Tracing Democratic Values in Georgian Culture

18 Oct, 2011

On October 12, the office of the Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF) hosted the presentation of ‘Tracing Democratic Values in Georgia’, a publication.

A group of researchers from different fields launched work on the publication in 2010 as part of ‘Georgian Democracy: Myth or Reality’, a project.  In different fields of the Georgian culture they sought materials pointing to the great importance attached to liberal democratic values by the public since the 19th century to date.

“This collection of articles is the result of the work conducted for one year and a half.   Our goal was to see how democratic values are compatible with Georgian culture. In order to answer this question, we tried to discover traces of democratic values in different layers of the Georgian culture. The publication is made up of articles written by 12 authors.  They provide the analysis of literature, prose, law, customs, traditions, cinema, theatre etc. My article deals with the debates on democratic values, humanism, liberalism held in the Georgian press of the 19th century.  To my surprise, I found many people who greatly contributed to the introduction and promotion of democratic values in Georgia, and we have not had any idea about this until now…”, said Lela Gaprindashvili, the chairwoman of the union Women’s Initiative for Equality, who is the editor and author of the concept of the publication.

The collection of articles was published as part of an innovative competition, ‘Democratic Values in Georgian Culture’, which was announced by the end of 2009.   As a result of the competition six projects were financed.  The projects aimed to introduce to the public the democratic values we come across in Georgian classical and folk literature, historiographic writings, monuments of law, ethnographic traditions, in letters of public figures and other materials. Each author had a different approach to the question:  conducting a research, collecting and disseminating materials via different channels, including popular social networks, blogs, radio and television.

Editor’s Preface:

Important transformation taking place in the Georgian state and society since the 90-ies of the 20th century to date has been accompanied by serious difficulties like civil confrontation and governmental crisis.

Declared loyalty to democratic values on the one hand and a lack of establishment of these values in real life – in the authorities and citizens’ life – on the other is easily noticeable even as a result of superficial observation.

Naturally, the question comes up:  what is the real reason for such a stark difference between declared and real democracy?  This question is fundamentally important for the development of the Georgian statehood and public and implies understanding of peculiarities of all fields and layers of the Georgian culture right in the light of the democratic values.