Friday, November 6, 2009

© Eso Antons Benjamins

52 A Floating Dead Fish (IV)

(Continued from blog 51)

The fear of Latvia losing brainpower and labor to emigration is nothing new.  Social disintegration in Latvia, especially the countryside, is happening partly because of the many people looking for greener pastures abroad. The demoralization of the country speaks for itself through daily news. As for personal safety, everyone hopes for the best, some may install alarms to be heard a kilometer or more away, and some are discussing how best go to each other’s aid when such an alarm goes off or the neighbor calls for help by mobile telephone. Were such an emergency to arise, the neighbors will have agreed beforehand to come see if everything is as it should be.

Just recently, television news spoke of armed gangs of youths robbing, beating, even killing elderly farm people. Last year, not far from where I live, a man who had sold his cows (the dairy industry in Latvia is collapsing) and was suspected to have the money from the sale at home was killed. Police in the countryside is a legal matter, not a practical factor. The police highway patrols make highly visible raids especially at the end of the month to beef up the budget, but not much more. People who live in a village nearby express fear of unruly gangs of village youths congregating at night hours at a local bus stop. The youth have no nothing to do during the weekends especially. I have seen many walking around drunk. The lights on the street of the village go out at 10 p.m.

Meanwhile, everyone knows this is not the bottom of the bust. While most people realize that the economic crisis is world wide, the Latvian government receives the lion’s share of the blame. It should. Whatever the happy talk on television news that village choirs will continue to receive government support, and that the nationwide Song Festival every five years, a tradition since 1864, will go on, fact is that over the last twenty years, countryside culture of Latvia has collapsed from the “minimum” during the Soviet rule, to a “deficit” under Latvia’s own government. With the absence of communally known songs, which incidentally first made Latvians conscious of themselves, homogeneity disappears. Sure, the Latvian media has been telling its audience how the Suits (Suitu)  received support from the EU as a culturally unique community. Only in the event this were true for every “novads”, i.e., municipal jurisdiction would could this be considered good news. [One person to consistently note the demise of Latvia is Alvis Hermanis, the Latvian theatre director: Latvija līdz ar Latvijas laukiem šobrīt aiziet nebūtībā. KF 10/16-23/09, p. 5] Few people I suppose the following link  may inspire some and they will see in it future possibilities—if only more folk songs were to be so recast, the effort consistent, and people took to it. However, from another point of view, it is a goodbye to songs with roots reaching back centuries on a most jarring note.

So, here is the question of the day: Might not a reevaluation by Latvians of themselves and their situation be worth the pain that comes from looking at one’s self and community honestly? If the “soft” death sentence of a slow but certain demographic extinction is to be accepted by the people, their populist sense demands—at the very least—that the sacrifice of the people bear fruits that are worthy of transmission. Such a people’s transmission to a Latvia without Latvians must include the Latvian imaginary abroad. Does anyone know what such a Latvian sourced abroad looks like? For me, it is the world of Johns and the “Children of Johns” who once upon a time were part of everywhere on the European landscape, and who still belong there. This is why, in spite of the discomfort that self-examination may bring, the Latvian populists may discover the ghosts of the whole world joining them, because not only Latvians, but everyone who is in his-her right mind knows how necessary it is to reevaluate the premises on which our civilization operates. Moreover, the “Children of Johns” may be the ones who put religion back in the populist movement with a paradigm that is a demand’s demand: Get neo-Christendom to release Jesus from the “heavenly” prison it has made for him, and let him come back to live among the Johns again.

The resurrection of Populism from rhetorically induced sleep—sand blown in the eye by way of advertisements announcing another ‘Sale’ in yet another Consumer Heaven—is occurring as I write. Today consumerism once projected and sold as “good news, no longer projects convincingly and the “good news” of advertising falls flat. A naked reality is seeping into the consumer voluptuary and disturbing its dreams with the homeless sleeping on sidewalks.

Latvians outside the circle of the partidocratic democracy ensconced in Saeima know with what devastating effect a morally irresponsible “leadership by example” can affect a people’s psyche. The leadership by example, no doubt, is still taking its example from the “historical victor’s” point of view, which according to Dr. Martin Grahl, minister of the German community in Latvia, has mutated and become a “voracious capitalism united by a sense that the system cannot be changed”. (My translation from another blogger’s translation into Latvian.)  Those who know German, may read the original here:

Recently some men dug a crater in Mazsalaca, LV intending it to look like the crater of a meteor. I do not know who told about it to the media, but for a day or so, everyone was wondering whether this was a hoax  or for real. Perhaps there was also a reason for the hesitation. If the meteor was for real, then it would be one more piece of evidence, it was a brick off the gate of Heaven.  [Everyone here is waiting for the year 2012 to arrive and see if the Incas were right and a major cycle of some kind will end, the end of the world perhaps.] However, because there was no meteor, but a mobile telephone company seeking to bring attention, we may be forced to reconsider. The thought may come that the End Of The World will not come with a Zoom and a Bang, but finds us with a government of our making that is indifferent to whether we go naked as a wolf child.

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 my blogs before and blogs hereafter. The following links reflect a little to how I see matters stand.  ;  ;

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