Saturday, October 17, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

39 The Horror (II)

(continued from blog 38.)

This is how it came to be that many Latvians who served the former Soviet Union came to serve Latvia within the European Union. The Soviet officials, who became officials in government and private companies, soon intermixed with agents who came from developed countries (Latvian-Americans, Latvian-Australians, Latvian-Canadians, Latvian-Germans, etc.) and opened banks with few credentials of their own to be bankers. They let “investors” come and invest in big supermarket chains to out-compete mom and pop shops and soak up whatever little wealth the Latvians had left. The system worked well for almost nineteen years.

Today Latvians are forced to deforest their land to survive. The butchery of the forests slows down the speed of Latvia with which it falls into the abyss. But it does not alter the direction to economic and cultural oblivion set by the political elite of parliamentarian Latvia. The method—slowing death in the near term, but doing nothing to ensure survival over the long-term, enables the liberal democratic establishment to justify “progress”. The doctor—as it happens, the current President of Latvia happens to be a doctor of medicine—needs only point at the patient and say: But, hey, he’s still alive! The Saeima and its ministers are doing just fine.

In order not to upset the populace and arouse populist unhappiness among its own, the haves of the European Union have guaranteed, the Latvian politicians a good living by paying no attention to their anti-populism, a near obsession with right wing (labējo) politics and near absent understanding why populism has become almost a hate word. But this does not seem to matter. Europe does not understand. Europe after all, is not only the home of the tradition of the Sacred King, but its victorious successor, the order of those who are “more-equal-than-others”. In short, the message from Brussels is that the Latvian political elite may continue to dumb down Latvia as the Latvians who served the Kremlin had done before them, just a little less obviously. They must do it “humanely” now, perhaps by encouraging the demographics of the country to go into a death spiral rather than sending Latvians off to the gulags. The old will get a pension cut to make them die sooner. Painful as all this may be to Latvians, the “more-equal-than-other” groups (whether in Latvia or elsewhere in Europe) will be in their life rafts and not feel the pain of Latvia’s catastrophe.

This is why the so-called “Bauska incident” with the Alfa special police unit rushing from Riga to confront ordinary men and women protesting the closing of their city’s hospital (not far from the Lithuanian border) is so telling.  The local police, unsure of how to confront their neighbors, was slow in clearing the bridges in Bauska. Traffic had been backing up for a few hours. Some truck drivers were said to have been angry. So, the local polioce was more than glad to let Alfa come and do the job for them. Even so, no one in the government has yet said or admitted who is responsible for such unseemly overreaction in what we are expected to presume is a “normal” country.

Alfa came dressed in black and plastic with only eyes showing, a force breathing the wrath of a parliamentary government serving business interests against an awakening Latvian populism. They carried no shields this time against which to bang their batons. Nevertheless, the repressive apparatus so impressed the government officials in Riga that the police plans an Alfa group in every region of Latvia now. This to ensure that the cordon sanitaire (also known as alienation) that exists between the elites and the folk who still make part of their living gathering wild mushrooms in forest clearings and cranberries in the swamps is not breached.

A vision of a future for Latvia has long escaped the Latvian politicians’ and bureaucrats for the simple reason that if they looked in their people’s faces, they would know that populism was rising and turning into bile. Yes, so better shove the head of government in sand and hope that the threat of violence will suffice and keep the government’s arse safe. Maybe like during the days of the Soviets, the men and women of the commons will keep their cool by getting dead drunk on “krutka”, elsewhere known as “moonshine”.

Liberal democracy has all the handles of the advertising and information media by being one with the advertising media. Just last week the media made a big to do about legalizing “wine”-making in Latvia on the farm or at home and selling same to the public. This was a clever way to play the climate warming trend in a country where the winters are still more wintry than not. Alas, the sovereignty of everyone’s subjective self is threatened not only by the ways of the neo-capitalist world as such, but also by the repressive spirit their own Latvian government breathes their way. Latvia is a good example of the result of neo-liberal democracy in action. The “free world”, which is under the leadership of the well known “more-equal-than-others” faithful, found ready friends among many here.

Another example (ad hominem): If I build myself a private temple to the Latvian arch-Christian Jahnis, the traveler-teacher—the one of many who once traveled the roads of the Latvian countryside—my effort goes unknown. Why? Because state supported radio broadcasts neo-Christian sermons just to prove that John still sits calm and collected in heaven under the name of Jesus, while John on Earth represents the lighter-than-Earth-brained-ancestors of Latvians, which Latvians are presumed to have been and become. There is no equal time for rebuttal, because I cannot afford it and the media celebrates year-round the victories of Latvia’s neo-liberal parliamentary democracy as if there is no other.

(There maybe a follow up on the theme in next blog.)

These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you have read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.

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