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“Big Part of Society Is Overwhelmed by Concrete, Statistically Measurable Fear”

27.04.2011

Koba Bendeliani, Interpresnews

Interpresnews interviewed director general of the Analytic Group Terra Media Valerian Gorgiladze and asked whether Georgian society has fear and what is the reason; and what psychological changes are observed in the Georgian society since the independence was restored 20 years ago.

-Mr. Valerian, lately, psychologists and sociologists often speak about the fear of the society. The survey results prove that the topic is urgent. You also noted in one of your scientific letter that social survey is useless in Georgia because of the fear of the society. Why do you claim that Georgian society has fear and what is the reason of increased fear in the country?

-I am a sociologist and big part of my findings relay on some information and interpretation of this information. According to my information, the following situation has become very vivid for the list five years. The rating of the National Movement (the ruling party) is 10-15% higher than its votes during previous elections; however, the rating of radical opposition parties is not measured in fact that disagrees with the official data of the Central Election Commission.

In December of 2007, I carried out a political survey which aimed to measure the rating of presidential candidates in Tbilisi. The survey showed that Mikheil Saakashvili had better rating than Levan Gachechiladze from the opposition party. According to the survey, Saakashvili had 25 % of votes and Gachechiladze – 19 %. All surveys had similar trend which were carried at that time.

My colleagues and I believed that despite the research information, we were fully aware that during the research Levan Gachechiladze had more supporters than Saakashvili had in the capital and it was later proved by the presidential elections. Another example from the municipal elections of 2010, we actively carried out surveys before the elections and I remember that the rating of the National Council was not observed at all and it did not exceed 1 %. According to the CEC, coalition of Dzidziguri-Noghaideli-Davitashvili received 7% of votes.

So, sociological and quantity polls have not been reliable source for the last five years if they aim to estimate the political preferences of the Georgian population. It is very painful fact and does not reflect positive situation in socio-elite climate and social self-esteem of the big part of society. Big part of our society has fear and not “invisible fear” which Mr. Robert Sturua often speaks about; this fear is very concrete and statistically measurable fear. We can admit that when sociology measures political ratings, in fact it measures fear.

-Middle-age people very often compare the current situation with the Brezhnev’s Stagnant Period. How adequate is their understanding of the current situation?

-Indeed, there are many similarities. Hopeless situation turns into a cynic attitude and social apathy. The only relief for me is that we have not started telling political jokes in the kitchen. Fear is reflex of totalitarian and soviet regime and it originated in our society from a parallel reflex – conformism. Both reflexes were historically developed and I will not start discussion now; simply, I will bring one example to illustrate the conformism.

There is only one political entity in Georgian political environment for whom social polls are valid, reliable source to measure political rating. This is Christian Democrat Movement of Georgia. The rating of this political party never differs from the percentage they gain in the elections. Why do the supporters of the Christian Democrat Movement feel safer than supporter of other more famous opposition party when answering questions of the interviewer?

We can assume that potential supporters of the Christian-Democrat Movement are very brave people, have more strong spirit which results from its value orientations, high education level, etc. But let me express my own speculation. Maybe, the supporters of the Christian-Democrat party are braver because this political party is evaluated as the most constructive, compromising and collaborationist party? Maybe, their supporters are not afraid to express their opinions because the president views the Christian-Democrat Movement as disabled political corporation whose leader might have legitimate ambition to occupy the highest positions in the government. All these circumstances creates comfortable environment for the supporters of the Christian-Democrat Movement to feel free when answering the questions of the interviewers. It is evident that our social phobia and conformism connects us with the Brezhnev’s Stagnant Period.

-As I see, from 2004 the government tried to make the society obedient. Maybe, the society started to fear the government due to the severe laws. I might be mistaken but it is fact that public opinion has significantly transformed with regard to the law. Another point is that not everybody appreciates this fact. We can suppose that society equals their fear towards the law with the fear of the government?

-I agree with you – the government has really succeeded in making people obedient to the law. But, there is a difference between the fear and respect of the law. Effective management of Stalin relied on the unique law-obedience of the soviet people.

-Opposition leaders often speak about upcoming revolution. If the society has latent fear, it is useless to speak about revolution because frightened people have not launched revolution in the history…

-It is doubtless that we do not live in a closed society but I think big part of the population is not free. In addition, various activities are often observed in the society that means we expect a very important new stage in our life. Saakashvili’s regime is a litmus-paper for our society because the new epoch will start for our state and society only after this government quits.

Saakashvili is different from his predecessors because he destroyed or immediately restricted all resources of the counter-elite if the latter tried to replace or to overthrow him. Opposition parties enjoyed financial, administrative and media resources, as well as huge support from the civil society during Gamsakhurdia’s and Shevardnadze’s governance. Today, the situation is different – Saakashvili told his opponents – let us see how you will manage to replace me without these resources? Saakashvili offered completely different resources to his opponents which require different approaches.

It is fact that old standard scheme will not work in this landscape. The TV-Companies which were artificially created by business or political groups for ideological diversions, support of business created under protection of various political parties remained in the past. It is natural, that without these resources, opposition will fail to organize any successful destruction. The only chance in similar situation is routine development of the civil society. The society should not consider itself a victim, citizens shall be more active. Only it will assist the society to achieve necessary changes and results.

-Twenty years have passed since the independence of Georgia was restored. Many people speak about important physiological and moral-ethic changes in the Georgian society. What changes did you observe in the Georgian society for the last 20 years?

-Despite all problems, we have achieved much progress both in public awareness and economic or political behavior and orientation. Although we achieved those goals through “attempts and mistakes’, we should remember when and where we started our struggle; our past way is not apocalyptical at all. 

There are much irrational, symbolic and ritual in our mentality. We are in the value vacuum and very often patriotism is expressed only in the toasts during parties. Only free person can have correct system of values because not-free person are oriented only on virtual or vital requirements. In similar situation no place left for homeland and freedom.

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