Thursday, October 1, 2009

Copyright Eso Benjamins, aka Jaņdžs

33 Not-Violent Populism (V)

In 1938, Georges Bataille, wrote a famous essay called “Obelisk” in which he discusses Nietzsche’s and his own ideas about the death of God in our time. The librarian-philosopher ends his essay with these words:

“For it is the foundation of things that has fallen into a bottomless void. And what was fearlessly conquered… is not an isolated creature [like the dragon by St. George]; it is the very void and the vertiginous fall, it is TIME. The movement of all life now places the human being before the alternatives of either this conquest [of TIME] or a disastrous retreat. The human being arrives at the threshold: there he must throw himself headlong into that which has no foundation and no head.” While the observation by Bataille is meant for the entire world to hear, this writer would like to apply the threshold challenge to the Latvians specifically.

When in 1939 the Soviets occupied Latvia, the Latvians faced the void—“the foundation of things… fallen into a bottomless void”—in real terms. The Latvian dictator-president Karlis Ulmanis, one of the founders of the nation (1918) who seized the reigns of government from the Latvian Saeima in 1933, surrendered the country and himself to the Soviet ultimatum of surrender or die. Latvians surrendered, but died in war and gulags all the same. Ulmanis failed the challenge, because his surrender was equal to Bataille’s “disastrous retreat”.

What would have been victory? Both Nietzsche and Bataille, while of the same mind about the nature of the challenge, offer no specific solution of how one is to meet “…that which has no foundation and no head.” It is this writer’s opinion that the challenge of a world whose God is dead can be met with self-sacrifice. Hence the name of this series of blogs, re: Not-violent Terror. Self-sacrifice, the sovereign right of every individual, and the overcoming of the terror (and dread, and fear) of death in its contemplation, reestablishes sovereign power lost—when human beings killed God—through the charisma of a deed not because it is driven by conviction (though it may be), but the needs of God who is a yet unknown Entirety. Meeting the challenge does not necessarily offer victory in conventional terms, i.e., the stock market will go up and the economy will bloom ad infinitum, but offers believability crowned with charisma. In fact, the step provides a continuum (either new or to the old) whether one wins or loses any specific battle.

In the context of this blog, the argument is that if K. Ulmanis would have killed himself in self-sacrificial death*, he would have conquered time by creating upon it a memory that would have stayed with the Latvian people for a very long time. As the Latvians were being sovietized, that is, as their community was ever more exposed to demoralization and was thrust into the void by their conquerors, they would have had a memory that proved their will to be.

Unfortunately, the Latvians have no such memory. By failing to act as a true sovereign on the behalf of his people, K. Ulmanis betrayed the people that he presumed to lead. The betrayal (the failure of memory before the stream of time) continues to our day, to the very president of Latvia, Valdis Zatlers. This is not to say that either this author or the public expect this president, a former surgeon, to become an anchor of faith in a time of possible dissolution of Latvians as a sovereign community. It is to say that V. Zatlers has not put his sovereign imprint as a leader of Latvians. His is a symbolic presence. He is an apple in a dish on the table where apples should be, but he has done nothing more than look apply presidential. In effect, the healer is proving himself to be no healer to the Latvian community, but a career surgeon, who (failing a sovereign diagnosis that fits the situation) retains all the marks of a two-dimensional figurehead. Such passivity is a sign that Latvians cannot expect their government leaders to do more than imitate the failed democracies (see previous blogs for argumentation) of the West. In effect, unless they take up the challenge that Bataille speaks of, they are doomed for another failure , this time a possible extinction.

It is in the nature of sovereign self-sacrifice that the act is an individual one, even if such individual acts, were they to become a reality, could become part of a populist movement against government maintaining itself in power through the threat or use of police and military violence. The Latvian government did in fact send a special police unit, Alfa, to remove demonstrators who had gathered and blocked traffic over several bridges in Bauska, a city in Latvia close to the Lithuanian border. The demonstrators were protesting closure of the hospital of their city. The demonstrators were peaceful if determined. Alfa, this time restrained in its actions, merely proved that the current government’s only recourse to the discord it itself has sown is violence.

Providing the dire financial and economic situation in Latvia, what action should the current Latvian president take? The question is not easy to answer. However, in the context of government by corruption ever since a post-Soviet government took charge, this writer’s answer is to suggest a call for a popular referendum.

I.e.: the president of Latvia should call for a referendum that would increase the executive power of the president and—because of the current exceptional and extraordinary situation—increase the presidential term (on a one-time basis) to eight years. The increased presidential powers and length in office would permit, among other things, the president to dismiss and replace the Cabinet of Ministers and reduce the status of the Saeima to advisory status. It would also authorize the president to call for a Constitutional Council, which over a period of years would provide Latvia with a new constitution, possibly a replacement of parliamentary democracy with a participatory democracy, and a declarative reinstatement of the rights of the individual to sovereign death. The latter may prove to be the key to the revolution of revolutions.

*There are two famous suicides or self-sacrifices within living memory, which approach the challenge of sovereign decision.

One is that of Jan Masaryk, the foreign minister of post-World War II democratic Czechoslovakia, who died in Prague in 1948, in a fall out of the window of his Foreign Ministry residence. Many people, including Masaryk’s relatives, believe that he committed suicide (self-sacrifice). There are also those who believe that he was tortured and killed by the NKVD. In any event, the Czech people think of Jan Masaryk as a hero.

The other possible sovereign decision, derisively dismissed by international officialdom, but one that has held up in spite of the dismissal, was the suicide of Adolph Hitler, the Fuehrer of Germany. Hitler came to power in 1932. He and his wife Eva Braun are believed to have died in early 1945 by poison or self-inflicted gunshot wound in a bunker in Berlin on the eve of Soviet victory over Germany. A recent laboratory examination (2009) of what allegedly was a fragment of Hitler’s skull with a bullet hole in it was proved the skull of a woman. The doubt the lab tests cause among those who believe that Hitler’s suicide was a sovereign decision, may prove those who dismiss him as a coward to be correct. Nevertheless, at this time—until it is proven that Hitler fled to a country unknown--we must hold open the possibility that Hitler did indeed die as a self-sacrifice in atonement over the holocausts his sovereign decisions had caused.

In passing, we may recall that when death came to Stalin, he tried to take as many of his John-Jew healers with him as a religiously demoralized terrorist today. Ultimately, Stalin proved that as a political party Communism is no more persuasive than any other political party in our time, because it opposes sovereignty and enforces its will by way of violence.

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