On November 8, 2017, within the frameworks of the public debates project, the South Caucasus Regional Office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation organized public discussion on the following topic: “After the Empire: Russia’s Revolutions of 1917 and the political project of Georgia”. The main speakers of the public debate were: Giorgi Maisuradze - Philosopher, Ilia State University, Beka Kobakhidze - Historian, Georgian Institute of Public Affairs, Lasha Bakradze - Historian, Professor of Ilia State University, Director of Literature Museum. The discussion was moderated by Tamar Gurchiani.
Giorgi Maisuradze talked about the significance of Russia’s Revolutions for Georgia. He mentioned that independent Georgia was established as a result of October Revolution. Giorgi Maisuradze also made points regarding Georgian nationalism and mentioned that the way we use this concept today, was created mostly during Soviet period by Georgian philologists and historians. He also indicated that nowadays 1917 revolutions are not assessed in Georgia and research studies are not done in this regard. At the end of his speech, he indicated that Soviet Union starting from the October Revolution has created an alternative of capitalism which was dominant political and economic system. Of course, discussing why Soviet Union became corrupt or self-destroyed itself is a topic for a another debate.
Beka Kobakidze started his speech regarding the effect of Russia’s Revolutions on the subsequent developments of Russia. He mentioned that from today’s perspective, we can say that February Revolution was the most realistic chance for Russia to become a democratic state; however, October Revolution took away this chance. At the same time, above-mentioned revolution caused secessionist processes between the peripheries of Russian empire and metropolis. Furthermore, October Revolution did not give a chance of development to the first democratic republic of Georgia.
Lasha Bakradze outlined that even though Soviet Union was an alternative, he thinks that it was a deadlock from which Georgia is still trying to get away from. Lasha Bakradze also emphasized that there were some myths. For example, one myth was that during 1920s there was quite a liberal system in the Soviet Union. Also, 1937 Big Terror was against the members of the party. As different sources now indicate, the number of party members was only 10% of all people who were killed and displaced. By the end of his speech, Lasha said that we all are part of homo-Sovieticus and under this concept fall not only people who were born during Soviet period but also young generation. Therefore, he thinks that generational change will not result in fundamental transformations.
After the discussion, there were many questions from the side of participants and quite heated discussion started to develop. This public debate showed that it is necessary to have discussions on important social and political events.
- Beka Kobakhidze
- Giorgi Maisuradze
- Lasha Bakradze