Thursday, March 4, 2010

© Eso Antons Benjamins, a.k.a. Jaņdžs

87 Gridlocked In Latvia (6)

Photos: A shelter to be at "Melnays Jānis", a temple to forests now gone.

“The imprisoned Russian oil magnate Mihael Hodorovski suggested a bloody uprising in Russia if the excesses of the criminal system [of government] are not circumscribed [by the government]. ‘Such an eruption may be caused by almost anything’, opines the former ‘Yukos’ magnate in the [Russian] newspaper ‘Nezavisimaja Gazeta’. Hodorovski was once the richest man in Russia.” So reads the post at the DELFI website, which subscribes to the news service LETA.

One almost instinctively knows how much schadenfreude such a prognostication brings to many Latvian ears. Vo! Yes, this would be a great comeuppance to the brash and sometimes narcissistic Prime Minister of Russia, Putin, who appears to have maintained his former influence over the future of Russian politics. Hodorovski is especially incensed over the petty corruptions engaged in by low caste officials in the Russian government system.

I suspect that few or no readers will agree with my sympathies, which are, in spite of his personality, with PM Putin. Putin appears to have determined that what Russia needs at this time in its history is an authoritarian government. And he is pursuing that policy as determinedly as President Karlis Ulmanis in the 1930s pursued it in Latvia. While Putin’s premiership put him in a position where his voice will be listened to by Russia’s President Medvedev, his successor to the presidency, and the Duma, he has maintained the appearance of being in support of Russia as a democracy.
If we assume the latter, then Latvia is today in much the same situation as Russia. In spite of an endless series of patriotic speeches by Latvian politicians and candidates to government positions, Latvia, too, is beset by petty officials, who use their government posts to personal advantage. Moreover, Latvia has its share of oligarchs who sympathize with said Hodorovski and wish Latvia to pursue shadowy neo-capitalist policies which maintain its supporters in a position of being “more equal than others”. Since seeming wealth (all that glimmers) still appears to lie in the West, the vision of Latvian politicians—such as it is—if to pursue the path of least resistance, i.e., by way of a “drang nach Westen” and “flicht von Osten”. It hardly seems that the ruling neo-capitalist “ideology” is set to take advantage of Latvia’s geopolitically important location and make something of it.

The governments of Russia and Latvia are in a near equal bind. Both states are drifting toward the rapids, which we may call “The Mill of Hell.” No less determined to save the Latvian state from bodies floating in the water below the rapids than Putin is Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis of Latvia. Like Putin, Dombrovskis has not only the oligarchs to contend with, but the petty officials of Latvia’s regions and municipal administrative centres known as “novadi”. The latter, stitched together of older and smaller administrative units known as “pagasti”, are bucking the new system, because government sponsored administrations that can be turned to personal enrichment are suddenly very much fewer. Like Russia, the Latvia state is interested in using the modern communications apparatus of wheels and internet technology to compensate for the disadvantages of staying a century or more behind the rest of the world in terms of administration. Having said this, Latvia’s Dombrovskis has no vision that could justify his becoming an authoritarian, who like Putin would make something of the country and its cities something more than transit point for airplanes, producers of logs, glass fibre and nails.
Which brings me to mention a popular weekly show known as “Kas notiek Latvijā” (What is happening in Latvia?). The interviewer on the show is Jānis Domburs, and he frequently interviews as many as ten individuals who either are of the government (politicians, ministers, economists, and representatives of NGOs) or experts relevant to the question of the evening. The participants on the show sit in a semicircle focused on the interviewer. The show, known popularly as “Domburs Show”, is on the air since 2001. There is no question of the show’s popularity, because Mr. Domburs frequently tries to pinion evasive politicians to receive better than evasive answers.

Yet the show has a problem because of its popularity: it has no counterpart with regard to the rest of the people relevant to Latvia as a community of peoples. Call it an image problem or a question of how to project a community of 2.3 million people who at the same time have their own smaller community groupings. This is not to say that there are no interviews in Latvia with figures affecting Latvia’s culture and community as a whole. However, the dominance of “Kas notiek Latvijā?” tends over time to present political figures as representing a note worthy community, while the larger community and communities of Latvia escapes projection or attention.
If we combine the singular attention given to the community of politicians and their ilk, most with strong neo-capitalist leanings and ideology for the ego driven, no vision of the future, and no questions of “What Latvia should aim to become”, the “Dombur show” itself has come to project the main events in Latvia as a flight of wealthy rabbits well trained in evasive tactics from a hungry fox with a limp leg.

What is happening in Latvia? My personal answer is that the deforestation of the land that is quickly leading to its desertification is the main event. The next important question for me is What is in store for Latvia in the future? What is the vision thing? Since the community of politicians are evading the answer, the answer must come from an authoritarian figure. As Latvians today know, they are lost in a big forest. They need to find their way out of the forest not by following the leadership of a hundred directions provided by the present Latvian government, but by displacing the community of politicians who bring to the community terror through psychological uncertainty.
The transition to a new government may be accomplished by a successful “not-vote” campaign, which will force the government to resign or declare itself a dictatorship. IMO an authoritarian government is preferable to a dictatorship. Given the overall performance of authoritarian Karlis Ulmanis, I do not believe that in spite of numerous faults, K. Ulmanis ever became a dictator. I believe that the Latvians of today can control this process equally well (and probably better) by limiting the authoritarian regime to, say, eight years before the next elections. After all, a majority community not-vote is a political reverse Nelson on politicians who would deny the people the last word, no? Not to act on the not-vote means continued stagnation.

Asterisk & Notes of Interest:
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.
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  

No comments:

Post a Comment