Sunday, March 18, 2007

Who wants to be the President?

Here is a perfect thesis for aspiring PhDs in sociology: correlation between critical thinking and prosperity (economic and cultural).

If there isn’t an instrument which measures critical thinking on societal basis there should be. I have this daunting suspicion that nations, which foster critical thinking in their youth, will have a tendency to prosper and develop at a higher rate than the ones that don’t.

Tajikistan, I am afraid to admit, is in the latter group. Tajiks are a unique nation in this respect. They either have utterly clueless, but ambitious folks who want to run the country or they have a similarly clueless mass that sheepishly accepts anything it has been told over TV and other mass media. My take is that together these two phenomena work to the detriment of the country, denying it a possibility to become a stable and highly developing country.

Looking for answers as to why such phenomena exist in Tajik society I came accross our mentality. It is filled with conformism. We are taught from our childhood (in our family, then in schools and then in real professional life) not to question the authority; even when the authority is wrong, inaccurate or just plain stupid.

In this senseless whirlpool of traditions, education and the fear to become an outcast because of your thoughts, the natural curiosity of the young Tajiks (prerogative to critical thinking) becomes dull and skewed. As a result when an average Tajik graduates high school he is one fine element of the society that has little to offer to the world.

At the end generations of young people get raised with somewhat distorted model of the world in their minds. While as a product you have a very abiding mass of population (the dream of any dictator btw), you also end up mentally castrating any talent the country could have produced were it organized differently.

With the fact that the position of authority bears such a great weight in our up-bringing, it is no surprise that every kid in the country aspires to be the President of Tajikistan!!! For many the position of power seems as the only liberating aspiration worth struggling for. What happens when too many people compete for the position to rule? Yep, you guessed it right! It leads to political and economic instabillity.


Elizabeth said...

You are quite wrong about the people in Tajikistan.

1. First of all, the president is not clueless. He is a selfish bastard who is stealing the country's wealth and supressing growth in opposing regions to prevent the growth of a middle class so that he can stay in power and continue to steal on a grand scale. This is not stupidity, it is evil.

2. People don't believe what they see on television. The reason they don't revolt is twofold. First, they have seen war in their own country and in Afghanistan and know that no matter how bad it is, war is alwasy worse. Second, they know that Russia and America back Rahmon, and therefore, they have no chance of success.

3. Besides that, if you run for president honestly and without violence, and you have even a gazillionth of a percent of a chance of winning, the mafia that is presently in power will kill you.

Who on earth would want to run for president under these circumstances?

And yet you mention that all children want to be president because of respect for authority. This might be true- though I have not met any children that actually want to be president outside of Kulob, where it is actually possible- but adults do not want to be president for that reason.

They want to, at best, implement justice and return what has been stolen to the people, and at worst, steal it for their own people.

Some of the adults want to invade Uzbekistan to get back Samarqand and Bukhara and to stop the cultural genocide there, but that's unrealistic.

$ylon said...

It is always good to hear another side of the story.

How long have you been living in TJ?

Elizabeth said...

Five years, including two in Afghanistan in which I returned frequently.

Doroud said...

The Tajiks...Its really interesting because you actually posed an issue of which i have thought quite frequently when i was younger; i agree with you to a certain extent, but not completely; i think the reason of this problem lies in what the aftermath of the demise of the soviet union has caused.

In a political system such as the soviet union, where classes were abolished and no borderlines were drawn among the working class and the elite (which was absolutely an illusion, as it existed) questioning political and social issues were forbidden, and even when done - were done quite precariously and in inside highly secret milieux; in my opinion, this aspect of soviet life has been deeply interiorised in tajik culture where questioning just anything regarding politics has become extremely taboo.

Secondly, of all the central asian countries emerging after the disintegration of the soviet union, the only country to plunge into a civil war was Tajikistan - thus demonstrating the highly-revolutionary mentality of tajiks; all the pressure which had been building up during the 1980's and late soviet years suddenly had an opportunity to burst.

In this way, opposition groups which operated on a secret but unnegligible scale suddenly faced an enormous chance to redirect the power into their hands, thus inflicting a civil war. Many of these opposition guerilla groups completely unknown to the populace now had Moscow backed financial assistance, and Moscow did everything to keep TJ under it's sphere of influence.

Anyway - the atrocity of the civil war has left deep scars in people's memories and people have lost so many beloved ones that they now prefer to stay under an authoritarian regime rather than to revolt.

Also (as Elisabeth noted), the party in power is not ignorant and knows how to retard the emersion of a middle class which could actually provide the basis for such a revolt. And if you have observed, people in Tajikistan are either very poor or very rich (those who work in the government); this very clearly illustrates the agenda the party in power has in mind. As long as this middle class does not exist or does not constitute the majority of the population, there isn't much hope for the development of the country.