To the 150th birthday anniversary of Mikael Varandyan


Seyran A. Zakaryan-Doctor of Philosophical Sciences
The prominent Armenian historian, political scientist of the 20th century, AR Federation (Dashnaktsutsyun) theorist-ideologist Michael Varandyan (1870-1934) considers issues of the Armenian identity both within the context of historical and cultural developments, current political events, as well as in the context of historical philosophy, social anthropology and historical psychology. Such an approach allowed him to view the three key questions about national identity in the context of pastpresent-future, and more precisely, make the past and the future more meaningful based on contemporary requirements. The questions in discussion are: Were we in the past? What are we in the present? And what will we be in the future? Varandyan is prone to the approach, according to which identity is not a set of perpetual and pre-created characteristics but a summary of continuously created, shaped and transformed identifications. Unlike the Christian paradigm of the Armenian identity, where the Church, the faith and the religion played the main role, Varandyan, following the Armenian enlighteners of the second half of the 19th century, favors the secular paradigm of identity, where the nation, the homeland and the secular values are of main importance (democracy, science, secular education, freedom of conscience, etc.).

First of all, Varandyan’s negative attitude is conditioned by his radical secular views (according to him, religion has “sanctified the slavery of the mind and heart” at all times and in all places, and the “clerical class” has in its turn exploited the human soul), dominated by the cult of science and practice and the criticism of religion. Secondly, he negatively assesses the role of the Christian religion, the church and the clergy in national life.

According to Varandyan, the Armenian existence is paradoxical/contradictory because on one side the Armenian nation is a pioneer of progress, who carries and spreads the European culture and values, and on the other side it is careless and indefinite to its physical and spiritual existence and its forms. It strives for freedom and sovereignty on one side and on the other side it is disunited and passive when it comes to the national liberation fight. On the one hand, it advocates the preservation of national values, and on the other hand, it is absorbed by internationalist (transnational) ideas and is subject to assimilation and so on. Varandyan sees the solution of these contradictions in “spiritual revolution” which will change the forms of attitude towards the national existence and its values and will purify the identity defects. The “hero” of that revolution must be a true patriot, who is a carrier of both national and universal principles, is armed with national values and is ready to fight for his and other nations’ freedom and sovereignty.

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