By Levon Babajanyan, Yerevan, March 2022
On February 24, 2022, Russian President Vladimir Putin brought his troops into the territory of neighboring Ukraine. Yet another shock has been dealt to the world drastically changing our social-political reality. The changes are related not only to the geopolitical, political, economic, and cultural aspects but also to the perception of social-political reality. Of course, not enough time has passed to analyze our mindset’s transformation objectively. However, the shock is dramatic enough for the need to analyze and adapt to the ongoing transformations of the new world. Such changes may contain unpredictable risks for our society. It seemed that after September 27, 2020, nothing could have horrified us (Armenians) more, but the scales of current events are huge, therefor we can’t stay indifferent.
We can highlight three general components of our perception of social-political reality that have been transformed after February 24, 2022: a) the certitude of constant movement to establish a political liberal-democratic system, b) the belief in omnipotent power of international security organizations, c) the interdependence of our fate and the state destiny. Of course, these are not the only components of our mindset which are transforming through the ongoing war, but at this time let’s differentiate and formulate three of them.
For the last 30 years of independence Armenian political life has rotated around the axis of establishing the ideological values of liberal democracy in our society. We are not unique to such phenomena, many of the former member states of the Soviet Union chose the way of sowing liberal democratic values in their societies. Other countries across the world have also attempted to pursue a democratic path at various times in recent history. The mentioned political movement is well explained in American political scientist Francis Fukuyama’s well-known book “The End of History and the Last Man”, which was written after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1992. In his book, Fukuyama argues that after the collapse of the Soviet Union humanity has reached “not just … the passing of a particular period of post-war history, but the end of history as such: That is, the end-point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government”. It seems that he wasn’t right.
Generally speaking, there were three competing grand narratives of grand ideologies which guide the 20th century: fascism, communism and liberal democracy. These ideologies shaped the geopolitical and political landscape of the previous century. However, the most sustainable of them seemed to be liberal democracy, as fascism was defeated after World War II at the middle of the 20th century and communism was defeated after the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the end of the century. This linear view on history was widespread throughout the world, and it seemed that there were no alternative ideological paths for the development of the entire world. However, the astonishing economic growth of China and Singapore have shown that development may happen on paths other than democracy. Also, the imperialistic ambitions of today’s Russian political establishment shows that although communism may be gone Russian imperialism still stands. Further, it may stand for a long period if Russia could overcome the political, economic, and military consequences of this war. At the very least the war has questioned our feeling of political-ideological stability and our vision of the liberal democratic future of our society.
The second transformation of our mindset about the social-political reality is related to the belief in the omnipotent power of international security organizations. Most of the international security organization experts know the scale of responsibility, the sphere of activities, the potential and power of the international security organizations or systems, and the circumstances under which these organizations can or can’t interfere. According to some experts, the situation in Ukraine is not one in which these organizations can or should interfere. But the idea of the omnipotence of the powerful international organizations like NATO, UN, EU and so on have been sown into those societies that did not experience war over the past 30 years. Therefore, the ordinary person from such society expects international organizations to interfere in such conflicts. The main arguments of the UN’s or NATO‘s interference into the inner political life of Syria, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other countries were based on ‘the idea of upholding democratic values’. The ongoing war shows that the real power and the loyalty to liberal democratic values of such organizations have been exaggerated. Although the international security organization member countries have adopted very aggressive and influential sanctions against Russia, mentioned organizations aren’t anymore received as “international police”.
Of course, it is not a surprise for us Armenians. We encountered with the impotent reaction of mentioned international organizations to Aliyev’s aggression on Artsakh. There weren’t even any economic or political sanctions against criminal and autocratic Aliyev’s regime. We take in account that the war in Artsakh and the war in Ukraine can’t be compared with their political, social, and historical components, but, the human cost, and every action against human life should be punished. But as we can see, there is no punishment for Aliyev’s regime and we are not sure that there will ever be such punishment for Putin’s regime, or any other regimes (US included) which took actions against human lives.
The other transformation which can be mentioned is the feeling of the interconnection between our fate and the destiny of our country. The ordinary Ukrainians weren’t obliged to have an attitude towards Ukrainian-Russian relationships, annexation of Crimea or the problem of self-determination of Donbas-Lugansk people. But all the Ukrainians were influenced by all the horrifying consequences of the war. It means that one’s attitude, opinion, worldview, and citizenship matter because the economic, cultural, and physical security of everyone depends on society at large. This reminds us of the importance of our citizenship and our responsibility to our country’s destiny.
As we can see the last war has already influenced many aspects of our reality and will do so in the near and far future. We should be ready to live in new global circumstances and should try to configure our social, political, cultural, psychological and even philosophical mindset to the new realities. Otherwise, the consequences of our carelessness or light-mindedness may be catastrophic.