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03 December 2007

2226) Nations Have Neither Friends Nor Enemies. Just Interests. US Today Not Against Ankara. Turks More Useful Than Armenians, For Now !

FRIENDSHIP AMONG NATIONS
When some American diplomats opposed the recognition of our genocide, one of our Turcocentric pundits produced a widely circulated commentary titled “If our friends do it it’s not genocide.” Only an Armenian who does not understand history and has no conception of diplomacy could come up with such a headline.

Nations have neither friends nor enemies. They have interests. It happens to be in the interests of Washington today not to go against the wishes of Ankara not because Turks are friends but because they are more useful to them than we are. That’s all there is to it.

Because at the turn of the last century we thought the friendship of the Great Powers made us invulnerable, we rose, or rather our naive revolutionaries did, against the Turks, and the Turks retaliated. One could say that our greatest tragedy was a direct result of the fact that we failed to understand the meaning of the word friendship in a historic or diplomatic context.

Now you may be in a better position to understand why medieval Jewish scribes thought a single misplaced word or letter in the Holy Scriptures may result in the destruction of the world.



ON OUR PROBLEMS
In a recent widely circulated commentary I read a list of our problems so long that it reminded me of the celebrated Stanislaw Lec aphorism “No snowflake in the avalanche ever feels responsible.”
If, instead of making long lists of problems we concentrate on those who create them, we may end up with Avedik Issahakian’s triad: “earthquakes, bloodthirsty neighbors, and brainless leaders.”
Problems like corruption, divisions that make no sense and serve no purpose, intolerance, xenophobia, Turcocentrism, incompetence, exodus from the Homeland, assimilation in the Diaspora, cultural decline, an appalling rate of unemployment, poverty, absence of solidarity, among others, have a single source: the undemocratic character of our institutions or the absence of accountability in our leadership.
In an authoritarian environment (and I say authoritarian to avoid saying Ottoman) problems will be explained and justified by saying they are extensions of political conditions and environmental factors beyond our control.
A partisan press will at no time shoulder responsibility so long as it can blame it on the opposition. Those who divide us will even go as far as saying that they divide us for our own good, to save us from the evil plans of their adversaries.
Where there is no free press, problems will proliferate until they become an avalanche, which will be explained as an act of god, and those responsible will emerge as innocent as a snowflake.
Now, suppose a small group of pundits come together and issue a number of recommendations, who will listen to them? Who will even acknowledge their existence?
Brainless leaders? Rather, brainy enough to make number one their number one concern and make it look like they are dedicated to the challenging task of saving the nation.
*
Speaking of our problems: you will find a pretty good list in Khorenatsi’s “Lamentation” written fifteen centuries ago. Which may suggest that it is not unawareness of our problems that makes them hard to solve but irresponsible leaders who might as well be deaf, dumb, dim, dull, and dense.



A CITIZEN OF THE WORLD
Aznavour in a recent interview published in PARIS MATCH on his “Benetton family”:
“We are of all colors and creeds. My daughter’s husband is Muslim, I am Gregorian, my wife is Protestant. With such a family one is in a better position to understand other people’s problems. To have many cultures is great!”
*
On Reading:
“For an illiterate I am an avid reader. I have a huge library – all of Guitry and Simenon. At the moment I am rereading Proust for the third time. First time he was a pain…second time hard going…third time magnificent.”
*
On Politics:
“My wife threatens to divorce me if I ever run for office in Armenia.”
*
On Old Age:
“My age [83] is an interesting one. It doesn’t bother me one bit. But it seems to matter to others.”
*
On an Armenian Idiosyncrasy:
“In Armenia they all speak foreign languages. My mother spoke Greek and Turkish. My dad spoke Armenian and Russian. Though not Jewish, he understood Yiddish. All his life he spoke French with an accent so thick you could cut it with a knife.”



You Have Nothing To Lose But Your Dividers.
*
A divider who speaks in the name of the nation is a liar.
*
There is only one way for a liar to think truth is on his side and that is by lying to himself.
*
The best way to deceive people is to tell them they are too smart to be deceived.
*
Dogmas, be they religious or ideological, in whose name we are divided are lies.
*
If there is a god and if there is life after death, we may know the truth, but until then we are destined to know only a fraction of it; and a fraction of the truth can be more misleading and dangerous than a lie.
*
A divider, no matter how wise, honest, and selfless, cannot speak in the name of the nation, only a fraction of it, and more often than not, an extremely tiny fraction.
*
A divider who portrays himself as a savior is in reality a gravedigger. His prototype is the revolutionary in the Ottoman Empire.
*
Armenians who identify themselves as Armenians and say they are proud of their identity form only a tiny fraction of the nation. The overwhelming majority have been successfully marginalized, alienated, assimilated, silenced, and reduced to the status of non-persons. But they exist as surely as any one of our bosses, bishops, and benefactors. They may even be better human beings if only because they deceive no one by parading as saviors during the day and turning into gravediggers at night.
*
Armenians of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your gravediggers.



IN PRAISE OF FREE SPEECH
Not being a megalomaniac with messianic ambitions, I don’t claim to be in the business of saving the nation. Far better men than myself have tried and failed in that particular endeavor. Besides, no one can save a nation that has condemned itself to the death of a thousand self-inflicted cuts. My sole aim is to show that those who parade as our saviors are no better than swindlers who have learned nothing from history.

You cannot shape the future of a nation without taking into account the lessons of the past or ignoring its central message, which is as accessible as the biblical dictum “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” And because I have been saying as much I have been silenced and ostracized. A psychoanalyst’s job is to shed light on the dark corners of the psyche. A historian’s job is to expose blunders in order that they may not be repeated in the future. A surgeon’s job is to cut out diseased tissue that may threaten the body. Taking away a writer’s freedom of speech is like taking away a surgeon’s scalpel.

No man is an island. No one speaks just for himself. To violate the free speech of a single individual is to willfully ignore the views of a fraction of the community, which also means to further divide the nation. And why? All because “our betters” are too arrogant to admit they are nothing of the kind. What they are is human beings like the rest of us, capable of making mistakes – some of them petty, others of colossal dimensions.



ON REASON, FAITH, AND WISDOM
We should cherish our blunders for they are our greatest source of wisdom, provided of course they are acknowledged as such.
*
What have we learned from our genocide besides blaming it on others? If genocide cannot teach us anything, what can? If you say faith in God is the highest wisdom, then the question we must ask is: Where was God when we needed Him most? I am not questioning His existence, only affirming His refusal to micromanage human affairs.
*
God has given us a brain with which to think for ourselves. I am not saying reason is a substitute for God. What I am saying is, reason is one of His attributes, in the same way that arrogance is one of the Devil’s. And is not speaking in the name of God the height of arrogance?
*
If subservience to authority is the enemy of reason, what could be more irrational than subservience to bosses (who speak in the name of ideology), bishops (who speak in the name of God), and benefactors (who speak in the name of capital)?
*
How many of our thoughts are our own? Can a man who is infatuated with his ignorance think? Allowing oneself to be brainwashed – is that not an offense against reason and God? And if we are unteachable, do we not condemn ourselves to being genocidable? Hence our unawareness of the fact that during the last hundred years we have been implementing the Ottoman policy of extermination by other means, that is, with our own version of “white massacre,” – namely, exodus from the Homeland and assimilation in the Diaspora.



There Is No Business Like Armenian Literature
When I went into this business I made a solemn promise to myself to be rude to no one, and for a number of years I kept my promise.

I kept my promise until I realized that in our environment a writer, especially one that is not yet dead -- preferably butchered by a foreign tyrant -- is seen as a harmless drudge who will say anything and flatter any ego for less than minimum wage.

There was another serious flaw in my promise that I became aware of only much letter. A morally superior stance towards individuals who consider their own moral superiority as an undeniable fact may easily be misinterpreted as cowardice or subservience. To put it more bluntly, moral superiority does not work with politically ambitious bullies who pretend to know better what’s good for the nation.
*
Behind every one of our defeats, catastrophes, and tragedies you will find megalomaniacal bullies who have been successful only in fooling themselves and a handful of followers into believing they are not meddlers and frauds but men of vision whose sole aim in life is to serve the nation.
*
I suggest next time we build a monument to victims, we should include all victims regardless of race, color, and creed. To do otherwise is to go against the central tenet of all major religions, including our own, namely, that all men are brothers.



THE MEANING OF MEANING
The aim of all ideologies, religions, and philosophical systems is to introduce meaning into a meaningless world. Any meaning is better than no meaning. Hence the eagerness with which a belief system (from the highest religion to the lowest cult) is embraced by the unthinking. Breakdowns occur when a belief system loses its creative impetus and fails to evolve and adapt to the new reality.

After a succession of defeats in the hands of barbarians, Athena, the goddess of wisdom, the favorite goddess of the Athenians, lost her eminence and legitimacy. One could also say that the Athenians betrayed and abandoned Athena or wisdom itself when they condemned to death Socrates, the wisest among them.

Something similar happened to Communism when it degenerated to Stalinism, which denied the validity of dialectical progression, which is based on dissent.

After evolving from a jealous tribal chieftain to one that is committed to the brotherhood of all men, the Christian god lost his legitimacy when it degenerated to racism, nationalism, and capitalism, which divided mankind into antagonistic groups – superior and inferior races, friends and enemies, workers and exploiters – all of which stand in direct contradiction to the brotherhood of all men.

For meaning can be as cruel as the god of the Old Testament: deviate an inch, or fail to evolve, or lose your creative impetus and face catastrophe.



AS I SEE IT
Armenians have been so systematically divided that no matter which side of an issue you take you will have 50% support – or rather 5%, because Armenians have also been so thoroughly alienated or marginalized that they stay away from all controversies and community affairs. Their stance may be described as somewhere between “a plague on both your houses” and "mart bidi ch’ellank.”
*
Speaking of Turkish pundits, Orhan Pamuk writes: “They presume to be experts on everything, because they seem to have an answer to any question…[they are] “Professors of Everything.” That’s another thing we share in common with Turks: dime-a-dozen pundits with more answers than questions.
*
“Is there life after death?” a reader wants to know. I don’t know. That’s a question for bishops. I am only a minor scribbler. I don’t even know if there is life after birth.
*
A master of the blame-game is never wrong.
*
There is no hatred as vicious as the hatred of a charlatan suddenly and publicly unmasked.
*
It is not enough to be against Turks; one must also be for something. Neither is it enough to be for Armenians: one must choose between the bloodsuckers and their victims.
*
Silencing dissenters only postpones the inevitable catastrophe.




Ara Baliozian



Readers' Comment

Dear Ara bey,

a. Friendship Among Nations:
I have several book excerpts confirming you. They are free for those who disagree with you and need more evidence.

b. On Reason, Faith and Wisdom:
Proofs are freely available.

c. Betrayals:
That’s good business! A wise friend of mine had taught me, “Always be with the majority”. I prefer to be “my own minority” (like you do)!

d. Orhan Pamuk:
Of course that guy really meant himself to be “professor of Everything”! Without Armenian support, he would have never got that prize and money! This guy could make an error of four mistakes in a “literary sentence of seven words”. New York can have him for ever!

See, I follow you… Best regards my friend

Sukru S. Aya