Editorial: Keeping the world informed

ISSN 0024-5089
Copyright © 2015 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.

Volume 61, No.1 - Spring  2015
Editor of this issue: Almantas Samalavičius

Editorial: Keeping the world informed


This year Lituanus has entered its seventh decade of existence. It was established in 1954 during the Cold War by a group of active and devoted young people who took as their task providing the world with information about a country that had fallen prey to the colonizing whims of its powerful neighbor before the end of WWII . Lituanus came into being at an extremely difficult moment for Lithuania: the country had disappeared from the world map; guerilla resistance against the Soviet regime was basically crushed; and a large percentage of the population was either imprisoned, deported to Siberian gulags or forced into exile. Meanwhile, the remaining populace was silenced and forced to submit to its Communist masters. Under these dramatic circumstances, the founders of the journal – members of the Lithuanian Student Association— issued a founding statement titled Towards Better Understanding that contained some memorable reflections on its immediate aims:

“This publication hopes to acquaint its readers with Lithuania and the Lithuanians: their problems; historical sketches; cultural background, and environment. We had a taste of independence. We were unfortunate enough to be subjected for over a century to the chains of slavery.These experiences gave us an opportunity to compare the two conditions; gave us the chance to learn to organize resistance; and taught us to be proud of, honor, and cherish our Lithuanian descent.

These pages will tell you, in print, some of the injustices imposed upon Lithuania; will show you the cruel methods by which the would be masters tried to achieve their aims; will give you a glimpse of the life in a free and independent Lithuania in the 13th through 18th centuries; and tell you what life was like in the present century when the occupation occurred.”

Many things have changed since these lines were written. Because of the will and longing for freedom of the Lithuanian people, in addition to favorable historical circumstances, the country is no longer under foreign oppression. In 1990 Lithuanians stood up to declare independence, choosing freedom for the second time in a century. Lithuania eventually joined the European Union, as well as other international organizations, and continues to build and develop its political, social and cultural structures while transcending the oftenburdensome legacy of the past. Despite numerous difficulties experienced during the past quarter of a century of social transformation, Lithuania has more or less successfully made its way out of the totalitarian system into the realm of liberal democracy. While this new form of government undeniably has its own problems and contradictions, it nevertheless provides a firm basis for the positive future development of Lithuanian society and its culture.

During the last few decades the journal has shifted its aims and scope according to these changes in national and international contexts, maintaining its solid scholarly format and remaining a forum for informed opinion about Lithuania— its past, present, and future. Numerous editors have worked for decades trying to get the voice of Lituanus and Lithuanians to be heard among the nations of the world. Each particular period in the journal’s sixty-year old history had its own priorities and focal points. The archives of the publication now available to readers online are a testimony to these dedicated efforts. Ours is an important moment as well. We no longer need to convince the world of the many injustices that Lithuania and its people have suffered, including the suppression of national culture under colonialist domination. Neither do we need to argue for Lithuania’s legitimate right to freedom and independence. The independence of the country is now firmly established and sustained by the will of its people. In this present climate of normalization it is perhaps quite natural that the rest of the world takes less interest in Lithuania than it did when the country was under foreign oppression. Despite these changing circumstances and shifting worldviews, providing well-researched scholarly articles about the present-day culture and society of Lithuania, as well as various aspects of its past and possible future, will continue to remain our primary purpose.

The present-day journal is now published by a new team of editors who took over responsibilities from colleagues who did their best to keep this publication strong and healthy. As the new editor of Lituanus, I feel it is my duty and obligation to continue the work done by my predecessors, given the long and important history of this journal. I hope that the current editors, publishers, and editorial board, as well as authors old and new, will continue to make Lithuania’s voice heard and will work to make Lituanus as relevant and dynamic as it was sixty years ago. Ancient wisdom suggests that continuity without change is rigidity, while change without continuity equals death; I hope that this particular journal will maintain its continuity and at the same time remain open to change.

Ironically, as these lines are being written, the geopolitical situation in Lithuania is getting more complicated and gloomier than it has been during the last couple of decades. Lithuania’s powerful and angry neighbor has begun to revert to its centuries-long imperial ambitions and policies, struggling to suppress the turn westwards taken by Ukraine and threatening to restore the boundaries of the former empire. These and other worrisome developments, however, remind us that keeping the world adequately informed about Lithuania remains a task as important as ever.