by Areg Galstyan
Five months have passed since I returned to Armenia with a very specific goal – to promote the formation of political meanings that will help the current generation to solve tasks of a national character. The scientific and analytical center "The Armenian Interest" became the tool of our team, around which we seek to collect the Armenian and world intellectual capital. There is an understanding that the implementation of serious goals is always a long-lasting and phased process, taking into consideration the existing international experience and knowledge gained in different centers of power. Comprehension is the first level, on which I would like to focus within this analytical essay. There is no necessity to list the domestic difficulties that exist in the country because they are well known. It is important for me as an analyst to solve a more complicated task – to reveal the root causes of the fundamental issues and try to find appropriate solutions.
The principal problem that needs to be regarded is the underestimation of the state independence. History shows how hundreds of nations throughout the world have waged a fierce struggle for the opportunity to get their nation-state. Unfortunately, we are not one of these nations. The Armenian nobility and aristocracy were focused on the return of lost physical territories at all times. Of course, we must strive to regain our heritage, including the occupied lands. However, we cannot equate these concepts. A state is a nation living in a particular territory and united by a common spiritual and ideological mission. What made the Irish to oppose the British Empire, though belonging to it was for economic reasons more profitable than independence? Why did the Jewish aristocrats abandon the advantageous proposals of the great powers, insisting on their state alongside the sacred mountain of Zion?
The answer is obvious – the political meanings, which are not focused on receiving exclusively material welfare. These nations created benefits for great powers for a long time, seeing their mission in serving the interests of the titular imperial nations. The emperors, kings and tsars allowed individual representatives of small nations to their court for loyal service and devotion. As a rule, it was an artificially created nobility that served the interests of the center and lost contact with its ethnic group. Representatives of the titular nation always had an advantage that was realized in various forms: additional fees, "the right of the first night", bans for small nations to get certain professions, etc. The situation changed when educated organized minorities appeared with political programs aimed at the implementation of the interests of their people. National leaders taught their nations what could and should be done for themselves, without fears of an external overseer with a club in hands. They wrote that being in total dependence on the will of another nation meant condemning oneself to destruction. Hundreds of examples from history confirm it.
The Jewish people created the financial system of Spain and fought for the interests of Imperial Germany. What was the result? It led to the exile of the Jews from the Spanish cities in 1492 and the extermination of most of German and European Jewry during World War II. London "thanked" the Irish with the Great Famine in 1845 for the long-lasting faithful service to the interests of the British Crown, and the Armenians, who had been called "loyal people" for a long time in the Ottoman Empire, were massacred and expelled from their historical motherland. Many nations passed through such trials, but lessons were learned only by those who managed to come to the 21st century as political nations with their meanings, values and state interests. In general, the nations that want to build the future always turn to the history. It is an immortal teacher, who keeps all achievements, and is aware of all failures and mistakes.
History is not a teacher for us, but textbooks that tell us about the exploits of great heroes who have always been on the side of the good and have overcome the superior forces of evil. Undoubtedly, the nation that united hundreds of ancient tribes under its rule, created a vast empire from sea to sea and passed all thinkable and unthinkable trials during five thousand years, deserved the right to be proud of its history and pass it to the whole world. Meanwhile, history has another useful function – an instructive one. However, we are used to turning to this science only in cases when it is necessary to prove our superiority over others, especially over enemies. In other words, we do not know our past well (it means we do not know ourselves). Therefore, we do not realize the practical worth of such concepts as nation, values and state.
We got rid of the status of a small ethnic group serving the empire later than the Jews and the Irish. The Armenian nation obtained a chance to find its civilizational mission only with the collapse of the Soviet Union, getting back the political meanings that are still under the ruins of the Greater Armenia. The big trouble was that the independence was not the result of struggle of the educated Armenian-centric aristocracy, but just another gift of fate. Various kinds of elites also appeared naturally (sometimes they were created artificially by external forces) and did not have long-term strategic programs. It seemed that everything should be vice versa. If the nation was without statehood and dreamed of it for six centuries, it would appreciate the chance and maximally use the nation-wide potential to build a strong country. In our case (then and today), everything happens exactly the other way round.
In fact, the country has been turned into a business object for elites, a territorial unit for the nation that dreams of returning to the familiar role of a small ethnic group serving the interests of the great powers, and an office center for Diaspora groups of influence. All these factors contribute to the preservation of the "survival regime" (since 1915) from which we cannot move to the vital "regime of creation" of a powerful state. Again, history teaches that the Armenian statehood disappeared and the nation was on the verge of total annihilation, when the "elite", which lost contact with the interests of the majority, turned the everyday materialism into an ideological absolute. Do not we see the same today? Is not the money turned into a nation-wide idea? I think that it is pointless to deny it, so the battle for Armenia continues.
Areg Galstyan - PhD, regular contributor to The National Interest, Forbes, The Hill and The American Thinker. These views are his own.