Interview with Manvel Sargsyan, ACNIS director
Mr. Sargsyan, only a few months are left till the presidential election but there seems to be no interest in the elections. Why?
Either the political forces have nothing to say, or the proposed approaches are not interesting. Today there is an internal dispute in the opposition on the direction declared and followed by the ANC. This dispute has acquired such forms that one cannot understand whether it facilitates the decaying process or is the result of the decaying process. Generally, it is very difficult to understand what is happening as long as one hears people’s opinion on the conducted policies, some of which seem to be outside the ANC but others declare themselves part of the ANC and say the same. This declared direction is the direction of relying on Tsarukyan’s party. The former or maybe present opposition force offers some ways of achieving change but this appearance is not convincing, and if it is not convincing, people become indifferent.
However, the idea of a joint opposition candidate is so abstract that nobody wants to attend to it unless there is concreteness. After all, there must be a proposal for people to discuss. Besides, the idea of change through elections was attacked after the parliamentary elections. Expressions like the only way, the only truth do not convince even those people who states them. I can see people scare the public that revolution is death and now they state calmly this is a lie, no elections, only revolution. I don’t think these people are honest, simply these people have understood that these statements are void. There is an ideological vacuum, false beliefs have been revealed for people with these beliefs. The lack of ideology explains the indifference.
What is the reason of this ideological bankruptcy of the past 20 years? There is an opinion that we must develop procedures. We knew what we wanted but did not know how to get it.
Any activity for political issues must produce a result. If we put forth a problem, independent from its scope, we must solve it, if you do not ever solve it, it means, on the one hand, that you are unable to do that, your intellect, your experience are not enough for the solution of the problems, on the other hand, people start filling their heads with false ideas that no issue can be resolved. Mainly those people uphold it who are unable to solve problems. When you put forth an issue and are unable to resolve it, then you start preaching the public that it did not resolve because one cannot solve anything in Armenia. This is expansion of false ideas. Over 20 years no problem put forth by the political forces has been solved, the political forces have always found an excuse for why it was not resolved and no political force claimed responsible. I remember Levon Ter-Petrosyan say in one of the rallies that he cannot resolve a problem alone. It is interesting that something like this was uttered in Armenia but it was not convincing why he could not because later different interpretations came that “we need several hundred thousand people”. No convincing explanation was given which weakens the society, people are made believe that 500,000 people will never get together, and these problems will never be resolved. We must understand that if the problems are put forth, solutions must be found, if no solutions are found, the society finds itself in such a situation. Some of them leave in despair, others reconcile with this state, including the political forces, and the only hope is the other part of the society which does not accept all these things and tries to put forth goals, figure out the objectives and find solutions. This small part of the society is in an interesting situation because the subdued part sheds its jealousy and wickedness on the small percent, teaches them that they are wrong and disturb them.
Finally, who is the cause of this situation? This is one of the most important issues, and one must try to find the reasons, see why people are in this situation.
First of all, it is related to the category of lie. In the past 20 years people and especially the political forces have developed a growing belief in lie, it is a very powerful political mechanism, it is explained that lie mobilizes, lie helps solve a lot of problems. Now I can see the crisis of the policy of lie. There are other reasons as well. There are populist approaches which persisted over the past 20 years, people believed that this is the way of solving issues. Those were wrong beliefs which led to this crush, people cannot believe but try to keep from other perceptions. Hence, another surge of lie comes, a belief that lie can justify your situation. People must understand why man constantly lives amid lies, why reality is falsified all the time, success is denied. There is success, people say there is nothing like this, it is a lie because for decades this situation was part of private life, they live like this all their life and cannot say that they lived all their life in a wrong way.
But, Mr. Sargsyan, there is a civil sector which is not living in a false reality. Is it possible to have this sector self-organize and create a new reality? What are the ways out?
Since civil initiatives are something new, it is natural that the society living in the way I described tries to understand what this is, and still a lot of things are not clear. When we consider the political scramble in Armenia, we must speak about the race of parties. Beginning from the Armenian National Movement, all the parties have participated in an organized and controlled race which was usually in the pre- and post-election periods. This was the philosophy of the struggle.
We had a civil struggle, the Karabakh movement but we did not have one in the past 20 years. The civil movement is not the duplication of the party struggle, they are so different that this time they can be antagonists. We can see that now the parties are mainly jealous and wicked because the citizens are the civil struggle. Classic civil struggle is for an urgent issue, the problem is put forth for the society, it takes part, is interested, pursues the solution of the problem, this problem can be change of the government, the citizens put forth the issue, come together, solve it and go home. This is the logic of the civil struggle which the present parties cannot understand. Since we lacked social consciousness for years, people were told that only the parties are entitled to solve the problems, and nobody has the right to solve them. And it became a belief for the parties. But the parties can never solve it because they are political institutions whose functions are defined by law. The parties do not need to put forth the issue of change of government, the citizens must come together and decide whether it is urgent or not, and we still do not have this certainty.
It is often asked whether the civil initiatives will transform to political forces.
These are questions which have the right to be raised. It comes from the understanding of the problems that the parties may be the problem which do not have the necessary qualities to be able to resolve systemic issues. The parties in Armenia operate in a climate where they can never do anything. They go beyond their functions and thus become weak, within their competencies they cannot solve any issue because the electoral mechanism is not operational, if there is no competition among parties, the activity of parties becomes meaningless. Therefore they try to walk into the civil field, assume the functions of citizens and solve issues but they are not successful because in their consciousness struggle is for power. There is not a matter of coming to power for any civil initiative which pursues change of the system, therefore they are powerful. As soon as the civil movement pursues power, it is annihilated, and never succeeds, you must remove this issue to be able to resolve a distinct issue. There was something similar in 2008 because it was impossible to do a systemic change by bringing a group to power. If politics were based on truth and not lie, we could have avoided those mistakes but it was said that by bringing some people to power a systemic issue would be solved. It was a barefaced lie which could not last long and now we can see the decay.
A lot of people see the decay of the criminal and oligarchic pyramid. Is the pyramid in crisis?
We must ask the question what will replace it when it decays. Otherwise it may decay for one hundred years. In the criminal world, if there is a problem, and the system of agreements does not work, they will make a new agreement, and then the same thing will repeat on and on. Now this is complicated by the civil activism. The government, as well as the political forces, is jealous and full of hatred because they feel the danger. See what severe punishment the youths of the ANC got. This is the hatred of the government. Remember how the young people in Mashtots Park were treated for a single tent. The system can see young people who disobey it. It indicates that the system feels the change in the country but issues are not solved. Listen how the oligarchs are speaking, their false excuse me-s. The society has put them in this situation, and this might be the beginning, and tomorrow the society may speak in a different language, and they have understood that other masters are coming who dictate their will.
Mr. Sargsyan, do you agree with Aghasi Tadevosyan that our goal must not be removal of the oligarchy?
We must understand that this system is genetically linked with the consciousness and development of the society. The oligarchy which was established and becomes stronger is directly correlated with the quality of the society. This phenomenon will disappear as soon as we change our quality. We must treat the sick body. Look how everything is perverted in the political struggle when a person does not hope that he or she can put forth an issue and solve it. The brand “Serzhik leave” is an all-purpose universal device. When a person has nothing to say, it can use it and speak for an hour, these are the stages of development of new false ideas which weaken every movement and complicate the ways f solving problems.