Old Clothes for New Khans

(Continued from ##22(440), 23(441))

ALMATY, March 23


Obviously, any sort of cult of personality needs to be based on revamped old methods - myths, which court ideologists consider minimise the significance of limitations in a constitution giving legitimate democracy. The audience at which this propaganda is directed is the semi-literate rural population, and though it may seem strange �also at the national intelligentsia that used to live with myths. These strata of society are considered to have traditional mentality or at least are able to "read" the symbols used. However, the ideology behind the creation of a "cult of personality" through the efforts of ideologists, who are quick-minded extensions of the same apparatus (the so-called creative intelligentsia) is based on literary interpretations of the individual characteristics of each nominal nationality's identity in the new Central Asian republics. In short, creating a form of collective nostalgia tha taps into the �heart of each nation.�

This situation arises from the fact that current state elite have neither experience nor any real programs to guide their independent governing of each of the states. Authoritarian methods of governing and a drift to totalitarianism indicate this absence. Presidential displays of charity and compassion today are similar to the hypocritical side-shows once staged by earlier generations of inbred tsars and avaricious merchants. Even the highest circles of state power , made up as a mafiosa style �Family�, share this same tradition of acting their parts.

It is significant in this "show" that archaic signs have been resurrected in CIS Asian countries, even if they are not "living" traditions, but arbitrarily selected symbols of such traditions. It is also almost amusing that the ruling elite are openly competing to prove the superiority of their genealogies.

For the time being, i.e. while they are in power, �genealogies� of the Presidents are excluded from this competition. �Genealogies� of civil servants (in future they may be called �divan�, �suite� or �the court�) seem to be evaluated according to the binary principle: better � worse, a southern man � a northern man, senior dzhus � middle dzhus, a mountain Tajik � a valley Tajik, a citizen from Samarkand � a citizen from Chach, "a pure Kazakh" � �shala-Kazakh�, a member of the family � not a member of the Family; and according to the hierarchic principle (higher � lower, His Excellency, His Highness, His Honour; white bone � black bone, etc.).

Parvenus from widening peripheral and marginal zones of both the state and culture (fortune-tellers, extrasensory individuals, new dervishes, artists and the so-called "body-builders") are not included in this scrutiny of genealogy. Some of them are also declaring that their predecessors were khans, prophets, caliphs, gods and so on. But it is �the elite� that must confirm some sort of genealogical purity. Political dissemblers do not want to be associated with small fry, marginal players of the game. More often ,they separate them from the power harem or keep them in a bath-house dressing-room. Yet this is of mere amateur interest! There is still more to come: according to the genre laws, there must be sorcerers, men of motley and madrigal poets at the court. The East likes flattery, panegyrics, glorification and considers criticism to be a state plot. People are queuing to be registered in the CA leagues of court panegyric poets.

Constructive opposition in CA countries such as Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan is impossible under these conditions, where clans and groups govern the countries. In any case, opposition would be interpreted in a medieval way, suspecting it to be a plot. �Plot theories� have captured the imagination of ruling clans and are being supported by media loyal to them. The so-called political elite has organised itself so that they can create conflicts and plots, unknown to the population. On the other hand, allusions to possible plots, intrigues against sovereignty etc., are continuously suggested to the press by special structures and volunteers in order to frighten the population and to justify the need for �counter-measures� to the international community. The entire arsenal is also intended for perspective threats and as a deterrent.

Such justifications may point to a potential restoration of traditional features characterising any decaying authoritarian regimes, cliques and despotism, independently of their being "eastern" or "western"; features which are standard for the existence, renewal and stability of any regime.

It is characteristic that the state, and the general public under its "protection", accept the fact that their president, his clans and relatives have some sort of historical grounding. Naturally, the official authorities have begun to struggle against "untraditional" events, impeding accepted rules of the game. Paradoxically, this means that by the beginning of the 21st century Central Asia is unfolding following a centuries old mould: the new Middle Ages.

The New Middle Ages?

In the conception and everyday culture of the principle nationalities in all CA countries, a number of medieval characteristics are coming to the fore and corresponding stereotypes of behaviour at both individual and group levels are being restored.

Democratic intelligentsia understands this as rebirth of all the negative aspects connected with the term "asiatschina".

Central Asia likes to refer to the indefinite term of �Eurasia� or �Asiopstvo�. Showing itself in different ways, such as the project Conception 2030, with which Kazakhstan compensates the absence of any independent thought-out conceptions on the country's development. This conception, vague in its objectives is based again on mythological farce; the combination of figures expressing an indefinite number � "three"-'four', "two"-'three'.

It is the conception of the country, but not of the state, as new analysts know perfectly well what the owners of these "states" need, and act pragmatically.

Against the background of this asiatschina, Eurasian Russia, despite the turbulence of its policy and the anxiety caused by V. Putin's administration , looks more attractive to the West. In the light of "Russia"s Europisation' the Tien Shan and the Pamirs seem to be a creek of asiatschina, even in comparison with their dangerous and aggressive "friend", China.

No shifts of the capital northwards can settle this problem.

Nor suits by European dress-makers help: skull-caps deny them.

"Wolf" is a prime example for the Turkic nations of the CA states. �The wolf's face is blessed� was how the Moscow ethnologist R.S. Lipets called his book of Turkic Folklore long before today's �wolf-cubs�. Many people would like to have the ancient powerful instincts of this beast.

Nevertheless, there is the symbol of pharn, "imperial fame" of the Semurg Empire of Sasanid Iran on the Uzbekistan's National Emblem�

The Kazakhstani National Emblem contains "the imperial sign" of the Great Kushan Empire, which in first centurie AD covered the most part of �Great� Central Asia (just to inform people sitting in Astana )�Furthermore, Kazakhstan has declared the snow leopard from the International Red Book as its mascot.

This symbol is interpreted by the book �Kazakhstan 2030� as a sly or cunning �philoprogenitive�, which is the main thing � a rare beast, despite being related to Asian tigers.

What the APR (Asian Pacific Region) had been striving for for decades, was realised here in a festive way. According to the scenario �2030�, the Republic of Kazakhstan will be playing the role of �the Centre of the continent.�

Different CA countries like various festivals, jubilees, parties and other celebrations.

Snow leopards. It seems they remain only in zoos in the form of stuffed animals, in Scythian "animal" style, as well as in new emblems of cities. Though the Astana Akim's cherished dream is a moderate task to make the city of civil servants �a second Washington�, on the Astana steppe, Cyclops-like statues of mountain snow leopards look surprisingly absurd and ambitious.

For 2 years the Kazakh national budget spent on all this about US$ 800 million of direct investments, which are actually direct debts of Kazakhstan.

Earlier people erected monuments to the wheat ear, the bull and sheep in these cattle-breeding and grain areas. Sheep are supposed to gather in a herd according to the herder's will and according to the hundred-year instinct. When there is grass, they grow fat, when there is no grass, pestilence and dzhut come.

Wolves are hunters pursuing them. Hares are used to dodge.

At the threshold of the 3rd millennium the Central Asian region is entering the "new Middle Ages�. The parabola of history begins to loop the loop.

One day everybody will wake up, when the timewarp has ended�

Albright Plans

Central Asia Visit


March 28 (AP)

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is planning to visit three Central Asian countries next month to try to promote democracy and opportunities for American business in an area rich in natural resources,

An announcement today said Albright would travel to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan April 14-20 on her first visit to the region in more than three years in office.

She will meet with American business leaders as well as promoters of human rights and civil societies in the three former Soviet republics, the statement said.

The region is the target of foreign developers, including American corporations, trying to get a head start on reserves of natural gas and other energy supplies.

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