esmaspäev, august 15, 2011


Nothing like a good shooting to make one nervous. Sometimes it feels like you aren't safe anywere. Norwegian islands, Finnish shopping malls, the Estonian Ministry of Defense. And this was supposed to be the quiet, boring part of the world.

Read all about it. Karen Drambjan has his own English-language Wikipedia entry, one he probably didn't even write himself. Fifty seven years old. Divorced. Failed politician. In a dire financial situation. And a writer of manifestos, like all those who fancy themselves as important from the vantage point of history.

According to news report, Drambjan, an Armenian by birth who acquired Estonian citizenship in 1993, called Estonia a "morally bankrupt, neo-fascist country." He was also convinced that the current government was about to initiate a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the local non-Estonian population, which by some definitions would include him.

But why listen to Drambjan, when taxi driver Travis Bickle does such a better job? "All the animals come out at night - whores, skunk pussies, buggers, queens, fairies, dopers, junkies, sick, venal. Someday a real rain will come and wash all this scum off the streets." Keep going, keep going, "I think someone should just take this city and just... just flush it down the fuckin' toilet." Go on, go on, "The idea had been growing in my brain for some time: true force. All the king's men cannot put it back together again." Perfect.

Drambjan entered the Estonian Ministry of Defense in Tallinn on August 11, armed with a pistol and explosives, believing that he would be the spark that would set off the inevitable Estonian civil war, where the "slavish" Slavic community would rise up and throw off its chains. To do this, he took, for some time, two people captive. He was later killed in shootout with Estonian K-Komando, who are just not the kind of people you want to mess with. And that was it, really. No civil war. Just some ink in the newspapers and one middle-aged body in a bag. From one man's belief in the profundity of his violence, many were made uncomfortable for a few hours, then baffled by his political statements, then went shopping and forgot about it altogether.

Was Drambjan like Norway's Anders Behring Breivik? He was in that he let his radical beliefs get the best of his sanity, and that he thought that an individual act of public violence would set off a period of bloodletting that would end in a desired political solution. Breivik attempted to accomplish this by murdering teenage members of a left-leaning political party. Drambjan did it by setting off smoke bombs and explosions in the entrance of a government ministry and taking a two people hostage.

But neither were successful. In the end, people were puzzled by how the actors' political gripe translated into the actors' violent actions. Immigration sure is a hot issue in Europe, but how does that justify the murder of teenagers? Estonian minorities probably do feel alienated from the political process -- there isn't one minister in the current government from a minority group (and there is only one woman, period) -- but how does taking a security guard hostage change anything?

One flaw of mankind is our inability to simply stop trying to understand things. We continue to search for that "Aha" moment where everything clicks and where Behring Breivik or Drambjan sort of, kind of make sense, but it eludes us. We are forced instead to conclude that both of them, despite those powerful manifestos, were actually just crazy, which seems terribly simplistic, but was probably true.

It does not surprise me though that Drambjan was involved in the effort to keep Estonia's Bronze Soldier on Tõnismägi or that he was a member of the United Left party. What fascinated me about that controversy was that the most compelling argument for keeping it in place -- respect for the dead -- was overwhelmed by neo-Stalinist rhetoric about fascism and liberation, the kind of rhetoric that is fanned by Russian state-controlled media and probably swallowed whole by individuals like the late Drambjan.

Anti-Estonian rhetoric is based on recycled Stalinist propaganda. Go read what Pravda wrote about Estonia in the 1920s and the 1930s. It's virtually unchanged. And this was Stalinist media, overseen by one of the greatest mass murderers in history. The entire political system that he designed was built on murder -- the murder of the tsar and his family, of the Whites, the counterrevolutionary social democrats, the kulaks, and the original Bolsheviks -- Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev; the list goes on and on and on. His propaganda was designed to justify that murder. Conflict with the immoral fascist West, and counterrevolutionaries, was not only inevitable, it was necessary. Violence was justified against these others, who were out to sabotage a brilliant future and therefore were undeserving of life.

It is an extremely paranoid worldview, shaped by extremely paranoid men, men deep in Taxi Driver territory, fellows who fancied themselves as important players in the history of mankind. Guys sort of like Behring Breivik and Drambjan.

18 kommentaari:

Lingüista ütles ...

And yet I don't think that the exercise of trying to understand men like Breivik or Drambjan is pointless.

Reason number one is the one everybody knows: that these people represent exaggerations of tendencies that exist within ourselves. We all would like to control the world, we all have our fantasies in which something wrong (say, Russia's anti-Baltic propaganda campaigns) are solved in some sort of definitive way with the complete (even violent) elimination of the problem, à la Stallone or Schwarzenegger. Yet not all of us go to the nearest Ministry of Defense to declare open war on our societies (and to be killed by special police units). Understanding the nature of this exaggeration, the creation and feeding of an obsession and its evolution through an arch of increasing hate to its logical yet avoidable consequence is, I think, worthwhile.

Reson number two is more metaphyisical: the nature of evil, why evil comes to be, what makes it possible for evil to proliferate (and blossom in little inner-world obsessions like Breivik's and Drambjan's). Is this part of being human, immanent to our condition, or is this something accidental that can be corrected in some way?

A third reason, for me, is pity and the possibility of redemption. What could have been done (if anything at all could) to pierce through the crust of people like Breivik or Drambjan and allow them to see the world outside? Are they really so tightly closed in their bubbles/echo chambers that no influence can penetrate? Since the're human beings, they should be capable of positive human emotions too; could this be a way of reaching them, or can they really isolate perfectly their emotional conduits from any outside influence that is not filtered through their ideologically colored glasses?

matude ütles ...

An appropriate moment to quote Jeremy Clarkson's article in the Sunday Times: "We must start to accept that 5% of the population at any given time is bonkers. There are no steps to be taken to stamp this out and no lessons to be learnt when a man with a beard boards a plane with an exploding dog."

Rainer ütles ...

In many ways Breivik and Drambjan are polar opposites: Breivik's a young guy, who seemingly had it together, like it usually is with sociopaths. He's successful on every arena. He meticulously planned his strike and lived; now let's take a look at Drambjan: a middle-aged washout, a failure in every way. Which was in stark contrast with his elevated sense of self and that of entitlement. Just look at the pictures of him: suits, suits and more ritzy suits. The man fancied himself a Player, while in reality being an out-and-out Loser. A person like him tends to blame all his personal failures and misfortunes on others - "all my problems are everybody else's fault". The politics's only a disguise. And he ended it all by storming into the MOD and commiting suicide through police (perhaps planning to take with him Mart Laar, the Ultimate Evil in his surrogate mythology).

moevenort ütles ...

of course, nothing else expected here. A simple educated neoliberal American guy with a simple world view writes a post about his simple black and white picture of the world. and all his fans come out the wood and make a pseudo discussion confirming his idiotic simplifications. disgusting like always. nothing new in Estonia.

plasma-jack ütles ...

The humanity still has hope as long as you live, Moe. Don't let them take you alive. Eat all the documents prior to the raid. Don't drink the water. If the phone rings, answer, but say nothing. The Estonians can't catch you if you stay sharp.

Lingüista ütles ...

Möwen-Ort, at least you're out as a hater. That is a relief!

It's flattering, though, that you think Giustino's blog is Estonia. I don't think he fancied himself quite so high as you do.

Lingüista ütles ...

Moe, Larry and Curly, all in one. :-)

Kristopher ütles ...

Good post and comments. Nothing to add except that if they're crazy (and I think they are), then they have a disease and they deserve our compassion.

A big step forward will come when we start seeing what we call evil as either pathological or rooted in economic inequality.

Lingüista ütles ...

I used to think like this, Kristopher. I don't think I do anymore. Evil as pathology works a lot of the time, but... not always.

LPR ütles ...

This girl Karen with her goatee and duffel bag full of bombs and anit-fascist slogans at her lips kinda risked to put a bad name on anti fascist movement. Had she killed someone, it would have been hard to explain that rooskie speaking permanent tourists are peaceful people unlike the nazis they are forced to live with.

I mean Karen, girl, what was on your mind?

Moevenort, what you think?

moevenort ütles ...

"that rooskie speaking permanent tourists are peaceful people unlike the nazis they are forced to live with"

I think this sentence says a lot about your primitive level. From the level of intelligence:Are you an ape or a human being that is able to think? In any case, you are a perverted racist little freak. nothing more to add. time is to valuable to spent it to discuss with little estonian nazi-racists of your kind.

Kristopher ütles ...

What made you change you mind, Linguista?

Lingüista ütles ...

The fact that we don't really have a good, predictive theory of human behavior, Christopher -- no 'physics of the soul', no 'psychological engineering', only various schools of thought with some very good ideas but not much predictive power. I used to think we were 'getting there' and a little more scientific progress would give us all the answers. After studying the available theories, I sort of became disappointed.

So, when I hear someone saying evil is always a product of the environment, that we could possibly some day eradicate evil by adjusting said environment... I remember that this would be possible only if a 'physics of the soul' did actually exist already; and since it doesn't, I refrain from agreeing.

Also, while waiting for a physics of the soul, I find the possibility of evil as a transcendent category... attractive. Some, probably most evil is clearly rooted in situations and is explainable via genetics + environment, nature + nurture. But is all evil of this kind? I... don't know.

Lingüista ütles ...

Sorry, Kristopher, I misspelled your name.

Kristopher ütles ...

I suspect consciousness can be a hard burden to bear. Some people apparently flip out. They become like Dwayne Hoover instead of considering that they might just be the eyes and ears and the conscience of the creator of the universe.

The third way is not to worry about it and just do good work and be engaged with other people.

I can't condemn people who lose their place, though, "evil" or whatever they might be. I don't believe in punishing the crazy.

Kristopher ütles ...

Linguista: I've diphthongized the second and third syllables of your name each time, so no prob.

LPR ütles ...

ah, moveve, my humour never reaches you, does it?

Mardus ütles ...

moveve to Liivimaa parim ratsutaja:
"In any case, you are a perverted racist little freak."


The trouble with people like this is that the way they recognize good and evil is far too warped, very nearly and sometimes exactly inverse to common-sense differentiations of good and evil.