Wednesday, March 10, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, aka Jaņdžs

89 Gridlocked In Latvia (8)

It is winter still, but comes spring. The sun has climbed noticeably higher in the sky.
How Latvians became linked to zionationalism requires an explanation. Before moving on, below is a sketch of how this blogger sees it.

The linking of the Latvian “Children of Johns” (Jāņu bērni) with the Jews, the Bogomils, the Humiliati, the Paulists, the Bosnian Church, the Cathars, the Waldensians, King Arthur’s Court, etc.* as of one ancient church is not fancy, but a past that has been forced (beaten, burnt, tortured, and the like) into submission by being forgot.

With the turning of the Children of Johns into heretics [the Latvians know them as “ch(ķ)eceri”; now children playing mean ghosts (or Mārtiņbērni  on Halloween Night], they were forced to convert from their beliefs (“hereticism”, of course!) and ways to new, uniform (very important), and harmless (also very important) creatures who served the princes submissively. Today, having gone through the meat grinder and after having been doctored with many promises of better days to come, the transformed heretic is still recognizable in the figure of the passive consumer buying every kind of necessary and unnecessary item at the shopping mall. The princes are part of government (it does not matter whether if is called a democracy, oligarchy, dictatorship, or what not) still, and corporations are turned into individuals impersonated by CEOs. Priests of the current version of westernized neo-religions (Christians, Muslims, Jews), are all trained now to provide psychological counseling, i.e., a means to try turn whatever inner unhappiness one feels with regard to the state of the world into passivity. The word is: Stay mum, take my advice as a “buy” signal, buy it, and move on.
For all of the horror that the Children of Johns had to suffer in order to, when all was said and done, find themselves unable to resist their “convertors” (the neo-Christian Church), Latvians still bear within themselves a latent sense that somehow they have their own “Latvian” religion. The only trouble is that in spite of the feelings of certainty that there is a religion there for sure, they have no idea what the religion is.

So, what was the “arch” and what is the “neo” religion? And who, more precisely, were the Children of Johns et al?

As to their professional lives, the Children of Johns were most likely associated with weaving. Writes Caterina Bruschi in her book "The Wandering Heretics of Languedoc"  (a book I have mentioned in my blogs 57, 59, 60): “….there had long been an association between cloth-makers and heretics, which is recorded as early as mid-twelfth century.” The book’s author may speak only about what was true for Lanquedoc; but this is also true for many places in Europe, Latvia including. This is how most likely the famous and mysterious Belt of Lielvarde  (Lielvārdes josta) came into being. The Children of Johns took not only to weaving, but also took to smithing  , pottery, inn keeping inn keeping, and hosteling. In short, the proto-Latvian inhabitants of the kingdom of Jersika (and surround) while unlikely to have been strangers to farming, were tradesmen and women also. [The myth of Latvians as peasants originates with the neo-Christian church, which facilitated the deforestation of the land and then helped the barons turn the repressed trades people into “pagani”, the name likely being a variant on the name of John, J(Y)ahnis in Latvian, re: pa-yani (pa-Jāņi) or “Johns who were”, hence lowly workers of the earth.]
After they were forced to abandon their religion of immanence (divinity, among it fallen angels, was/were believed to be walking the countryside roads), the neo-religion of Christianity [originally Krish-yanis—an itinerant country priest in the Baltic region and Bosnia (and likely everywhere)] became realized in a name corrupted to spell Christ-i(y)an, and was imposed on proto-Latvians with great rigor. Whatever memories of their arch-Christian past that the “Children of Johns” remembered in their inner eye, they had to repress it by not speaking its name or about it. The “Jāņu bērni” today is a dimly remembered indicator of something that no longer is. Only those who participate in the annual midsummer festival known as Johns Eve (“Jāņu vakars”) may dimly recall that “Jāņu dziesmas” (Songs of John, aka Lihgo, which they no longer know because they no longer sing them) once referred to real people. Which means that while the Latvians forgot their ancient religious beliefs, they did not forget the sense of achievement that their demanding (you had to live up to the calling) religion had left them with.
It is in the forced forgetting of what was old and dear, and a violent imposition of the new, that zionationalism discovers corrupt and, yes, fertile ground for itself. With their distinction as a people of moral fibre earned by the practice of self-sacrifice—also known as martyrdom—not necessarily always associated with death, but finding common practice in fasting known as “gavēnis” [think of Sir Gawain (Ya-w-ain) of King Arthurs’s Court], the proto not-nationalist Latvians were easily persuaded to become nationalists with a vengeance, i.e., zionationalists. Like the Jews, who traveled a parallel path, the Children of Johns grew into Latvians and exercised their frustrations over not knowing who they were by looking for revenge. The desire for revenge was barely sublimated. Thus, many suggestions by self-serving interests of who the “real” enemy of Latvians may be. The Latvians often took the hook, and many were ready to attack any target offered, and did not take time and reflect on the whys and the wherefores and the if to act or desist.

Zionationalism among Latvians is first discerned in the displacement of the figure of John (still present on the cover of one of the first books of the “First Latvian Reawakening” of 1874, re Baumanu Karlis’ "Lihgo"  ) by the figurē of "Lacplesis"  (Strangler of Bears) by Pumpurs of 1888. A leap of fourteen years from John the Peacemaker to Bear Strangler is a short time span, and indicates that what remains of the Children of Johns is the barely perceptible crowd in the back of the holy tree. In 1918, the zionationalists of Latvia declared independence of Latvia. The United States of America recognized Latvia only in 1922.
The zionationalization of Latvia has been a process. By declaring Latvia to be a Christian nation by way of making the Lutheran Church briefly the religion of the Latvian state, Latvia homogenized itself by excluding, in effect invalidating, a notable part of what had helped create the peoples’ past belief system—even if today the Lutheran Church no longer is part of the state. As we see, with the state (and the lost voice of the academia of Latvia) dismissing proto-Latvians of the Jersika kingdom as a historic curiosity, the Children of Johns of arch-Christianity and proto-Latvians were denied a presence in Latvia’s future. In the political realm, the Saeima of Latvia remained so heterogeneous that by 1934, K. Ulmanis imposed a homogenizing authoritarian government over it. Ulmanis was aided in moving the homogenizing process along by following ethnic lines. The secret Molotov-Ribentrop Pact between Russia and Germany helped ethnitization by having the Baltic Germans remove themselves as if voluntarily. We see that Ulmanis’ attempt to homogenize the political circles to a political goal or perhaps some notion of having “a mission on Earth” was an utter failure. Nevertheless, the Children of Johns—had the history lessons included their contributions—most likely would have questioned the absence of orientation and might have had something to say about this.

In other words, an unintended side effect of the secret Hitler-Ribentrop pact was that most Baltic Germans left Latvia voluntarily, which gave many Latvians the impression that what had taken place was a peaceable ethnic cleansing arranged by President K. Ulmanis. Whatever of K. Ulmanis’ accomplishments, today there again lingers that undesirable 6:3:1 proportion of which “ethnic” Latvians are “6”.
The last barely identifiable signal of the proto-Latvian self was last heard from around 1874. Nothing remains of it but folk ornament now. It is from such and similar repressed pasts that the zionationalism of Latvia’s government is born—without anybody but the “government” leading the charge. We ought to help the government lead the charge by casting a not-vote and going the other way.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:
* Many scholars who write about the early middle ages and later appear to be stuck on the idea that it was the Catholic Church that preceded the various “heresies”, the latter apparently arising due to the neglect of the Catholic Church to press the faith in areas under its control. This writer makes just the opposite assumption, that is to say, the “heretics” were there from the beginning of time, and that the Catholic Church is an arm of secular princes that does all it can to destroy a religion of great moral fibre—not least as a martyr religion (re: fasting, the endura)—so the military arm of the princes can better control civil society to their ends.
It is obvious that the mindset among the Latvian political elite at this time is not only gridlocked, but has turned to stone. These blogs are, for one, an attempt to loosen the rusted in screws with some naval jelly. Click here to discover the meaning of the Overton Window, and here  to see what purpose it serves.
On material depravation in Latvia.
On the theme of “more-equal-than-others” George Orwell's "Animal Farm".
A recommended read: “The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism” by Emmanuel Goldstein (A book within a book from George Orwell's "1984").  
Of great interest to me is this and like articles. It presents some of my reasons for supporting the growing of Johns Grass in Latvia.
These blogs tend to be a continuum of an idea or thought, which is why—if you are interested in what you read—you are encouraged to consider reading the previous blog and the blog hereafter.
Partial entries of my blogs may be found at LatviansOnline + Forum Home + Open Forum –ONLATVIANPOPULISM vs LATVIJASLABEJIE. If you copy this blog for your files, or copy to forward, or otherwise mention its content, please credit the author and  

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