The Open University of Britain, Probably the world’s largest University, with over 200.000 students, has published on its very distinguished Platform website (founded and edited by the poet Richard Skellington, sometime Administrator of the University), a very powerful article by Professor H.I. Pilikian titled stunningly Why We Should Remember the Armenians.
By Hovhanness I. Pilikian
Next year sees the centenary of the Armenian genocide. Armenia has crucial links to the development of British and world civilisation as Professor Hovhanness I. Pilikian explains.
Until Darwin’s regime-change in the mid-nineteenth century, when Western beliefs began the move from faith in the Bible to mass atheism, most of the Western world believed in the Noah’s Flood story. Mankind was saved and moved down the mountains of Ararat, in the heartland of ancient Armenia. Our civilisation has its roots in old Armenia, and it is wise to remember it.
In 1915, Armenians witnessed the forgotten holocaust. The Ottoman Young Turks massacred 1.5 million Armenians on state-organized death marches to Der-Zor in the Syrian Desert. There, the saintly journalist Robert Fisk has discovered skulls and bones in numberless caves as recently as the spring of 1993. It was Adolf Hitler who once famously said “who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”.
It is important to remember, and to log, the important connections between us and our Armenian forebears. Most European nations, precisely for the same reason, stretch their ancestry back to Noah’s Ark stopping on the Mountains of Ararat. Closer to home, according to Herodotus the Celts originated from Armenia. In all the world, two places alone carry the same name suggestive of origin and national identity: a city in the present day Armenia is named CYMRY, pronounced exactly as the Welsh name of Wales!
Few Englishmen (and women) would know that two of the manuscripts of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles – the oldest historical records of England from the 9th century AD – begin with the matter-of-fact statement “the first inhabitants of these British lands, they come from Armenia”. According to Herodotus, the Celts originated from Armenia (which supports the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.
cartoon by Catherine Pain Victorian bibles were full of footnotes placing Paradise in Armenia, as the cradle of Adam and Eve. In the late nineteenth century scholars panicked and declared that actually Armenia was a corruption of Armorica (in Northern France). Darwin’s theory of Evolution saw to it that the babies (the records of many historical facts specifically in the Old Testament) were thrown out with the bath water.
In today’s independent Armenia (which was one of the Soviet Republics) over 150 political parties were created, officially registered by the Government bureaucracy. A criminal phenomenon like Nazism (or its mother Fascism) can never arise in Armenia, because Armenians, as probably the oldest people of this planet, are intensely and immensely individualized, lacking any group mentality and/or psychology, even frequently to the detriment of their national interest in modern times – especially during the rise of Nationalism in nineteenth century Europe. If you can get three Armenians together to form a political party, they will produce a dozen – three each (= nine), and another three for insurance purposes.
Hegel argued that history marches towards individuation and total freedom. Armenians seem to have achieved that kind of individual freedom already, which explains their appearance lurking about in history, pioneering most innovative, radical and revolutionary processes arousing the genocidal envy of other nations. There are numerous examples of the debt we owe to the Armenians.
There is now very little doubt that farming arose in ancient Anatolian Armenia around possibly 7,000 BC. The historical reality of the Promethean myth (the Titan-Robber-God of Fire punished on the mountains of Caucasian Armenia) suggests that the discovery of Fire as a great cultural advance occurred there.
As early as 301 AD, the Armenians converted to Christianity with King and country as the very first in history, which was yet another huge step forward for mankind drowned in a sea of pagan polytheism. The Armenians thus invented the first national church, which Henry VIII could not manage in the 16th century.
The Poet Lord Byron was suddenly gripped by his acquaintance with the historical sufferings of the Armenians. He got to know the Mekhitarist Monks on a tiny island named St. Lazar, off Venice. He even wrote an Armenian grammar (to teach the Brits Armenian), forcing his London publisher John Murray to publish it. His eventual later attachment to the Greek national cause was inspired by his acquaintance with the Armenian sufferings.
The Armenians played a pioneering role in the downfall of Communism in Soviet Russia. The virtual Radio Yerevan was the cradle of the socio-political humour which attacked the system; and here is a most glorious, sharp and quick-witted example of it. Lady-teacher asks an infant – what is the difference between Capitalism and Communism? The child answers – capitalism is the exploitation of Man by Man, and Communism is its exact reverse!
A democratic election in the Armenian enclave of Karabagh (donated to Azerbaijan by Stalin) was the first to declare a wish to exit the Soviet Federation of Republics. The pioneering majority Armenian vote also sounded the knell of the destruction of the Union itself, simultaneously provoking the enmity and warmongering of Azerbaijan, still even today threatening Armenia with a fresh genocidal war.
In global culture, the Armenian, Rouben Mamoulian, the Hollywood film-director created the iconic Garbo-image, and produced the very first feature-length Technicolor film in 1935 (Becky Sharp). The creator of the Soviet computer, Serguey Merkelian, was a young mathematical genius from Soviet Armenia. Gary Kasparov, the Soviet Armenian world Chess Champion, was also the first to be invited to play against the most powerful US computers, and defeated them each time for several years, until he was finally defeated by the latest developments in technology.
What the future shall bring to the Armenians as country and people only God knows of course. Who knows, if climate change destroys the globe through money-greed and idiocy, it is likely that mankind shall once again descend from the same mountain of Ararat. If we forget the Armenians we forget our history and imperil our future.