Friday, January 23, 2009

The End of “The 3rd Asleep” in Latvia (5)

The image to the right is of a private temple to Melnays Jānis (Black John) near my countryside home in Latvia. The eight tall post around Black John represent the innumerable Johns (Jāņi) who walked the countryside roads in the past (like the sadhus of India to this day) and taught the people--the Children of John, Jāņu bērni--how to maintain their community through all kinds of weather, so to speak.

In the previous blog, I suggested that the current PM of Latvia, Ivars Godmanis , may already have assumed the role of a dictator, albeit unacknowledged and perhaps even unconsciously. Godmanis penchant to explain everything in detail and to great length, and taking much time to do so, makes him something of a Latvian version of Fidel Castro of Cuba. The only trouble is that while Castro survived the baptism of fire, Godmanis is a liberal democrat building a greater swimming pool for government bureaucrats. Neither a communist, nor a capitalist, Godmanis appears to have designated the 7.5 billion euro loan to Latvia for a project that Latvians know to be 7.5 billion euros worth, but no one quite knows the nature of the project.

The German philosopher Martin Heiddegger (1889–1976) , wrote that if he were to become lost in the forest, his tactic of finding his way out would be to chose a direction and then follow it without deviation, even if the chosen direction was determined by chance only. This writer agrees that he most likely would chose to do the same. A problem arises, however, when another person makes the choice of direction. That is to say, I can live with Godmanis keeping secret his choice of how to spend the money (and lead Latvia into the sun)—even if it leads me to an early death—if there were something, an argument perhaps, that would enable me to agree to trust in Godmanis’ leadership.

It is clear that liberal democracy has an answer to my concerns, one that everyone has heard many times: trust me (us), because we will lead you to economic growth, full employment, a good income, which will enable you to afford a house and raise a family, and provide you a decent burial. We are for progress, for growth, and we cannot fail. We are the destiny of Latvia.

Notwithstanding 200 years of “progress” under its aegis, liberal democracy has however proven itself a failure. The next decade is not likely to return the world to “growth” as it was understood from about 1800 until 2008. While there are many who may be persuaded that the current financial and economic crisis is but one of the perpetual dips in capitalist up and down business cycles, there will now be many skeptics. After all, a dip that needs several trillion dollars (world wide) of money hot off the printing presses to interrupt the fall of liberal democracy is a phenomenon that has the force of nature behind it.

My own take of the current “Latvian picture” is that, yes, economic well being is desirable and is one of the goals. However, rebuilding the community of people who are now living within the administrative borders of Latvia takes precedent over economic development. Without a sense of community there is not and will not be a Latvia in the sense of Latvia as a singular community.

Latvia needs loyalty from its citizens that transcends “hockey nationalism”, even though rivalry has its place. While competition in may occasionally result in bloodshed between the fans and/or players of opposite teams, such bloodletting does not make a community, because such sacrifices are scoffed at and usually successfully repressed by the police. Nevertheless, as the infamous “football war” (1970) between Honduras and El Salvador illustrates , blood does indeed play a role in community forming and maintenance.

The ancient Incan, Mayan, and Aztec ball courts, where the losing team lost not only points but also their lives, nevertheless, hold a profound truth. That truth holds people to reality and does not allow them to drift off into dreams as the Latvian community with Saeima in the lead has done.

PM Godmanis, if he wishes to lead Latvia not as a herd of people, but as a singular community, will—after he is done leading the community out of the woods—offer the community his life. How the PM does the “offering” is his to discover, but if he discovers the way, it will not only hold Latvians to reality, but will regain their trust in Saeima and state as part of the community.

(More to follow.)

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