coordinated, continuous effort that will shape the future based on its Program; It’s the party of hard work and action that makes it capable of influencing this change where the individual member’s efforts have a vital role in this collective and coordinated struggle.

The ARF members who led Operation Nemesis

The ARF members who led Operation Nemesis

1B. One who Adopts the ARF Mindset without Accepting the ARF Program cannot be a Dashnaktsagan

These individuals are similar to the Dashnaktsagan in that they adopt the ARF Mindset that hard work and a continued, coordinated effort can impact a positive change but refuse to accept the ARF Program’s political-economic demands; they believe in the ability to impact this direction with a conscious and coordinated effort; that individuals are not merely observers of historical movements, but play a key role leaving their mark on the movement individually or collectively with sympathizers, and others.

They are similar to ARF members with their Mindset and work ethic; however, they do not adopt the ARF world view and political-economic demands. They see the future of Armenians in a different light, have different goals, and strive for a different future with their efforts. They are on a different path with a different destination; they have different goals.

The ARF bylaws do not recognize these people as Dashnaktsagans because the Bylaws clearly state that ARF members must accept the Program. It is not enough to have the ARF Mindset that through hard work, effort, and sacrifice one can bring about a change, when the change they are working for is something foreign to the Program.

Not only are they not ARF members, they can only be opponents, adversaries, or enemies because although they may work diligently, they are striving to achieve a different goal and for an alternate future; all their thought, energy, and effort have a calling to remove the ARF, and the forces and values aligned with the ARF, as obstacles to their desired future. Although they are similar to ARF members in their dedication and drive, they are working for different goals leading them elsewhere.

Thus, we must realize opposition forces can also have hard working people of moral character working towards their own goals, but they still remain opposed to the ARF because they have a different agenda, which may make them noble, merciless, or cruel enemies, but enemies nonetheless. However, if they accept the ARF Program they can become selfless compatriots and colleagues.

The ARF Member, Dashnaktsagan, Accepts the ARF Program in its Entirety and Adopts the ARF Modus Operandi, Methods and Tactics

1C. One who Accepts the ARF Program without Adopting the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, cannot be a Dashnaktsagan.

These individuals are also similar to Dashnaktsagans as they accept the ARF Program completely, i.e. the political-economic demands and have adopted the Mindset that it is desirable and attainable. They are of the same opinion as the ARF regarding social movements, have the same political-economic demands, evaluate history similarly, and desire the same results. They are supportive of ARF’s positions, viewpoints and outlook for the future, and believe the individual and the masses have an important role and can impact historical events to shape that future. They strive to realize the ARF Program and believe it to be the best solution.

Long-time ARF Bureau chairman Hrair Maroukhian

Long-time ARF Bureau chairman Hrair Maroukhian

However, they refuse to adopt the ARF Modus Operandi which includes the methods and tactics to achieve the goals outlined in the ARF Program. They remain discontent with and do not believe it possible to attain the goals through such means. They are partisan to an evolutionary theory of change and not in the revolutionary methods necessary and adopted by the ARF. These individuals can at best be members of an Armenian Federation but not the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

They may do important work that can be helpful; but they do not do Dashnakstagan work. At best, they do not work counter to the ARF. They can be considered ideological sympathizers but unable to partake in the ARF’s core, main revolutionary activities because they are opposed to such methods and tactics, and often times deem them to be harmful. As a result, they remain separate and distinct from the ARF and cannot be Dashnaktsagans.

They may be “good” Armenians with socialist ideologies believing in a free, independent, united, and socialist Armenia and have the desire to realize them. However, they believe this can be achieved through diplomacy or other methods, without adopting the ARF’s Modus Operandi, revolutionary methods and tactics.

They remain supportive of the ARF’s evaluation of the current reality and conceptual future. They are not dreamers, or indifferent about the future, but they choose different methods and tactics and, thus, are not supportive of the ARF during the difficulties of the struggle and revolution They cannot be allies because they won’t have responsibilities or duties during that time and will be absent when it comes to actually doing the revolutionary work necessary to realize the Program. In essence, they abandon the ARF once the actual revolutionary work begins.

They strive to get to the same destination however take different paths to get there. Oftentimes they have plenty of opinions, but without taking on serious responsibilities or participating in the activities and hard work. As such, they are not aligned with the ARF during the journey, the trials and tribulations, struggles and battles.

1D. One who adopts the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, but not the Program in its entirety, cannot be a Dashnaktsagan

There are a number of variations here as well where individuals are in agreement with the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, but cannot be Dashnaktsgans because although they participate in the work and put forth an effort, it is to realize only portions of the Program, or none at all.

Some do not accept the Program in its entirety, as they believe in achieving only certain goals; while others are not concerned with the Program or its realization because they are drawn to the “type” of work and activities irrespective of the Program; or, they are working towards a different result because they have their own agenda and goals.

Those who Adopt the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, but only partially Accept the Program cannot be Dashnaktsagans

These individuals are in agreement with the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, and have the Mindset that the Program can be achieved through coordinated revolutionary activities. They are revolutionary in their work in pursuit of revolutionary principles; but, only to achieve certain portions of the Program.

They accept only that which they deem important and reject the remainder, such as an independent Armenia but not necessarily united or a united and independent Armenia but not a socialist republic, as they may believe it to be unrealistic or unnecessary.

The ARF batallion during the Artsakh Liberation War

The ARF batallion during the Artsakh Liberation War

They cannot be Dashnaktsagans because when decisions of the organization relate to those portions of the Program they are not in agreement with, they are unwilling or become unable to work towards achieving them with all their might. Thus, creating an artificial and insincere situation where instead of disciplined Dashnaktsagans, they become disobedient and insubordinate, especially when called upon to implement those decisions leading to the realization of portions of the Program they do not accept.

They can be sincere companions, allies, supporters or sympathizers, and even trustworthy, but only up to a certain point and time, and only as long as the ARF is working towards achieving those portions of the Program they accept. Inevitably there will be times when the ARF is pursuing sections of the Program that they do not accept, at which time they will become indifferent, stray or abandon, or even opposed to the ARF.

These individuals do not offer lifelong commitment and service. They use the ARF as a vehicle through which they can serve their own agenda and will ultimately separate from the ARF to pursue their own goals, which may either coincide or conflict with the ARF’s at various times.

They may be in agreement with the ARF on a multitude of issues but they do not believe that all decisions of the organization are mandatory, and thus remain temporary allies, co-workers, assistants, and only as long as they are in agreement with the ARF. Their cooperation is conditioned upon their agreement with a particular goal or area of focus, which can change abruptly. Their choice to sympathize and assist is determined on a case by case basis – not unconditionally and continuously like the true Dashnakstagan.

The organization can’t be trusted to them as they are not linked or connected to the Program but, instead, they remain connected to certain activities of the ARF which may be short-term or last for years or decades, during which they fulfill their obligations towards the ARF in order to maintain the vehicle through which they work on those items they prefer or deem important.

They are not part of the ARF family; but, rather, guests for a limited time based on a particular agenda or calling. They cannot defend the ARF because the ARF is not their home. It is merely a vehicle through which they can work towards that which they feel is important. They are not connected to the Program but rather the Modus Operandi or a few areas and types of activities.

They can be self-sacrificing individuals who work with fervor: disciplined members that become renowned or famous and bring praise to the organization and themselves – but only as long as the ARF is focused on projects that serve their own goals. They can be the best sympathizers when they want because they don’t simply talk; they show up and do the work, but only when they choose, and therein lies the defect.

Those who Adopt the ARF Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, without Accepting the Program cannot be Dashnaktsagans

There are still others who accept and adopt the Modus Operandi, methods and tactics but are not interested in the Program or even whether a program exists. These individuals adopt the Modus Operandi not because it leads to the realization of certain goals but rather because they have an affinity for those types of activities. The Program has little or no value for them and it’s the type of work that brings them joy and fits their character; they do not have revolutionary goals but rather a revolutionary temperament.

If accepting the Program, obeying the decisions and Bylaws, and paying dues are requirements to doing the revolutionary work, then they will do so, but the Program does not drive them; they simply enjoy adventurous activities.

Some of these individuals prefer danger and receive joy from living on the edge. Usually they are daring and bold combatants, loyal friends, disciplined soldiers, and always ready to take on dangerous missions. They have respect for the organizational bodies and leaders but more so for their like-minded friends and consider themselves to be the “true ARF members.”

They seek out the type of activities and work they desire but become weak and lose focus during times when there is no such need because they are driven by the type of work itself and not the Program, the goals, or the reason for doing the work. Their connection to the ARF ceases when the type of work they desire is not necessary. They either withdraw or continue being adventurers creating activities they desire outside of the ARF. What remains is their adoration for their friends and their memories.

They are not Dashanktsagans in the truest sense but can be the ARF’s strongest allies and sympathizers. They won’t establish or maintain the organization, but their collaboration can play a role in the ARF’s activities and growth. They are not long term ARF members. Then again, ARF members must be like them when working: daring and bold, loyal, disciplined, and self-sacrificing.

Conclusions for the first Demand and leading to the second

1. ARF members accept the Program in its entirety and submit to the Decisions of the organization putting forth all their Effort to accomplish the organization’s Decisions leading to the realization of the Program.

Those who accept the Program without adopting the Mindset or adopt the Mindset without any obligation to work towards the realization of the organization’s goals, are similar to each other in that they are theoretical sympathizers without practical participation in the work. The ARF Program satisfies their outlook and the ARF Modus Operandi to realize their own goals and/or their desire to engage in certain types of activities, but they do not satisfy the demands set by ARF Bylaws because the ARF is an active working entity with specific goals, not an organization that focuses on theoretical mental exercises.

Those who accept the Program partially, or not at all, yet adopt the Modus Operandi, are similar to each other in their relationship with the ARF. The former wants to be an ARF member to use the strength of the organization for his or her own agenda and goals. The latter wants to do the type of work he or she enjoys and receives satisfaction from doing.

Neither becomes an ARF member because of their commitment and dedication to the Program and its realization, but instead, to take all they can for their own goals: one to achieve goals they feel are important for society and the other for his or her own satisfaction or personal agenda.

It is irrelevant whether the organization benefits from them because they do not join the ranks for that purpose. They have their own differing reasons and would just as soon leave the ARF for another organization to pursue their own goals or engage in certain types of activities.

The Program and Modus Operandi are practical requirements for a lifelong approach with a set of rules and regulations, specifying a course of conduct and behavior, and not merely for one’s mental delight and enjoyment, as a theoretical composition to discuss resolution of issues. It’s not enough to intellectually agree with the Program and accept the Modus Operandi. To be an ARF member, one must also take practical steps towards realizing the Program and must do so with the ARF Modus Operandi, revolutionary methods and tactics.

The ARF must remain a strong grouping of members connected by the same Program, adopting the same Modus Operandi with the same Mindset that the goals are desirable and attainable through a coordinated and ongoing collective effort. Otherwise, it becomes a group comprised of various professions and affirmations and will quickly stray from its path leading to its destruction or dissolution.

The activities and work must be done in order to realize the Program because it is the Program that gives meaning and purpose to the activities and work. Doing the activities without working towards the realization of the Program, or accepting the Program in principle without working towards its realization, or having revolutionary goals without adopting the Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, is not enough and produces incomplete or defective Dashnaktsagans.

Those who desire to be ARF members must adopt the ARF Program containing the political-economic demands and worldview, with the ARF Mindset that it is desirable, feasible and attainable via the ARF’s Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, and must do so completely and without reservation. They must also be willing to submit to the ARF Bylaws and Decisions, put forth all their efforts to realize the ARF Program, abide by the Bylaws, and implement the Decisions of the organization via the ARF Modus Operandi, join a Khoump, and pay their Dues.

2. Adhere to the ARF Bylaws and Decisions of the Organization

Once potential ARF members whole heartedly accept the ARF Program and adopt its Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, they must still complete the remaining demands set forth in the Bylaws, the second of which is to submit to the Bylaws and Decisions of the organization. In other words, not merely accept the Program in principle, but through action, in accordance with the Bylaws and Decisions of the organization because the ARF does the work, and does so with a collective effort where the individuals’ efforts are coordinated in a determined direction to achieve specific goals.

The coordination of individual efforts assumes an interdependence between the executive bodies and individual members; both in relation to and within each other: the individual members are dependent on each other, the executive bodies are dependent on one another, while at the same time executive bodies and their members are also dependent on one another.

This interdependence is a moral responsibility that gains strength during the activities and work; the activities and work are determined by the decisions of the plenary bodies and meetings, and accomplished or achieved by the activities and work of the members.

The decisions of the plenary meetings and executive bodies are mandatory upon its subject members, otherwise there would disorder and chaos leading to anarchy where everyone decides for themselves what they want to do, when to do it, what to rely on, and how to prioritize: a riot instead of an organization; haphazard instead of deliberate; and as a result, incapable of working in a coordinated and focused manner towards any of its goals, thus leading to its dissolution.

To accept the Program and Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, but to work and decide independently and individually is of no value to any organization, let alone the ARF. Those who adopt this independent approach cannot be Dashnaktsagans. They are either arrogant individuals who under such pretenses and claims drag multitudes of other members down with them and away from the organization, or they’re simply accidental companions who either inadvertently or purposefully confuse the otherwise multitudes of working, focused, and pragmatic ARF members.

These individuals create a disorganized force and, even if they are sympathizers of the same Mindset, or even great in numbers, they still have no value to the ARF. They are incapable of providing actual real support because they are not connected by the same Bylaws. In fact, many times they believe they are not subject to the Decisions of the organization. They defy one another, and at times even the ARF when it suits their needs. They are generally self-sufficient, free and independent, and believe their opinions to be superior to the decisions of the executive bodies and plenary meetings, and their will superior to the obligation to carry out the decisions of the organization.

They stand up to and revolt against loyal members, creating quarrels and even brawls or fights as they bully the weak and declare their whims the law of the land. They are defiant members to the organization if already in the ranks, and unavoidable elements in the destruction and eventual break up of executive bodies creating divisions in the party.

They consider obedience to be slavery, and discipline to be an uncreative disability or crutch. Yet, oftentimes, they bow their heads to the individual they perceive to have greater strength and believe to be superior.

The ARF Bylaws demand that before entering the ARF family, the candidates undertake to subject themselves to the Bylaws and Decisions and accept them as their own; to be ready to resign their own opinions and will to adopt the opinion and will of the ARF and their fellow members, disseminating the opinions and working to implement the Decisions, both as their own.

The requirement to be obedient to the Bylaws and Decisions directs the work of the individual in the direction decided upon by the general membership but not to stifle its members’ vigor and force. The ARF is an organization of active working members who knowingly and intelligently understand this principle and abide by the Bylaws and Decisions, and with all their might work towards their realization, irrespective of personal opinion or viewpoints; it is not a collection of passive individuals subject to the will and volition of “strong” individuals.

ARF members are not pliant, obedient, or submissive to the Bylaws and decisions but knowingly and intelligently accept them, making them their own, and converting them into their internal stimulus through which obedience becomes unanimous agreement and consent; the activities and work become the execution, performance, or application of personal will, and not simple obedience. They implement the decisions because they are connected to them through persuasion and remain subject to the Bylaws because it is indispensable and necessary for a functioning revolutionary organization. This obedience is a self-imposed unshakeable demand and not slavery or a slavish mentality.

Thus, even if individuals completely accept the Program and Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, and have the ARF Mindset that it is desirable and attainable, but do not submit to the Bylaws and the Decisions of the organization, they cannot be Dashnaktsagans, per the ARF Bylaws.

3. Put forth all Efforts to Realize the ARF Program, Bylaws and Decisions via the ARF’s Modus Operandi, Methods and Tactics.

Adopting the Modus Operandi itself can be the acceptance of certain methods and tactics as a theoretical solution to a specific issue, and as a practical necessity. The ARF Mindset deems the Program to be achievable, thus the question becomes how to realize this desirable and attainable Program.

Some may answer this question theoretically; taking into consideration the external realities of political and social movements, and public activities, recognizing and evaluating their weight and power to come to the realization that the Program can be achieved through revolutionary means.

To others, accepting the Modus Operandi may mean to agree with a specific goal which can be achieved by specific methods or tactics, and even only by specific types of activities.

Unfortunately, these individuals cannot be ARF members either because, in addition to accepting the Program and Modus Operandi, ARF members are required to put forth all their efforts to realize them. Thus, the Bylaws do not seek members with theoretical solutions to issues but, rather, dedicated members working towards practical solutions.

The Bylaws further demand that ARF members put forth all their efforts to achieve the goals identified in the Program and implement the Decisions of the organization thus bestowing upon the active working member the title of being a Dashnaktsagan, and not a complacent or passive member.

It is irrelevant to discuss those individuals who accept the Program and Bylaws as a concept without its practical implementation, or even those who accept them as a practical yet conceptual solution but not mandatory. They cannot be ARF members because to accept the Program, Bylaws, and Decisions without putting forth every effort to implement and realize them is to simply engage in a mental exercise and nothing more. These types of people can only create a group of like-minded, kind and gentle dreamers; an ineffective organization, not a political force.

The Program, Bylaws and Decisions come alive and are effective through hard work to achieve or accomplish them, and have only as much value as the effort and work put into their realization. On paper they are worthless and can only formulate the mentality of a certain time period incorporating the attitudes, beliefs and values of a certain region and expressing their wishes. Without doing any of the work, they are merely dreamers. It is the difficult activities and hard work that create historic events and revolution, even though they are preceded by a plan, a program, and decisions where the coordinated efforts are based on the Bylaws along with the unwritten Bylaws and traditions. Even the overthrow of ideas requires a plan with continuous effort, activities and hard work.

The ARF plans and makes decisions to create pivotal and momentous results. The Program and Decisions in and of themselves are only intellectual and historical evidence and not a political force or social movement. The ARF is an organization that creates political and social revolution and not merely an ideology of political and social revolution. And this historic epic can only be achieved through hard work, continuous political and social activities, and coordinated efforts of dedicated individuals.

Thus, it is not enough to accept the ARF program, Bylaws and Decisions. Those who accept them without working towards their realization cannot be ARF members; and, if they accidently squeak by and somehow enter the ranks, they will be incomplete members because Dashnaktsgans put forth the time, effort and energy to accomplish, achieve, and realize them because the ARF Bylaws demand acceptance and action.

4. Join a Khoump (In the U.S. a Gomidehutyun)

Although the bylaws recognize those who have completed the first three conditions as ARF members, it then sets forth two more requirements in order to be a complete Dashnaktsagan.

The first is to join an ARF khoump (smallest unit of the ARF structure. In the U.S. a Gomidehutyun in your geographic region) with the understanding and responsibility to submit to the Bylaws and Decisions of the organization. This requirement is listed in the Bylaws and thus a decision of the organization.

This necessity stems from the understanding that the ARF is an organization: a permanent and unified entity that works every hour of every day in pursuit of realizing its program; not an accidental collection of like-minded individuals. It works consistently and continuously – not with periodic outbursts of activity or in an interrupted manner. ARF members are connected to each other via the Bylaws, in pursuit of the Program, consistently and continuously – not to gather occasionally and only for specific tasks, discuss and make decisions and plans, take on projects that may succeed or fail, then go their separate ways until the next opportunity to meet and decide on the next project.

The ARF member is not a lone knight on the battlefield; but, rather a member of a knightly order. The Bylaws do not recognize individuals who work independently of the organization, sometimes working with members, while other times independently.

The ARF members’ activities are organized, the efforts coordinated, duties defined, rights determined, and all to realize the Program. This continues on a daily basis and not merely for one day or one project or activity. The ARF member is a part of an organization, in the ranks, a soldier in a socio-political army. This is why the Bylaws require each member be a part of a Khoump irrespective of his or her position within the organization. It requires that each member be connected to his or her “ungers” (fellow members/comrades) and not remain isolated or independent no matter how magnificent that independence may seem to be.

ARF members are one another’s “ungers” because they believe in the same Program and Bylaws and are members of the same organization via their Khoump. Having the same Program means they are in agreement and of the same Mindset; submitting to the same Bylaws and Decisions means to have the same rights and responsibilities; belonging to the same Khoump and working together towards the same ends means to be an “Unger” and actually a member of the same organization.

It is by joining a Khoump that one becomes a Dashnaktsagan; not by being on an executive body, which is a temporary position based on one’s ability, not a calling or a right. Today, one may be in charge, tomorrow someone else will take the lead. One does not need to be in an executive position to be an ARF member, but he or she cannot be an actual member if not a part of a Khoump.

The organization’s virtues sprout and are strengthened in the Khoump first, then they grow and develop in the broader public arena. The foundation of the ARF’s strength is formed with the Khoump and is reinforced because the members of the Khoump are closely connected to and interdependent on each other. It is because of the Khoump that the ARF has and continues to remain unbreakable despite countless attempts by external forces.

One who does not join a Khoump may be of great value individually and provide tremendous services to the organization but they remain disconnected from the daily lives of the ordinary and simple “Unger,” the good and bad of the daily routines which breathe life into the Unger and gives him strength during the important and decisive activities when he comes forth into the public.

The Khoump is the smallest living cell in a living organization. To join the Khoump is to be a part of keeping the organization alive, strengthening its stability and foundation, keeping its flesh and tissue fresh and healthy, and thus capable to play its vital public role.

It is in the Khoump where members become “Ungers” and the “Ungeragan” context is what creates great heroes and martyrs.

5. Pay Membership Dues (In an amount set by the Regional Convention)

This is also secondary to the first three demands but still a requirement and stems from the Bylaws and Decisions of the ARF, and work to realize them with all your effort and might.

The highest meeting in any region is the Regional Convention whose decisions are binding on all ARF members in that region. The Regional Convention determines the membership dues and thus, are binding. Additionally, the Bylaws specifically name this Demand, giving it more importance than other decisions of the organization. This is more than a financial obligation; it is a moral responsibility and duty because organizing and implementing public activities require financial backing, and even more so for wide-reaching and long-lasting liberation movements such as the ARF’s pan-Armenian national goals.

Many are not aware of the ARF’s nature and role. However, the Dashnkatsgan is required to know the value and role of the ARF in Armenian and people’s/humanitarian life and, based on this realization, is prepared to financially support his or her organization.

There is no maximum financial support, but there is a minimum requirement determined by the Regional Convention. The maximum is determined by the individual member based on his or her conscience and judgment. In this sense the financial sacrifice is not only one of the standards of the member’s organizational consciousness, but a necessary and essential one.

Thus, the Dues set by the Regional Conventions and World Congresses declare the level of the ARF consciousness. While the nations’ support of the ARF are indicative of the nations’ consciousness and appreciativeness of the ARF’s role and value of its work as indicative of the nations’ awareness and consciousness, and not in an absolute or arbitrary sense in a historical context.

The ARF Dues are the minimum duties of ARF members. Those who join and will put forth all their efforts to realize the decisions of the organization must first complete this minimum obligation, as it is the essential and necessary first lesson of commitment which can, in the future, lead to greater responsibilities sacrificing more time and energy for the work of the organization eventually leading to a life of commitment and service, dedication and sacrifice. However, if they fail to make this first essential commitment, then, in the future, they will likely fail when called upon to take on greater responsibilities requiring far greater sacrifices than a simple financial contribution. Thus, the Dues are the first test set by the Bylaws to determine the quality of the ARF member and level of commitment.

The Bylaws also restrain those who believe they have more favor, benefit, or influence on the organization based on the amount of their financial commitments. The organization remains firm with a solid base because of the continuous work and the Dues of the modest members of a Khoump who have no less influence than those who make large contributions. In fact, the members who accept the Program and Bylaws, and work to realize them and the Decisions of the organization have much greater value to the ARF than those who think their organizational responsibilities begin and end with their financial contributions, or those who are not members and contribute financially as sympathizers.

A compact and tight group of members in a functioning and active organization can always find ways to secure financial resources. However, financial resources alone do not make it any more possible to establish an ideological organization that functions with a committed and dedicated membership over the long-term, and in an atmosphere that encourages the attainability of the goals. It can, however, create a temporary group of self-interested, or even selfish, individuals who will disperse once the money runs out and the organization weakens. Financial backing is a great resource to accomplishing the ideals. However, an organization that is based on finances (similar to a corporation), and not based on ideals and principles, commitment and dedication, cannot exist.

The ARF Program is more fundamental than the money because the Program and activities can find the resources; however, money alone cannot create a Program.

Those who complete all the remaining requirements set forth in the Bylaws without paying Dues cannot be considered legitimate Dashnaktsagans as it is difficult to accept that they will be any less negligent in their other requirements or duties.

And those who pay their Dues without fulfilling the remaining demands cannot be Dashnaktsagans either no matter how great their financial contribution, which simply becomes only a donation and not membership Dues. They can be sympathizers, but not ARF members.

There can be no ARF member without Dues, but there can also be no ARF member only by paying Dues.

Conclusion

The Dashnaktsagan possesses a special mindset with a distinct way of functioning, behavior and course of conduct; a member of the organization by joining a khoump, subject to the Bylaws who pursues the realization of the Program and implements the Decisions through personal participation and multifaceted sacrifices where the financial membership Dues are the simplest to complete.

Based on the letter and spirit of the Bylaws, only those who complete all five demands set forth in the Bylaws and undertake them completely and without reservation are actually Dashnaktsagans.

Accepting the Program without adopting the Mindset is to be naïve; adopting the Mindset without accepting the Program in its entirety is to be in opposition to the ARF; Accepting the Program and Mindset but not the Modus Operandi is also to be in opposition to the ARF; Accepting the Modus Operandi without the Program is to be an adventurer without a long-term commitment; Accepting the Program and Modus Operandi without accepting that the Bylaws and Decisions of the organization are mandatory is to be a temporary companion, not continuously unified or on the same path; Accepting the Program, Modus Operandi and Bylaws and Decisions without joining a Khoump is to be withdrawn and isolated; Not paying Dues and considering oneself an ARF member is a failure to fulfill the first basic duty and is to think of oneself as better than the rest of the members.

The intellectuals who have theoretical and rational strength must stay away from retreating into isolation; they must join a Khoump as modest regular members, accept the Bylaws and Decisions, pay their Dues as they are mandatory, and maintain ongoing and continuous contact with their fellow Ungers keeping the ARF spirit and values alive in themselves and those around them, otherwise be deprived of being called a Dashnaktsagan.

The practical working forces are also required to not retreat to only doing their particular work while ignoring the other demands because the activities and work have value only when serving the Program. The activities and work receive their meaning based on the Program and ideals they work towards realizing, otherwise they are merely exercises.

Finally, the Bylaws continuously monitor those who have slipped into the ranks because they are partial to the Modus Operandi, methods and tactics, but do not accept the Program and the unified mentality or Mindset that the Program is attainable through hard work and effort. They can be allowed to work for and assist the ARF for a period of time, sometimes even reaching high ranking positions in the party. However, the Bylaws eventually will come crashing down on them with a swift, strict and rigid chastising blow, even to those that have become famous or renown and especially when they try to insert or place their personal and non-organizational values on the organization.

These demands do not stifle the Unger’s path, but they warn against straying. They continuously remind members of the Dashnaktsagan calling and to continue to move forward with all their efforts. They encourage the intellectual to delve deeper into the theoretical analysis and to always seek a better foundation to give shape and breathe life into the Program and Bylaws. They also encourage the practical working forces to be effective and advance forward, making progress towards realizing the Program. They encourage the spirit of sacrifice and evaluate ARF members based on their level of sacrifice, commitment, and dedication.  While doing so, they reject influence from any outside sources, including financial ones. The Dashanktsgan becomes a credible authority through hard work, commitment, dedication, and sacrifice, and all without reservation.

The Bylaws are strict and inflexible regarding those who stray, and supportive and encouraging to those who work hard and labor to stay on the path to achieving the Program. They appreciate those who remain focused, and are the scourge for those who stray away from the Program, and generally support those members who continuously work and justify their Dashnakstagan calling.

 

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4 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    The description is 180 degrees opposite of what Soviet indoctrinated Armenians believe. I think a #6 bylaw should be added to educate and counter the negative stereotype wholeheartedly adopted by past, present and future Russophile compatriots.

  2. State of Emergency said:

    ” – many of whom can be found close to and on the same path with ARF at various times…but, as Nigol Aghpalian breaks each demand down and so exquisitely explains, they are not and cannot be Dashnaktsagans.”

    Therein lies the main problem. There is no room for compromise. Its rigid beliefs will eventually run away those who seek to navigate the ebbs and flows of reality. What was current and relevant a hundred years ago can not and will not apply in today’s environment. Some core issue remain static but the ever changing political, social and economic landscape must be acknowledged. Case in point is the recent Velvet Revolution. The ARF sustained irreversible damage by not adopting the revolution early on. To make matters worse, they tried to justify their stance until it became clear that they were on the losing side. Some things are destined to change and organizations must be quick to recognize and allow it to develop and foster within their ranks. Otherwise, like stale and stagnant water, mold will mask the surface and alter its original purpose and intent.

  3. Ani Haroian said:

    Well said unger! Your article is a reminder for those who have forgotten and a boost for those who live it everyday.

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