“Today & Tomorrow. Azerbaijan in Focus”.-2007.-¹6.-P.10-13

 

Ratings, Prognostication and Development Variants

 

Ilham Mamed-zade,

 Doctor of philosophy

 

Our journal presents on regular basis results of the polls on political leaders’ rating. According to the given data, Ilham Aliyev, the President of Azerbaijan takes the first place and others are falling behind. But another fact demanding reflections is that the second place, yet again with a decent separation from the rest of the pretenders, belongs to the first lady Mehriban Aliyeva.

There are, probably, general tendencies that in the beginning of XXI century worldwide spouses of presidents want to become political leaders and show activities. In different countries with different cultures big groups of voters trust them. The spouse of the President of Argentina was elected the President of the country, the spouse of the USA ex-president Hillary Clinton is going to run for president. Some of our readers are sure that elections of 2008 are predetermined, others - that these ratings are, in fact, forecasting. It would not be desirable that people would think, given that election results are observed distinctly, forecasting is not necessary, or, that it is possible to be engaged in this job without preparation, that their importance is in guessing beforehand the one who will be elected the president or the prime minister. Results of prognostication can be used, and they are based on understanding and calculation of tendencies of development in view of problems (threats, weaknesses, negative knowledge), both of an external, and internal plan, revealing the dynamics of sympathies of public consciousness and preferences, influences, etc. Moreover, the use of not only results of ratings, but also of all set of forecasting materials (statistics, methodology, reflections, conclusions and recommendations) can help to strengthen leadership, to promote quality of elites, to take into account specificities of reactions of public consciousness in choosing ways and variants of development, to improve image, etc.

 

Importance of prognosis for political leaders and prognostication in science

       

In order to make prognosis and see what lies ahead, it is useful to be guided rightly in the present. Both politicians and scientists should use results of scientific forecasting. It is possible to say that hypothetical scenarios of development not so much anticipate the future, as provide an opportunity to those who makes politics to deal, be ready to any future which can arise actually so that politicians could be able to soften bad and to use good. And if a politician sensitively catching tendencies of the present should aspire to power and try to boost up strong sides of his/her politics, scientific prognosticators have absolutely different goals. Scientific prognosis envisages a skill to offer variants of development and ability to render assistance to politicians in ruling the country. A politician, seeing tendencies, fluctuations of mass consciousness, can be a leader. A scientist, forecasting ways of development, develops the science, complicates the reality, in a sense denies himself, his individual predilections as it is necessary to subordinate his abstract desires to opportunities, dictated by the situation.

Certainly, there are known cases when the scientist familiar with forecasting leaves for policy, but success is not always guaranteed for him. It turns out that there are different types of use of forecasting. The use of his guess, intuition, skill to take advantage of the situation, the data of social studies in achievement of success becomes important for the politician, that is the purpose of participation in policy is entering a personal factor, personal interests into process.

We are interested in the greater degree in scientific political forecasting. It is interesting that any science needs prediction of the future; there is even a whole science about the future. But, if the emphasis in sciences is made on the history of a problem, namely in such way our historians, philosophers, political scientists frequently work, then it is clear that the modernity and its variations appear not in the center of their research. We will not negate the importance of attraction of experience of the past, but history, including the history of various sciences, quite often consists of myths, and anyhow it is necessary that we should ourselves think of the future, having released ourselves from stereotypes. By the way, not all these stereotypes arose in the past; there are stereotypes of the beginning of 90-s. For example, one of the questions within these stereotypes is the following: “what is more important – changes, democracy or gradual improvement, evolutionary way of changes and realization of the advantages in today's life? The same goes to relations with Russia. Are they less important, than links with the USA? People want steadiness, stability, and any poll testifies to it. From here, it is clear, that stereotypes of public consciousness should be operated.

    The more deeply the science comprehends the modernity, the more obviously probability character of any knowledge about the society. Therefore, it is clear that the most valuable is the least probability forecast. That is why it is necessary when researching the society to attach a greater attention to models and scenarios, which not simply extrapolate current trends to the future, but search for features of deployment of a process, which are not expected by anybody.

Some people think that economic, statistical, sociological research allows foreseeing the future, but in practice the data of these works only create an opportunity of prognosis for the society. This thesis does not mean that data and facts are excessive; the talk is about ability to distinct prognostication in economy as well as talent to separate prognostication linked to the data from big forecasting models and scenarios.

     Most important in construction of development scenarios is to find nonlinear decisions, an element of creativity of the scientist or group of scientists as life itself is variant, multiform, influence of the nearest environment, moods, emotions, as well as both global, and regional processes on the public life. For example, if at the end of the 80-s in the forecasting work it was necessary to take into account influence of “Moscow, the Center”, the processes in Armenia when the problem was creation of forecasting model “Karabakh”, now information borders are so open that the whole world influence Azerbaijan, and also Azerbaijan receives an opportunity to influence it. Interactivity of the modern world should be used more fully and in all spheres, it should let, may be dosed out, even in sphere of internal policy and morals.

     The aspiration of citizens to stability is normal, but the openness of the world quite often destabilizes our life, complicates also conducting forecasting works. All of us face with the processes demanding comprehension, unexpected inherently in world politics, in economic, etc. It is necessary to take into account also that the country is in geopolitical space where changes are still expected. If we had had traditions in prognostication, there would have been more help from scientists, for a while all is simple in this sphere: expensive oil prices are good for the country, or expensive oil prices are bad for the country. It is possible to characterize the most part of our prognostication by approximately these words. We remember, at the beginning of the 90-s the forecasting model on technique “Delphi” got to us, which the Americans had used in the 70-s, and it helped us to cope with many questions of the initial stage of the forecasting work.

    These reflections bring us to that it is necessary to see some moments in our consciousness, preventing consolidation of prognostics. And these conclusions are connected with our operational experience in forecasting. First, forecasting scientists, or groups of scientists should work on the solution of a problem, instead of promotion and political career. Certainly, scientists are the same people like all others and want promotion, but very often scientists are ready to exchange a scientific career for a political one. In that case, they do not forecast, but try to please the research customer. Second, the research customer should want to receive a real result, a vision of a real, instead of an embellished picture. Thirdly, prognostics should be not ideological, but scientific, in its basis there should be methodology. Though we shall not deny the fact either that ideological questions are not alien to social science. Fourthly, the national interest is still considered by our analysts as imposing of their own comprehension of interest to the rest, instead of achieving a consensus.  At the initial stage there may be consensus with some groups. Fifthly, there are few interdisciplinary research conducted in our science. As a rule, philosophers have poor knowledge of history. The same we can say about historians: they are poorly informed about philosophy. Jointly they understand economy and policy badly. There is a shortage in the latest forecasting literature. Naturally, it is also necessary for representatives of various sciences to understand each other if they want to create a forecasting group. In this work experts have serious importance also, and for various reasons they are hardly ever ready to work with scientists. Even the most elementary methodology of forecasting assumes the participation of experts who participates in decision-making. Quite often it happens also so, that these experts supervise the work of forecasters and bring in it their desires and “dreams”.

 

Methodology of prognostication

 

 In any forecasting project time horizons of the forecast should be highlighted: short-term or mid-term. For example, speaking about Azerbaijan, one should carry out a short-term forecast till 2008 and presumably till 2010, taking into account that the presidential elections will be held in 2008, and elections of Parliament in 2010. Let’s recollect that during the Soviet time there were both a 5-year planning and a long-term planning. Therefore in Azerbaijan we should be engaged seriously in the work of a mid-term planning, at least, till 2015. All of us know, for example that by that time our oil incomes will start to fall and conducting mid-term, long-term forecasts will allow to be ready to unexpected events of the nearest future. Plenty of unexpectedness will be during this period in the foreign policy. For example, the triangle USA - Iran - Russia is capable to bring surprises for our space and the country, etc.

       For the organization of forecasting, it is necessary, first of all, to pay attention to the methodological base of work. At approach to scenarios, it is necessary to get determined not only with factors, which will influence the realization of different variant, but also with key certainties and uncertainties. The future is vague. However, on the base of certainties, having a sufficiently long-term character, it is possible to describe tendencies, some “waves” of development. For example, let’s recollect how western analytics wrote about “three waves of democracy”, or F. Fukuyama saw “the end of the history” and the triumph of liberalism. In any case, it is clear that tendencies, waves can be short, or long. So, known and nowadays already late American analyst G. Kan at the end of the 60-s calculated 13 basic tendencies which, in his opinion, would reveal the general repeated tendency of development of the world up to XXII century. 

     Proceeding from this, it is possible to assume some tendencies which will take place in the world and in Azerbaijan till 2015, or even further which should be taken into account in the construction of scenarios, projections of development for Azerbaijan. In the world, for example, globalization will be combined with the development of national cultures, but with decrease of the importance of the state beginning in culture. Decreasing of the importance is not weakening of administrative potential of the state, more likely, the question is efficiency of the state, refusing from some functions. There will be growing of the importance and accumulation of scientific and technical knowledge, strengthening of rates of development, bent for individual freedom will amplify. The influence of elites - not only political and bureaucratic-, but elites of civil societies, scientific societies will increase, rates of urbanization will increase, mega-cities expect prosperity, in the certain prospect crude oil prices etc. will grow. In Azerbaijan, for example, first, the civil society hardly will become advanced up to such a degree that it will be elite, or the science hardly will take a place appropriate to it in a short-term prospect. The assumption that the bureaucratic elite will dominate over a society, and the development of the country will depend on its initiatives looks real also. But in economy there can be serious breakthrough. On the one hand, it will be connected to the strengthening of national companies, the neighbors’ market penetration, on the other hand, it will be necessary to raise the level and quality of life. In our opinion, (we wrote about it in the third number of our journal), the middle class in Azerbaijan will become a certain force and it will be necessary to take into account interests of this class. Second, the significance of processes in Islam will rise and much will depend on how the process of liberalization will be developing in Islam. Jayhun Mollazade and I wrote about this problem in our joint article published in the first three issues of our journal. Thirdly, the definiteness connected to inertial processes takes place. They are brightly expressed in the fact that Azerbaijan depends on prices on oil, on gas and oil transit. They bring in big positives for the country also even by way of popularity in the world, but it is necessary to take into account their negative image as well. It is necessary to take into account also other two potential factors: increase of competition in economy and manageability. These factors can hinder, get superimposed on each other, but in a reasonable combination can provide positive changes in the country.

 

                                                 Elites and variants of development

         

On the basis of specified certainties it is possible to create several scenarios of the situation development in Azerbaijan in mid-term prospect. It is possible to assume that among these scenarios there can be more and less probable ones. Their probability is in many respects connected to such factors as leadership, quality of elites and efficiency of institutes. It is necessary to understand that the great bulk waits for a strong leader. However, a strong reaction to these expectations can lead to contradictions with the course on liberalization of economy, development of the non-oil sector, middle class orientation. Thus, the base scenario of development, in our opinion, is connected to the ability of elites and institutes to combine in a reasonable, pragmatic measure these two tendencies contradicting each other. In this case other two variants of forecasting must constitute the break of a reasonable measure in that or another side, either a very strong leader and strong social policy, or a strong liberal economic course and a refusal of ambitions of a strong sovereign. At all these scenarios there will remain some general moments, namely, first, elites will continue to dominate over the society, accordingly informal practices will dominate over legal procedures. In these conditions there will be complexities with vertical mobility from the society to elites. It is necessary to understand in that case the elite quality grows slowly, and for a while in our country initiatives can go only from them. Second, it is possible to foresee a rather low level of a social and political activities of citizens in all scenarios, but one should understand that in these conditions it is important to give conditions for an economic activities of citizens and to lift up the quality of their life. The coming years one should expect also a continuation of the growth of consumer expectations, consumer freedom (hedonism), culture commercialization, etc. The growth of an opposite tendency on restriction, strict Islam, etc. is possible as well. It is clear that serious research is needed in the sphere of mass psychology as the period when everyone wants stability, can come to the end. Let’s recollect that at the end of the 80-s all wanted changes, tired of the stagnant stability of the Soviet Union, then the weariness from times of “democratic” changes came. In public moods these fluctuations repeat with known stability. To struggle with “excesses” of these fluctuations is possible by improving the quality of vertical mobility. There ought to be many interstices (doors upward should be open) for penetration upwards of the successful, clever, efficient, the so-called social “lifts” should work qualitatively and steadily.

    Proceeding from the aforesaid, we note that the three scenarios will lead to three variants of the development. The reasonable, mid-term variant, also called by us the base variant, is the most probable, with the account of “petrodollars”, an advantageous foreign policy climate should yield positive results in mid-term prospect. The second variant is the scenario of a strong authority, rigid and not competitive rule can give a result, but only in the short-term prospect. This model assumes an absolute domination on the part of the leader, but imposes a special responsibility on the bureaucratic elite. It also complicates or even stops processes of vertical mobility and change of elites. Risks of similar domination consist in that any mobilization is difficultly feasible in the country going on the market way when consumer moods and expectations dominate among various layers of the population. The third variant of the development can be named an accelerated controlled development, a controlled competition. It assumes alongside with liberalization of economic life, the strengthening of political publicity already at the 2010-elections to the Parliament. In this variant the middle class, the civil society, the multiparty system develops quickly. But it has also serious risks, which are connected to difficulties of the initial stage (after 2010) when destabilization of the situation is possible.

 

Morals, public moods and types of consciousness

 

          In the country where the public policy is not generated, the multiparty system is not developed, much is determined by morals and public moods. In Azerbaijan forecasting assumes using ethical methodologies and knowledge. It is clear that in public morals there are developing serious processes which are connected to reactions of consciousnesses in the country on processes in the world, collision of aspirations to the secular mode and religiousness, to knowledge and absolutism of belief, to criticism of traditions and protection of traditions, permissiveness and prohibition of personal freedoms, etc. And these reactions of a moral character cause the known political and public moods. The above-mentioned three scenarios, three variants of the development in many respects will be connected not only to a choice of elites, but also “building” of elites to the dominating morals and psychological moods. It is necessary to take into account that political, economic and public interests are not differentiated in consciousness of elites and the middle class that causes the importance of influences of moral and psychological moods of masses.

    In our opinion, in the most general view it is possible to speak about three types of moral consciousness in the country: patriarchal, traditional and liberal-individual (they are, certainly, more and more diversified, mixed). The priority of patriarchal consciousness will cause gravitation to a strong authority, the priority of moods toward traditionalism can cause other, more moderate variant of the development with elements of economic liberalism, and the account of interests of all three types of consciousness, most likely, will cause the most liberal policy of authorities that is the third variant of the development.

     Summarizing the aforesaid, we emphasize that projects of the future, short-term, mid-term and even for long-term forecasting are necessary for Azerbaijan. The due organization of this work will help to speed up the development of the country, improve the activities of institutes, synchronize the political and economic development of the country, etc.