Sunday, June 27, 2010

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20 A Farce or a Welcome Tragedy

In my previous blog I suggested that Mr. Guntis Ulmanis, who exchanged the honorific of “Mr. President” for plain “Mr.” ought now prove his worthiness as ex-Mr. President with existential behavior. There are several ways Mr. Ulmanis may act existentially. The result will depend on whether he chooses farce or tragedy.

There is definitely something of the character of King Lear in the self-neutered former president of Latvia. We may remember that King Lear, feeling the age of retirement upon him, divides his kingdom between his two daughters, Goneril and Regan (TP and LPP?), but leaves Cordelia (Unity? = Vienotība?) out of his will.

Not surprisingly (at least not to those who have overcome naïvite), Mr. Lear learns to regret his decision. However, instead of taking action—to undo, or go hang, whatever—Lear falls into profound passivity, and with no less profound humiliation and a nightmarish storm berating the day, he tears off his clothes. Mr. Lear:
“Is man no more than this? Consider him well. Thou
owest the worm no silk, the beast no hide, the sheep
no wool, the cat no perfume. Ha! here's three on
's are sophisticated! Thou art the thing itself:
unaccommodated man is no more but such a poor bare,
forked animal as thou art. Off, off, you lendings!
come unbutton here.”
[With his “wits beginning to unsettle” (words by Kent), Lear tears off his clothes.]

While Mr. Ulmanis has no unfaithful daughters to trouble him, he has been—no less than Mr. Lear—flattered out of his wits by monsieurs Shkele and Shlesers, the leaders of the above (parenthesised) political parties. May one be so foolish and think that the two political leaders—if with Ulmanis’ help they turn their political weakness into a miraculous victory—will want to continue with him except make him another lamed President? Unfortunately, (if the ex-president has not overcome his naivite) the existential act may come as love comes to a virgin as he finds himself before the public no less unbuttoned than Mr. Lear. Baby, it is cold outside, whether the Fool who is witness is kind or not.
“Unaccomodated” (by fate) and betrayed (and challenged?) in full public view, what will Mr. Ulmanis do?

As much as King Lear was pressed by age and approaching death to divide his kingdom, so Mr. Ulmanis may have been moved by the hope that Latvia—which after all owes much of its coming into being to his grandfather’s brother, who was the last president of the first (part) Latvian Republic.

The late President of Latvia, Karlis Ulmanis—may through Guntis Ulmanis have another opportunity to rid Latvia of a corrupt government and give it another go at becoming a bona fide sovereign state of a people with bona fide claims to it. Mr. Ulmanis’ hope—that monsiers Shkele and Shlesers have “bettered” themselves—cannot be anything but a rhetorical device that masks the people’s effort to snatch the state from disaster. To permit one’s self to think so, one puts trust in the belief that Mr. Ulmanis decision is self-consciously made and knows its dramatic potential. There (is) (must be) a life-risking element to Mr. Ulmanis’ effort, however. Else, not only does he fail his forebear in a personal sense, but Latvia may look forward to itself as one of bygone days.
This blogger has written elsewhere that the government of President  Kārlis Ulmanis (1936-1940) is a legitimate projection of the will of the people of Latvia--with one caveat: President Ulmanis failed the death or self-sacrifice test at the time Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union.

Perhaps Ulmanis hoped that through peaceful surrender (to the Soviet Union) Latvia will better survive the rule of the Soviet Union. War with it could not possibly lead to victory. It is (was) a legitimate hope. However, Ulmanis failed to confirm his hope for an independent Latvia as the better choice. He failed to seal the sovereign people’s hope with an offering of his life. Though Kārlis Ulmanis died in Siberia and lies in an unmarked grave (to make his life and works so much more forgettable), if such a fate is his living seal, it spoilt itself. The decline of Latvia has something to do with the failure of Kārlis Ulmanis to act existentially by making a literal gift of his life for the people’s dream.
By taking advantage of his position as the first President of Latvia since his grand-uncle Kārlis Ulmanis, and by discovering a way to continue the story of Latvia, Guntis Ulmanis has set the stage for becoming the Latvian people’s hero and saviour. He is offering the sovereign Latvian people the chance to re-think themselves once more. He may chose to make the offer real by blocking naked conspicuous consumption among all Latvians. After all, egality was (once upon a time) shared in by every country household that knew how to make its own brand of beer.

One hopes that the Latvian people may be persuaded to be existential and know to exclude conspicuous consumption from their vision of the future. However, if it is not to be, the failure will make monsoirs Shkele and Shlesers greedy princes all over again. While the spirit of victory is sure to rise to their heads, it will also guarantee that a share in their "murgs" (a nightmare) will not just quickly pass past the nation’s eyes but be found in the mirrors of all.
Guntis Ulmanis yet fails as yet to put the seal, the risk of life, on his effort. As long as this failure persists, the story continues as a circus. Everyone knows that there are no more heroines such as Spihdola, who once went to the aid of Jahnis Lachplesis. Today the sovereign nation of Latvia is disintegrating with such seeming inevitability that it makes one think it will soon reach total self-forgetfulness. Some think that we have already reached and are in the post-self-forgetfulness era.

Whether the above alternative is preferable to this blogger’s advocacy of NOT-VOTING, the blogger does not know. One may guess that Mr. Guntis Ulmanis may show his cards before elections. Hopefully these will not be cards of puffed up rhetoric and pictures of dancing horses. If it is rhetoric, the NOT-VOTER ought to consider it a real opportunity for him and herself and the NOT-VOTE.
Moreover, there is the question of whether there are other “Jahnis Lachplecis” (John Bears) among the public, and their name may become Jāņi, i.e. Johns, pl.. We know there must be ways to accumulate capital for Latvia, but surely not by hit or miss methods favoured by foreign investors. Latvians, if they know who they are, have to see what lies ahead for them not just for tomorrow, but the day after. They cannot be looking at the future with an investor’s eye. As platitudinous as that may sound, looking from here and this time into the future, the days ahead look bleak. The sad demographic future of Latvia makes one blanch.

Even so, the negative may in some way be taken advantage of and death may be avoided by creating and adopting a different life-style. The threshold into such a future may well come as a tragedy, the potential of which has been set up by Guntis Ulmanis.
The provocation for tragedy may come in many ways. Perhaps Latvians may wish to reduce the size of Riga, for example. A reduced number of people “better” people a nation when conditions prevail that make the “virtual city of the computer” prevail over the city of brick and concrete. The countryside of Latvia has to be repopulated if it is to survive the vulnerabilities of a city. The answer of how to do this also is not only one. But it will certainly not occur just because the farmers’ lot may be bettered. It will only happen with reforestation (makes one think!) and long-term projection and planning.

THE-NOT-VOTER has many concerns. Here is yet another: Latvians must import from the world-at-large a need for Latvia and must be able to pass the- import-of-capital test at the same time. Latvia must be and become real not only to Latvians dreaming if it is to be more than a dream.

Guntis Ulmanis may not know how to get from here to there. Perhaps no one knows. How is one to tell who will prevail and survive? You decide. Nevertheless, the next three months before elections may do worse than spread around a greater understanding over the role of THE-NOT-VOTER at election time. It is not just "this", "that", but it is also "none", the box named “Other”, usually below the “Yes” and “No” box.

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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