One of the best Georgian movies!!! (with english subtitles)
Sunday, December 31, 2006
One of the best Georgian movies!!! (with english subtitles)
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Nugzar Papuashvili and George Nigharadze talk about celebrating Christmas in orthodox Christian countries such as Russia and Georgia. They argue why Christmas should be celebrated on 25-th of December and not on 7-th of January.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Monday, December 25, 2006
Tonight I was at the opening of ,,ქოლგა” Photo Competition at Karvasla Museum. Here are some Photos that I liked:
Photos: Ivan Makharadze
Photo: Mamuka Jaoshvili
Photo: Tato Kotetishvili
Photo: Mari Nakani
Friday, December 22, 2006
This weekend promises to be one of the most interesting since my return from Germany. I have to write draft law about taxation of Georgian Supra!
I applied for a job at the Office Of The State Minister on Reforms and Coordination. The head of this Ministry is one of the most controversial man in Georgia: Millionaire, Libertarian Thinker - Kakha Bendukidze.
So the first étape of the concours contains three tasks: the most interesting and fun to do, I already mentioned above. Two others are also fun: 1) I have to write pros and cons of selling Georgian gas pipeline and 2) make kind of IQ Test to ascertain who is more clever employee when both have equal potentialities, to pay him higher salary.
I would appreciate your ideas, views, comments about these tasks.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
At 17:00 I was at Betsy's Hotel where CRRC-georgia held a presentation of "Preliminary findigs from CRRC DI Survay 2006", conducted by Kristina Vacharadze, CRRC-Georgia Program Manager and Mamuka Nadareishvili, Expert. You can download PDF version of this presentation from here.
After presentation socializing with different NGO representatives I got interesting book with similar surveys made by Institute for Policy Studies, online version of this book in english you can download from here.
At 8 o'clock, after drinking Beer at Paradise Lost, we saw at Kolga Cinema very interesting documentary film: "Power Trip", about American multi-national company AES Telasi trying to solve the electricity crisis in Tbilisi.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
From every 100 Georgians - only 3,75 use internet. It's the last place between South Caucasus countries - 138 place.
In Armenia from 100 every 5,03 uses internet-124 place . In Azerbaijan every 18,4- 85 place!!!
The worse situation from former soviet countries is in Tajikistan- less than 1 internet user in 100 thousand!!!
Yesterday, the presentation of “The youth center” and of their(the youth center) building was held in Sameba cathedral in Tbilisi. The Catholicon-patriarch of Georgia, Ilia II, together with the president Mikhail Saakashvili and the head of the parliament, Nino Burjanadze attended the presentation. Other officials also were presented at the presentation. As the worker of the press-center of the Patriarchate, Zurab Tskhovrebadze told http://www.religion.ge/- They celebrated the commemoration day of the king Vakhtang Gorgasali and also the day of entrance of Andrew the first called. As he said, Andrew the first called is the enlightener of Georgia and that it is very symbolic to open such center on this day.
The Patriarch, Ilia II, made the speech and stressed the contributions of the saint Andrew the first called towards Georgia. The president underlined the role of Georgian orthodox church in contemporary life and noted that the construction of Sameba cathedral started when everything was destroying in Georgia and he noted that this is really very important.
The bishop of Tsageri and Lentekhi, Stepane Kalaijashvili was appointed the head of “The youth center at the patriarchate”.
We offer you the extracts from the interviews of Stepane Kalaijashvili without comments.
The journal of Georgian patriarchate “krialosani” №3, April 2005.
Editor: Gela Lobjanidze.
Consultant: priest Giorgi Samsonidze.
Liberalism-False and the servitude of sins with the mask of freedom
The priests of this new state religion govern the processes from abroad and within the country they( the priests) have people like Bokeria, Gvakharia, Naira Gelashvili…these politicians teach us. They have the agitation brigades clapping everything and saying “enough” all the time and even more shaking their fists at us. They even broke into the schools inciting children against their parents.
Russians at their hang-over saying-“Iron logic”
As it was revealed liberalism is the product of Christian faith( you kept this in secret?!) We did not trust “ Liberty institute” and tried to get into the depth of this issue, but got totally different picture. It turned out that liberalism is the opposite to Christian principles and is soaked with heretic ideas of John Lock, Monteskie and others.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Griboedov str. 8
IX საერთაშორისო ფესტივალი
15 დეკემბერი ტიერი მეშლერი (ორგანი, საფრანგეთი)
პარასკევი პროგრამაშია: მარსელ დიუპრე, ტიერი მეშლერი
17 დეკემბერი დანიილ ცვეტკოვი (ფორტეპიანო, რუსეთი)
კვირა პროგრამაშია: მოცარტი, შუმანი, ბარტოკი, ბრამსი
19 დეკემბერი ფლორან ეო (კლარნეტი, საფრანგეთი)
სამშაბათი ჟერომ დიუკრო (ფორტეპიანო, საფრანგეთი)
პროგრამაშია: შუმანი, ვებერი, სენ-სანსი, დებიუსი, პულენკი
21 დეკემბერი თბილისის კონსერვატორიის სტუდენტური ორკესტრი
ხუთშაბათი დირიჟორი – მიშა რახლევსკი (რუსეთი); სოლისტი - მიშელ პერი (ვალტორნა, აშშ)
პროგრამაშია: ლ. ქერუბინი, ლ. იანაჩეკი, ტ.შნაუბერი, ი.სუკი
23 დეკემბერი BRAVA MAESTRA! - ლიანა ისაკაძის საიუბილეო საღამო
შაბათი დირიჟორი და სოლისტი – ლიანა ისაკაძე (ვიოლინო)
პროგრამაშია: შოსონი, მენდელსონი
24 დეკემბერი თბილისის კონსერვატორიის სტუდენტთა ფოლკლორული ანსამბლი
კვირა ხელმძღვანელი ნატო ზუმბაძე
25 დეკემბერი ბენჯამინ მარკიზ გილმორი (ვიოლინო, დიდი ბრიტანეთი)
ორშაბათი იუ ჰარიუკი (ფორტეპიანო, იაპონია)
პროგრამაშია: ბეთჰოვენი, ბარტოკი, ბრამსი, შილაკაძე
---------------------------------------------კონსერვატორიის მცირე დარბაზი
27 დეკემბერი Classic, Jazz, Rock, Fusion
ოთხშაბათი თემურ ყვითელაშვილი (გიტარა, საქართველო)
28 დეკემბერი BRAVO MAESTRO! - ეძღვნება შალვა მოსიძის დაბადებიდან 70 წლისთავს
ხუთშაბათი მონაწილეობენ: გორის ქალთა კამერული გუნდი,
თბილისის კონსერვატორიის საგუნდო-სადირიჟორო კათედრის ბაკალავრიატისა და მაგისტრატურის გუნდები, `ბგერის თეატრი~ და შალვა მოსიძის მოწაფეები
პროგრამაშია: ქართველ და დასავლეთევროპელ კომპოზიტორთა საგუნდო ნაწარმოებები
29 დეკემბერი საფორტეპიანო დუეტების საღამო - ეძღვნება მერი ჭავჭანიძის ხსოვნას
პარასკევი ეთერ ანჯაფარიძე (საქართველო/აშშ) მანანა დოიჯაშვილი(საქართველო)
პროგრამაშია: შუმანი, შუბერტი-პროკოფიევი, რახმანინოვი, პულენკი, მიიო
კონცერტების დასაწყისი 19 საათზე
Tickets are available at V. Saradjishvili Tbilisi State Conservatoire Grand Hall Box-Office.
The Grand Hall provides privileges such as one lari (Gel) tickets for conservatoire students (30). on presentation of valid ID.
Booking of tickets is available on concert days, or before the concert (personally, or by phone), which is cancelled on the day of concert.
The day before concert: from 11:00 AM—17:00 PM
Concert Day: from 12:00 - 19:00 p.m.
Break: 14:00 – 15:00
Tel: (+995 32) 934624
Fax: (+995 32) 920176
Address: 8 Griboedov Street, 0108 Tbilisi, Georgia
Conservatoire's Web Page
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Sonja Zekri talks to Aka Morchiladze, author of "Santa Esperanza," one of the zaniest books of the season.
It's a deadly square. The president Zviad Gamsakhurdia has barricaded himself inside the parliament and lurking about the Intourist Hotel are the men of Tengiz Kitovani, the Bohemian turned warlord. A couple of gun-toters are squatting in the church tower and in the KGB prison opposite, Jaba Ioseliani, ex-criminal, writer and putsch instigator, waits for his hour to strike. At some point, the bullets start flying and the civil war gains new, appalling momentum.
This was fifteen years ago, but Aka Morchiladze can still point to the bullet holes in the church wall with his eyes closes. "The Rustaweli Boulevard was roped off, one at the top end, one at the bottom. And in the middle they shot each other dead: literati, artists, warriors," he says. "Shortly before, Sergio Leone's films had opened here: "Once Upon a Time in America." Later, a politician said to us, what a shame that Leone wasn't alive to see the influence he had on our little country in the Caucasus. Crazy huh? But that's Georgia for you."
That's Georgia. For Aka Morchiladze, this sentence carries the truth and the tragedy of his country. For the majority of people outside Georgia, the name won't mean much at first. In his home country, Morchiladze is a celebrity author, TV presenter, soap writer, sports columnist and so famous that he coined himself a pseudonym. His real name is Gio Akhvlediani. Outside the Caucasus he is a person with an unpronounceable name whose works are written in a language that looks like the secret code of a children's book. He has written 25 books. They've sold in huge numbers for Georgia. Not one of them has been translated. Until now. Now Munich's Pendo Verlag has published his book "Santa Esperanza", and it is, put nicely, the zaniest and most swashbuckling work of the season.
"Santa Esperanza" is not a book, but a collection of small rainbow-coloured booklets in a caramel coloured felt slipcase. "These endless covers, this binding, I wanted something different!" says Mordchiladze. He says it's not necessary to read the glorious saga of "The Isle of Hope" from start to finish or even right through. He nearly made the end of "Santa Esperanza" into a crossword puzzle. In this light, the little booklets seem almost conservative.
"Santa Esperanza" is the fictitious chronicle of a fictitious archipelago in the Black Sea. But really, Morchiladze says, it's all about Georgia. Or more precisely, a utopian Georgia which was never annexed by Russia, never under the thumb of the Soviet Union. The three islands are inhabited by Georgians, Turks, Italians, Jews and Britons. Yes, Britons. In 1919, the Ottoman pasha Sari Beg leased the group of islands to the British Colonel Rollston. The archipelago is due to be given back 145 years later, and Morchiladze's story, which takes place in 2002, focuses on this event. "It's a Hong Kong story," he says. "But without a happy end."
Because just as Georgia sank into misery and civil war after independence - "We were the richest country in the Soviet Union and became the poorest country in the CIS overnight" - so did the Islands of Hope dissolve into desolate conflicts between clans and cliques: the hated bourgeois Wisramiani family, the courageous but barbarous Sungals and the Genoese merchant dynasty of the Da Costas. British spies want to install Agatia, the ageing great granddaughter of Sari Beg as queen. And the ghastly Wisramiani daughter Salome occupies entire parts of the island with her army – just as once upon a time Abchasia and South Ossetia exploited Georgia's weakness and declared their independence.
Many of the stories sound too awful to be true and yet they are. When the enemies open the lunatic asylums and prisons and the sick and criminal raid the Sungal's island, Morchiladze's own outrage comes into play. Similar things happened in Georgia, he says. Then he finds new, unforgettable images for a horror that's already been described a thousand times: the massive murder literally froze the blood in the Sungal's veins. Now they are stabbing themselves in the hands and stomachs to see if it still flows, if they are still alive.
A dwarf state in the hands of the major powers, the pre-modern notion of honour colliding with bourgeois cleverness – "Santa Esperanza" can be read as a great metaphor for Georgia. But it doesn't have to be. Morchiladze, who in the meantime has made himself at home in the cute cafe of a puppeteer friend and is pouring himself a home-brewed mulled wine, has developed such a playful, crazy, fast-paced world that this tiny multi-ethnic state earns a place in the United Nations.
It's a world unto itself, dominated by a card game called Inti, much like Bridge, which requires six players: four attack, two defend. "To win from the defensive, that's the basic situation in Georgia," says Morchiladze. The wailing women belong to the high culture; their songs are wordless like the ocean, they rob men of their reason which is why they are only allowed to perform in licensed clubs.
Morchiladze tells this very colourful epic not in the form of a disdainful novel but in letters and church chronicles, diaries and little dramas. He weaves in excerpts from the constitution, internet sites, a will. For the most part, the parts fit together perfectly; sometimes the most beautiful flowers bloom on dead rails. Morchiladze says he loves to imitate texts. But of course the simulation has to be recognisable right away. Just as Ingo Schulze's "33 Moments of Happiness" was a post-modern bow to the Russian classics, so does the Georgian pay tribute to Western literature, making its tone wonderfully familiar to the reader.
The Wisramiani women fight for power and influence – is this not the female version of Puzo's "The Godfather"? Who doesn't think of Shakespeare when Salomea is prevented from marrying her lover because Sandro da Costa belongs to the enemy family ("I would die for him but not thread a needle for you!") There are traces of Steinbeck and sediments of Melville to be found, the characters have names like Theveneau de Morande, after the traitor of the rococo impostor Cagliostro or Gines des Passamonte after Cervantes' "Don Quijote." Morchiladze went to an English school, he's been more influenced by Hollywood than by Eisenstein. At some point, Niko, Salomea's criminal husband, is found at the window of the cloister library with an arrow in his heart – a recollection of the Leone sequence on the Rustaweli boulevard: once upon a time in Georgia.
America. While Morchiladze was churning out the island saga in London in two and a half months, the Rose Revolution broke out in Georgia. Since then, Georgia's national doctrine has been orientation to the West. The relationship to Russia is shattered. It's about Abchasia and South Ossetia, which as Russian protectorates, contribute about as much to stability in the Caucasus as a few tonnes of TNT. Recently it was about a lone slab of rock, whose crazy rulers bore Sungalese traits, and a Russian prohibition of Georgian wine and mineral water imports. But really it was just about the fact that the Kremlin would like to prevent the encroachment of the revolutionary Atlantic bacillius. "In 1989, Russian demonstrators in Tiflis slayed with polished spades," says Morchiladze. "Since then, their time has passed. They just haven't grasped it yet."
In the fall, President Mikheil Saakashvili accused Russian officers of espionage, had them arrested and thrown out of the country by police women (!) It was a childish, dangerous, excessive humiliation. But what a scene! "Don't write this!" says Morchiladze, giggling. "But I enjoyed it. Mischa is like that. Symbols, gestures – that's his thing. When he's behind the staging, it's unforgettable."
The Russians certainly didn't forget and they threw hundreds of Georgians out of the country, set the tax authorities onto VIPs such as the crime author Boris Akunin and the monumental sculptor Surab Zereteli – at which point the latter reflected on his homeland and presented Tiflis with a sculpture of Saint George which, since a few days ago, has been looking down on the roundabout from atop a pillar in front of city call, where the Rose Revolution began.
"At least we have gas and electricity since the revolution;" says Morchiladze. "At any rate, more than before." When you see an old man sawing away at a tree on the the Metekhis Bridge for firewood, however, you suspect that this doesn't apply for all, especially since Russia doubled the price of gas. Or when three young tykes carry bottles full of golden liquid into a bar. "No, that's something else," Morchiladze reassures. "They are selling brandy. I would guess that they have gambling debts." Maybe Santa Esperanza is indeed a suburb of Tiflis. Maybe they really exist, these undiscovered places with dramas that have never been written down. "You know what?" he says happily. "I don't think the earth is round."
Sonja Zekri is a feuilleton editor of the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
This article originally appeared in the Süddeutsche Zeitung on December 8, 2006.
I wonder would it work in Georgia?
საინტერესოა ჩვენთან საქართველოში რა გამოვიდოდა ესეთი აქციიდან?
ეს იდეა პირველად ავსტრალიაში დაებადა ერთ სტუდენტს როცა დაბრუნდა თავის საკუთარ ქვეყანაში და არავინ დახვდა. YouTube - ზე განთავსების შემდეგ ეს იდეა ეგრევე აიტაცეს სხვადასხვა ქვეყნებში და ქალაქებში.
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 1:37 PM
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 1:18 AM
Thursday, December 07, 2006
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Their is an answer to Harrison's essay by Gregory Clark on Cato Unbound.
Again some quotes:
....Harrison’s project seems in this report to be an echo of David McClelland’s work in the 1950s and early 60s. McClelland argued that societies differed culturally in their “need for achievement” which could be diagnosed by personality surveys or even by analysis of the popular literature of the society. High need for achievement was characteristic of Protestant societies. This is not to imply that Harrison is wrong, just to suggest that in fifty years the agenda of introducing culture into analysis of growth has not advanced one step from the state of the art of the 1950s.
The problem with both the Harrison and McClelland approaches is that the responses may reflect just the realities of the institutional framework people live within, rather than their cultural attitudes. A North Korean who reports “fatalism” or “resignation” is plausibly no different culturally from a South Korean who states “I can influence my destiny.” These cultural measures are not a pure probe into the essence of local cultures, but reflect institutions and economic environments that change the real possibilities for people. It is hardly unexpected that people in growing or wealthy societies are more open to innovation, more accepting of risk, and more welcoming of advancement by merit. But which came first, the economic dynamism and wealth, or the social attitudes?
.......So, if we want to measure the effects of culture on economic growth, we need measures of culture that are independent of growth. Earlier attempts to link culture to religious doctrine were in part an attempt to find such a grounding. Recent attempts of those in experimental economics, such as Ernst Fehr, Sam Bowles, and Joe Henrich, to see how subjects from different cultures interact in controlled strategic games show another path to isolating pure cultural differences. Game theory predicts how rational self-interested actors should behave in experiments. By looking at deviations we can identify the existence of cultural norms, and whether they vary across societies. However, the results of these investigations, while suggesting significant cultural differences, so far have not been consistent or informative.
We also find in history clear signs that significant aspects of peoples' preferences—their degree of impatience, their work inputs, and their propensity to violence – changed over time in ways unrelated to economic circumstances, at least in England, as the society moved from stagnation towards modern growth. Further, there is a dynamic in the pre-industrial world—survival of the richest—that might explain these trends.
But, in general, since Harrison has measures of culture that are not clearly independent of economic circumstances, and since he has no clear intervention to alter culture, the path he plots may as much lead us into the undergrowth as into the light.
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 3:03 PM
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Very interesting essay by Lawrence A. Harrison on Cato Unbound. Here are some quotes:
............Cultural relativism fits very nicely with, and reinforces, the predilection of many economists to assume that people are the same the world over. As the former World Bank economist William Easterly, author of The White Man's Burden, wrote in reviewing my book Who Prospers?, "Maybe there is a lot to be said for the old-fashioned economist's view that people are the same everywhere and will respond to the right economic opportunities and incentives." How then would Easterly explain why, in multicultural countries where the economic opportunities and incentives are available to all, some ethnic or religious minorities do much better than majority populations, as in the case of the Chinese minorities in Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand–and any other place to which the Chinese have migrated, including the United States? Why has the Washington Consensus worked well in India and poorly in Latin America (with the exception of Chile), where socialism, and even authoritarian socialism in the cases of Cuba and Venezuela, appear to be alive and well? Cultural factors may not supply the whole explanation, but surely they are relevant.
Alan Greenspan got it right when he said, in the wake of the collapse of the Russian economy in the late 1990s. “I used to think that capitalism was human nature. But it isn’t at all. It’s culture.”
.........Some economists have confronted culture and found it helpful in understanding economic development. Perhaps the broadest statement comes from the pen of David Landes: "Max Weber was right. If we learn anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes almost all the difference." Elaborating on Landes's theme, Japanese economist Yoshihara Kunio writes, "One reason Japan developed is that it had a culture suitable for it. The Japanese attached importance to material pursuits; hard work; saving for the future; investment in education; and community values."
Even the culture-skeptic Jeffrey Sachs recognizes the influence of culture. His chapter in Culture Matters says, in essence, that culture doesn't matter. And while that theme echoes in his recent book The End of Poverty, at one point he also has this to say: "Even when governments are trying to advance their countries, the cultural environment may be an obstacle to development. Cultural or religious norms may block the role of women, for example, leaving half the population without economic or political rights…"
Italian economist Guido Tabellini recently undertook a study of comparative economic performance in European regions employing data from the World Values Survey concerning trust, control of one's destiny, and respect for others (all three of which turn out to be positively correlated with economic development), and obedience, which correlates negatively. His conclusions:
These cultural traits are strongly correlated not only with the economic development of European regions, but also with the economic development and institutional outcomes in a broad sample of countries…An implication of this analysis, therefore, is that there is no primacy of formal institutions over culture. On the contrary, both are likely to interact and to shape the actual functioning of real world institutions, and to influence the incentives and the behavior of economic and political agents.
Moynihan and the Culture Matters Research Project
From 2002 to 2005, I led the Culture Matters Research Project (CMRP) at the Fletcher School at Tufts, a follow-up to the book Culture Matters (Basic Books, 2000), co-edited by Samuel Huntington and me. Some 65 experts from 25 countries participated, and major conferences were held at Fletcher in 2003 and 2004. Three CMRP books were published in 2006: the overview book The Central Liberal Truth (Oxford 2006), written by me; Developing Cultures: Essays on Cultural Change (Routledge 2006) co-edited by Jerome Kagan and me; and Developing Cultures: Case Studies Routledge 2006) co-edited by Peter Berger and me.
The goal of the CMRP was the guidelines for progressive cultural change that appear as the last chapter of The Central Liberal Truth. To reach the goal, we focused on three questions:
- What is it in culture that influences the behaviors that in turn influence political, social, and economic performance?
- What are the institutions and instruments of cultural transmission and change?
- What can we learn about culture and cultural change from case studies of success and failure?
The CMRP findings bear out the wisdom of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s oft-cited aphorism, “The central conservative truth is that it is culture, not politics, that determines the success of a society. The central liberal truth is that politics can change a culture and save it from itself.” The latter is, of course, the source of the title of my latest book. Culture Matters might well have been titled The Central Conservative Truth.
The answer to Question 1 is a typology of 25 factors that are viewed very differently in progress-prone cultures and progress-resistant cultures. Its principal architect is the Argentine scholar and journalist Mariano Grondona, who had the United States in mind as his progress-prone model, and Argentina, and by extension Latin America, as his progress-resistant model. The 25 factors are broken down into four groups: Worldview, Values and Virtues, Economic Behavior, and Social Behavior. These compartments are not water-tight—factors that influence economic performance are found in all. For example, the Worldview factor of “Destiny” contrasts “I can influence my destiny” (progress-prone) and “fatalism” (progress-resistant)—with weighty implications for entrepreneurship, one of the key factors in the Economic Behavior cluster. Others in that cluster include:
- Work/Achievement, which contrasts the progress-prone “Live to work” with the resistant “Work to live.”
- Frugality: “the mother of investment” vs. “a threat to equality.”
- Risk propensity: moderate in the progress-prone culture; low, with occasional adventures, in the progress-resistant culture.
- Competition: leads to excellence vs a threat to equality—and privilege.
- Innovation: the progress-prone culture is open to and quick to adapt innovation, while the resistant culture is suspicious of and slow to adapt it.
- Advancement: merit vs. family/patron connections.
The Question 2 institutions and instruments of cultural transmission include child rearing practices, several aspects of education, religion, the media, political leadership, and development projects. Of these, religion may be most relevant to economic development. We grouped 117 countries by predominant religion and recorded their performance on ten indicators or indices of progress, two of which directly reflect prosperity (the UN Human Development Index, which includes per capita GDP as well as three social factors; and World Bank per capita GDP calculated on the basis of purchasing power parity). Several others of the ten indices are also relevant, e.g., trust, corruption, income distribution.
The data roundly validate Max Weber’s thesis in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism: Protestant countries do better than Catholic countries in creating prosperity. To be sure, the averages for the Catholic countries are depressed by Latin America’s slow development, but even when one looks only at First World democratic-capitalist societies, Protestant countries do substantially better than Catholic countries with respect to prosperity, trust, and corruption.
More broadly, the analysis of religions suggests that Protestant, Jewish, and Confucian societies do better than Catholic, Islamic, and Orthodox Christian societies because they substantially share the progress-prone Economic Behavior values of the typology whereas the lagging religions tend toward the progress-resistant values. Symbolic of this divide is the persistent ambivalence of the Catholic Church toward market economics, an issue underscored by Michael Novak in his book The Catholic Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. But religion is not the only source of progress-prone economic behavior: the Basques are highly entrepreneurial and highly Catholic; and Chile, boasting the most successful sustained economic performance in Latin America, is also the most Catholic–and the Latin American country with proportionally the largest Basque-descended population.
In any event, the foregoing suggests the existence of a Universal Culture of Progress: the same Economic Behavior values, whatever their root, create prosperity in widely different geographic/climate, political, institutional, and indeed cultural settings. As far as we know, culture has nothing to do with genes. While cultural change is neither a simple nor easy proposition, it is constantly occurring around the world, and there is no compelling reason why the “universal progress values” should be beyond the reach of any human society.
Case Study Lessons and Moynihan
Of the 27 case studies, ten are economic success stories: the four Confucian countries of China, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea; India; Chile; and four Western societies: Ireland, the Province of Quebec, Spain, and Sweden. While all ten combine elements of Moynihan's Central Conservative Truth (culture dominant) and Central Liberal Truth (politics/policies dominant), progress in the four Confucian countries, Chile, and Sweden is, in my view, chiefly attributable to pre-existing culture, while progress in Ireland, Spain, and the Province of Quebec, is chiefly attributable to politics and policies that promoted cultural change. India is an intermediate case that requires more study.
The "Confucian" countries (more accurately the countries strongly influenced by Chinese culture, which also embraces, in addition to Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, and ancestor worship) all share substantially in the universal culture of progress: education, achievement, work ethic, merit, and frugality are all highly valued in the East Asian societies. Their economic success contradicts Weber's analysis in The Religion of China in which he asserts that rapid capitalist development is unlikely in China in large measure because of the absence of anything like the Calvinist "tension" caused by uncertainty about being of the "elect."
Many observers attributed the stagnation of the East Asian economies (Japan excepted) at mid-twentieth century to Confucianism, particularly to the influential role played by the Mandarin literati (Mao a prototype) and the low prestige that attached to economic activity in the Confucian scheme of things. But all that was necessary to release the powerful education/achievement/merit/frugality undercurrent to perform its economic magic was encouragement from the political leadership, in the cases of South Korea and Taiwan stimulated by security concerns. The trigger for the magic in China was Deng Xiaoping's 1978 pronouncement, "To get rich is glorious," effectively marking the end of Mao's Marxist revolution.
Once the encouragement and incentives were in place, the Universal Progress Values drove the economic miracles, much as they had when the Meiji leaders in Japan decided in 1868 to catch up with the West.
That Chile is different from other Latin America countries is apparent from its highly effective implementation of the Washington Consensus policies–the only country in Latin America to do so. Its unique status in Latin America is also apparent from its 2005 Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index rating: tied with Japan at number 21, with the next Latin American countries being Uruguay at number 32 and Costa Rica and El Salvador at number 51. And contrary to the often criminal comportment of police in other Latin American countries, Chile's national police force, the Carabineros, has a solid reputation for professionalism and honesty.
Chile also enjoys an atypical entrepreneurial tradition. In the latter decades of the nineteenth century, Chileans were noted in the Southern Cone for their entrepreneurial skills, and they provided a considerable impetus to the growth of the Argentine economy as well as their own. While other factors, including Chile's geography and climate, so similar to California's, doubtlessly also contributed to Chile's entrepreneurial endowment, the disproportionate Basque influence had to have been an important source.
Foreign investment has played a key role in Chile's economic development, above all in copper mining. But the entrepreneurial response to the open economic policies installed during the Pinochet dictatorship and sustained since 1990 by elected left-of-center governments has come principally from Chileans.
By the measure of the ten indices or indicators of political, economic, and social development, ranging from the UN Human Development Index to World Values Survey data on trust, the Nordic countries are the champions of progress.
All five Nordic countries–Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland–have a Lutheran background, even though few today are churchgoers. Lutheranism is the source of much of the Nordic value system that has produced high educational levels, extensive welfare programs, and high quality entrepreneurship symbolized by Finland's Nokia and Sweden's Volvo, Saab, and Ikea. The compatibility of economic efficiency and social spending in the Nordic context is apparent form the 2006 World Economic Forum ratings. The Economist recently observed, "High taxes and generous welfare safety nets need not undermine competitiveness…Scandinavian economies are ranked high in the league…" (Sweden was number two in the world.)
The economic success of the Nordic societies, and Protestant societies in general, strongly suggests that Weber's focus on Calvinist "tension" was too narrow and that it is the Protestant virtues of education, achievement, work ethic, merit, frugality, honesty–Universal Progress Culture–that is the real force behind the spirit of capitalism.
Ireland and Spain
The Irish and Spanish economic "miracles" have much in common. They were both largely triggered by the opening up of theretofore inward-looking economic policies. Foreign investment and, particularly in the case of Spain, tourism played major roles, compensating at the outset for domestic shortfalls in both capital and entrepreneurship. Both benefited handsomely from the assistance programs of the EU. Both emphasized education, in Ireland's case converting itself in the span of 40 years from one of the least educated European countries to one of the most educated. And in both, the influence of the Catholic Church declined sharply, to the point where one hears the term "post-Catholic" applied to both. In the process, both cultures were transformed.
Prior to the "Quiet Revolution" (1960-75), Quebec was underdeveloped by contrast with the other Canadian provinces: poorer, less industrialized, less educated, less healthy, less democratic. Today, the indicators of progress in Quebec are comparable to the rest of Canada and in some respects, e.g., high school dropout rate, are the best in Canada. What happened to bring about this transformation?
- The use of an inclusive nationalism to promote unity, effort, and sacrifice.
- A process of "declericalization" in which the church's influence was drastically reduced, above all in education, over a five-year period (1961-66). Like Ireland and Spain, Quebec is sometimes referred to today as "post-Catholic."
- Massive resource allocation to education.
- Promotion of gender equality, particularly in the workplace.
- The creation of a modern, creative state that has spearheaded development ranging from Cirque de Soleil to advanced biotech industries. A "corporatist" approach bringing business, labor, the professions, etc. together with government for policy discussions has been generally successful.
- State-led efforts to reduce inequality.
Ironically, Quebec's value profile has converged with that of Anglophone Canada simultaneously with the growth of pro-sovereignty sentiment in the province.
It will come as a surprise to many–it did to me–that, at least according to Angus Maddison's data, India under the Mughals accounted for more than twenty percent of the world's GDP in the early 18th century, derivative principally of textile and agricultural production. That fact, coupled with the economic success of many Diaspora Indians, including those who have migrated to the United States, suggests the presence of Universal Progress Values in Indian culture. Moreover, the parallels between the unfolding Indian economic miracle and the East Asian miracles are striking: the opening up of the Indian economy in the early 1990s produced a response similar to that produced by "To get rich is glorious" in China.
To be sure, India's economic surge has been fueled in part by its large pool of English language speakers, a valuable asset also enjoyed by Ireland, and by foreign investment focused on this linguistic asset. But Indian entrepreneurs have also played a prominent role in the surge.
We need to develop a better understanding of the cultural context of the Indian miracle. India is a country of numerous ethnic and religious groups–it is, for example, the second most populous Muslim country (after Indonesia). Which groups are major participants in and beneficiaries of the economic surge? What is the effect on the majority elements of the society that do not participate directly in the modernizing sectors? What is the effect on women, whose subordinate role in India is underscored by the fact that more than fifty percent of Indian women are illiterate? These are among the many questions raised by the incipient Indian "miracle."
Culture does matter in economic development, and governments, development assistance institutions, think tanks, and universities must confront culture and cultural change. Incorporation of cultural analysis and cultural change into the mix of policy and project design factors may significantly accelerate the pace of economic development.
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 10:10 AM
Monday, December 04, 2006
Friday, November 24, 2006
..........however, is that some of the institutions that clearly matter are indisputably cultural. Corruption, which eats away like acid at most development projects, is a lot easier to fight if your citizenry sees bribery as a moral outrage, rather than a convenient way to evade inconvenient rules. Keeping your girl children out of school, and sending the boys to religious schools that eschew math and science in favour of memorising religious texts, dramatically disimproves the prospects of competing economically in the modern world. And people whose cultures distrust foreigners, or any strangers outside the extended family, are unlikely to enter into the complex web of trust in strangers that supports a modern economy—or accept the legitimacy of a democratic government elected by millions of countrymen they have never met.
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 12:48 PM
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Polemical notes concerning certain
Social/psychological aspects of Georgian culture
Author: George Nizharadze
A society which cannot combine a fidelity to its own symbols with a freedom of revision of those symbols is bound to perish, whether of anarchy, or a slow atrophy of living, suffocated by useless phantoms.
Alfred N. Whitehead
The Area of Responsibility
Ethics has a well-known "golden rule": treat others the way you want to be treated. This had been formulated in one way or another by many; you can find it in the New Testament, in various proverbs, in the works of ancient Greeks, as well as those of Confucius. A follower of this rule must be considered a person of high integrity; however, from the psychological standpoint, there is an interesting detail: who should be considered "the others"? It would not have occurred to any ancient Greek, even one of the highest integrity, that moral norms also concerned slaves or barbarians. A noble knight, having given a promise to a lady, had no reservations about enticing a young peasant girl. Slaves, barbarians, peasants and other comparable segments of society have never been viewed as people, even formally.
From the earliest period of history, there has always been this division into "them" and "us." "We" are the social group (tribe, kin, nation, class, religion, party, age, professional association, racial unity) which a man identifies with, having a degree of responsibility before other members of the group. Meanwhile, "they" are the groups which are not concerned with the same behavioral norms that "we" use.
Certainly, a given person has the feeling of being a member of several "we" groups, some more important than others. These days, the most common and at the same time most numerous groups of identification are nation, state and language groups, although there is a tendency towards further expansion of the areas of identification (to include Western Europe, the Islamic world, the ecumenical movement and others). If we can speak about any moral progress on the part of the humanity, the broadening, albeit formally, of the "golden rule" may be considered one of its manifestations.
The existence of a global Georgian mentality is a fact. Such realities, traditions and cultural symbols as The Knight In the Panther's Skin, the particular style of raising a child, Queen Tamar and many others comprise the all-Georgia common property. The Motherland,
There is the impression that to a large number of Georgians the notion of "
Sergi Danelia wrote, "A Georgian today ends wherever his last name ends, that is, a group of people connected to him through blood or friendly relations. Whoever is not our relative is not considered a human being. He is a stranger, and we don't have to love strangers". These lines were written in 1927, but as recent events prove, the situation has not changed essentially. Moreover, a tendency (especially among young people) has appeared to further narrow the "we" groups, turning them into the "me" groups, i.e. the groups which have individuals considering other members of the group as executors of their personal interests, while performing their duties regarding others only because that is required for the maintenance of their privileged status.
The difference between the two identification types, those of "us" and "me" regarding families has been demonstrated by a study done at American colleges. It turned out that students of Italian descent had lower grades than those of Jewish descent, although there was no intellectual difference. An additional study found out that Jewish students considered high grades a necessary prerequisite for their families' affection, while Italian students were certain their families would love them no matter what their academic or professional successes. What a familiar picture that is. Thus, in my opinion, the majority of the current (and not just the current) Georgian population has a rather narrow "area of responsibility." It covers primarily the circle of one's family, relatives and friends. The Motherland, meanwhile, is largely a declarative, abstract value, and has no influence on long-term behavior. However, it must also be noted that an impetuous abuse of this value (for instance, during the events in Abkhazia) does cause a certain reaction which is anything but weak. Still, even if provoked by a national insult, the impulse is rather short-lasting, supported by momentary emotions, and is not likely to turn into an organized, purposeful lasting action. The narrow frame of the area of responsibility, as well as lack of civil consciousness, determine the atrophy of perception of societal problems (whether that is energy conservation, pollution of the environment, firearms registration, or any other aspect that concerns everyone). As a result, society and each individual member both suffer.
The aforesaid does not imply that an "average" Georgian could not care less about his compatriots. The peculiarity of Georgian culture is that it also consists of individuals, albeit with a narrow area of responsibility, who nonetheless feel comfortable precisely in the Georgian environment. This was noted by Guram Asatiani, "It is striking how a Georgian is usually at odds primarily with another Georgian. However, the two Georgians cannot live without each other, inasmuch they long to compete only with one another".
In my opinion, to explain this paradox, one should look not at the peculiarity of the Georgian character, but rather at the specifics of the culture. The affluence acquired through the support of the "we" or "me" groups requires some manifestation. Let the neighbors, remote relatives, home-folks, guests or simply the passerby notice and appreciate how generous, courageous, influential, eloquent, rich or smart "our guy" is. If that makes them jealous, so be it.
Hence a typical picture: a rich village is full of palatial houses, while the "central territory," such as the main road, is in utterly decrepit condition. Or the yards and lobbies of apartment buildings, not to mention public restrooms are turned into garbage dumps.
In 1904, in
One Georgian prince spent his time in debauchery and luxury, and once killed a man in a fight. He was subsequently exiled to a remote Russian district, where he earned everyone's affection and respect with his honesty and hard work. He introduced silk-worm breeding and gardening to the region, and even became a governor's agricultural advisor. However, as soon as he came back to
There are so many such examples that one can speak of a certain pattern. We know of a great number of individuals who, being in an alien cultural environment, gained international fame and authority in the spheres of art or politics, but became victims of petty ambitiousness and scheming once back in their native lands. It is not by chance that, after Georgi the Shining, our country has not had any politician or leader able to realize any positive long-term programme; in fact, has anyone (with the exception of Ilia Chavchavadze) ever had one?
It is the cultural environment, the system of declared and real values and accepted norms of behavior that determine the national character. Whoever does not cross the boundaries of commonly accepted norms is successful. As Erich Fromm notes, social character is formed according to cultural demands; the latter, however, do not always coincide with the demands of real existence. The power of a culture is determined by its dynamism, i.e. by the degree and speed to and with which it can produce new values in accordance with changing conditions.
Velichko also wrote that the life of Georgian society, especially that of its higher classes, was growing progressively worse. The mode of life was being destroyed due to the contradictions between the historically developed character and the new social and economic conditions. It is not that easy to change your way of life.
Whatever is meant by the "new social and economic conditions", this observation is correct, even from a cultural standpoint. The Georgian nobility, with its leaning towards debauchery, with narrow temporal horizons and areas of responsibility, its arrogance, wastefulness and remnants of a heraldic code and infantile individualism, had no future. If the Georgian people could be saved at all, it could have only been accomplished by following the path propagated by Ilia Chavchavadze, that of forming the national consciousness and relying upon honest workers. However, the wheel of history started revolving in a completely different direction, and Georgian culture produced a certain model of adaptation to the Soviet regime. It may sound tragic and comic at the same time, but it was the same infantile feudalistic mentality and the aforementioned behavioral norms accepted by a substantial part of the population, that befitted Soviet reality, especially in the post-Stalin period.
The Bolshevik Revolution used, subsequently making it a part of societal life, some tendencies characteristic of Russian culture, such as collectivism and aggressive anti-individualism, a purely negative outlook on the concept of wealth, tradition of strong state power and a messianic sense. However, all of that was done under the aegis of Marxism, which, at least in form, was very much concurrent with Western European thinking and the Protestant ethic. The categories that Marxists operated within, such as "productivity of labour", "surplus value", "class struggle" and "societal progress", were strange and alien to the majority of the Russian imperial population. It is clear that in alien cultural conditions these terms only preserved their names, while their content changed dramatically. Such notions as democracy, efficiency of productivity, profitability, political party, service and many others, had completely different meanings in the West and the Communist East.
Very soon after, the first victim of ideological declarations appeared: the value most alien to the Russian cultural environment: efficiency of productivity. It was substituted with various surrogates aimed at producing the illusion of efficiency, such as giant yet unprofitable plants, quantitative indexes, manipulation of figures, propagandist talk, banal lies concerning "surpassing the five-year plan objectives", "counter plans" and "Socialist competitions", etc. In the early Soviet years, a certain role was played by mass enthusiasm, determined by the illusion that the
Once again, in line with Marxism, the productivity of the "workers of intellectual labour" was accepted as a measure of "progress". The "goal established by the Party" was reached using purely Soviet methods. There was a massive increase in the numbers of writers, scholars and people with higher education in general. These "Soviet intellectuals" were not required to demonstrate any commercial success or produce any high-quality works; rather, they were required to support and glorify the regime. Since under Soviet conditions it was a lot easier to simulate intellectual and creative rather than physical labour. As such, the "rules of the game" offered by the regime attracted a vast number of people who with minimal effort and equally minimal levels of responsibility could provide themselves with a fairly comfortable standard of living.
The national problem was "solved" in a similar fashion. Officially, the peoples within the
As a result of these and comparable processes, the USSR became a closed system, possessing all the formal properties of a developed Western-style industrial state; however, it was nothing more than a game of "progress", a game taken seriously by the "players" themselves. The Soviet state could be compared to a vehicle, or rather an armoured vehicle, which looked just like a real one but did not run. It needed horses to move from one place to another.
This then is a schematic portrait of the social/cultural environment in which the people, united into a "family of brothers", had 10exist, and which required some adaptation. The adaptation was so specific that, in my opinion, it would be useful to draw a parallel with some selected laws of biological evolution. In natural conditions, a species is more or less adapts to existing ecological factors, which is one of the results of long-term evolution. However, artificial selection exists, which involves a man creating a new species with a utilitarian or decorative goal in mind, producing a certain desired effect, such as an increase in milking capacity, weight, difference in colour, etc. The species' qualities required for existing in natural conditions are lost, and thus a new artificially created species is almost always doomed once returned to the natural environment.
In my view,
I have already mentioned one of the qualities of Georgian culture, that of loyalty to a remote power, and a constant struggle or competition for gaining some, however little power at local level. It is not surprising that a compatriot in the position of remote ruler had a strong influence on Georgian consciousness, especially considering that the few existing carriers of healthy national ideas had been destroyed or exiled. This ruler, who enjoyed unprecedented power and authority, was quite naturally turned into the symbol of national identification (a simple mechanism: the "father of the peoples" is Georgian, you and I are, too, which means we reflect his glory."). This was enhanced by inner curtsies: a Georgian was among the people who raised the victorious flag over the Reichstag, Soviet films showed extremely positive images of Georgians... All this has increased the traditional Georgian hypertrophied sense of honour and dominance, not on the individual but on the collective "we" level. Besides, worshiping Stalin in
Having analyzed a very interesting myth about Amirani, Grigol Robakidze concluded that one of the leading qualities of the Georgian soul was willfulness; Amirani was said to be the personification of that quality. This is a very profound observation. Willfulness, which is the prevalence of one's wishes over commonly accepted norms of behavior (and, consequently, a nihilistic approach to lawfulness) is a substantial property of the Georgian character. Willfulness is also a real and meaningful value of Georgian culture'; therefore, the most "willful" individuals enjoy obvious piety in the mass consciousness, even if they have caused great disasters in the lives of numerous people. This is a cause for the concealed sympathy for the traitor, murderer and rapist Zurab Eristavi, which surface's in folk poems. This is also a partial explanation for the phenomenon of Stalin's personality cult.
Stalin was not just loved despite destroying millions of people he was loved because he personified the most extreme case of willfulness, free of any restrictions. While this infantile mechanism of a charismatic leader's cult was to various degrees characteristic of the whole "Soviet people", it had a special, deeper resonance in
The phenomenon of Stalin, and the Georgian ancestry of the "father of the peoples" developed, recreated and enhanced two important tendencies in Georgian society: that of the cult of unrestricted power, of "willfulness" and also that of the sense of individual and group domination, which served as a foundation for the Georgian model of adaptation to the Soviet regime. It only started forming after Stalin's death. During the period of his rule, unifying efforts were so strong that the specific properties of the culture and National character had not received a chance to form into a system. This only became possible after Stalin's death, and, in my opinion, happened in
Stalin was dead. Following a brief period of confusion, Khrushtchov rises to the throne (the same Khrushchev the "great leader" had been known to hit on the head with his pipe, and make dance around). This was enough to sway the authority of the leader and the regime in the eyes of the Georgians. After all, in a totalitarian slate the political system is firmly connected to the image of the leader; in
However, Nikita Sergeevich [Khrushchev] suddenly showed some teeth and noisily threw the "father of the peoples" off the pedestal. This circumstance considerably sped up the process of alienation from official Soviet ideology and values in
It is remarkable that mass consciousness in
It was precisely the motive of defending a symbol of national identity that was responsible for the March unrest in
Meanwhile, the "rules of the game" changed considerably after Stalin's death, primarily because the repressive organs had lost their power, and the nomenclature, in turn, gained it. The state security organs had certainly preserved theirs; but the slave labour of the political prisoner and "prophylactic" acts of repression were things of the past. The "Iron Curtain" was somewhat raised as well; standards of living were slowly improving (mainly due to extensive housing construction). Fear, typical of Stalin's time, was being replaced by caution. The regime has preserved two pillars of the system: ideology and politics, which mere mortals were denied access to. A Soviet citizen was given a small degree of daily freedom, a small social space which the state did not usually invade (although it reserved the right to do so if need be). The citizen and the state signed an unwritten agreement: the state would not invade the citizen's personal life, and pretend not to notice his obvious violations of official laws, while the citizen, in turn, would not mess with ideology and politics. This "agreement" determined the existence of the Soviet state for three decades, and these were the "rules of the game" the Georgians understood at once. Starting in the 60s, outside
This stereotype signified that
Some may think that the formation of the black market economy signified the installation of some capitalistic elements. That is not so. The Soviet black market economy was a child of the Soviet deficit economy. The major regulator of the market, competition, was absolutely alien to the Soviet economy. Therefore, a "Soviet capitalist", or a schemer, lacked all the qualities characteristic of a Western businessman, by virtue of excluding the notion of "honest business". Due to the fact that any commercial activity was unlawful, every man involved in it automatically fell into the category of "dishonest". And whoever is officially considered to be in that category, even artificially (artificially, since the Soviet regime had forbidden one of the most natural spheres of human activity, that of commerce), will be free to make more serious moral compromises in the future.
Besides, the old negative, "feudal" notion of commerce in
The misfortune was that such activity was officially unlawful, but was unofficially allowed. Therefore, any respect for the law was gradually being lost, while the principle which read "if it is not allowed but I really want it, it is allowed" was being born. On the other hand, society started living in peace with other illegal actions, such as theft, bribery, etc. It is not surprising that the black market economy soon spread all over the place, and started to steal from its own citizens, along with appropriating some of the nation's wealth. There was practically no societal sphere left free of the tentacles of corruption, theft and cheating.
At once, Bolshevism had destroyed a century-old system of regulation of societal life. All the values (good and bad alike, regardless of what we mean by those terms) which in another society would provide an individual with an opportunity to reach a high social status had been rejected. Among those values were talent, diligence, wealth, ancestry, enterprise and physical appearance. In their place, a single value was installed, that of loyalty (or rather a Soviet version thereof), which was essential for acquiring any social status. In the post-Stalin period, with a certain complication of societal life, other values appeared alongside loyalty: position, money, a circle of influential friends and relatives. All this was intertwined, but it was possible to make distinctions. As far as talent, diligence and professionalism go, their "price" had dropped even more considerably.
The post-Stalin reality, with all its irrationality and absurdity, declarative commitments and unwritten laws proved to be fertile soil for many tendencies and potentials characteristic of Georgian culture. We can name a few: hospitality, competence in personal interrelations, demonstration of dignity and domination, the primacy of "me" over law and order, the strength of "we" groups, egocentrism, superficial effects, alienated loyalty to remote power structures, etc.
One important circumstance has to be emphasized. The tendencies characteristic of the Georgian style serve as adaptation mechanisms, developed in the course of recurring wars, chaos and uncertain future. Poverty had always been their companion. To be more precise, the system of adaptation mechanisms and values born in Georgian culture was economically helpless, deprived of prosperity as a value of its own (in cultures which had developed such value, there is a corresponding attitude towards money, work and time): wealth had to be spent, the sooner the better, since it could be taken away the next day. Thus, we have not developed any behavioural or mental instincts directed at saving money.
However, in the post-Stalin period a unique situation was formed, whereby in the conditions of a "feudalistic" lifestyle, and in large part due to it, it became possible to gain relatively stable social well-being, and amass considerable (albeit unlawful) wealth.
Starting in the '60s, the hole in the "Iron Curtain" started delivering Western goods of a more or less fine quality. There was also the onset of Soviet production of "civilized" goods directed at individual consumers: motor vehicles, refrigerators, furniture, television sets... Housing construction was growing. In
It is notable that the average citizen was especially annoyed (due to everyday contact) by the "deceitful behaviour" of the workers in service industries, such as store clerks, taxi drivers and waiters, as well as peasants selling goods in the market. No one considered that people of that category could only use money (and not friends or positions) to receive health care, get their children out of the draft, communicate with the law enforcement agencies or buy cars.
Eventually, the heaviest oppression was felt by an honest hardworking person, who had neither money nor an important position or influential friends (or considered it undignified to address them), who attempted to live off his own labour, but found himself at the bottom of the societal pyramid. He became the embodiment of weakness and stupidity; moreover, he had to pay his "tribute" to the "powerful", which became an almost universal rule of living.
In a word, Georgian culture could adapt wonderfully to the totalitarian Soviet reality. Those tendencies which worked in the given social/cultural environment were developed and enhanced; however, as demonstrated by the period following the collapse of the Soviet empire, they turned out to be major obstacles for existing in an independent political/social/economic organism, to say nothing of liberal democracy.
The law as a category of jurisprudence had never been too popular in
The law therefore must be considered only to the degree that it is represented by the power and force behind it. As soon as that power weakens, becomes careless, foolish or merciful, the law turns to ashes and nothing restrains "willfulness" any longer (we are currently witnessing this). On the other hand, the law holds no value for a representative of any law enforcement agency. The most important thing for him is to catch a careless criminal, to thus serve his own self-interest (that of money, career, etc.). Thus, the major goal is not to reduce crime, but to catch an unlucky criminal – a gamble, that is.
Let us recall the campaign which ten years ago tried to emphasize the use of seatbelts in motor vehicles. The drivers assumed that it was an infringement of their own freedom in their own vehicles. The highway police, on the other hand, received a new source of income, hunted the "unattached" drivers down, fined them and released them without attaching the seatbelt. I recall a remark by one officer, who had noticed a voluntarily "attached" driver: "What's wrong with you? Are you grudging five roubles?!" However, a compromise was soon found: on seeing an officer, the driver threw his seatbelt across his chest like some sign of honour, and having gone by for some two hundred metres, freed himself from the "attachment". However, the most important thing is that no one was interested in the seatbelt's actual purpose, which is safety of the driver and passengers.
One can say that the law, one of the basic values of the civilized world, came to us "twice broken". In the environment of Russian culture, it had been bent according to the will of the ruling class, while in
This "double metamorphosis" occurred with many Western values and social institutions. The institution of higher education also lost its primary function, that of nurturing qualified experts. However, it gained other functions, such as prestige, draft exemption or the opportunity for students to live separately from their parents. Such absurd phenomena as "protected" test-taking and the selling of diplomas, to say nothing of the admissions hysteria, have become customary. The results: formally,
It is clear that in such a social/cultural environment many values were doomed to perish. We have almost abandoned elementary professional ethics, responsibility for our production and pride in a job well done.
As always happens, changes in the value system and the emergence of new priorities, have found their expression in the language. Such formerly unknown expressions have emerged as "to push through", "his man" and so forth. However, perhaps the most expressive word, reflecting like a mirror the style and mood of our society, is "to swindle".
In a country where a relatively normal life is impossible without breaking the law and oppressing your fellow countrymen, where the government promotes the above activities inasmuch it lives according to the same norms, "swindling" becomes a rule for living, which is absolutely understandable, even somewhat justified. However, our misfortune is that the late totalitarian style of living has never been radically changed even in the current situation. At least so far... We seem to have run ahead of our narration.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, N. Karamzin wrote that one could express the situation in
To support the latter, I will cite an interesting ethnic/psychological phenomenon: the cult of power, which is the single most important characteristic of totalitarianism, has taken very different forms in
The Georgian version of the "socio-cultural response" to the specific "rules of the game" of the totalitarian regime, or the Georgian adaptation model, has turned out to be so adequate that I would even dare say that the period covering the '60s through the '80s could be considered one of the least troublesome in our history. Peace and the bare minimum were guaranteed, sources of extracting money were plentiful, cultural life (in the narrow sense of the word) was abundant, as various festivals, exhibitions and conferences were held; theatre, movies and sports blossomed; the streets were full of smiling, pleasant people. There were certainly problems, too: corruption, drug use, crime and many others, but practically no one perceived those as vices of Georgian society (although it must be noted that in that period, too, there were voices of warning. For instance, there was an article by A. Bakradze, entitled An Acute Cry and also a film by O. Ioseliani, Pastorale). At best, all drawbacks were ascribed to the regime, which was largely responsible for what was happening.
In principle, for Georgian public opinion, if we can speak of such a thing, the idea of a different lifestyle was quite alien (it is indicative that no Georgian writer had any utopian works "shelved" due to the impossibility of publishing them in the Soviet period). Some spoke of independence, but only as some abstract, distant idea. The narrowness of the "horizon of time" was evident there, too.
History, however, continued its march. The Soviet regime swayed, and the ghost of an independent
Perhaps someone will contradict me, stating that everything was different, but one fact is absolutely certain: Georgian political and economic life, as well as public opinion, are marked by immaturity and infantilism. Infantilism is quite typical of "homo Sovieticus" in general, as it is for anyone brought up in a totalitarian system. However, in
"The Line of the Mother" and the "Last Child Syndrome"
In the cultural environment of first the Russian Empire, and then in the Soviet pseudo-civilization, Georgians acquired certain traits of civilized nations. I imply a drop in the birth rate and the subsequent rise in the value of human life. This was determined by a social/economic, psychological and political situation hitherto unknown to Georgian history: peace, relative security and prosperity, and the spread of consumer psychology. Understandably, with the reduction in the number of children on one hand, and the growth of material opportunities on the other, the "share" of love and care per child was growing as well. However, since living in a stable and relatively comfortable situation was a wonder to us, in Georgian culture there were no traditions or practices suitable for such a lifestyle, not even pedagogical ones. The old traditions (such as the practice of raising the children of noble descent in peasant families) was abandoned, while the "culture of wealth" was never born.
In these conditions, a new style of upbringing and relations emerged in the Georgian family; we can call it the line of the mother. Its essence is comprised of doubtless love, incredibly close emotional contacts, forgiveness and the principle that "my child is always right". As far as the line of the father is concerned, it implies the cultivation of a sense of fairness, responsibility, self-discipline and duty, as well as the realization of a principle, "everything has its price".
In optimum conditions, as a child matures, the line of the father gradually replaces the line of the mother, with a sovereign individual eventually forming. In reality, however, it is much more complicated. Analyzing Western culture psychologically, Erich Fromm notes that in Protestant ethics, the line of the father has almost crossed the line of the mother off, determining many of the vices of Western civilization (the solitude of an individual, deficit of emotional contacts). With Georgian culture as an example, it becomes evident that the opposite case scenario creates even more problems.
As I had mentioned earlier, the line of the mother has always been traditionally powerful in
Many Georgian male first names speak of that, too: Bichiko, Nukri, Guguli and others. They clearly express a subconscious desire on the part of the parents for their child to always stay little, never grow up, but be sweet and cute all the time. The tendency is understandable as it represents a psychological reaction to the social conditions of feudalistic
However, historic conditions had changed. There was no longer any immediate danger to a grown-up's life. Still, as we know from psychology, a reaction cultivated under certain environmental conditions loses its adaptive function and receives an autonomous status. This has happened in
Eventually, a very curious phenomenon developed. It is difficult to find another country where children would be as steadily chained to their families as in
In conditions of material sufficiency, low birth rates and relative social stability, all of the above is manifested by the children being taken care of for decades, surrounded with maximum comfort and protected from dangers and troubles.
In the Baltic states, or in
Ideally, a child, an adolescent or a young person has to be provided with money, an apartment, a car, protection, a prestigious college and a well-paid job, and they have to be protected from the law, all of which he takes for granted. In extreme cases, respect for labour, money or another person outside the "me" group, is alien to them. Their self-interest and personal desires are primary. In other words, a typical infantile egocentric individual is formed, the kind the French call "/'enfant terrible".
Here is a recent case. A young man was kidnapped and the parents contacted for a large ransom. The family started bargaining, the ransom was reduced by half. They managed to scrape together the necessary amount and brought the son back... The son made a scene back at home: how dare you bargain when the deal concerned me! Eventually, it turned out that the "kidnapping" had been orchestrated by the "victim" himself.
The line of the mother in Georgian culture has also had a profound bearing on collective psychology. Several generations have already been raised on the social and spiritual basis of two principal motives: individual comfort and security, and the force, dominance (even illusionary) that is willfulness. If these two are not satisfied, aggression is accumulated, which is suppressed until a certain moment.
The problem is that willfulness and security are incompatible, if only because there are other "willful" people around. In time, the social space of a child goes beyond that of his family, to include the yard, friends and the school. It turns out that in the eyes of others, he is not the centre of the Universe. The child is anything but psychologically prepared for that fact. The family comes to the rescue again, as serious conflicts are settled with the help of the parents. Thus, children are once again assured that whatever happens, there is a force which will always protect them.
Later, by the time children are 12-13 years old, their own personality surfaces. This is something parents are not prepared for. They increase the degree of their care, primarily in the form of "monetary compensation", which, strictly speaking, represents a "bribe" given to the child in exchange for not moving away from the family. Georgian teenagers (13-19 years old) accept this "bribe" as a given, even demand it, being used to a certain level of comfort, and at the same time are troubled by their own "inferiority", the inability to live on their own. The ways of solving this conflict vary, but most bear the stamp of infantilism. One of the solutions is an early marriage, and a double burden placed on the parents.
A remarkable fact: among the causes of divorce in
Another typical way of solving the aforementioned conflict is an almost full severance of family connections, and a search for individual comfort (or a surrogate) on one's own. However, that is reached not by means of hard work or a profession, but by "swindling," petty theft or speculation, most likely followed by more serious crimes.
The subject of crime has another connection to the generational conflict. Since the 1960s, as the Georgian adaptation model to the Soviet regime was starting to form, a "dual morality" became one of its primary attributes. On the one hand, all the ritual demands of the regime had to be met; on the other (on an informal level), one had to live by a set of completely different rules. The middle generation, with a few exceptions, easily adapted to that situation, all the more since the new rules of the game were a true liberation compared to the hell of Stalin's times. To a maximalist consciousness typical of an adolescent however, the difference between official propaganda and real life was too obvious. A true moral vacuum appeared, soon to filled, as principles borrowed from the criminal's "moral code" were affirmed; these were quite primitive and clear, repudiating both the official pseudo-morality and the attitude of the older generation. The strongest wins, no cooperation is permitted with state structures, especially the law enforcement agencies; moral norms are applicable only to "our" circle, other people (parents often included) have an "applied" purpose; finally, the negative attitude towards work becomes even more acute. Clearly, in youthful circles these principles were not as literal as in criminal spheres, but a "thief's understanding" has had a bearing not only on Georgian youth, but on the entire society as well. The results were especially evident after 1990.
It is remarkable that the moral vacuum, caused by alienation from Soviet ideology, and later developing in the Russian youth environment, was not filled by the "thief's understanding", but with a military morality. Since the late 1970s, youth gangs have been formed in various regions of Russia; their characteristics include strict age subordination, harsh discipline, physical training and an inclination towards collective violence, which is absolUtely alien to the "me" and "we" groups of the Georgian youth.
Finally, there is the question of drug use, which has become a true pandemic in
To compensate for their inferiority complex, our youth has some favorite "toys", such as weapons (power, safety and dominance) and cars (comfort, wealth and independence). Piety to these things is so great that the language does not even have any jargon abasing their names. It is also remarkable that a favorite "toy" of foreign youth, the motorcycle, is completely ignored in
In light of the aforesaid, the general mood of Georgian public consciousness and its reaction to the events of the past years also became understandable. This mood manifests itself with strong emotional protests against the regime, active yet hasty consumption of everything hitherto forbidden, a complete, absolute ignorance of the fact that independence and freedom carry the burden of heavy responsibility, confusion, longing for a "better life", annoyance with everything and everybody, profanities in the direction of the "old master" and expectations of assistance from the latter, complete disorganization, a search for the "new master", and a virtual belief that the Virgin Mother will settle matters herself... The microsocial model has repeated itself on the macrosocial level.
I would like to be understood well. A drive for independence is a very noble feeling, there can be no doubt about that. However, the realization of this drive is only possible if adequate resources are present. The Georgian model of adaptation to the Soviet regime was effective when the country was a dependent political unit, when central government provided, whether well or poorly, for such critical spheres as safety, order, energy, public transport, etc. In that situation it was possible to live the way we did. However, when the net of friends-relatives is the primary social regulator, when the horizon of time is narrow, when small groups are the centre of the Universe, when honour and private property are not respected, when one's position is viewed as a source of privileges, when the line of the mother dominates and the infantilism of society becomes global, a construction of a normal independent state is impossible.
According to Conrad Lorenz, oncologists consider the immaturity of cells a major cause of malignant tumors. Cells like that grow without "considering" the interests of the whole organism, while the surrounding tissues "treat" the sick cells as if they were normal, feeding them...
A truly horrifying metaphor.
However, there also exists a phenomenon of the ability of complex systems (such as a nation) to reorganize and readapt themselves. A spontaneous public appearance of an energetic social group, a carrier of a new constructive ethics, may change and turn today's very unpleasant situation for the better: it may even gain the support of the masses. However, so far there have not been any promising signs. Hopeful sparks do not make for a fire. The situation is complicated all the more by the fact that egocentric people cannot imagine that someone may think differently or have different moral values. Therefore, they take propagators of new ideas for hypocrites who are fighting for their own egotistic interests under the cover of new ideas, or for aggressors fighting the egocentrics, personally, which is why egocentrics do their best to prevent anything new from happening.
The future will show whether a nation is able to overcome its habitual life and obsolete traditions, and develop an adequate response to the demands of history...
George Nizharadze (b. 1957, Tbilisi) - social psychologist, author of works on cross-cultural psychology, national values and stereotypes, evolution of culture; head of the Psychology of Culture laboratory at the Institute of Psychology of the Georgian Academy of Sciences; head of the monitoring group at the International Centre for Conflicts and Negotiations.
This article was included in the OSCE published book: The Caucasus- Defence of the Future. You can download the short version of this book from hereUpdate: Gaga's other articles on my blog
Posted by Levan Taktakishvili at 12:58 PM