FAR Centre, Baku, Azebaijan


Working out and constantly re-interpreting of the All-National Idea - an idea, which would unite a nation and specify to it the way of solving of its main problems is one of the major problems in all times and for all nations.

Whence do we origin?, what are we today?, and what we are to do? - here are the questions on which any community desiring to become a nation, should answer - to determine its destiny itself and to take deserved place in the community of nations.

Successfully worked out ( that is admitted by everybody and have given positive result) the national idea then usually finds reflection in the main documents of a nation - sacred books, national declarations and constitutions, or more often varying, doctrines of public policies and concepts of national security strategies. The necessity and the problems of the working out of national idea are successfully formulated in the following statement of the famous English philosopher A.N. Whitehead (1861-1947):

"Each nation should constantly carry out the reforms, to meet the challenge of the time, but, simultaneously, it should monitor, that these reforms will not mess up a nation. "

The search for the national idea takes place constantly for all nations -- it follows from the statement of Whitehead. This search is especially intensive in newly formed nations, or located on the historical fracture.

So, present searches by our intellectuals for the idea, which could become national for new Azerbaijan is natural and extremely necessary process. Anybody, who closely observed these searches for the last eight years (with the beginning of Perestroika, with the time when free discussion became possible) can comfirm the long way in intellectual development made by Azerbaijan society.


Lets remember, that communist practice wiped off from people's memory and from libraries (precisely as at Orwell's "1984" ) all its past in such a degree, that we were forced with each act of cognition to discover already known for the long time truths..

Large work was carried out for the last some years, on reclaiming of our historical memory. The first discussion began since "Khrushchev thaw" and involved all the society was discussion on Azeris' ethnogenesis.. Revived and very popular today turkism and its collateral product turk ethnical nationalism has become its result.

With the approaching of the collapse of the USSR the works of Azerbaijani political philosophers and politologists, outstanding statesmen of independent Azerbaijan of 18-20 years and certainly the immense intellectual heritage of Musavat - carrier of the idea of independence - forbidden during communist regime, became to come back to country.

In the range of ideas, pretending on all-national status and continuing to influence public consciousness in Azerbaijan, the "westernism" and "europeism" put forward by Mirza Fatali Akhund-zadeh in the middle of 19th century as the way out of the crisis for the whole Muslim East should be noted.

The doctrine "Turkism, Europeism, Islam put forward by Ali bey Hussein-zadeh, at the beginning of 20th century and carrying on the polemics with "europeism," has become an important step on a way of our self-identification. This doctrine propagated the necessity of the cultural association of whole turkish world, working out of the unite turkish language on the basis of the Othman turkish one and in addition to "europeism" of Akhund-zadeh, called for remembering of own roots and features.. The doctrine of Husein-zadeh was exactly embodied by the founders of independent Azerbaijan (1918-1920 ) in colours of the national republic banner... The modern sense, put in these three colours of our banner, possibly can be expressed as "Independence, Modernism, Spirituality."

Definitive influence to public consciousness was rendered by the idea of "azerbaijanism", for the first time in detailed manner presented in 1905 by the great writer and publicist Jalil Mamedkuli-zadeh in his article "Azerbaijan". Exactly, J. Mamedkuli-zadeh for the first time precisely separated the geographical, cultural and spiritual space of Azerbaijan from all-muslim as well as from all-turkish space..

In the period between revolutions 1905 and 1917 the intellectuals in Azerbaijan ever more and more embraced the idea of democracy and independence, discussing possible destiny of the independent country, its political and social structure.

"Freedom for the People, Independence for the Nations" - this motto, put forward by the founder of Musavat party and the leader of the National council, who claimed the independence of the country in 1918, to this day is admited by all Azerbaijani democrats as main political guiding line in their activity, as idea, which they would like to see as the all-national one.

I write: "the ideas, pretending to all-the national status" or "would like to see this idea as all-national ", - because of the thing, that, obviously, frequently little in common exists between the idea, put forward for the solving national problems by the thinkers and the idea, which is admitted for the same goals by nation.

The thinkers propose the things that are NECESSARY, while the nation admits the SOLUTION THAT IS POSSIBLE TODAY. For instance, among strongly propagated by the democrats ideas at the end of 80s : "Independence, Human Rights, Liberal political and economic reforms" only the idea of the independence was perceived by the broad sections of population.....


So, as we see it today, the nation is close to consensus on the issue of our origin and necessity of independence, but all this ideas are directed toward outside - for the definition of our place in the world, in the community of nations. With the receiving of independence we have met even more important problems:

National Security

How to keep our independence from external and internal threat, other words, how to ensure National Security?

Idea of national security - is the first, main and eternal of all national ideas. Without the fact that this idea penetrates the consciousness of the majority, the existence of independent state system is out of the question. The heart of this idea for each citizen of the country is in the following chain of speculations:

me and citizens living in this country have common interests and we decide the fate of this country ourselves, in our own favor. If nation feels bad, then I feel bad too. That is why, each of us should spend his strength and means for the prevention of the threat for national security.

Each of us, realizing personal interests should not put the detriment to the national interests (this means not the realization of inalienable human rights, but his personal political and economic interests). Thus, the idea of national security is the idea for the responsibility for the nation.

Unfortunately, the idea of national security has not become all-national idea for Azerbaijani citizens... Anyway, but we are just beginning: our independence, our joint existence is only five years old...

Freedom Or Order

For many people it seems to be a surprise, that independence itself didn't bring us happiness, it is only the means, one of the several, for achievement of the stable and adequate existence..

How to organize the life inside the country? First, for this purpose, we should answer the question, what kind of people are we - Azeris. What are we today? To know really, whether each of us is able to bear freedom? May be, we are the men who need constant coercion and care from the Big Brother.

And according to this main issue, the society is divided into two camps. The line of division passes not here, where it seems on first sight, not between authorities and opposition. In other words, even if everything is clear with the authorities, even the democratic opposition itself is divided to those, who considers FREEDOM as the best value and those, who considers achievement of the ORDER as self-purpose, between those, who considers, that human rights have the priority in mutual relations with the state and those, who considers, that collective interests (society, nation, state) are above the human rights. But look attentively to the most liberal of the liberals, and you'll see that the line of division between striving to freedom and desire of stability passes through his heart.

Involvement Into Community

Another important unsolved problem of the society is the problem of the "involvment into community". Whom do we mean, when we say - "we", "nation" and what kind of people living in the country does not compound this "we", "nation". Whose state is it? Is Azerbaijan the state only for Azeri turks or is it the state of all (without ethnic and other exceptions) citizens of the country and do all of them have equal life opportunities in the country, and, that is very important, equal access to authorities? Whose banner is flying in front of the UN?

Social Structure

We have not yet any imagination about the new social structure of the coutry too. All we agree that the state should assist less successful citizens, but to what extent? What will we choose - free market or economic security? To what extent the freedom of the market should be limited not to inhibit the development and to prevent social outbursts?

Monitoring Which Will Outlast Its Time

Our generation of intellectuals is in enviable favour for the first time in the history of the country to onsider these ideas, to adapt them to Azerbaijani realities and to propose the society, for the choice , as the way of national development, all this variety. The continuous polemics in periodicals and internal party discussions about national idea show resoluteness and persistence of the nation on overcoming the arising difficulties.

At present azerbaijanism, westernism, applicability of the triad "turkism, europeism, islam" for today, and the topic, full of life today, on association of Southern and Northern Azerbaijan - all these topics are discussed. Society studies the choice between nationalism and cosmopolitism, independence and coercive integration, "the open doors policy" and autarky, islamism and secular way of development, socialism and liberalism and, certainly, democracy and authoritarianism - the latter being continued as far back as from the times of Perikles and Plato..

Bringing together all this discussion, making photographic picture of the social consciousness, leaving to the future researchers thoroughful papers, according which they could recover our time and realize our aspirations, - this important problem was fulfilled by the monitoring group in the Centre for economic and political researches - FAR CENTRE under the assistance of the FREEDOM HOUSE.

Obviously, carried out monitoring under the name "Azerbaijan: in searchs for national idea" for a long time will outlive many today's sociological researches, carried out in Azerbaijan, and spreading it among the members of political and scientific community of the country will present the unique opportunity to glance over the state of the minds in new Azerbaijan, will help them in the correction of the political course and putting forward the new scientific problems.

National Idea In Azerbaijan

It should be regretfully admitted, that in Azerbaijan the idea of democracy (self-governing, control on government, superiority of the law, priority of human rights) has not become all-national idea. With the defeat of democracy 1993) the Azerbaijani public opinion was obsessed by the idea of authoritarianism (however, probably, it have not leaved it never ) - belief, that competent dictator , taking our will, is able to none the less solve our problems. Etatism continues to play the significant place in the public consciousness - the idea of all-embracing state-father, which should manage social processes, give us work and pay us wages..

Results of the effect of such national idea are on hand today. The nation, refusing to control over the government is similar to the organism without nervous system, which does not feel that his leg is cut.

Today the world is so complicated and the speed of changes is so high, that it became impossible to govern it from one centre, irrespective of the fact of any educated man, sitting there. You see, just in it was the reason of the collapse of the soviet administrative system. To admit unusual truth that without personal freedom and self-governing, that is without democracy, our problems can not be solved, in principle, - that is all-national intellectual problem, to solve which we are not able yet. The country decays in placid rest. But it cannot continue for long time. We will be forced to change, or to disappear. Reform or Die...


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