Thursday, June 24, 2010

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I suggest you look at the links imbedded in these blogs or at the end of the blog as an integral part of my argument.

19 The Politics of Camp in Latvia

When the former president of Latvia (1993-99), Guntis Ulmanis, unexpectedly announced his support for the political camp which calls itself “For All That Is Good for Latvia” and justified his move with the statement that the politicians he had previously denounced had promised to become “better” (as in an improved product), politics in Latvia reached a new plateau of camp.

The question before the Latvian electorate now is how much political camp is it willing to take. Will the virgins persuade the electorate to continue to follow the knights and their arms bearers and, thus, provide them with accustomed pleasures? Or has the time come for the electorate to NOT-VOTE?

Camp “For All That Is Good for Latvia” is an aesthetic effort to put business interests under one roof. If the effort is successful (aesthetics is seamlessly blended with greed), the success will rescue the failing TP and LPP parties (with about 5% of the voters supporting them at this time) from naked defeat, and may even propel them into the ranks of Latvia’s so-called democratic political leadership. In short, the former president Guntis Ulmanis has joined those who believe that a union of business interests will be “Good for Latvia”. Interestingly, Mr. Ulmani’s reentry into politics appears to come with an implicit blanket declaration in favor of freedom to consume. Ulmanis is betting that the past will repeat itself and the rose will rise again from another mulch of lies.
This NOT-VOTER argues that the violent past of Latvian politics [violence understood not as an imposition of physical pain or death, but an imposition of (un)certainty, one pole of which is economic destitution, the other the dream of everyone becoming an oligarch] faces a challenge. As Walter Benjamin wrote in his “Zur Kritik der Gewalt”, p. 202, (cited by Giorgio Agamben in “Homo Sacer”) with regard to such violence: “The law of… oscillation [between the violence that posits law and the violence that preserves it] rests on the fact that all law-preserving violence, in its duration, indirectly weakens the lawmaking violence represented by it, through the suppression of hostile counterviolence…. This lasts until either new forces or those earlier suppressed triumph over the violence that had posited law until now and thus found a new law….”
Walter Benjamin continues: “In the interruption of this cycle, which is maintained by mythical forms of law, in the deposition of law and all the forces on which it depends (as they depend on it) and, therefore, finally in the deposition of State power, a new historical epoch is founded.”

Latvia desperately needs a new historical epoch, and if one is not provided by the world beyond Latvia’s borders (which also needs a new historical epoch), then if it is to survive, Latvia’s citizens must make the epoch themselves.

Mr. Ulmanis is apparently betting that the repression of hostile counterviolence will, given his support, prevail. The word “repression” is used here in the sense of prevailing over and silencing those who would become NOT-VOTERS. The NOT-VOTERS are especially important in this instance, because they represent the feared counterviolence. A simple way to repress the electorate of NOT-VOTERS is to bamboozle it with calls to a corrupt patriotism. While ideally speaking patriotism (roughly speaking, the love of place one is born and/or swears allegiance to) is not corruptible, repeated failure by leadership to lead without ever a real self-sacrifice, can no longer be hid by words it has made meaningless.
These blogs identify with and propose a NOT-VIOLENT solution to this government’s hostility to populism (see earlier blogs for a more detailed the discussion of populism). It is therefore a concern that Mr. Ulmanis has bet that THE-NOT-VOTER will not prevail even if NOT-VOTING is the only method to defeat government corruption by NOT-VIOLENT means. Ulmanis’ may win his bet, just as all previous Saeimas (plural of the Latvian legislative body) have won. However, let us remember Walter Benjamin’s warning that such a victory “weakens the lawmaking violence [of the government]”. If a NOT-VIOLENT NOT-VOTE with its implicit NOT-VIOLENT terror aimed at the political lie is not sufficient to cause the emergence of a new historical epoch, “divine violence” (Walter Benjamin) may take place. An outbreak of divine violence signifies the dissolution of the link between violence and the law on the present side of the threshold. If so, there is a good chance there will occur violence that risks pain, death, and unforeseeable consequences; and (alas!) a failure of NOT-VIOLENT terror to be and act as divine terror on behalf of and against the death of the community.

While today Latvia stands this side of the threshold that separates law from violence, twenty years of bare life politics that suffers an exodus of 200,000 of Latvia’s people (potentially more) makes high camp of nationhood. As the link (above) to Wiki states: “Camp is an aesthetic sensibility wherein something is appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.” Guntis Ulmanis, together with TP (The Folk Party) and LPP (The First Party of Latvia) edge ever closer to the threshold where the absurd and lawlessness becomes blurred. It is upon stepping past this threshold, this no-man’s-land, that we meet violence, which is expressed as self-extinction by demographic death spiral and a disintegrating and terminal society as well.
Do Latvians wish this on themselves? What does the other side, THE-NOT-VOTER bring?

If we take Walter Benjamin’s “divine violence” to heart, there will be some (Slavoj Zizek for one) who identify it with Jacobin violence [you either do or don’t (kill)]. However, a NOT-VOTE—if successful—is one of the few ways by which “the people”, the Populists, the true state of IS may reassert the peoples sovereignty over a government, certainly over parliamentary government, peacefully. Of course, the risk is great, which is why one wonders if Mr. Ulmanis is going to be an existential leader or go with the flow of neo-capitalism.

In favor of the camp of neo-capitalist “For All That Is Good for Latvia” [and the less incisive camp “Unity” (Vienotība)] is the fact that as yet they are on the side of sobriety. On this blogger’s side is the tilt (quite sober) toward anxiety that stems from the conviction that we will trip if the threshold before us is not the focus of our attentions. If Mr. Ulmanis wishes to prove how “good” he, the TP, and the LPP are for Latvia, he has to do it existentially or history will judge that he has fudged.

Bzzz,bzzz, ladybug, your house is afire! Go vote the NOT-VOTE if your children are to survive.

Asterisks & Other Readings
Compulsory voting in the EU Parliamentary elections
The abstentionist elephant
Electronic polls
On the Meaning of Voting
British Government Attempts to Bracket the Constitution
Ground Zero for Thought
Why Forced Positive Thinking Is A Lot Of Crock?

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