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Garegin Nzhdeh about the Dashnaktsutyun Party

Garegin Nzhdeh about the Dashnaktsutyun Party

The party of “Dashnaktsutyun” was established in 1890s.  It was created by Christapor Mikaelian, Rostom Zorian and Simon Zavarian. Firstly, they wanted to unite the activities of their ancestors- Armenakans and Hnchakians, which at that period of time were too fragmented. They made an attempt at creating a union of all Armenian liberation forces. However, they did not manage, hence instead of becoming a union of Armenian revolutionaries, “Dashnaktsutyun”  just remained as Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

From the very beginning of its existence, the organization had predominantly revolutionary, national and military features.  It remained so by 1907. Its program was as modest as simple and clear: the defense of lives, property and dignity of Western Armenians. That is to say carry out reforms.

The Hayduks of the first period undoubtedly can be put in a lineup with our other  patriots. The Armenian revolutionaries-intellectuals were also enjoying authority: sons of the nation, sharing its sorrow. For them as it for Hayduks, the national question was a holy thing and the serve for it was considered to be a responsibility and honor.The popularity and heroism of “Dashnaktsutyun” for the first times was due to these two categories of revolutionaries and morality of the founders of the party.

It is impossible to draw a parallel between former and current leaders of “Dashnaktsutyun”, between former Hayduks and current mauzerists. You admire the former ones and feel deep revulsion over the current leaders.

The death of the founders of the party and elimination of intellectuals of the party – its theorists and leaders- beheaded the party  spiritually and it started degrading.

The new leaders, being people of small moral caliber, did not prove worthy of their leaders. To their inability to lead the revolutionary movement, the new leaders added a pharisaic psychology, as a result of which "Dashnaktsutyun" no longer generated a skilful leadership.  

“Dashnaktsutyun" becаme a "patronage" party and, since "patronage", due to certain psychological laws, always leads to the group organization, "Dashnaktsutyun" thereby lost its ideological and organizational unity and solidity. The single party "Dashnaktsutyun" stopped its existence: dashnaktsutyuns arose, a deep split occurred.

"Patronage" is always accompanied by careerism, self-interest and pettiness. "Patronage" is unable to devote completely to the idea, is incapable of generating enthusiasm, without which any revolutionary undertaking is impossible.  It is the enemy of the concept of conscience - that is, those typical features, in the absence of which the leadership turns into only its caricature.

“Dashnaktsutyun" and  its "salon" socialism did not bring any benefit to the Armenian worker, but caused great harm to the Armenian liberation struggle. The political confrontation of the Armenian parties deeply divided the Armenian people, weakening its resistance force at a time when, because of revolutionary events taking place in Turkey, the Armenians needed to be unanimous, welded, capable of self-defense.

The large part of the Armenians, to the delight of our external enemies,  was wasting time and energy on the domestic front, while the Armenians of Western Armenia, fighting against Sultan tyranny, were begging to send them   leaders and ammunition.

It was expected that after its failures the leadership of the "Dashnaktsutyun" will thoroughly revise its activities. Yes, it was expected, but it did not happen. The Dashnak congresses dealt with insignificant issues, but not with a review of the nature of the party's actions.

The Dashnak Bureau does not recognize any court, except for itself, and brutally persecutes all those who, out of patriotic motives, raise any issue of responsibility. And some people, being the cause of national disasters, not only still  go unpunished, but also continue to occupy leading party posts.

Contrary to its formalism and ostentatious democracy, the Dashnak leadership does not tolerate criticism from party friends.

In emigration, "Dashnaktsutyun" - because of  uncertainty of its ideology, political incompetence and lack of sense of responsibility -  became and continues to be a disintegrating and destructive force.

“Dashnaktsutyun", like its political opponents - Hnchakians and Ramkavars, indirectly stimulates the assimilation of Armenians, in particular the younger generation. The people that have been split up in their own way display more negative features of their character and it becomes more repulsive in the eyes of the people in whose country they found a temporary shelter.

The Dashnak leadership has no idea of true propaganda. It shows its today's spiritual rags, calling it propaganda. It failed to use  potential strength of the Armenian people during the revolution, because they did not know their own people, and now they are unable to propagate true national values, as they do not have thorough knowledge of Armenian history and the philosophy of that history.

“Dashnaktsutyun "did nothing for the so-called Armenian propaganda. There was no time for it. It was busy with the ungrateful work of blackening Andranik. In order to discredit Andranik a two-volume work (about 1000 pages) was published by the order of “DashNaktsutyun”. Memoirs of Sepuh, wholly dedicated to Andranik, are worthy of condemnation for the attempt to overthrow the national hero from the pedestal of his glory. Every effort has been made to "beautify" Andranik with Qadzh-Nazar(Don Quixote) qualities, not realizing that this was actually mocking the Armenian liberation movement, since the Armenian people considered Andranik a symbol of their liberation struggle.

All those peoples and parties that don’t respect heroics and heroes are going to decline. This spiritual barbarity had the most disruptive impact on our younger generation.

In 1921, the day after I left Zangezur, on the Persian coast of Araqs I made "tactlessness" by punishing two Dashnak ministers - Hakob Ter-Hakobyan and Eprem Sargsyan, who were also the  members of the Supreme Body that replaced the Bureau. A few days after that, I received a letter from Vratsyan saying:

“Give up your antics like Andranik! Andranik behaved just like you, and now wanders helplessly through Europe. The party had some hopes with your name. Listen to your old friends. If you do not obey, too bad for you. I only know that people are rising with great difficulty, for many years, but they are falling in one second " (Simon Vratsyan’s letter, 24.07.1921)

The notorious irresistible Armenian individualism, conditioned by our history, geographical position and age-old slavery -  is the cause of unprecedented misfortunes, comprehending our people both in the historical past and in new times.

For the people there is no greater evil than the leader professing individualism. He easily becomes an enemy of collective efforts and interests. Such a leader is more likely to pursue his personal rights than his duties. His ideal is a solitary personal happiness. Today those are the leaders who called upon to lead the party of Christapor and Rostom.

Uncertain ideology, political inability and lack of sense of responsibility are three evils, from which our people and the "Dashnaktsutyun" itself suffered catastrophically.

"Dashnaktsutyun" is already an endangered phenomenon. Its existence is now useless, illogical, not necessary. It is in contradiction with this era. It must disappear. With the consciousness of this I left Dashnaktsutyun.

Garegin Ter-Harutyunyan

January, 1947

Internal prison of the Armenian USSR

Excerpts from the book “Garegin Nzhdeh and KGB”



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