Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Writers in Politics IV

Role of the literati in modern society


Last stronghold -- Presidency?

In fact, politics is intellectually a very poor activity. Politics is based on stereotypes, averageness and moderate behavior. The language of ordinary politics is anodyne -- colorless, flavorless and odorless. Politics, in democratic states as well, requires discipline. Thinking within the limits of group interests, limiting individuality. Politics is a profession and the professionals must adhere to very strict rules. Therefore, we can clearly see that this is exactly what writers are not, what they don’t like to do. Writers are individualists; they hate to repeat the same sentence twice. Although for politicians it is necessary to repeat the same ideas a thousand times. Writers are exhibitionists, egoists -- they hate discipline. Another basic antagonity between writers and current political tendencies was shown in former Czechoslovakia. Writers by their nature, tended to the left on the political scene. But writers in former Czechoslovakia, although by their nature leftist, were after the “Velvet Revolution” logically forced to present themselves as conservative, rightist politicians. About what they didn’t actually know too much. They even didn’t know too much about democracy in practice how they could implement it successfully? They knew only slogans good for meetings. But in daily practice, they were lost. On the other hand, they were fascinated with the idea of how they are playing their role in history. And the highest pleasure from this for writers is -- to write memoirs. Could you imagine -- at that time the leader of the democratic movement in Slovakia was able through the day to fight with the remains of communist regime and by night to write his memoirs about what he did that particular day?! Illnesses of writing “instant memoirs” tend to infect others too.

Unfortunately, this was not a case only of writers in Czechoslovakia. In Macedonia this story was repeated in smaller, less medialized scale. However, very interesting is how many writers took highest places in their countries soon after revolutionary events -- and how poorly were holding them later. Radovan Karadžič, gain his reputation also as an established poet, but now is accused of war crimes. Zvjad Gamsachurdia was excellent example of writer in dissent who, after coming to the power, turns dramatically to be a dictator. Same it was in Armenia with Levon Ter Petrosjan. All these men were or still are for significant time Presidents and as such changed their behavior significantly too. These are the cases when Presidents were really ruling the country. And in most of the cases they led their countries to bigger troubles and bad times.

In some Central and Eastern European states the Presidency is generally a more symbolical role and does not have as much to do with practical politics. Consequently in such a position, a writer could do less damage in practical outcomes and show a better face. As well as Václav Havel, almost never-ending President of Czech Republic, the former President of Hungary, Arpád Göncz, and the former President of Bulgaria, Zhelju Zheljev, were writers as well. Likewise it was in Estonian President Lennart Meri. However, vision of the intellectuals and particularly writers ruling the nation in perfect agreement with the majority of ordinary people was tested within these years and found as an utopy forever.

In this view it is really extraordinary to know that exist also a third way. However limited are distant examples, it is clear that when Nelson Mandela became a President, it was certainly also the situation of the sharp change of regime from the totalitarian to the democratic. It happened also a peaceful way and need a great political skillfulness to save a gains of such a change for a better future. And Nelson Mandela succeed and further more he is not afraid to step down when he feel that his mission was fulfilled. Maybe the explanation is that he always dealt as a patient politician who was always able to distinguish between reality and theatrical gestures of absurd drama.

Nevertheless, this finding doesn’t automatically means that there is no role for writers in politics. It is true that writers are very unskilled in promoting democratic politics in practice, with all its rules and detailed implementation. But writers should not be necessarily politicians. They should, by their actual writings, to control politicians. Sharp comments of common practices and pragmatical tendencies in politics, that’s their best natural role. And for that, they have skillfulness enough.

(The End)

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