Differance – that Democracy Makes. By Antonin Marto.


Differance. That Democracy Makes.

Antonin Marto (Irakli Z. Kakabadze) was the writer hosted by the City of Barcelona and Catalan PEN in 2016-2017. His presentation was done in Jiwar in April 2016.

“In 1980s I have participated in the struggle against Soviet Empire and what we used to call National Liberation Movement of Georgia.    We were students during this period of time and when we started to aspire for independence international ‘observers’ used to tell us that separatism and nationalism are bad and we need to stick with Soviet Union to be on the safe side.  In fact, by the end of 1987 the independence movement was not supported by any of the established “international institutions’.  It is very difficult for me to understand this right now – 30 years after – that the whole international community was firmly behind the Soviet Empire to keep its colonies and continue oppression.  But as Bob Dylan has prolifically said, “Timed They Are a Changin”.  Truly they are.  30 years after, Georgia is an independent state, and the very countries of EU and North America that were discouraging us for ‘suicidal nationalism’ (phrase used by George H. W. Bush in 1991) became ardent defenders of our independence and territorial integrity.  Of course, Georgians always thank the international community for their support.  But at the same time, the first Georgian President, who started the fight for independence, Zviad K. Gamsakhurdia, was violently deposed in 1992 and killed in 1993.  He was branded ‘nationalist’ and ‘hot head’ by the mainstream Western press.  George H. W. Bush proclaimed the guy totally ‘out of credit’ and this has precipitated the violent coup against Georgia’s first democratically elected president, who conducted independence referendum in March, 1991.  The declaration of independence of Georgia followed the referendum and on April 9, 1991, Georgian Parliament declared independence.  Again, international community did not recognize this referendum and has put its support behind Soviet Empire and MIkhail Gorbachov.  But, shortly things changed.  Soviet Union collapsed on its own and the West recognized all the newly independent states.  But it still supported former Soviet leaders to take over the former Soviet states.  Freely elected President Zviad K. Gamsakhurdia was deposed by violent coup and former Soviet leader Eduard Shevardnadze was brought in to rule in 1992.   It is very interesting that father Bush called the first president of Georgia ‘Separatist” and ironically his son, George W. Bush has rehabilitated Gamsakhurdia in 2005, in his famous speech on Liberty Square in Tbilisi.   Bush Senior called Gamsakhurdia ‘Separatist’ and “Nationalist’ and Bush Junior called him a Hero.  Both, father and son are still alive and it is possible to check all these facts.    If there were no records of these speeches – some pundits on mainstream press might have called it ‘alternative facts’ – but it is a straight and square reality of today.  History (and politicians) goes to bad with the winners.  And times they are changing truly.

 One point that is fairly obvious today is that majority of Europe and the world does not like to live in this kind of order anymore.    Westphalian Order of ‘Nation States’ is not working.  It has started to show cracks already 100 years ago, when Europe broke up in different parts through violent outbreaks.  Two world wars have followed.  And after this the great project of European Union has emerged.  European Union has transcended the idea of Nation-Statist Nationalism.  And now this is the leading project of humanity – overcoming the borders of national states.
  Times of monarchy and monarchic national states are gone for a long time.   Now humanity needs to think about unification into different unities.  Perhaps regionalism is one of the responses.  EU project has worked well – but today we see a lack of vision.  And vision is to expand into more regionalist approaches.  This is the paradigm of 21st century.   We need to think about expanding our horizons beyond national states – and becoming citizens of Europe or Asia or other regions.  And time is going fast.  Soon, we will have a vision for th world citizenship.  World is becoming smaller and smaller every day – and we need to expand our understanding of our ‘world’ every day.
  I do not understand why Catalan political leaders were arrested?  This is not a democratic act, this is not a democracy to arrest people after a democratic vote.  Like it did not make sense to call Georgian President Gamsakhurdia ‘Separatist” and “Nationalist’ 1992, it does not make sense to arrest Catalan politicians on these kind of charges.  Democracy works better than authoritarian methods in every country of the world.  Father has called first Georgian President ‘Separatist” and his son, also the president of the US has called him a ‘Hero’.  This is how things change.  First act happened in 1992 and the second one in 2005.
  I think there is a big difference that 13 years would make.  There is also a big difference that democracy makes.
  I hope that Catalan leaders will be released from prison.  And I hope everyone will be allowed to participate in democratic vote.”
Antonin Marto


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