The Civil Movements and the Political Problems

23/06/2015. YEREVAN, ARMENIA. Because of energy price increase in Armenia, clashes between protesting people and policemen happened during the protest march

It may seem paradoxical or maybe not that much but currently all the grave problems in Armenia have political basis and call for political solutions. The above mentioned refers to all fields: security, healthcare, city-building, education. However, as a result of domestic political developments of the last 5 years, the political conflicts in Armenia as a matter of fact had stopped, and the political processes have been replaced with ritual and nominal practices. The socially active part tries to examine the problems of exclusively political content that require political solutions outside the political continuum and achieve their solution.

Let’s discuss it at length:

  1. a) Since 2012 National Assembly elections there has been no real political power in Armenia that even theoretically can put the positions of the leading party in danger in particular and the whole system in general. There is no political alternative with its own agenda which is capable of building a system that would replace the current political system, and as a result there is no political struggle. The leading group with its educational, cultural, and security pseudo-policy, that mostly reminds of nominal regulations, only contributes to the ritualization of it all. The fact that the political struggle in the country has long entered the ritual field needs no clarification, I believe. However, let’s illustrate the above mentioned with some examples։
  • The elections and referendums in Armenia are conducted with a priori known results (the results are known both to those who are “for” and “against”) – National Assembly elections in 2012, President elections in 2013, Constitution referendum, National Assembly elections in 2017.
  • The decisions of national importance, adoption of laws, judicial decisions, official appointments take place not in accordance with political expediency, law and national interest but under the influence of various directives: a part of laws is adopted under the pressure of external powers (the law against domestic violence), another part is adopted for satisfying the personal ambitions of 1-2 individuals (constitutional changes that allowed Serzh Sargsyan to stay in power) ։
  • The foreign policy is led by taking into account the interests of the criminal-oligarch elements serving to the regime (RA – EAEU negotiations by which the positions of some monopolists are maintained).

All of these come to prove one thing: real political processes have stopped։

  1. b) The socially active mass, on the face of the youth having a certain level of educational attainment, regularly makes occasional attempts of giving separate target solutions to the problems they view as essential or actual. Widely known examples of the stated are Electric Yerevan, Mashtots Park Movement and others (with some stipulations the list can be complemented with 100 dram movement, the movement aimed at providing the army with tufa slabs, movement for furnishing YSU with toilet paper, “Out of our pockets” and other movements likewise). All those movements are born and developed following the same pattern and come across the same mistake, with more or less successful result. The movement starts in case of the violation of the interests of a certain social group or in case of some socially unfavorable basis, develops and expands against the background of trendiness of permanently present discontent movements or non-political youth movements, reaches a deadlock because of the absence of leadership and coordination, strategically wrong planning, and starts to decline because of the inaptitude of giving a solution to a serious and long-term problem in apolitical format. The solution in its turn is frequently expressed in symbolic concessions from the leading system: 100 dram will remain, the electricity temporarily will not rise in price, etc., that provide a legitimate basis for the movement organizers to “go back home”, and the movement declines. This does not only harm the existing system and help build a new one, but also basically helps the existing system, contributing to the reproduction of the latter (the evaporation effect) [i].

The thing is that the socially active mass[ii] out of inexperience or political incompetence, or out of incapacity to stand aside from the conjuncture of the processes, cannot perceive one fundamental truth: without launching actual political processes and their successful implementation it is not possible to achieve even a little long-term and fundamental success in Armenia in any direction apart from juvenile romanticism. For more preciseness: the problem solution in Armenia has political rather than civil format, and to achieve their solution it is mandatory that political goals be put. However, the socially active mass itself cannot and is not able to propose political goals and achieve the solution of political issues.

However, as the Georgian and the Ukrainian examples showed, the overthrow of the system and the deportation of the rulers are not sufficient. To radically change the situation an alternative for the existing elite is needed; a social group that has its own maintenance and conceptions, and that will be able to define a new agenda in the country. This in its turn cannot take place in a day and requires elite genesis[iii].

On the model of the French and American revolutions it can be learnt that the best format is the authors with new thinking based on intellectual circles and the formation of their audience. As a result of the activities of these circles a new elite and a society that will become its beneficiary must be formed. Without this the most plausible termination of the revolution attempt is that of the group “Sasna Tsrer”. The provision of drastic change of radical problems in the republic is possible only in case of sequential completion of the indicated steps, the rest is solely cosmetic means or self-deception.

  • Establishment of intellectual circles, liberation from the self-fulfillment via self-education and educational experience from abroad, escape from the conjecture present in the country and development of one’s own conceptions ։
  • Involvement of the audience and its transformation into an army of adherents by means of public clarifications, educational and civil events, presentation of enlightenment and alternatives ։
  • Transformation of Circle-Audience relationships into Elite-Modern society discourse ։
  • Revolution: occupation of the state power by a new elite either by means of elections or peaceful disobedience։
  • Radical changes in the political, social-psychological, cultural, economic and many other fields in Armenia: launching of the transition process ։
  • Building of a modern liberal, legal society ։

Corruption. The corruption in Armenia has a form of a pyramid: corruption in any system in most of the cases ascends up to the top via intrasystemic black schemes. Consequently, efficient struggle against the corruption in Armenia is possible only in one case – when the top five people struggle against it (in this case the problem in a significant percentage will be solved in the first two weeks).  That is possible exclusively as a result of real political processes by means of rearrangements in the government. There is hardly anyone among the readers who will insist that the current government have willpower and moral resources to engage in this problem. As for the corruption in the educational system, it is merely a part of the system described, and the struggle against it alone is not promising.

Underfinancing of Education.  The Bologna Process, a part of which is Armenia, draws to its end in 2025[iv],  after which the Sorbonne Process is to be launched. However, Armenia cannot join the latter in current circumstances, as to be a part of the Sorbonne Process 5% of GDP of a country must be spent on the educational field. Whereas in Armenia as of 2015 that number amounted 2.2% altogether, from which 0.3% only was allocated to the higher education system. In 2016 that number decreased, and as for 2017 the expenses prescribed for the education field by the project of the state  budget were 0.02% less from that of 2016[v]. By the way, the state financing of the education field in the RA is the lowest in the line of post-Soviet states [vi].

In general, the authoritarian and semi-authoritarian states conduct a peculiar educational policy (in our case – pseudo-policy). The education sphere either is not financed altogether for keeping the society ignorant, or is financed as much so as to make it possible to bring up and educate a society within the logic serving the system. In our case the indicators of that are the “patriotic / pseudo-patriotic” education, the ethnic or cultural nationalism, the absence of belief in democracy as an institution. The financing of the education within the framework of the existing system cannot be added not only because of finance deficiency but also following the logic of the regime, as an educated individual will not sell his vote for 5000 drams or fall a victim to political manipulations։

Education market and the absence of education-job market relation. Apart from social and educational significance, the education in the 21th century is distinguished by its industrial scopes and market regulations. In the logic of market economy, a little market, no matter how regulated it is, is always vulnerable. One of the biggest problems of the Armenian education system is the scarcity of people, a possible solution of which is the internationalization of the educational environment, which, however, requires both significant resources and first class administrative capacities. The international educational environment implies another educational and scientific strata – modern and independent, which, however, is politically inexpedient to the system. On the other hand, the job market, to which the educational system has hardly any connection if any, is not able to give it necessary regulations because of the underdevelopment of trade unions, the inflation of the state apparatus, and finally, because of the premeditated policy of emigration boosting. As a result, the education does not meet the requirements of the job market, fails to serve the education market and is not able to ensure that the graduates will find a job corresponding to their profession and have a career development. All the mentioned problems connected with the quality of education again have a political lining, and probably these are the most large-scale problems that are unsolvable within the frameworks of the current system.

Peripheralization of the Education. One of the most fundamental problems of the education field within the framework of postcolonial discourse is its peripheralization, which is a result of the peripheral essence of the local elite ։

“Knowledge-Centered” Education. The education system in Armenia does not provide the graduate with the appropriate competence to work in the international market. The knowledge given at any level of the education system does not get updated, hence the education is being self-reproduced and does not develop. The education system, however, remains “knowledge-centered”, that is to say it does not provide skills and aptitudes. The presence of the archetypes and anarchy inherent to the last century, their supremacy over the science-based approach at times, the post-totalitarian stagnation, and the absence of generation change are problems the complete solution of which is again possible exclusively in case of management of the state sources of influence, as a result of lasting and specialized events.

Apart from these problems, the other problems are either their derivatives or are of cosmetic character. The field can be regulated only through political willpower, real political processes and improvements ։

Now the time has come to put an end to the self-deception of the society, get out from the conjuncture that has absorbed us and start to engage in the solution of the grave and long-term problems. The time of unsteady political movements reminding of teenage quests is gone, it’s time to become serious.


Bibliography

  1.    Official web site of the National Assembly of the RA, http://www.parliament.am/
  2. Жан-Жак Руссо, Избранные сочинения в трех томах, Москва, ГИХЛ, 1961
  3.    Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens http://art.yale.edu/file_columns/0000/1474/homo_ludens_johan_huizinga_routledge_1949_.pdf , 22.09.2017
  4.    Norbert Elias, On the Process of Civilisation, edited by Stephen Mennell, Eric Dunning, Johan Goudsblom and Richard Kilminster, Dublin, UCD Press, 2012.
  5.    Norbert Elias, The Court Society, edited by Stephen Mennell, Dublin, UCD Press, 2006.
  6.     Encyclopedia Britannica, http://www.britannica.com/ , 22.09.2017


[i] Regularly organized movements that are aimed at giving solutions to small and local problems not only distract the public attention from the main problem, but also, by providing discharge, do not allow the maturing of  a strong discontent movement ։

[ii] Participants and organizers of civil movements

[iii] The birth of the elite

[iv] This means that the projects and models that do not require additional financing and are already incorporated will maintain but there will not be further developments։

[v] Summary of the project of the state budget of the RA in 2017 http://www.parliament.am/committee_docs_5/fv/text2017.pdf

[vi] J. Klein, The state of education series, Teritary Education, Global report, , UNESCO Institute for Statistics in EdStats, 2011



Author: Areg Kochinyan. © All rights are reserved.

Translator: Lilit Maghakyan


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