I love to observe societal processes, today and in times long past. Having begun from afar, by acquiring a doctorate in history from Cambridge, I have gradually worked my way to studying the public life of my society, looking for solutions to policy problems and major attitude shifts. Since 2004, I work at the Centre for Public Policy PROVIDUS in Riga, because this is a place where I can indulge my passion for controversy.
An ardent individualist, I do not shun disagreement with the majority. Authority is my greatest allergy. So far I have not discovered a person with whose opinion I am disinclined to argue - with the important exception of my two cats, Tullius Philip and Gareth.
I have to confess, I was not very happy when the results of UK elections were announced a few weeks ago. Lasi
This blog has been somewhat moribund for the last half a year or so, and the only way I see of reviving it is to stop discussing unappetising subjects such as the racist pranks of marginal politicians, and to write of more inspiring things instead. Lasi
The extreme right Movement for a Better Hungary (Jobbik) has been busy revising the legitimacy of Hungary's current borders (along with the borders of several neighbouring countries), now it has decided to take a deeper stab at history. In September this year, the party published an English article on its website, claiming to unmask a conspiracy by 'foreign linguists' that has lasted for more than a hundred years. The conspiracy in question concerns, in the party's view, the very origins of the Hungarian nation. The main point that Jobbik's ideologues are trying to make is that in the nineteenth century, German linguists in the pay of the Habsburgs intentionally undermined the tradition Hungarian vision of national origins, and invented the idea that Hungarians are a Finno-Ugric group. "Before, Hungarians had an altogether different view about their own origin. They held that they were the descendants of Hun-Scythian ancestors." Lasi
I have not blogged here for a while but this really got me going. After a lush September spent largely by the poolside in warmer climes, when I had no inclination for social action whatsoever, and first half of October spent working , today I woke up with a feeling that a bit of hard-core irony over some racist prejudice or an attack on some xenophobic politician anywhere in the EU would be long overdue. Quite disappointingly, politicians have decided to behave for the time being. Even Britain's BNP has promised to revise its membership rules, and to allow non-white persons in. Not that they were struck by a revelation that non-white people are people too - rather, there is a court decision they simply have to implement, because (surprise, surprise) racial discrimination is forbidden in the UK. Lasi
Today, an editorial in the Latvian daily Diena argues in favour of teaching the History of Latvia separately from History as such in the last years of lower secondary school. According to Diena, the reasons why History curriculum should be split to make room for an 'exclusive' curriculum on national history are twofold: a) this is the last chance for some students to learn the facts of history of their country and b) a good knowledge of the country's history makes people more patriotic. Both of these propositions are extremely naive to say the least, and in a moment I will explain, why. Lasi
Kopš atgriezos no atvaļinājuma jūnija beigās, man daudz laika nākas pavadīt, lasot Latvijas medijus. Nē, tas nav tāpēc, ka atvaļinājumā galīgi zaudēju kontaktu ar dzimteni, bet gan tāpēc, ka PROVIDUSam top monitoringa ziņojums par Latvijas mediju tendencēm kopš 2007. gada sākuma. Lasi
This blog has been dormant for a while, and what better way to revive it than join the crowd of those who analyse the results of EP elections? The success of extreme right parties in some countries, for one, seems to be worth some attention. The usual explanation of their success is the spectacular failure of mainstream politicians to deal with the crisis (Hungary!) and/ or to comply with basic standards of personal integrity (UK, with the MPs' expenses scandal neatly before the elections). Lasi
Some children in Lithuania were fortunate. Until recently, their early childhood centres (what we used to call 'kindergartens' in this part of the world) were implementing a daring early childhood education project called Gender Loop, initiated by organisations from several EU countries. The main point of the project was to instill equitable attitudes towards gender and human diversity from an early age, the logic being that since gender stereotypes begin in early childhood, they should be tackled in early childhood centres. Lasi
The Ministry of Children and family Affairs of Latvia, a chronically absurd institution born out of the political ambitions of the First Party, is working on new Integration Guidelines. Again. Before its demise, the late Secretariat of the Minister for Social Integration had conducted public discussions of the previous Guidelines, and seemed set to submit those Guidelines for government approval. The Guidelines themselves left something to be desired but were, on the whole, a workable basis for some sort of policy. Their authors had been, on the whole, mindful of the need for diversity mainstreaming (without using the word). They even proposed tentative measures to increase the presence of ethnic minorities in public administration (a leap in political thinking for Latvia). Lasi
In the beginning of this year, one of my favourite commentators, Timothy Garton Ash, was asked by Guardian weekly what he expected from 2009. In his opinion, this year Europe can expect the public emergence of a new youth leader, 'Red Lily', a female student who would become to the youth protests of 2009 the same that Red Danny, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, had been to the student protests of 1968. Lasi