Who Is Shant Harutiunian?

Last week, most of my stories had to do with The Great Armenian Revolution of 2013.

Today, Gegham Vardanyan (@reporterarm), a journalist in Armenia, posted this picture taken in Yerevan of graffiti that’s appeared depicting Harutiunian.

[tweet https://twitter.com/reporterarm/status/399817408392593408 align=’center’]

Other famous individuals that have gained the distinction of appearing in Yerevan street art are Garegin NjdehSoghomon TehlirianWilliam SaroyanVahan Deryan, Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allan Poe, and others. That’s the company Harutiunian now enjoys.

There are clearly people who do not think this man is enough of a lunatic to disavow his actions as dangerous and unacceptable, as I have argued they should. There are people marching so that he, a “political prisoner”, be set free – never mind the blatantly illegal actions he committed. There are people making him out to be a hero and enshrining him among actual heroes of the Armenian nation.

So, I figured something’s awry: either I misjudged this man and he deserves better treatment than what I’ve offered or I was right in assessing peoples’ reticence to resoundingly reject his antics because of a starvation for something more meaningful.

As I don’t take anything for granted – not even my own opinions and ideas – I decided to do a little research to see if there is something I missed between him becoming a public figure and when I got to know him, which was mostly last week.

I spent hours watching videos of him available on You Tube, of which there are many, trying to get to know the man (kind of) behind the (Guy Fawkes) mask.

Here are my observations:

1) PASSION, CONVICTION, KNOWLEDGE

He’s obviously passionate about what he believes. He also looks like he’s read some philosophy and history. Although from the videos it’s hard to tell whether he read the Cliff’s Notes version of everything or if he spent time studying the various texts of the people he references (e.g. Njdeh, Nietzsche, Marx).

There is definitely something in the noggin, it’s just not clear where it comes from and where it’s going. And I’m not sure it actually directs his actions the way he would have us believe.

2) NO DIRECTION

He speaks generally about starting a revolution but gives no reason why. Some of the things he has said he wants were “cultural revolution”, “revolution”, and Armenian philosophy or philosophers.

Much of the time he’s lamenting the lack of philosophical thought among Armenians and, rightly, the inability to have a substantive movement without that. But, contradicting his own statements on the matter, he ends up starting a half-ass “revolution” upon no clear premise.

3) WORST. DEBATER. EVER.

When he’s talking to an interviewer by himself, he seems reasonable, even amiable. But golly gee, brace yourselves if he’s in a room with another debater, particularly one who doesn’t fully agree with him: he is plainly incapable of having a civil discussion, a loose cannon.

Even after he’s made his point, when someone tries to say something in response, he continuously interrupts them and not to add anything in particular but to expound on points he’s already made or to repeat what he’s already said.

Even if you don’t understand Armenian, you can watch his interaction with others in the following interviews.

(Warning: there is a risk to your ears’ ability to continue functioning properly after watching)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiR2Maz6bg0&w=560&h=315]

At 7:20

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_ZbzD_3FA4&w=420&h=315]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=isUcjIOpFzc&w=560&h=315]

When he has to interact with others, he’s unable to control himself, choosing yelling to discussion. His comments are often laced with insults. It’s almost a sight to see if it weren’t so excruciating to watch. He seems more interested in his own voice than in anything that anyone else has to say.

4) ANTI-RUSSIA CONSPIRACY THEORIST

He makes no bones about his disdain for Russia’s overbearing hold on Armenia – which is understandable –  and its meddling in Armenia’s affairs but the man is convinced that Russia controls every aspect of the Armenian government: Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency, Seyran Ohanian’s ministerial duties as defense minister, the whole national state security apparatus. What makes it a conspiracy theory, of course, is that he offers no evidence whatsoever besides saying that he has evidence that he can show. Absolutely nothing.

He actually seems obsessed with Russia and not very concerned with the Armenian authorities.

In reality, he pays so little attention to discussing the actual Armenian authorities and why he might not like them to the point that he’d want to start a revolution that I feel he would have been better served starting his revolution against Russia and not Armenia. After all, it’s not clear what the point of starting a revolution in Armenia is if, like Harutiunian apparently believes, Armenia is under Russia’s total control.

5) IRONY

I’m not sure if he’s being ironic or he just doesn’t see it as a big deal but as he’s roundly tearing Russia and its influence in Armenia to shreds, his speech is concurrently sprinkled with Russian words: “logika”, “dochni”, “proste”, “luboy”, “dubinkek”, “vopshum”, “militsek”,

6) PHILOSOPHER-CUM-REVOLUTIONARY

Harutiunian seems to fashion himself a philosopher-cum-revolutionary. He laments the lack of philosophy and philosophers among Armenians and sees them as a precondition, not only for Armenians but everywhere, to a proper revolution. So I can only imagine that if he’s complaining about a lack of philosophers but thinks they’re necessary for a proper revolution, he either believes himself to be the philosopher necessary for the revolution or he’s not interested in a proper revolution.

In any case, when I think of those two words – “philosopher”, “revolutionary” – I think these guys:

General Andranik, revolutionary
General Andranik, revolutionary
General Garegin Njdeh: revolutionary, philosopher
General Garegin Njdeh: revolutionary, philosopher
Raffi: revolutionary, philosopher
Raffi: revolutionary, philosopher
Plato: some would say philosopher but I ask, proto-Shant Harutiunian?
Plato: some would say philosopher but I ask, proto-Shant Harutiunian?

Not this guy:

Harutiunian (Credit: Photolur)
Harutiunian (Credit: Photolur)

He makes himself out to be a martyr before being martyred.

7) THE VULGAR PHILOSOPHER

His colorful language, sometimes during interviews, is a potpourri of Turkish, Russian, and Armenian vulgarity.

“TUFTA” (Russian obscenity)

“SRIKA” (Turkish obscenity)

“BOZ/POZ” (Armenian obscenity)

See him channel Khrimian Hayrig, Krikor Zohrab, and Monte Melkonian:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-AVQvb1RxTo&w=420&h=315]

Just imagine, as you’re watching that video, Khrimian Hayrig, Zohrab, Monte, or perhaps Njdeh, one of Harutiunian’s inspirations, standing behind that megaphone saying the things Harutiunian is saying. Ya, no.

8) REVOLUTION FOR WHAT?

He talks about revolution but nowhere does he explain WHY. He just says he’s going to do it, that’s it.

Because he didn’t answer my question, I offer to any readers: what does he want revolution for?

And I don’t mean what YOU want revolution for; I want to know why Shant Harutiunian wants revolution. Because, as yet, I have no idea.

BECAUSE IF YOU’RE GOING TO OPENLY TALK ABOUT SETTING FIRE TO THE PRESIDENTIAL PALACE or occupying the state intelligence service or carrying two cans of benzene (presumably to use in revolutionary activities)…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7NluSttecI&w=560&h=315]

… I feel like you should have a good reason for it.

FINAL CONCLUSION

Awkwardly, I didn’t find myself disagreeing with everything that he said, little of which centered on him conducting a revolution. But that doesn’t excuse his actions or his behavior. My final conclusion is that Shant Harutiunian is batshit crazy.

There isn’t a single video I’ve watched where he’s interacting with an interlocutor where he doesn’t go berserk, arms flailing, yelling at the top of his lungs, interrupting the host or other guest/s – even grabbing them. He seems to always be on the cusp of a massive emotional meltdown.

I stand by my original assessment that he’s a lunatic. I won’t lower my standards of the expectations of our fellow men and women because the man reached his wit’s end – his wit may have been shorter than normal. I also won’t accept him soiling the sanctity of true heroes of the Armenian nation, those who didn’t resort to pettiness and vulgarity in their effort to make a point. It’s inexcusable.

Anyone trying to justify Harutiunian’s actions is just feeding the depravity that not only created him but allowed him to feel that he would not be absolutely rejected by society for his actions.

I’ll take philosophers-cum-revolutionaries. Real ones.

By: William Bairamian

[twitter-follow screen_name=’bairamian’]

6 thoughts on “Who Is Shant Harutiunian?”

  1. By saying Harutiunian is no “Lenin”, “Mao”, or “Robespierre” you seek to diminish him by elevating the others…But those men were mass murderers– all of them.– a the nihilist lobbing explosives in Yerevan today is aspiring to their bloody accomplishments. Just give him time, good press, and financial backing: he’ll blossom into that line of revolutionary with enough blood and empty/misleading slogans.

    The slogans and pseudo-philosophies of Robespierre, Marx, and Mao were no less convoluted or misleading, and the tyrannies they helped foist on their respective nations by the power vacuum they created no less odious than the one in Georgia and which has yet unsuccessfully been repeatedly attempted in Armenia.

    The criticism of Harutiunian should be that he IS those men, not that he is not. We could expect nothing less from someone with Nietzsche, the self-styled “”Anti-Christ” and “most evil man in history”, swimming around in his head. Friedrich’s been cleaned up for public consumption, but it remains that he was staunchly anti-democratic and propounded eugenics and mass-murder as a means to the subjugation of the earth by “supermen”. Take anyone who makes of use of Nietzsche in the name of a “democratic” revolution for what they are: either an idiot or Satan himself.

    1. Thanks for your comment. You must be referring to what I wrote in this post: http://thegampr.com/2013/11/06/civilnet-gets-it-woefully-wrong/ about Lenin, Mao, and Robespierre.

      I agree that Lenin, Mao, and Robespierre were responsible for the deaths of millions of people. That’s beside the point. The point is that these men led revolutions that eventually changed the course of their country at worst and of human history at best. There was a good reason for that and my contention is that the reason is the strong intellectual grounding in some principles – principles, even, which may have included killing people.

      Even if you disagree with them, it would be hard to make an argument to call the immensely influential writings and thoughts of Mao, Marx, Lenin, and Robespierre “pseudo-philosophical.” The fact is these philosophies carried revolutions that led to systems of government that lasted for decades or exist to this day. Even successful bad guys need guiding principles.

      So, I think it’s an exaggeration to say that Harutiunian is those men. Sure, he may have their negative tendencies but it’s akin to putting all criminals in the same boat because they’re criminals. That’s a broad stroke and if that’s the point, fine. But just as a criminal might be known for his ingenious ability to conduct crime whereas another might seem like he chose that lifestyle only to be a regular on “World’s Dumbest Criminals” reels, there are vast differences in degree of who can be considered an actual revolutionary rather than one with whom you could make a “revolutionary bloopers” video.

  2. Then you agree with me: they differ only in degree, not kind. But from a purely philosophical point of view, I stand by the claim that they were long-discredited pseudo-philosophies. See Aristotle’s work in which he states that the differences between men go deeper than just possession of property, discrediting the idea of communism thousands of years before it was reasserted by, as you say, criminals:

    “Such [communistic] legislation may have a specious appearance of benevolence; men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody’s friend, especially when some one is heard denouncing the evils now existing in states, suits about contracts, convictions for perjury, flatteries of rich men and the like, which are said to arise out of the possession of private property. These evils, however, are due to a
    very different cause – the wickedness of human nature. Indeed, we see that there is much more quarrelling among those who have all things in common, though there are not many of them when compared with the vast numbers who have private property. (From _Politics_trans. B. Jowett. Excerpted here: http://history-world.org/Communism,%20Aristotle.htm)

    If your point, like Aristotle’s, is that “men readily listen to it, and are easily induced to believe that in some wonderful manner everybody will become everybody’s friend”, I would agree with you. That is not to say it has a philosophical foundation, if by philosophy we mean it contains truth.Let ten million people believe something: that doesn’t make it true. And hence, my characterization of it as a pseudo-philosophy, or, an ancient error, or scam, clothed in Hegelian jargon and trotted out before the stupid masses as a philosophical world-view as opposed to a meritless pipe dream used for misleading morons, the young, and old women.

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