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Photo: The "Suicide Shack"
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.
28 Responsible Democracy Anyone?
Without going into detail concerning the reasons why rational democracy is failing in the United States, Europe, and indeed everywhere, we must nevertheless take a close look at the consequences of the Age of Enlightenment and rational Democracy in Latvia.
The advent of rational democracy in Latvia was greatly furthered by the Herrnhuter religious movement. Led by a farsighted German nobleman, Count Zinzendorf (he understood that natural democracy among the princes and barons had come to an end and wished a peaceful transition to a democracy shared with all people), the movement encouraged uneducated Latvians (as well as Africans and Americans) to learn how to read. By 1897 an estimated 92% of inhabitants of Livland (later Latvia) were literate.
Unfortunately, there was an inherent conflict in Graf Zinzendorf’s movement. Inspired as it was by the Age of Enlightenment, the nobleman championed individual freedom and a personal relationship with God. Zinzendorf’s goal threatened not only the authority of the Catholic and Lutheran churches, but the tsar of Russia. In 1742 the knighthood of Livonia with the help of the Empress Tsarina Elizabeth (in 1743) shut down the movement, and forced it to go underground. It recovered in 1764, when Empress Tsarina Catherine II restored (said to have occurred inadvertently) their religious rights. The Lutherans continued to impede the development of the movement, until Tsar Alexander I proclaimed them complete liberty in 1817. Still, the Lutherans persisted in their repression (they insisted that the state eliminate the Herrnhuter choirs, the movement’s core organizing unit (disallowing recruitment of new members), and eliminating elections by a lottery system. By 1860 the movement was for all practical purposes eliminated, and its near 70,000 members in Livland muted.
As Estonians and Latvians ought to know, if there had not been the educational effort of the Herrnhuter movement, which increased the literacy of the people, their nations would not have come into existence.
The above conclusion is one of the reasons to remember that the Herrnhuters first came into being in 1727, when Count Zinzendorf came to the aid of the Bohemian Brethren, a religious group originating in Taborite movement (originating in the Hussite movement) by granting them land (called Herrnhut). Tolerance for their faith came with it. Interestingly, the originator of the Hussite movement, Jan Hus, martyred by the Catholic church in 1415. The martyrdom of Hus occured a mere two hundred years after the elimination of the Cathar movement in Languedoc and the humiliation of the proto-Latvian leader, king Visvaldis of Jersika, both killing events taking place in 1209. The repression in Languadoc was so severe that according to some estimates nearly 500,000 people were killed. Military operations against the Cathars ceased in 1255. They ceased against Jersika in 1214, when a rebellion against the imposed peace by Visvaldis was repressed. All the same, opposition to the Catholic church, which was supported by secular princes, did not cease. Various religious movements other than Catholicism continued to exist. In short, a study of the Protestant movement sans doctrinal dogma leads discovers us among the heretics of the 13th, 12th, and earlier centuries. As this writer has written in other blogs, the Latvian Children of Johns, an almost meaningless designation today, were once upon a time the very essence of proto-Latvians.
Notwithstanding the repression of the Herrnhuter movement by the Lutheran church, the repression did not occur without resistance to it. The very first flag of the First Awakening of Latvians is the famous “Līgo” flag. It shows John as “vaidelotis” (priest) before a sacred altar. In the original drawing by Baumaņu Kārlis, we can still see in the background the Children of Johns. The original drawing (see “Jāņu Foto Albums”, Norden AB, 2007; also the archive at LNB) appears in a book published 1874. It features a collection of songs, some nationalistic in sentiment. This edition was destroyed almost in its entirety by then ruling regime of the Russian tsar. However, an even more devastating blow to the existence of the Children of Johns was the publication in 1888 of the pseudo epic called “Lāčplēsis” (literally, Destroyer of Bears) by the Latvian poet Pumpurs. Pumpurs by design (conscious or unconscious) replaces John with a pseudo hero. There is nary a protest from the gallery. Everyone is taken with the age of industrialism and has little idea what to do with the natives, the Herrnhuters. It seems that the Lutheran church has won.
Today (2010) a hundred and fifty years have passed since 1860, the year the historian marks as the end of the Herrnhuter movement in the Baltics. Almost no one on the internet sees history on the other side of the Soviet occupation as something real. 1860 incidentally happens to be the year of birth of my grandfather. I mention him, because my grandfather’s father (1804-1868) was a Herrnhuter. He was also “starasts” (an overseer of the works, a manager) of the local baron. He held Herrnhuter meetings at his inn on Sundays. Yet grandfather’s paternal half-sister, Evelina-Līze, is buried in a Lutheran churchyard, and buried not just anywhere, but beside the (now wrecked) “kaplicha” or graveyard church. Round and about goes history. Was the Lutheran pastor sympathetic to the Herrnhuters? Those who were sympathetic had to cease being so. All this happens in the vicinity of Valmiera, once the center of the Herrnhuter movement in Livland. Valmiera and vicinity also became the very center of the movement of national awakening. The very first national Song Festival occurred in the small town of Dīkļi, about 10 km from Valmiera.
here. I write among other things that “The sacrificial victims of the ritual in Latvia—the Latvian soldiers of WW1 who were then compromised by the illegalism of Latvian legionaires of WW2—have become a no longer relevant sacrifice. The proofs of this are the acts of Latvian government during the last twenty years.” I realize that some grammarians will dispute my use of the word “illegalism” (it does not appear in the dictionary), but I use it to make a reference to the fact that the Latvian legionnaires, now accused of being part of Hitler’s SS, were not so, but were trapped into being so-called through the absence of legal advice before joining the battle against the Stalinists.
The illigalism of the legionnaires and the ignorance by the present of the past suggests that Latvians are in fact caught up and hurled into the maelstrom of the hapless. The crisis we are in is not just any crisis, It is a systems crisis. The repair of this broken engine is not possible. We need a new motor. To go a step beyond pop culture, this writer suggests that you go and vote the NOT-VOTE.
Asterisks & Links of Interest
Compulsory voting in the EU Parliamentary elections
The abstentionist elephant
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?