Monday, March 4, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 144
The Earthquake of San Francisco and
Force Majeure in Latvia as A Screwy Political Act (3)
© Eso A.B.

Autumn foliage
Before the reader goes to read the rest of this blog, I suggest he-she reads the following on the “Force majeure programme in Riga 2014” The header and lead state:

“Rīga 2014 programme Force Majeure / Author: RĪGA 2014 04.08.2011.”
That said, the text tells us that:
“In its programme [2014], Riga focuses on culture as the spiritual and intellectual dimension of mankind, manifesting itself through any form of human activity, and expanding the understanding of culture through liaisons with other spheres of life. It is a liaison between generations, traditions and the digital world, it means overcoming historically established barriers.
In short, the note of bombast is due to the fact that in 2014 Riga plays the role of the European capital of culture (ECOC). How can we possibly do without references to “the spiritual and intellectual dimension of humankind”?

Some time ago, I started a series of blogs which I hoped to use to argue that Riga, Latvia, develop a program through which it promotes itself as a replacement of Brussels, the current Capital City of the European Union. Vulgar as it may sound, I was motivated by the perception that Mr. von Rompuy, President of the European Council, had turned Brussels into a cork up the EU’s arse. I ended the series, when it became obvious that the average citizen of Latvia (let alone Europe), no matter how much horse meat they had consumed would not be able to muster a fart big enough to expell a cork blessed bt NATO.
One reason my arguments lacked volume was that there are actually two governments of Riga: a) the municipal government and b) the national government, the latter having established Riga as the capital city of Latvia as far back as 1918.
Another reason to let go was that the state government of Latvia and the municipal government of Riga are presently engaged in a civil war over who is to have control over Riga. To the extent the battle is a battle between two ethnic groups, the Latvians and the Russians, the former of who are 40% (= 263,200) of Riga’s 658,000 population, while the Russians are 46% (= 302,680), other ethic minorities making up the remaining 14% (= 92,120) inhabitants; this according to the 2011 census.
While the “Author” (of the programme) does not immediately reveal who it represents (the state or municipal government), a search discovers that: “The Rīga 2014 foundation was established by the city of Rīga to provide for the development and running of the culture events of Rīga as the European Capital of Culture
To clarify what the organizers of the Riga Capital of Culture Committee mean by the term force majeure:
“For the title of its 2014 programme, Riga has chosen a term commonly used in law – force majeure – which signifies an mighty force, both unexpected and foreseeable (my bolded italics) …
If we open the link we learn that force majeure “ a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties….” occurs.
Riga Capital of Culture Foundation elaborates that force majeure is a  “mighty force”: “… accumulated through global and individual obstructions and problems.” (My bolded italics.)
Having discovered the legal meaning and use of force majeure, we now have to discover what is ‘unexpected’ and ‘foreseeable’ about it? Since catastrophic hazards of nature are rare in Riga, the only “unexpected” event is likely to be a ‘political’ one. While political upsets are frequent in an inherently unstable ‘democratic’ order, Latvia has participated in only one event that may be considered to have the significance of a force majeure. This ‘one event’ consists however of a number of interrelated events. Re:
1917, March. Beginning of the Russian Revolution. The force majeure goal of the Revolution is to establish International Socialism as opposition to Global Liberal Capitalism. The ultimate goal of Global Liberal Capitalism and International Socialism is to defeat one another and the victor becoming thereafter the sole governmening system on the planet. A month after the outbreak of the Revolution, Tsar Nicholas abdicates. By November 1917, the Bolsheviks unseat the Provisional Government of Russia, and the Soviet government becomes the only government in Russia and its former territories.
1917, July, Riga, Latvia. The Latvian Social Democrats in Riga, controlled by the Bolsheviks, establish Iskolat . Iskolat is the acronym for “the Executive Committee of the Soviet Workers, Soldiers, and the Landless in Latvia”. German forces, ensconced on the left or west bank of the River Daugava, soon thereafter attack Riga, and  Iskolat is forced to retreat east, ultimately escaping into Russia proper, where in March 1918 it disbands. On December 16, 1917, Russia and Germany agree to an armistice . The armistice is signed
1918, 3 March at Brest-Litovsk . As a result of the Brest-Litovsk Treaty, Russia is to cede many of the lands on her Western borders, including the territory of Latvia. The treaty in and of itself, continues as part of the series of events begun with the force majeure that begun with the Revolution, and ought not to be viewed as a separate event. The Treaty was dictated for the most part by the German Kaiser, and was backed by the Central Powers, who, in spite of viewing the Treaty as detrimental to their short term interests in the war,  saw the Treaty as furthering the long term the interests of Western liberalism. The Treaty ultimately cost Russia most of her Western territories .
18 November, 1918, the Latvian Peoples Council proclaims Latvia’s independence . The proclamation does not result in immediate independence, but is followed by a period of instability and continued armed conflict. The Latvian Social Democrats are reluctant to join, because their sympathies are with the Bolsheviks and in the establishment of International Socialism as permanent opposition to Liberal Capitalism. Nevertheless, the Latvian Social democrats agree to the November 18 declaration, but with the qualification that as far as they were concerned, independent Latvia is for the party an instrument, but not an exclusive goal.
1918, 17 December, Latvian Socialists proclaim with the political, economic, and military backing of Lenin and his Bolshevik government the Latvian Socialist Soviet Republic. This act is meant to counter the November 18 proclamation of the Latvian Peoples Council.
1919 an attack of combined German and Latvian forces drives the Latvian Socialist Soviet government to Latvia’s easternmost regions. In 1920—with the help of Polish forces—rightist forces of Latvia drive the Soviets from Latvia. As a consequence, the Latvian government has no Socialist representation to this day.
These events, except for the event of 1989 (collapse of the Soviet Union), end the force majeure effort by Lenin. Unfortunately for the Soviets, the West survives the struggle between itself and the reestablished East, whereas the East again loses its footing. In Latvia the fall of the Soviet Union is celebrated by adopting and projecting a kind of mindless hubris over the ability of the West to celebrate centuries of murder and suffering of humankind by finding the heights of expression in Pop Art. Its media celebrate a conceit that history serves best when forgotten or purposely misrepresented . There is nary a thought here that denial of economic equality might serve as heat serves a cobra in producing deadly poison.
Given that in the text quoted above, the organizers of the Riga 2014 Cultural event have put ‘unexpected’ next to ‘foreseeable’, one is tempted to imagine the two words are related to each other as closely as  ‘unknown’ is to ‘known’. It is like a dream before awakening from it all wet. Fortunately for the dreamer, the mystery is solved by the explanation that such wetness is “…accumulated through global and individual obstructions and problems”. It is like discovering that all one needs to solve the problem of absence of imagination is a suppository.
A citizen of the world, who has bought into the “globalization” ideology of the liberal capitalist world order, might see the word ‘individual’ in personal terms. He-she might wonder whether “individual obstruction” is sourced in them? Even so, it is unlikely that anyone reading this, and thinking of coming to Riga in 2014 will ‘unexpectedly’ and spontaneously admit themselves obstructionists. As to ‘individual problems’, who can say that he-she is free of them?
This leaves us seeking ‘unexpected and foreseeable’ situations significant enough to call for force majeure action—from a global perspective. If we discover such, we will not escape thinking of force majeure as involving political risks of global proportions. Moreover, since the “Riga 2014 Cultural Capital of Europe” has a legal standing, it is the party which writes the contract or, to put it another way, defines the function of the Cultural event.
This is how the Foundation sees its function:
A significant role in Riga 2014 programme will be played by the Mobile Centres in Riga’s suburbs and Latvian towns. It means that in 2014, Riga plans to decentralise its programme by carrying out various cultural events outside its cultural centre, reaching Sigulda, its official partner town, Cēsis, Liepāja or any other city or town open for cultural cooperation. The European Capital of Culture status for Riga must be beneficial to the entire nation, and Riga sees itself as sort of a gate to Latvia – many professionals of culture have already been involved in preparing applications for the ECOC status of Riga, Cēsis and Liepāja, thus demonstrating the mobility of Latvian artists.
The implicit/ explicit definition of the function of Riga as a Capital of Culture may not be all that significant to a visitor to Riga, but to a Latvian citizen it is a rather amazing document.
  • The second sentence, re: “It means that IN 2014, Riga plans to decentralize its programme…” should read: “It means that BY 2014.…” In other words, Riga has usurped the benefits meant to be “beneficial to the entire nation” for itself for over twenty years (since renewed independence).
  • “…Riga sees itself as sort of a gate to Latvia… ” should read: “Riga, which  has placed itself as a city outside of Latvia, is considering reintegrating itself as part of the country to receive cudos from the EU….”
  • “… The European Capital of Culture [ECOC] status for Riga must be beneficial to the entire nation…” is an assertion post factum, because by its own admission, Riga has here to now had a centralized programme….”
  • When we come to the following fragment in the last sentence: “…many professionals of culture have already been involved in preparing applications for the ECOC status of Riga, Cēsis and Liepāja, thus demonstrating the mobility of Latvian artists,” we are at first mesmerized, then shocked by its audacity to describe artists as “professionals of culture”. If one googles for the meaning of the term , one finds no understanding of it on the web. True, it may be a term understood by the Riga bureaucrats, but it is unlikely to be understood by artists in the rest of Latvia, whether professionals or amateurs, since by definition, they have not been part of Riga by Riga’s own admission.
Such audacious presumption forces us to question the municipal government and its Council Of Culture. However, wait!  Who are the members of this Foundation?
Interestingly, all of the names of the Supervision Council of the Foundation are Latvian names, that is, the Council consists solely of the 40% of the inhabitants of Riga who are of Latvian ‘ethnicity’. The only name of Russian descent (of the 46% of Riga population) is that of the mayor of Riga, Nils Ušakovs, who leads the list of thirteen other names.
The exclusionism is apparently an unwitting continuation of the exclusion that began with the exclusion of socialists ninety-five years ago. It encapsules the continued unwitting identification of the Latvian cause with then emergent proto-Nazism, even though the hay-days of German Nazism are sixty-five years behind us. I write this, fully aware that the fascist and liberal capitalist nature of the Latvian government today is a term that does not apply to all Latvians, but only to those living in Riga, who define contemporary humankind as being of an “urban” nature.
Under the subhead “Road Map”, at the link to Riga 2014 ECOC, we read:
“The greater part of mankind lives in cities….  A city is not only made up of buildings and carriageways…. Cities are like living organisms that can grow dynamically and aggressively…. They can be led by the dynamics of the explosive development of generic cities … grounded in the pragmatism of capitalism. Or, it might be the global city … in which the local is found in constant interaction with the global. It may be assumed that a city grows by itself.”

In other words, cities, too (inclusive of Riga), may be like Nazi armies on a warpath for ‘Lebensraum’.  Interestingly, Latvians of countryside origin tend to bypass Riga by going direct to its airport, then flying to lands far abroad, while Riga attracts (in a move of expansionary inversion) an increasing number of rich Russians and Chinese.

If Riga ever becomes Europe’s Capital of Culture and Politics (ECOC&P), it will be,  because its Russian and Chinese speaking immigrants will have learned to outwit the Latvian government and appear with Latvian names. In the future Mrs. Nadja Simjanova and Mr. Chan Chunyin will execute an Eastern style personal force majeure by applying for their Latvian passports as Nadīne Simsone and Kārlis Kārkliņš—no matter how many backward summersaults the Latvian Parliament in Riga flips in protest.

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