The Sovietness of The National And The National of The Sovietness

The purpose of the following analysis is to examine the question of the coexistence of current and Soviet interpretations of the national in present-day Armenia on the basis of the power discourse and the reaction of society.In the case of the examination and careful analysis of the installation of Marshal Babadjanyan’s statue and the entire inaugural ceremony, several opinions-conclusions arise at once on which I will try to comment.

Let’s make a few conditional thematic divisions in advance, to make the theme and its discourse areas easier and more systematized.

  1. The problem of measuring the Soviet-Russian “national” from the Armenian national position, the interpretation of the context of its perception in the case of the resistance of the power and “its antipode[i]”.
  2. The priority of the problem of the especially ethnic dimension of the national and the subordination of the political national.
  3. The question of mostly political interpretation and reconstruction of the past within the limits of the antipode fields of power-society.
  4. The question of current events and the issue of their ideopolitical correlation to this problem, the context of the political

The installation of the statue itself is a classic civilizational practice the installation, existence and function of which must first be directed towards society, bring the impulses of power and create the reality and the semantic-spatial field that the power system needs.

The ideology guided by any power, needs the continual realization by the society and the vital space: in this case the organization of the capital environment is the best way from the power positions for the best practical application of that policy.

We must not forget that the state as a system has an absolute monopoly for the installation of statues and memorials in public places (which although not denied, however, in my opinionneeds to be recalled). This is a post-Soviet phenomenon whose defenders (especially the power) strive to reinterpret the past, represent individuals with recognition and authority by interweaving the noble,the national and the global[ii]and put them in the service of their present and future plans. The problem is not already the historization of the historical person, but the legitimization of its cradle of power system and its ideological base through that person, which aims to become “one of the places of interest” of Yerevan with the obvious impulse to study and to teach the history[iii].

  • The hierarchic national. Making a short reference to the biography of marshal HamazaspBabadjanyan, we will see that the latteris a classic Soviet character who has a rather manual biography (due to the Soviet regime and his personal talents he arrived the center, “the Great Motherland”from a slight status andlittle homeland Tchardaghlu,thenreached the title of marshal of the armoured troops of the Soviet Union and was glorified as a valiant son of the Armenian people). He is the pivotal part of the “Great Motherland” on the union scale, who could obtain a reputation, move from the periphery to the centre, settle there;its existence must inspire Armenians with pride and grandeur at least according to the authors of the statue and the state power.These mentalities (Great and Small Motherland, national representative, etc.) are indispensable and pivotal parts of a typicalSoviet-Russian national discourse and are axial for the regular realization of the Soviet and post-Soviet power and ideology. The Soviet ideology could implant the idea, that there are great and small motherlands, in case of Armenians the original Armenian SSR and the USSR. Accordingly, people who had been honored and received high positions in the crucible of the union and systems, were honored in the motherland and by the local and federal authorities being represented as torchbearers of victory of the collective Armenian’s high qualities. These were Anastas Mikoyan (whose epic ofstatue is from the same series), Aram Khachatryan, AvetTerteryan, the marshals Baghramyan, Isakov, Ghamperyants and also marshal Babadjanyan. When talking about the intentions of the authorities, that is to recreate the past and reinterpret the Soviet private past as a manifestation of national glory, the start from the point that the current authorities and its prominent representatives are deeply Soviet in their nature.
  • Being the last generation of the Soviet Union, born and brought up within the frameworks and rules of the system, the ruling elite inevitably considers the Soviet past as a part of its identity, its Soviet national interpretation, and, therefore, their actions, among other things, are conditioned by all these. One of the key problems of both this, and generally any power, is the recreation and transmission of its own value system to the future generation. From this point of view, the following step of the current authorities has profound Soviet-national interpretation, however, it contradicts another type of national formed by the society vision, for which Babadjanyan is considered to be the oppressor of the Hungarian revolution, the commander of the tank troops occupying Budapest who embodies Soviet despotism towards nations who tend to autonomy and independence. Thus, Babadjanyan’s image is at least problematic for the society, and the installation of his statue is unacceptable.
  • C. The logic of the daily realization of the Soviet power was built on the divergence of the reality and the invested idea that the contradictions had a permanent role and significance for the maintenance of power and “misleading” the society. Thus, the power that proclaimed itself as national-conservative, can be considered both the follower of Nzhdeh and simultaneously dream about the Soviet sunny prominent past without even suspecting that the same Nzhdeh was the irreconcilable enemy of the Soviet power. The profound essence lies in the realization of the chaos and discrepancy of values and reality, and in this case things are not called by their own names and the power has huge reserves to implement whatever they wish.

2A. During all these events and the flow of information, itis necessary to pay attention to the importance of ethnic-national perception, thus, Babadjanyan’s being of Chardakhlu origin is emphasized, the latter was historically an Armenian territory (Northern Artsakh) and later part of the Elisabethpol province of the Transcaucasian domains of the Tsarist Empire, and now is located in the Shamkor region of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The architect presents another discursive approach of the interpretation of the Soviet-national heritage, noting that the basis of the independent army of Armenia is the Soviet Army(Babajanyan is similar to the Soviet Army, and hence, with the Armenian National Army, becomes a connecting link). Here we are faced with a more than obvious concern towards the problem of nationalization of the Soviet, its interpretation and the problem of heritage.

2BAnother example of the Soviet and the national connection is one of the present elderly people who considers himself as Babadjanyan’s soldier (similar to Adranik’s soldier formula[iv]).

  1. 4. Current Political Dividends

A.Babajanyan is presented as a Soviet-Armenian hero who fought against fascism, defeated it and again many paradoxes. (Hitler, motherf*er, and though he is sitting on the same chair, Babajanyan himself embodied theSoviet colonial fascism in the eyes of liberals, etc.).

  1. B. The fugitive mention of the will to fight willingly against the common enemy to the Soviet center and its heir, Moscow (the April events are still fresh and in my opinion the inauguration of the statue is of the same logic and rhythm).

CThe “historical argument” of Artsakh Claim: as there is no doubt that Babadjanyan is Armenian and his village too, thus, this statue is still a means of makingboth the inner and outer audience pay attentionto the problem of North Artsakh.

DThe statue of Soviet soldier the inauguration on December 7, 2015 in Spitak, is also a part of this line. It should be noted that the initiative belongs to the military and historical union of Russia which, from the first sight, seems to be a neutral support[v].

EThe intention to satisfy the military and political pathos of this stage especially directed to the inner audience.

FTo cover all the tragic events by the glorious past in all spheres of state life, that is to replace the present with the past (by the logic of the idiom “man does not live by bread alone”).

GTemporary ignorance of such problematic issues as the undermined military authority, the most competitive and invincible army of the region.

The sum of all these must be the following: to implant the reinterpretation of alternative discourses and the traditional mentalities that will give the opportunity to examine the issue in its all aspects and avoid the daily composition dictated by the power that leads to the unilateral character and, thus, common weakness of the state and society .

[i]Here, the notion of society refers to the part, which contradicts the official discourse put by the power and suggests new or other interpretation to the current or existing problems.

[ii]In this case marshal Babadjanyan is not a local or Soviet character, but a person of universal respect, the least evidence of which is the presence of European and American military representatives at the inauguration.

[iii]This phenomenon, in particular and especially for others, is characteristic for the post-Soviet societies that still contain this or that form of the Soviet heritage and maintain its traces in all areas of their lives.

[iv]In the Soviet era, most of the old men in the Armenian SSR were praising themselves that they fought against the Turks and freed their motherland from the enemy under Andranik’s command.

[v]In fact, the problem is the emphasis on help which is at least illogical and stressed colonial, as the Armenian SSR, being under the USSR, was supposed to receive help and what is the most important, the image of a soldier is especially stressed, which shouldsimply remind parallels with Kh. Abovyan’s “The Russian’s leg”that is with the hereditary and blessed leg.

Author: Gor Madoyan © All rights are reserved.

Translator: Armine Poghosyan, English.