Keghart.org Editorial, 25 October 2022
The Armenian Diaspora in different countries witnessed the emergence of new trends, forms and ultimately entities of political and cultural activism during the last few decades. Formation of such entities in the diaspora is not a new phenomenon, but what is new is the general conditions that are triggering Armenians to create these new entities.
In general, the Armenian Diaspora demonstrated worrisome malfunctioning and short-sightedness in raising and supporting its national issues since independence of the Republic of Armenia (RoA). The situation got worse in the aftermath of the 2020 Artsakh war. The maladies that had exhausted the diaspora for decades proved to be cause for its hindrance to advance its causes and lead to loss of vibrance. Within this ominous reality, formation of new initiatives was recorded in different countries. They had two common denominators: they bypassed the traditional organizational cleavages and presented a reframed political discourse. By doing so, they succeeded in introducing a new vibe into the different Armenian communities; in some cases, they even succeeded in breaking the historically fortified panopticons and introduced new venues of activism. However, these new initiatives fell short of presenting serious, renewed, and progressive political discourse to the Armenians in the diaspora. Their shortcomings are not hard to define, and accordingly remedies can also be proposed.
- Individuals and groups who initiated new forms and venues of activism are still bound within the traditional boundaries. Despite their high level of rebelliousness against the existing reality, these initiatives could not cross these pre-set boundaries by presenting tangible organizational alternatives. An organizational framework is a prerequisite to create cultural and political transformation in the community.
- Lack of political knowledge among most activists is a serious hindrance in developing alternative renewed discourses. By simply raising national issues Armenians would not automatically join new initiatives. Randomness, confusion, and pessimism do not motivate people to act. Individuals subscribe to new ideas, formations, and organizations when they are presented with simple, clear, and most importantly motivational discourses that are based on political intellect.
- Armenians have lost faith in most of their traditional institutions and in the so-called international community due to the outcomes of 2020 Artsakh war. To start altering this collective attitude of resentment and despair, new initiatives must propose achievable ideas using new techniques. A court decision that condemns perpetrators of war crimes or a government decision to place embargo against Azerbaijan are examples of such achievable goals. Using freely available social media and means of communication help activists reach wider audience instantaneously to promote ideas or to raise awareness about a certain cause. Small successes in pursuing national issues can generate momentum towards regaining self-confidence and motivate Armenians to take part in these new forms of activism.
- In most instances, interference of government officials or politicians from RoA and Artsakh with diaspora activists does not help in advancing national issues. Such interventions proved to be harmful for achieving political goals abroad. Diaspora activists must learn how to protect their work from any external interference without causing further dichotomies or misunderstanding with representatives of RoA and Artsakh.
- Politically rebooting the Armenian communities and engaging them in advancing their national causes cannot be achieved without a clear vision. Missing this central prerequisite may become the cause for failure, it is the most crucial element that is missing in the diaspora. The word “vision” might sound a very complicated matter, but it is not. A vision is the sum-total of a conglomeration of the central issues that a nation faces during a certain period along with clear remedies that are directly linked to action plans. Activists should exert efforts towards developing a clear vision and present it to the public for reinforcement and reassurance.
Diaspora Armenians who experienced a new course of activism present a hopeful avenue for change. Failures are part of such experiments and adopting an essential attitude of understanding the ups and downs in accomplishing progress must be taken into consideration. Clear vision that is based on political intellect and sensitivity towards the public will for sure garner small achievements on the road to larger changes. Success is not just a choice for the Armenian Diaspora, it is the only path.