Recently we lost famous filmmaker and actor, national artist of Armenia Ruben Gevorgianc. The strangest thing was not his death, which was natural and normal , but the content of the message that was spread after his death. The information was spread by his sons and relatives. Here is what it included: “During his whole life, through his activity Ruben Gevorgyanc tried to serve his country and nation. He used to ask his confidants and friends not to bring flowers and wreaths when his time comes, but to transfer the money to the Ministry of Defence of Armenia in order to help the families of dead soldiers. His sons and relatives ask all those people who would like to pay tribute to Ruben Gevorgianc’s memorium, to transfer the money to this bank account with the note “in memorium of Ruben Gevorgianc”[i].
From first sight this seems like an extremely “patriotic”, “selfless”, “pro-state” position. So much virtue in the wish of a citizen, who even after his death wants to help soldiers and their families in need, support his country and to materialize his last wish to help his country and society.
If we stop for a moment and get rid of sentimentalism and awe towards death and view Ruben Gevorgyanc’s will from the point of view of society and society’s benefit (which we are naturally supposed to do, because Gevorgyanc as a national artist of Armenia is a social and public character and his word which is public as well, is directed to the society), then we will see that the beneficiary side is again the society including the soldiers in need and their families who are getting the help.Yes, this issue belongs only to the public domain, because Gevorgyanc asked to transfer the money to the public fund ofMOD.
Some people may contradict it as Gevorgianc’s personal wish, they may even call it his “private” wish, but Gevorgyanc applies to the society, friends, acquaintances, that is to say, he brings his expectation to the social field and thereby reaffirms his public position and word, which is directed to the public; this way he gives us a chance to discuss the matter in the public field and give the required evaluation.
Thus Gevorgyanc himself portrays the character of a social intellectual, who is concerned about the problems the country and its people face, who is deeply devoted to Armenia and its citizens, whom even death cannot thwart in helping and supporting the society and even more needy classes of it. Antonio Gramsci makes a very interesting generalization about this type of a traditional intellectual Gevorgyanc, which demonstrates the classical-traditional relation between an intellectual and a country. Gramsci believes that social intellectuals haphazardly become a part of the system of social relations and are the spokesmen of one of the groups in it. He defines a new type of intellectuals, organic intellectuals, who unlike classic intellectuals, have a more practical value and role in the ideology of the ruling society and in the building of social life[ii].
In his “Prison Notebooks” while speaking about the origin of intelligentsia, the historical development, about their role and place in society, he implies the thesis, that there is no independent intelligentsia, that all of them are somehow dependent on some powers. Here is what he says “there is no independent class of intelligentsia[iii], every social class has its own group of intellectuals or is trying to create one.
So if we start from the points stated above, we’ll see that Gevorgyanc’s will belongs to the same category as the enterprises “1000 dram for the army”, “one nation, one culture”, “everything for the front”, “soldiers of ideological front”, “we all are soldiers”[iv], “nation-army”, “I’m a soldier of my country” and so on.
Here the problem concerns not the discussion of its functional or organizational and aesthetic sides, but its cognitive-ideological side, on which the complex and indiscriminate system of country-authority-everyday life relation with its internal and external features is founded.
In his conversation with Gilles Deleuze on March 4, 1972, Michel Foucault describes the role of intellectuals and their relations with the government this way: “authorities are deeply and indefinitely considered a part of social relations in a way, that intellectuals themselves are considered to be part of the authority, and even the idea that they(intellectuals) are the bearers of “conscience” and “consciousness”(of the society) is also a part of that system…where the intellectual is both an object and a mean(forauthority).”[v]
It is apparent that Gevorgyanc belongs to this group of intellectuals, about which Foucault, Gramsci, Deleuze and other theorists speak, whose studies include both the public and the political, everyday life and its occupation by politics, country, authority and ideology.
The urgent side of the issue is the most important aspect to be discussed first, because politics, while solving the problems with everyday life with the help of ideology, opens up new horizons for itself trying to manage even the afterlife. A citizen of Armenia, a human-being, a person even after their death are considered to be “their homeland’s soldier”, “devoted Armenian”, “real Armenian”, “someone serving his country and nation”, an intellectual, who even after death does not forget his country’s concerns and does everything to support it.
So this little, trivial case in the new history of Armenia is a precise indicator of the manifestation of the engrossing policy of everyday life, that was pointed out and put into circulation by Foucault, policy which gradually becomes stronger in Armenian conditions carrying totalitarian new shades. Totalitarian, because when the lines between the private and the public, the personal and the social are erased, we can and should speak about the start of neo-totalitarianism in a negative way, because any encroachment against a private field from the government, authority and ideology must be definitely evaluated and meet the opposition it deserves, because the disappearance of borders may result in the creation of faceless, colorless biomass; the witness is the experience of totalitarian countries of the 20th century, their heritage and epilogue, which was equal to the expense of lives of millions of people.
Romans have a saying: “Roman people are honest only once and this is in their wills”. In case of Gevorgyanc this is utterly true, but in the polar opposite way”.
[ii] Gramsci says that all people are intellectual homo faber and homo saphiens, but not all of them play their role of an intellectual in the society. [Gramsci A. Selections from Prison Notebooks.NY, 1971, 483p. pp. 9-10.]
[iii] Gramsci considered the notion of “independent” intelligentsia the manifestation of social utopia that was resulted by ideological philosophy. [Gramsci A.(1971), p.8]
[iv] Some posters in Yerevan are especially characteristic to the latter, as they depict workers of different fields as an inseparable part of “nation-army” concept and why not even as a moving force.
[v] Фуко Мишель. Интеллектуалы и власть: Избранные политические статьи, выступления и интервью. М.: Праксис, 2002. стр. 68-69.
Author: Gor Madoyan ãAll rights are reserved
Translator: Liana Papian