Saturday, August 20, 2011

Chickens Running in All Directions (XI)

Let me begin this entry with Apollo, the Latvian internet site so frequently put down, because it best represents populist resentment of Latvia’s corrupt institutions. The site speaks for itself by shouting loudly, clearly, and sometimes in a foul language the opinions that infect the populists. By populists this writer means that segment of the population without which democracy is not possible.

Speaking of democracy in Latvia, were it to exist here, there would be no public displays of the Turrets’ syndrome that infect the responses at said site, but [to paraphrase Adrian Kuzminski (go to ‘Populism, The Third Way’)] there would be a political economy of the people with claims to private property as a correlate to its claims to public power. In short, if Latvia were to be a democracy, it would use the leverage of its small size to seize for itself the intellectual ground that is that of the former Republic of Vermont (see above link) than ape the neo-liberal system that is visibly sick unto death.

Be that as it may, how does a country arrive at democracy when most of its authorities dream of becoming oligarchs, are oligarchs, or are in some way compromised by oligarchs. By using the word ‘oligarchs’, I mean not so much to put onus on the individual, but the system, re liberal capitalism self-regulating itself in such a way that there is in effect no regulation. A good example of this invasive power is the current President of Latvia, one Andris Berzins, an oligarch (granted, even by Latvian standards a minor one), who as a former bank director for an affiliate of a Swedish bank is blatantly compromising the economic interests of most Latvians.

In a recent media blurb , the President claims to know why the citizens of Latvia are unhappy with the Saeima, the legislative body of the Latvian government. The internet text is in Latvian, which may be as well, because were it in English, the reader would see through the clichés sooner than later and understand that the President’s ideas are simplistic and self contradictory. In this instance, a lie in Latvian obfuscates the lie more successfully than its presentation, say, in English, which due to its unfamiliarity to the public at large has less ‘white noise’ to interfere with the true interpretation of what he is saying.

In the media blurb, the President insists that he is a conservative to such a degree that he would not initiate measures without the full agreement of the Saeima (a body recently dismissed by voters as illegitimate). More over, President Berzins hopes that by presenting himself as such a conservative, he is not encouraging populism. (“…es kā prezidents atbalstīšu tikai tās iniciatīvas, kurām ir atbalsts koalīcijā. Ceru, ka tas nebūs pamats priekšvēlēšanu populismam”.) Apparently, the President is as confused about the meaning of populism as are most of Latvia’s political elites, which is to say, the President is just as interested in circumventing democracy as the dismissed Saeima. Not so incidentally, he is joined in his call for a special session of the old and discredited Saeima by the coalition of the Greens and Farmers (ZZS) , who are largely funded by an oligarch.

The other link that this blogger would like to mention appeared in Apollo. It is a summary of an interview in the newspaper Diena (13.8) with Valdis Birkavs.

Birkavs is a former Prime and Foreign Minister of Latvia. The text is in Latvian, and concerns itself with what Birkavs believes are the four stages of Latvia’s evolution as a state, re: 1) romanticism; 2) cynicism; 3) greed; 4) near hopeless confusion In this instance, the Latvian text has no white noise.

Regarding the last and present stage of the government, Birkavs argues that after joining the EU and NATO, there began a period of indecision, aimlessness (for the last ten years), and standing in place. [“Līdz ar iestāšanos Eiropas Savienībā un NATO…. sākās periods… mētāšanās, bezmērķība [pēdējos desmit gados]… mīņāšanās uz vietas.”]

It is worth noting that Birkavs connects the deconstruction of Latvia’s sovereignty (see previous blogs) with Latvia enmeshing itself with EU and NATO. Joining the EU has cost Latvia its bright standard (spožo karogu) and surrendered it to Europe’s feckless politicians. This phenomenon has also been noticed by Philip Zelikow in a Commentary piece in the Financial Times .

Rounding off the neglect, both, of foreign and domestic policies in Latvia, George Friedman of Stratfor has much to say that hits the nail on the head, even though he writes of the state of the governments of the world and does not mention Latvia. Friedman is concerned over who are they who are presuming to be running the world? Are they not all lightweights? “The issue is: who are these people who are running things, what gives them the right to do so, and if that right does not somehow flow from competence, what does it flow from?”
Read more: Agenda: With George Friedman on a Crisis of Political Economy | STRATFOR
Which questions brings us to the question of who is a heavyweight?
I will attempt to make some suggestions in the next blog of “Chickens Running in All Directions”.

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