Saturday, October 24, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

48 Latvians demand

As we see from “Tiresias’ Revenge” (blogs 40-47), Oedipus is the main personage in a play-story about the whence of political authority. The mother and son relationship that is featured so prominently in the West because the relationship includes a sexual relationship as well, is but to illustrate that in a spectrum of relationships this is also possible. More important, however, is the fact that when Anyone (in this instance Oedipus) is born into a cultural space that allows anyone to become President, the consequences will be catastrophic unless the President in return for his privilege to office, sacrifices his-her life to secure for the next President the trust necessary to govern the country (Thebes-Latvia).

Oedipus’ failure to understand the reasons for the plague that is haunting Thebes brings on the plague with increasing intensity, particularly in his own extended family relationships. Because of Oedipus failure to risk sacrifice and as a result of ignoring arguments that claim the indispensability of self-sacrifice, twelve deaths take place. The deaths are of

1. the baby who is left in place of Oedipus on Mt. Citheron;
2. King Laius, unknowingly killed by Oedipus, but the clash most likely arranged by Iocaste, wife and mother;
3. King Laius’ bodyguard who witnessed the King’s killing—murdered arranged by Iocaste;
4. the king of Corinth, probably poisoned by Merope, his wife, upon her concurrence with Iocaste’s suggestion;
5. Tiresias, the seer, probably killed by Iocaste’s hirelings;
6-7. Otus and Ephialtes, the sons of Iocasta and Oedipus, twins, dead by each other’s hand;
8-9. Antigone, Oedipus’ daughter, and Haemon, son of Creon, poisoned by Creon;
10. Creon’s wife and Haemon’s mother, Eridike;
11. Iocaste, Oedipus’ mother and wife;
12. Oedipus.

The story can be further restructured after these deaths, by having the new king, Creon, marry the surviving queen of Corinth, Merope. The reemergence of Ismene, the one survivor of the clan, can only occur after Creon and Merope are dead, too. Ismene, of course, symbolizes the ‘people’—whatever it is they emerge as after their continued exploitation (think of the sacrifice of children) by the Sphinx who contrary to impression never went away.

In blog 39, I wrote on the failure of the “more equal than others” group to lead society successfully, because though our civilization originated in an assumption that all human beings are economically equal, the group would remain more equal among the members of its club than outsiders would want it to become. Since perfect economic equality is an assumption that cannot be realized in society (outside the family circle) without self-sacrifice, that is to say, without a maturing of the individual into one who takes charge of his life including his death, society cannot be created except through violence. This is to explain why the “more-equal-than-others” group rules through violence.

Just a few days ago, I saw the following statement appear on a site on the internet: “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” said Brian Griffiths of Goldman Sachs. As tolerated as this truism may be when the balance is guaranteed by a self-sacrificial Sacred King, the Latvian government has sent the majority of the people of Latvia into poverty by having put the leadership of the country into the hands of corporations. Thus, we arrive at a unique period for Latvia: a time when the people may again experience themselves as a “people”. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will happen, but in a way this experience is overdue, because the Latvians sacrificed themselves last during the “freedom fights” (brīvības cīņas) at its foundation in the last days of WW1. (Alas, the sacrifices by Latvian legionnaires in WW2 are tainted because of an possible association with the Waffen SS of Hitler’s Germany.)

The post-Soviet “reconstituted” Latvia arrived for the Latvians on a silver platter in what we know as “the singing revolution”. The sentimentality of this positivist slogan is but one propaganda tool that the “more-equal-than-others” economic group holds over the public. With all due respect to the several people who were killed by Omon and all those who participated in the “days of the barricades” (1991), theirs was an affirmative ritual, but in retrospect of insufficient awesomeness to assure that Latvia become a heterogeneous society except by way of government advertisement.

The corruption of government is so extensive and destructive of Latvia as a place that is more than a geographical location, flags warning of cultural disintegration are appearing everywhere. While the government keeps talking of Latvia as a place for and of a people, the people hear the rhetoric, but feel a lack of commitment on the part of government (no lack of evidence of this), which, in turn, creates the feeling of a lack of “something”, a lack of fullness, a lack of an identity. Because the government is not able to find for itself another definition than a surrogate of business corporations (very understandable given who controls the government) and business is now suffering from financial shock (lack of business and money), the possibility of the population discovering or rediscovering or redefining its identity may be in the offing.

As professor of political theory Ernesto Laclau writes in his book “On Populist Reason”: “…the notion of the non-fulfillment of the demand [for ‘fulness’], which confronts it [Latvia] with an existing status-quo [as corporate control]… makes possible the triggering of equivalential logics leading to the emergence of a ‘people’.” [Everything within brackets is of this author.]

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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