“Today & Tomorrow.Azerbaijan in Focus.-2008.-¹ 2(09) February.-P.4-10 


Azerbaijani way of modernization


Ilham Mamed-zade,

Doctor of philosophy


  This year in Azerbaijan for quite clear reasons is an occasion to bring interim results, to reflect on where we go, what is determining for us in policy, economy and morals. Under the president I. Aliyev rates of economic growth have become impressive. Just recently Azerbaijan achieved the unprecedented growth of around 40%, and this year it is going to be about- 24%, though high rates of growth are typical for many countries under transformation. In the same Armenia and Georgia not having oil and gas, the growth rates are around 10-12%. It is possible to assume that up to 2013 the rate of growth will be high enough. But quality, efficiency and productivity of everything connected to labor leave much to be desired. There are many problems of social and spiritual meaning. Therefore today of the country is filled with conflicts (more often latent or backstage), which are quite often splashed out, between the past and the future, tradition and modernity, aspiration to religious eagerness and strive for a dissolute life. It is recollected as in one known Soviet comedy an actor says: “… Istanbul – is a city of contrasts”. Now we have to say that we live in the country and the city of contrasts. It is clear that we must understand the reasons of contrasts and to specify ways of their overcoming or smoothing. In this matter a discussion concerning the strategy, variants and models of modernization can play their positive role.

    Let’s admit that many experts offer their variants of modernization from above and there is a hint on the discussion.

However, in my opinion, the main thing here is discussion that would initiated civil proposals from people, established proper rules of conduct, both for masses, and elites, bureaucracy, the so-called political ethics. Now, in my opinion, it is clear to all that democracy assumes the change of character of deep social and moral connections, instead of a simple introduction of the market and a new system of authority, a political superstructure with an opposition, a multi-party system, etc. There is no democracy without enlightenment. The experience, for example, of some Asian countries has already shown that absence of choice or rigid elective democracies without institutes of the civil society and civil culture, respect of citizens’ rights and freedoms generate the same tyrannies, as well as any dictatorship. That is why ideological knowledge specific to every country are necessary in order to select adequately with their help all other institutes, rules which would allow the society to function.




About paradoxes of the public thought




 Collectives of authors prepare ideologies and projects of modernization, much in the project depends on scientists, on their ability and skill to highlight key points in today's life, to see the main and the minor, purposes and tasks, challenges, etc. Some of the post-Soviet authors think that the time of ideologies has passed. Others believe that the time of ideological mega-projects is over. Perhaps, for some it has passed really, but not for those who is still catching up. In Russia, living the similar period, “Putin’s plan” and the concept of sovereign democracy have recently been prepared; there is something similar in Kazakhstan also. It must be recognized that there is an essential difference between projects in the Eastern Europe such as the Baltserovich’s Plan” and the Putin's plan. However, it is clear that economic success, some rise in living standard, the so-called stability, can be crossed out on the post-Soviet space very quickly if the following to the certain synthesis, necessarily jointly coordinated by the authority and the professional community will not be guaranteed, of civil and moral values which will provide not only the order, continuity, but also an evolutionary development.

    Ideologies are available and prepared in the West. Let’s recollect, at least, F. Fukuyama, S. Huntington's articles and books, sensational in their time, discussions on their occasion, etc. They answered the ideological order of the society, which had appeared in perplexity what would be tomorrow after the crash of Marxism, the Soviet Union, etc. This question was the most important for them, as they for a long time know what to do in daily life, how to choose values and purposes, how to follow them, etc. The matter is that in the West scientists, religious persons, mass media, organizations of the civil society, independent of the government, everyone who takes part in the discussion of sore problems of the society are engaged in ideology of the society. The division of ideology and authority there creates an opportunity of a flexible reaction, the evolutionary development of the state, without violence and revolutions.

   And now I would like to say a little about what prevents our scientists, to prepare something in this area and put forward initiatives. First of all, many, including scientists and intelligentsia expect that the authorities will resolve their problems, though much depends on them, on their enterprise, skills, etc. They are careful about taking risks have to do with talk about the current state of affairs that is why they speak about the past. They need some ideological sign, indicating what is better to do today, what norms and standards of behavior are preferable. We have got such indications, but they if show the purposes of development, do not show means for the achievement of the purposes, legal means to which the citizen can resort to become successful in the society.

     It is necessary to mean that perceptions, fears and errors of scientists, professors will be repeated in the rising generation and will determine difficulties, complexes of the country’s tomorrow. We shall note some paradoxical theses of our social scientists, which become or even have already become standard. First, they, on the one hand, are declined to that a pledge of Azerbaijan’s successful development is the restoration of the true history, certain brotherhood bonds and the historical norms ostensibly peculiar to our ethnos, curved by long years of the colonization, the empire, and, on the other hand, the reason of failures and problems also explained by mentality, archetypes, etc. Second, explaining the character of the country’s development, its history, the quality of the people, the nation, elites, researchers have stepped aloof the analysis of real processes, continuity of problems and contradictions causing the present development. The idea of scientists reveals persons that is important and instructive, declares the will of people, the certain supreme essences, but it is catastrophically insufficient. It is necessary to analyze the collision of interests of concrete groups and classes and to reveal perspective interests and tendencies. Third, the belief, Islam is important for every Moslem, but for the scientist they should not substitute the reality of political-economical or moral processes in the person, in the country and in the world, moreover at the analysis the belief only hides, but does not cancel collisions of interests, perceptions, etc. Let’s pay attention in this context that scientists, as a rule, think exclusively within the frames of “East-West”, “Islam and Christianity”, while there are essences and concepts of the smaller scale. Fourth, a big part of researchers divided, directly or indirectly, the country on elite and people, as if there were not smaller, but not less important groups of “performers”. Interests of professional groups of the society, classes, for example, are not considered at all. Muffled conviction in the spirit of the Soviet times in the unity of interests of all Azerbaijanis from bigwigs of business and the monopolists, advanced “white collars” up to state employees, not speaking about the army of semiliterate builders and farmers. Someone is constrained with the fear, putting it mildly, to lose privileges, someone is embarrassed with a century-long passivity, but how far it is possible to trust such unity, how far it can help to sustain uneasy challenges of the modernity. During the Soviet times, except for fear, “the egalitarian justice”, principles and norms of the morals, the corresponding ideology fixed the unity, and now it turns out to be a “detonating mixture”. It is similarly spoken about an external world, it is divided into those who help and prevent, for example, regarding the conflict, as if the external world has no other interests and aims. 

     Quite often we dream that oil, investments will lead to better life. Facing today’s difficulties, many, but, unfortunately not all, start to understand that in order to change something tomorrow, today it is necessary to think, operate and overcome. The scientist, for example, must rethink paradoxes.


How to rethink them?



   To plan the ways of overcoming paradoxes, to estimate the logic of the development of our society, it is necessary to concentrate on XX century, analyzing real facts only, comparing the tendencies with the processes occurring in the world during this period, and estimating not the rhetoric of political forces, authorities, persons, and social realities, tendencies and interests. Let us note that the today’s youth is quite often better informed about ancient Turks and Scythians, the surahs of the Koran, than about the Soviet times. Disputes and discussions on real facts when knowledge is checked also by life experience, are capable to give the science and not only it some effectiveness and activity.

    If to look at XX century we can see the following noteworthy circumstances (they are, certainly, more, but we shall name some only). We shall start with the revolution of 1917 though it is difficult to outline its time borders. But one cannot help noticing that it has given Azerbaijan, except for the reprisals, the first and the second (Soviet) republic. It means that it created a real opportunity of destruction of class institutes and barriers, it destroyed sincere conviction of the  elites, including also the Azerbaijani, that the power is from the God, and the same humility from him of the lowest layers and the destitute, it asserted equality of people and sexes, the priority of education and many other things. That revolution destroyed class barriers, established labor ethics, destroyed privileges and idleness. By the way, and in this plan differed in nothing from other European revolutions. Other point is that on a number of serious reasons it destroyed them not up to the end. But where are scientific investigations analyzing the reasons of unfinished revolutionary work? It is surprising that beginning 1991 in the public consciousness appears the same perceptions about haves and have-nots. Some suppose that freedom and property are necessary not for free and effective work, but again for idleness, fun. It is natural that labor again appears the destiny of losers, again everyone hope for the divine will. Certainly, nobody wants the egalitarian justice, certainly, an economic inequality, enterprise and the capital promote the development, but without a measure and restrictions of an inequality, respect for effective work, human rights and social justice there is a precipice between citizens of one state, rage and envy grows. And they do not give acceleration to the development; they are socially destructive.

   Then again only in XX century it became clear that only open, market and democratic states develop stably. Today no quite democratic state can feel itself easy, all of them are connected to the prices for raw material, do not act as exporters of highly technological goods and technologies. Proceeding from this, one should estimate more realistically potential and borders of modernization from above, any liberal economic models, involving in changes or processes of reforming increasingly wider groups of masses. Probably, the ideology of this affair is necessary also, it can be called national or Azerbaijani way of modernization, but the point is not in the name. XX century showed first of all a failure of all samples of ideologically programmed, mobilized development, and after that a failure of liberal projects on the post-Soviet space. Therefore the ideology of our modernization should try to return in words and in practice to the society respect to work, equality and freedom, its basis must be constituted by the cultural and moral education of the country’s citizens. Culture and morals must be assigned neither to ministries and corporations, nor mosques. I have no wish to speak about the ministries, but as for mosques, they will never bring up a true patriot of a citizen of our country. A Moslem, as they say, is always pulled to Mecca.

    Speaking about the necessity of our present Azerbaijani modernization, it is necessary to pay attention to the Soviet modernization. Despite the known totality in its implementation in Azerbaijan, illiteracy was liquidated, the national elite, not only communistic, but also professional was created. Azerbaijan’s oilmen, scientists are among them. The representatives of culture and art, created brilliant works. Besides, during the years of modernization in the Soviet Azerbaijan there was created a serious industry and agriculture with outstanding results. Let’s recollect also that the already growing decrepit Soviet system praised the person, laid his cares in the basis of its ideology.

But I’d not like to speak about it in detail. On this theme, it is still possible to read books, articles issued at that time. Rates of today's growth impress, but in fact they testify to from what level we have started, what have had and lost for the last years. Anyway, it’s clear that in 70-80s of XX century our Azerbaijan was ready to transition to the normal market, instead of the African or Central Asian crude resources model of the market.

     Thus, there is a need for the ideology, model of modernization.

There is much written about it, but “leftovers” of Soviet ideology is still kept, that is why many run away even from the word “ideology”. The worst features of the Soviet ideology were the break between words and deeds, a total dictatorship and demagogy. If we recognize this, let's avoid them.  Besides, in the epoch of information communications a total dictatorship is impossible, but to limit the wildness, impudence and spiritual impoverishment of the solvent or poor Azerbaijanis, the officials of the average level or the rich men with the help of standards of behavior would be completely not bad.

     A new core, a new challenge of time should be laid in the basis of our modernization, and it should be linked to the Azerbaijani, the creation for him of suitable conditions for work, life, etc. In other words, the contemporary modernization should assume investments in the person, and the ideology to convince and bring up in him a reciprocal desire for opening of namely his positive opportunities, abilities, etc. In this term it is necessary to highly appreciate the importance of the study abroad program declared by the President of Azerbaijan. But there is a need for a platform to provide that further upon their return they would be able to apply their knowledge. Many who already come back, having received the university education abroad, sometimes, as my post-graduate students and applicants for a scientific degree can’t find a suitable job place, acceptable conditions for life and career opportunities. Some of the simply go back …

     Today we have appeared in the interlacing of opportunities, but also of threats. The high oil and gas prices have gifted a starting capital for a new development. New roads, transport communications and clean, new buildings are worth to speak about, but they are not enough, as they do not rescue from a possible collapse of the economy based on raw materials. A fundamental reorganization of the entire newly created economy is necessary. It is already preventing, first of all, the economy of raw material sale with its attributes: distribution, monopolization and corruption.




About innovations and economy of knowledge




In our country there is already much being written that innovation, high technologies, the high technology productions are an alternative to the raw orientation in economy. But almost nothing is written how to pass to the high tech economy from the raw economy, that economy of knowledge pulls down the raw economy, while it is already necessary to reorganize what has just now been created, to what we have started to get used. At the same time we can oversee that the destiny of some serious people is tied up to this reorganization. For people with old habits, for those who prefer traditions, it would be almost impossible to tailor their life to the new situation.  But it is necessary to aspire to this, as there is not enough time. Some experts speak about 5 years, others that the high prices for energy will hold on till 2020. However, there are also many pessimistic forecasts that 2008 will become the year of decrease in the developed countries that this process will reach China and the Asian markets in 2009, that in the markets of energy high prices for crude oil are close to edge. However, the matter is not that the world has already divided on those who have had time and those who have hopelessly fell behind.

    Some people think that the economy of knowledge assumes an orientation to the science and that we shall now tell that it is necessary to support the science, the Academy of Sciences, etc. But the core is necessity to reform our science as well. Let’s remind that the Soviet science achievements, which can be admired, remained in the past. Its weakness was that scientists made discoveries, which were not supported by the economic and technological environment, that among scientists there were many who were simply registered as scientists. And the discoveries, as well as today’s discoveries of some of our scientists will be used in other countries, corporations, etc.

They pay for what makes a profit, and do not pay those who do nothing. And it means that it is necessary to create conditions for those who will carry out the breakthrough in the knowledge economy, including those who will develop the ideology of today or tomorrow's modernization, and their values should become its basis.




Middle class, professionals, citizens




The main problem of the transition to the economy of knowledge, the innovative economy lays outside of the field of innovations, and even economy in the sense of raw economy and management. The matter is that the majority "twists" and works between raw economy and some of its developed areas (of high technologies or finance). This sphere is suspended and there is no noteworthy attention toward it. But, namely it is the component of a real economy, allowing flourishing the countries with no resources and scientific achievements. Moreover, this sphere, its organization, relations between employers and employees influences frames of mind, dignity and morals of citizens, middle class and many other things.

Therefore the basis of a new modernization should become a real economy where simple folk earn a living, but it would be desirable that they worked in a real sense of the word. It will be able to become a basis of modernization when small and average business is protected from officials, and employees are socially protected from their employers.

    It is possible to force ambitions, to put serious problems for breaking to Europe, to the sphere of high technologies, etc. We are not worse than Kazakhstan, aspiring to join the developed countries of the world in the near future. But it is impossible to enter the century of innovations with mid-flight step, at the command from above, the limited contingent of people. Besides, we already have these people, but we lack the innovative environment and economy of knowledge.

     Middle class, professionals are necessary as strata, because they create some environment, want to introduce new technologies and create economy of knowledge. But for this purpose, there is a need not only for social programs, investments in pensions and salaries, but also freedom associated with responsibility, human rights, without which the middle class is no class, and the professionals – no professionals. There is a need for democratization of the daily life, which is the only way to return dignity to working people. Of course, the huge democracy, elections, a multi-party system, freedom of the press, independence of courts and parliament are important and some steps have been made in this direction, for some we’ve still been waiting. But in fact it is necessary for democracy to be presented in daily life. A citizen must be protected from arbitrariness, illegal requisitions and impudence of officials of the average level and not just on the day of elections, the youth must believe that it can achieve everything in this life through hard work. A daily life is a space where economy, morals, the social sphere and politics are tied together and if this sphere is established properly, if people can protect their rights and work at full efficiency of their forces, then the tasks of modernization and ideology will be executed, then there will be the middle class, and science, innovations, and progress.



Our realities or what hinders us



I’d like to write about our realities that careless officials hinder us, that the consensus between the property and the authorities, officials and businessmen is harmful, that they are quite often, say, involved in different business – schemes, that freedoms and human rights are not respected, that representatives of the law enforcement agencies derive income through creating obstacles for simple folk, etc. And then it suddenly dawned upon me: we ourselves hinder ourselves. We should change ourselves, not hoping on anybody.

But the country will then have to work and wait for a long time. The circle has become locked.


Everything depends on the president


In the West the head of the state is just a worker - a manager employed to work, besides, on a competitive basis, having passed the procedure of elections, for a certain term. Even if he is an excellent manager, always there is someone else who can operate more effectively and better. Quite a lot of time has been spent for creation of this system comprising the interaction of the society and the authorities, people and the authorities, for establishment of the ideology of this work. Let’s recall that in the end of XVIII century the famous “Freedom, Equality, Brotherhood” was proclaimed. But there are, unfortunately, also societies where freedom is still freedom of self-will, brotherhood – nepotism, equality – a necessity to hide the earned, and sometimes the stolen too.     To develop, we need a development project. The public, scientists, some of them occupy certain positions in the umbrella organizations, they put forward some theses, sketches, parts of which could underlie the nation-wide project of the development. Probably, at the today's stage it is inevitable that a project will connect political, economic and ideological authorities in the country. Certainly, we understand that the system, in which politics and ideology are combined, is not capable of a natural evolution, that it demands a steady control from the very top, monitoring of the society and the specification of ideology. But, if to be honest, we have it combined anyway and the acknowledgement of the ideological context of reforms will act, when it is sounded, as an element or a part of responsibility of the authorities before citizens.

    Certainly, the Soviet experience has shown that any manipulations with public consciousness are dangerous. But a direct instruction in who favor it is necessary to vote is even more dangerous as it results in decrease of political culture, leads to radicalization of youth, damages public morals. The domination in the Azerbaijani mass culture of what is referred to as “show business” does not ennoble us either.

    The ideology prepared as during “the old good times”, but in view of realities and challenges of the new time, having passed the discussion among the professional public of the country and “consecrated by the President”, can work quite positively. At such attention to ideological questions there will be less absurdities such as the last: cancellations of all programs in Russian on commercial TVs, attempts to close commercial Russian-speaking newspapers though every citizen of Azerbaijan is financially and spiritually interested in knowing some languages in addition to the native language, etc. It is necessary to expect that problems of coexistence of personal and collective freedom, personal and common interest will get still greater urgency in the nearest future.