Elections

Coming Out of the Dream

Zaza Bibilashvili
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Coming out (or, coming out of the closet) literally means making a confession. The phrase has long denoted public acknowledgment of an individual's attraction towards the same sex (i.e. self-disclosure about being gay). In modern understanding, the phrase often means public disclosure of a secret that had been suppressed in one's heart for years.

Why am I saying all this? The thing is, Georgia plans a mass "coming out" in the weeks before the presidential elections. This process has already begun and will probably reach its climax on the day of the elections. But, before the civil or religious defenders of morality start arming themselves with stools, let me start from an earlier time.

The years when the United National Movement (UNM) ran the country were historic in many aspects, but the most important thing that the rule of this political force bequeathed us was a solid pro-Western discourse, from which no serious political actor wishing to stay in the mainstream would risk deviation. In that period, no more or less reasonable Georgian politician could possibly question the Euro-Atlantic course for Georgia without casting serious doubt on their political future. Even those who openly opposed the manifestations of "vice" in Western civilization – "perversity," the lack of "spirituality" and so on and so forth (and actually, almost every subject within the Georgian Dream coalition did so, save for the Republican Party and the Free Democrats) – had no other option but to sign a resolution adopted by the new parliament, according to which the coalition acknowledged the pro-Western course of the country. The necessity of this step was conditioned by the very reality that the UNM left in its wake.

However, that resolution changed nothing. For the core of the Georgian Dream coalition, Western ideas are organically strange. This can well be seen in the daily rhetoric of the Georgian Dream's leaders. These people, with mindsets devoid of modern thought, full of archaic prejudices and made up of a collection of disparate biographies and mutated Soviet and post-Soviet careers, are retrograde politicians; they are fundamentally Soviet people – Homo Sovieticus (excuse my French). For them, "spirituality" is a convenient, non-specific shelter which hides their incompetence in almost every measurable field (indeed, it is a separate question is why Georgian Dream MPs Gubaz Sanikidze or Giorgi Volski, for example, are spiritually more sophisticated creatures than their American counterparts).

We thus find ourselves in a situation in which an essentially non-Western force has come to power, but is confined to Western rhetoric. Just like the dominant culture does not allow many homosexuals to openly disclose their sexual orientation for fear of being condemned by society or having their civil or religious careers ruined, so too did the pro-Western reality bequeathed by the former government not allow any deviation from the Georgian Dream for fear of their being branded pro-Russian. Despite numerous attempts, including launching attacks on UNM representatives or defenders of LGBT rights, the Georgian Dream has failed to come out of the closet – something that has remained the greatest source of inner discomfort for it. This is what made the Georgian Dream speak with Georgia's allies from a distance, communicating via open letters and maintaining that the West is a victim of the UNM's "machine of lies." The West saw the Georgian Dream exactly as it was in reality and not as it wanted to be seen.

In this situation, given that the UNM remains an organized force consolidated around the Western idea, the possibility for Russia itself to make the desired fundamental change does not exist. The management of the Georgian Dream has thus come to face a dilemma. The need for a pro-Russian force to "come out" on the Georgian political scene has emerged.

Regardless of the insignificant and purely symbolic meaning that Ivanishvili attaches to his words in general, a radical change from the declared position has proved impossible, even for him. His statements, and the explanations that followed them, about the potential for the Eurasian Union to become interesting for Georgia were tantamount to breaking the ice. The encouragement that presidential candidate Nino Burjanadze gave to her supporters ("do not be afraid of being called pro-Russian!") should be viewed in the same context. The rest is just a matter of technique.

Let's take a good look: after their victory in the parliamentary elections, the Georgian Dream experienced fiasco in every field, most severely in the economy and foreign policy. Against this backdrop, the only thing that the Georgian Dream succeeded in doing during their first year in power was legitimizing those long-discredited marginals pursuing the Eurasian idea.

he former reality, in which the criminals were in prison and there was no need for banal statements on banal truths (for example, that everyone is equal before the law), was replaced by a reality in which, to the accompaniment of Ivanishvili's truistic statements, the physical assault of a police officer is cheapened to a mere 100 lari fine; citizens' freedom to assembly is neglected; crimes committed by the clergy are treated with understanding; the rights of minorities are regularly violated; the "structurally unhealthy" economy supposedly inherited from the former government has come to stagnation; and, more importantly, the prime minister holds epochal news conferences in a manner of offering a circus for those without bread...

The prime minister's occasional statements revealing his elementary understanding of very basic issues proved to be sufficient to keep up the optimism of the "useful idiots." However, the management of the Georgian Dream pursues greater aims: the key objective of pro-Russian forces (Giorgi Margvelashvili, of the Georgian Dream, and Nino Burjanadze, who have assets and activists distributed between them in an organized manner) in the presidential elections is to pull down the Euro-Atlantic reality and erect a new reality in which the Western path is only one option among many. For this to happen, these two forces, who have engaged in a pseudo rivalry with each other that creates a false dilemma for voters, need to share first and second place in the elections. That dilemma is this: electing either the measured pro-Western force of Margvelashvili (which will try to "accommodate" the interests of Russia) or the openly pro-Russian force of Burjanadze (which will say that the idea of NATO is dead and, therefore, we must now cherish Eurasian values).

The date of this mass "coming out" is approaching. The 27th of October will be a landmark in the history of Georgian democracy – the day when nostalgic voters, after a several-year interval, will be given the possibility of voting not for dignity, justice, spirituality or a thousand other euphemisms, but to vote openly for Russia. Let us not condemn them – they are the people who still listen to Russian pop music, quote from Russian movies and believe that Russia offers a spiritual counterbalance to Western materialism. That day will decide whether or not the Georgian Dream loses its only excuse for failure – the process of cohabitation. I do not know how humane it would be to have such a desire, but many might even wish for either of the two aforementioned presidential candidates to win the election – just so that the Dreamers can experience first-hand the consequences of their dream materializing.

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