BY HRANT APOVIAN
I am a soldier [the nation] is my commander
I obey without question all its orders
with closed eyes I carry out my duty.
The upcoming elections in Armenia do not bode well for the future of our nation. The absence of viable candidates, the lack of political debate, devoid of any discussion of national survival issues is tantamount to collective suicide.
What is taking us headlong to the edge of the precipice is the lack of discussion regarding matters of national importance, national security, national identity, foreign policy, survival of the republic—our survival as a nation.
Our compatriots in Armenia are waging a war on poverty, trying very hard to make a living and alternately leaving for better prospects abroad. Our people in the Diaspora are waging a war for survival in the midst of upheavals in the Middle East and leaving for better prospects in the West, and eventually losing their identity by the assimilation Tsunami.
The result is a rapid deterioration of Nationalism in our people: That deep seated belief in our national identity, of being one nation, one people, fighting against occupation, against tyranny, against persecution that took a hundred fifty years to erupt and to evolve, that Rafi inspired; The revolutionary fervor that energized revolutionary parties, and vaccinated so many brave men and women is on its way to extinction.
The reality among Armenia’s ruling government circles is that the perception and understanding of foreign policy as to what is in the interest of the survival of the Armenian Nation, is not based on our National Security Interests.
The ill fated protocol treaty signed by the Armenian Government is one instance of a total lack of understanding of national security concerns for Armenia. It will engulf Armenia in a forced capitulation of our national rights and will severely damage the quest for justice for the Armenian Genocide.
The ongoing presidential debates are devoid of a national discussion of foreign policy issues. Depletion of Armenia’s Population is thought of as a propaganda tool used by the opposition, but not a serious threat, and the uneven distribution of wealth in Armenia is looked upon as a consequence of Capitalism in the New World Order.
We are getting ready to commemorate the hundredth Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. This is being looked at as a decisive milestone in our quest for justice at last. The truth is the anticipation for a breakthrough and the subsequent results might be anticlimactic.
The Armenian Government’s perception is vastly different than the Diaspora’s; where one looks at the Centennial as a milestone to demand recognition, whereas the Diaspora is seeking justice and reparations.
The fear is that this kind of discord may jeopardize the goals. The risk is that those who perpetrated the Genocide might benefit from this discord and that their preparations against our onslaught might be far better organized to squash our attempts.
The last burst of Nationalism was when the People of Nagorno-Karabakh took up arms to defend their land at great cost in lives and at great sacrifice. One would anticipate that the national fervor that swept across the Armenian Nation worldwide at the time would be perpetual. However what was won at great cost is no more at the center of our struggle. No serious attempts are made to repopulate liberated territories. No serious diplomatic drive, to acquire recognition for independance has been attempted to this date.
What are the possible causes for the regression in Nationalism?
First: To begin with the World Order has changed and Armenians as citizens of the world – including the population in Armenia – are affected by a universal decline in Ideology. Material pursuits overwhelm Ideological ones and are affecting new generations.
Second: As time passes we have lost our memory passed on to us by our Grandfathers and Grandmothers. Assimilation in its many forms is rearing its ugly head and wreaking havoc in families of both Armenian parents and mixed marriages.
Third: The position of the ruling government in Armenia that was set by the First President of Armenia and which is still pervasive, based on a short sided understanding of what Armenia’s priorities should be; downplaying and undermining any attempt to base Armenia’s security on a vigilant strengthening of our independence and a quest for justice for the Armenian Genocide.
Fourth: The lack of Education of the new generation, the teaching of a proper understanding of historical precedent. Even the current president of Armenia lacks a proper perception of the significance and implications of the term “Genocide” over that of “Metz Yeghern”. The president also needs to be educated as to the true nature and intentions of our neighbors on the West and East Side of Armenia.
Fifth: For a people to be able to pursue national objectives, it has to be in a position of economic and social safety, just enough to allow for the pursuit of nationalistic goals.
Sixth: Admittedly, Armenia has a strong army. However, a strong army should be accompanied by a robust foreign policy; one that can put Armenia on the offensive and overcome the propaganda war waged against us and undermining our Republic.
What is Nationalism?
“Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a nation. There are two major perspectives on the origins and basis of nationalism, one is that primordialist perspective that describes nationalism as a reflection of the ancient and perceived evolutionary tendency of humans to organize into distinct grouping based on an affinity of birth; the other is the modernist perspective that describes nationalism as a recent phenomenon that requires the structural conditions of modern society, in order to exist.”
“The adoption of national identity in terms of historical development, has commonly been the result of a response by an influential group or groups that is unsatisfied with traditional identities due to inconsistency between their defined social order and the experience of that social order by its members, resulting in a situation of anomie, that nationalists seek to resolve. This anomie results in a society or societies reinterpreting identity, retaining elements that are deemed acceptable and removing elements deemed unacceptable, in order to create a unified community. This development may be the result of internal structural issues or the result of resentment by an existing group or groups towards other communities, especially foreign powers that are or are deemed to be controlling them.”
What is direly needed is a new spark by intellectuals and a new leadership to revive the ideas of Nationhood, our National Cause, and a strong sense of national identity uniting Armenians. What is needed is the realization that without strong nationalistic feelings, we as a nation will wither away. We deserve leaders who have the vision and courage to overcome obstacles and put our national aspirations first, and who will establish the necessary structures towards that end.