Shahan Natalie: Why Did the Turk Win?
Presenting the history of the Armenian political currents that preceded the Karabakh movement, we publish one of the editorials of Shahan Natalie (Hakob Ter-Hakobyan, 1884-1983). The author had been one of the leaders of Operation Nemesis and a member of the ARF Bureau since 1919. Just from the very beginning the plan of Operation Nemesis met strong resistance by most of the members of the ARF Bureau:Rouben Ter-Minasyan, Rouben Darbinyan, Simon Vratsyan. Eventually, it remained incomplete, and the conflict between Shahan and the majority of the Bureau reached its peak in the late 1920s. In 1929 Natalie was expelled from ARF. Before that, since 1928 he had founded and edited the “Freedom Fight”, in which he actively preached the line of anti-bureaucratic ARF members. The main topic of the debate was: which is the primary enemy of the Armenians, the Soviet government or Turkey? The Bureau was of the first opinion, but Natalie and the others were of the second opinion. Accordingly, Natalie and her associates accused the Bureau of having Turkish orientation, and in return received the accusation of being Bolshevik agents. Later, Shahan collaborated with another group separated from ARF, the “Martkotsakans”, which included the famous writer Vazgen Shushanyan and others.
Shahan’s main personal target was the de facto Head of Bureau of ARF – Ruben. Actually, however opposing the positions of the two were, they have considerable similarities at a deeper level. Both Ruben and Shahan are the generation of Armenian figures whose main driving force is the deconstruction of the approaches and stereotypes of the previous, first generation of revolutionaries. Both are power-oriented, both mock the previous naive belief in the inevitable progress of mankind, and both are skeptical to the degree of gloom.
There is also a contradictory intertwining of destinies. From a very early period, even before 1914, Ruben, a supporter of the Armenian-Turkish reconciliation, spent his entire revolutionary life fighting against the Turks until 1920, and the anti-Turkish Shahan never took part in any fight, except for the operative leadership of Nemesis, which was certainly not a war in the true sense of the word. In “The Turks and Us ”Shahan, who chose Ruben as his main political target, mentions that the greatest victory of the Armenian weapon was the cleansing of Armenia from the Turkish element, especially the operation of Zangibasar in 1920, prioritizing it more than Sardarapat. But it was … one of Rouben’s intended and carried out plans, just one of those, which aren’t usually said aloud… So these and similar contrasts are much more complex and multi-layered than they may seem at the first glance. The dispute between Ruben and Shahan continues somewhere to this day: we should just remember its ambiguity and multi-layeredness.
Hrant Ter Abrahamyan
There is no truth. There are truths.
The important thing is to classify truths according to their value.
This is what the Armenian, especially the political thought, did not understand during the process, and what the Turk realized literally.
And we lost. The Turk defeated us.
It is a truth that writing and literature are power: and the Armenian realized it and built monasteries, opened schools, spread writing and literature.
It is a truth that art and trade are power: and the Armenian dedicated himself to all the branches of art, became proud of his art, the influence of which spread over near and far located nations. He developed as a commercial, he crossed seas, he enriched and made the dominant element his economic slave.
It is a truth that craft and agriculture are power: and the Armenian became the possessor of the crafts of his environment: plowed the land, gathered the harvest. At least he ate jam, but he lived with a full stomach.
It is a truth that civilization and education are power: and the Armenian communicated with Western civilization, educated a generation, connected to the civilized world with religious links.
And still many other things are truths.
It is also a bitter truth that all those things did not prevent us from losing our battle of death and life.
And we lost to the Turk, who had none of those all things, not at least as much as we had.
The Turk had only one thing more than us: WEAPON. Because he knew that in politics the power of weapons had more value than all the values of other powers.
The result of this consciousness is the Turk’s ability in one craft – BUTCHERY.
If the butchery is so common for the Turk in terms of killing and tearing, the influence of the firm relationship of provocation and sword should be accepted in the Turk’s butchery-craft.
Do not say that we deny writing and literature, education and civilization. That is a lie.
We are just saying that as in every part of the world the Turk’s sword is more powerful than all the powers of the Armenian. And that the reason of the Turk’s victory is in the realization of that truth.
And why be ashamed and not confess that the Turk was and is smarter in classifying the truths.
Our non-confessing has never changed a fact, as the Turk, who was illiterate, craftless, artless, lacking of trade and agriculture, massacred the literate Armenian, plundered Armenian craft and the results of art, drank the sweat of the Armenian farmer and got fattened with the wealth of Armenian commercial having only a sword.
The confession of this fact is in the existence of the Armenian Revolution.
And our defeat wouldn’t have been final, if the Armenian Revolution had realized all their understandings and completely thrown away the precipitous truths of our fathers.
Who hasn’t heard from their fathers?:
“Let the Turks rob, unless they let us live. They are hungry all year round and they are beggars in front of the doors of Armenians.”
It was right.
The only thing that wasn’t true was the wish of “unless they let us live”, and not lifting a weapon for this wish.
And if the not lifting of a weapon was dear to the peace-loving Armenian spirit, it was greatly also the result of his political abilities and the power of literacy out of a weapon and wrong appreciation.
Even the illiterate and uncivilized Kurd realized this truth better than the Armenian.
And that is the reason that they have not been massacred like us and were able to be independent before we were.
The Turk, leaning on the weapon, is walking down the roads, where our glory and pride have been blooded.
And if the steel-power truths aren’t still standing against these facts, above all these truths, the dams of the remnants of Armenian civilization will soon be razed to the ground.
“Freedom Fight” Paris #5, December 23, 1928
Source: archive of hambardzum.am
Translator: Mane Vardanian © All rights reserved.