Friday, August 9, 2013

Eso’s Chronicles 202/2
How to Destroy a Nation (2)
© Eso A.B.

Grandfather had enough of playing second fiddle to the Latvian state (though he had bought the state a number of military biplanes (I saw them during a fly-by over his vacation home in the summer of 1938), and my father had replaced him as editor-in-chief for some time). A few years before his death, he went to consult my godfather, Mintauts, and asked his opinion about a divorce from Emiliya. The legal mind advised him to forget it, as it meant that his heirs, the children of his first marriage, might be left with little legal rights to the money he had made or properties he had bought. The heir to the Habsburg Empire, Emiliya’s adopted son George (his father was an Austrian), would most likely get to keep it.

Meanwhile, the small sovereign state of Latvia enjoyed a small economic boom. Its agricultural products: butter, bacon, wood were in demand. The country had relatively few motor engines polluting its air, because the horse still prevailed in the countryside. The car owned by my father, a Chrysler, spewed gasoline fumes so badly that I became car sick every time the family took a trip to grandfather’s estate in the region of Kurzeme. I much rather enjoyed the family motorboat, the engine exhaust being quickly dissipated by the winds of the sea.

By the time the Soviet Union crossed Latvia’s borders, I was seven years old. The Soviets quickly put a stun grenade on the family’s dining table. At the beginning of WW2 (as I was turning eight) the granade went “Boom!” and eight members of the family disappeared in the Gulags, while two (my father and maternal grandfather, a former ambassador to Moscow) were likely tortured and shot.

The country as a whole split into two halves: the survivors of Soviet carnage turned pro-German, while the former have-nots fled the country with the retreating Soviet Army, which after WW2 was to occupy the country for nearly fifty years. I, my two siblings, and mother survived, by hiding in the countryside among the relatives of my paternal grandmother. It was there that I grew to love the countryside and its direct ways: if you wished to travel, you had to yoke a horse or two to the carriage, and the eye could not avoid watching the horse raise its tail when needing to make a fart.

After surviving a string of refugee camps and forty-six years in America, I was happy by the opportunity to return to Latvia. It turned out to be an unhappy experience as political disunity heightened by extreme poverty, consequent to shock economic policies forced on the country by capitalist America gave early indications that the country would not survive as a sovereign community.

Pressures that forced the dissolution of what traditions had survived the Soviets came as quickly as the first years of so-called ‘independence’. One man (a man in early middle age) was perceptive enough to publicly sacrifice his life in front of the Freedom Monument, but his act was dismissed by the state as imbecilic and his complaints were not investigated.

Interestingly, the blade of the axe came from the ‘nationalist’ influence out of exile. In the forty-six (rough estimate) years in exile, the nationalists—most coming from Latvian urban society or, for that matter, having been born to exiles living in an urban environment—were easy converts to capitalism. Irrational denial of all notions of egalitarianism, natural to agriculturalists, forest dwellers, and fishermen coupled with easy and accustomed access to consumer goods produced at the expense of the environment and countryside, became a convenient ‘capitalist tool’. The coup de grace was delivered by the argument that Latvia was ‘unnaturally’ countryside oriented, and had a disproportionate number of people living ‘unproductively’ in the countryside.

A number of descendants of Latvian exiles, who had no familiarity with the country other than participating in folkdance groups in Western urban ‘democracies’ were let loose with their capitalist ways (their own capital or with the capital of the corporations they were employed by) on a country that had not yet had any opportunity to accumulate capital of its own. The results were pure joy to those exiles who returned to Latvia as tourists once a year for two weeks, and pure disaster for Latvians who were not prepared for such quick changes, and, worse, had no support from their own government, which for all practical purposes had turned out to be a traitor to its country as a sovereign entity.

While the traitorous nature of the government was camouflaged behind numerous legalistic excuses, the fact remains that it denied its citizens the right to hold a referendum—ostensibly over whether to forgo the local currency (lats) for the euro, but actually to deny the citizenry the right to sovereign expression and set a precedent for further such denial.

As I wrote in a post to another internet platform, it is not that Latvia will cease to exist because of this. It surely will remain as a name for a place for some time to come; there will also remain a number of indigenous people who are lucky enough to escape the squeeze to have them flee the country as economic refugees. However, as a sovereign community, as a community that yet had the opportunity to discipline itself for survival through the practice of an economy that fully or partially accords with the principles of autarky has become fodder to foreign interests and badmouthing of planetary hegemony dominated by the West.

While the following link to a description of autarky ends with a nearly full endorsement for globalization, Latvians would be wise to remember that globalization today is the result of the liberal application of violence as a facilitator to urbanist ends. On the other hand, autarky is successfully practiced by the Latvian Senate (Saeima), where autarky as in-house ‘democratic’ fascism (or do you prefer leeches to feces) rules supreme.

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