Liberalism, Realism and the Demise of National Values

Nikol Pashinyan, 2018 (Photo: Sofia Manukyan/The Armenian Weekly)

Color revolutions, such as the Arab Spring, had the support of the masses who wanted to create a just society. The revolutions strived to create an ideal society where corruption and nepotism would be eliminated, a fairer judicial system, individual rights, gender rights would be established, and liberal and democratic values achieved.

People took to the streets and rejected the status quo of corrupt authoritarianism in favor of a democratic civil state. However, social media globalized the support for these protests, galvanized the masses to come out and gained the support from the involvement of outside groups to mobilize in solidarity with the protests. Protesters demanded dignity, civic rights and the ousting of the regime whom they deemed responsible for their oppression. 

The revolutions were void of a national agenda and national values. They believed by demanding their rights, a better country would soon emerge. But these ideals of individualism created a breeding ground for the demise of national security, particularly in a dangerous geopolitical climate.

The epitome of this is the Velvet Revolution in Armenia and how the country transitioned from a secure (albeit corrupt) country to war and turmoil. 

The revolution in Armenia did not bring the changes it promised, resulting in mass distrust and disengagement from politics. Nepotism and corruption are still a sad reality in Armenia. The oligarchy is funding the present government, and some of them are elected MPs.

We have seen figures from the past regime still having influence in politics and control of the economy.

There is evidence of more political oppression and imprisonment of individuals who don’t agree with the current leader. The brutality of the police in treatment of protesters post-revolution is as bad as pre-revolution. The country has become a police state, and the PM is unable to walk freely without being surrounded by hundreds of security guards.

The decision making is centered around one person and his circle of cronies. The opposition is sidelined and rendered impotent. The media has been hounded and some of their rights taken away.

Liberalism did not improve the lives of the ordinary people. Liberal belief of a moral society was followed by the neoliberal mentality, which led to social fragmentation. These imported values of western liberal democracy caused chaos in the world, where society was not ready for these changes.

Liberal democracies are affiliated to conditions such as friendly neighbors and high education and living standards. Societies in western countries are more individualistic. These values cannot be implemented in societies that live in volatile and hostile regions, high poverty, with strong traditional national values and a more collective culture.

The liberal revolution destroyed Armenia as did the Bolshevik revolution 100 years ago. Both ideologies are against national values and beliefs. However, the latter brought security and acceptable living standards for the masses, whereas the liberal revolution brought war, instability and 30-percent poverty with huge territorial losses.

During the short-lived First Republic of 1918-1920, democratic values and civil liberties and equalities were combined with socialist ideology of fairness and social justice with a strong national ideal. Since the creation of the third republic and the Artsakh war of the nineties, and the national liberation movement, the national goals and ideals glued and united the society even to the heavy cost of democratic values and social justice. 

We had national pride and dignity, but the society was corrupted by post-soviet free market malice. The soviet-controlled economy was replaced by the oligarchy and neo-colonialists. 

It is the lack of forward thinking and greed that brought us to the fake revolution of 2018 and the subsequent national disaster.

Capitalism and liberalism are political doctrines that believe in protecting and enhancing individual freedom and rights. By contrast, nationalism believes that each nation should govern itself, free from outside interference and that the individual’s loyalty and devotion to the nation-state surpass other individual or group interests. Every nation’s natural and inalienable rights include its homeland – historical, territorial habitat – as its distinct environment. This must be protected as it is crucial for creativity, survival and development. 

The problematic relation between national identity and democracy distorted the emergence of healthy democratic institutions and social justice.

It is important to create a balance between nationalist, socialist and democratic values.

What is the way forward?

A society that is being controlled and manipulated in believing that individual rights are more important than national values cannot be saved by liberal values. Consequently, a young generation was lost during the 44-day war, and the country has become numb to the current tragedy and disconnected from its threatened reality. The society is fragmented, losing hope in a bright future. Pride and dignity have been taken away and replaced with a false promise of peace, better economic opportunities and the pride of realism over idealism. 

Salvation is having a truly strong, national leader or a political force that will bring social justice and fair democratic values in the country. A leader who has a strong national agenda and vision, who doesn’t view enemies as friendly neighbors. A leader, who doesn’t preach empty peace, unattainable when you are surrounded by genocidal neighbors. A leader who doesn’t have a corrupt past or is affiliated with external forces. A leader who believes in a secure and independent Armenia, without being a slave to any other country. A leader who celebrates the nation’s victorious past, instills pride but takes lessons from its bitter history. A leader who believes in a united Armenia but is fair and wise and has practical policies in achieving a glorious future and strengthens the crumbling national and state institutions. A leader who will unite the nation and use the potential of the diaspora in state building and championing the Armenian cause. 

When the nation identifies such a leader, Armenians will follow and unite to change their destiny. If that leader doesn’t come forward soon, then our destiny will be tragic leading to the demise of the state. People are not to be blamed. It’s the political elite that need to wake up for the national good and make way for a leader who will save the nation.

The future leader should advocate for individual freedom, national self-determination, independent, sovereign statehood, social harmony and economic well-being to secure unobstructed, multifaceted and sustainable development of both the individual Armenian and Armenian nation.

The stress is on the importance of a leader rather than a political party, as sadly the present reality in politics is such that people follow an individual rather than an ideal.

Excerpts from the ARF Manifesto

Capitalism, authoritarianism, and colonialism are all different expressions of domination and exploitation and are manifested in oligarchy, as well as economic, ideological, and cultural expansionism. The results are economic monopoly, disregard for national rights, neglect of human rights, ecological and environmental degradation, and political abuses often in the name of protecting human rights.

We need to create a sovereign state with national and democratic values to create a harmonious nation. Democracy is anchored by respect for human and civil rights and freedoms. It provides legal protection to freedom of opinion, the existence of multiple political parties, and complete freedom of speech. It also entails a separation of power between legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government on the principle of checks and balances.

The goal of a free, just, independent, and united Armenia will be through the rebirth of national liberation struggle!

Annette Moskofian

Annette Moskofian

Annette Moskofian was born in Tehran and grew up in London. She has a masters in international relations and democratic politics. Annette is the chair of the Armenian National Committee of the United Kingdom.
Annette Moskofian

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1 Comment

  1. Unfortunately, large numbers of self-proclaimed liberals – among them Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Pete Buttigieg – are at best traditional conservatives, at worst right-wingers holding a single liberal-leaning view. Case in point: Pete Buttigieg targeted South Bend’s unions and admits to being friends with Mike Pence (is that privilege or what?)

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