Influence of the European Conceptions on the Idea of a Nation in Georgia (1893-1917)

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi state university, Faculty of social and political sciences
1893-1917 years are characterized by complicated and unsteady social-political events in Georgian history. Formation of Georgian political parties has started since the 1890s. At the beginning of the 20th century Georgian political elite tried to develop political awareness. Some Georgian public figures needed to raise the political level so that they could prepare for a battle which was intended to regain independence throughout the country. Interestingly, they chose European politics in order to gain independence. For a theoretical basis, those Georgian public figures used famous conceptions on the idea of a nation by the European authors. Today people in scientific circles put a little emphasis on those European authors, who had a big influence on the people supporting Georgian national position during 1893-1917. However, in Georgian history, this is the period characterized by heated discussions about national issue, in which the opposing parties were the political parties. Studying the issue is connected to certain difficulties, because those Georgian public figures supporting national position, preferred the conceptions by different authors for maintaining their position. Nevertheless, we can put an emphasis on Ernest Renan, who was mentioned and discussed by the most popular part of the Georgian public figures holding the national position. At the beginning of the 20th century, the definition of the idea of a nation by Ernest Renan was quite popular in Georgia. It is also proved by the fact that “What is a Nation?” by Ernest Renan was translated twice by “Iveria” in Georgia: for the first time, in 1882 and for the second time, in 1901. Apart from Ernest Renan, while discussing influential European authors, we should not forget “Nation and Mankind” by Mikhako Tsereteli giving us an opportunity to study those European theories about a nation which were common at the beginning of the 20th century Georgia. One chapter of the paper entirely deals with the European theories spread in Georgia. The theories include authors such as Salomon Reinach, Ernest Nissi, Pasquale Stanislao Mancini, Johann Kaspar Bluntschli, Rene Worms, Gabriel De Tarde, Otto Bauer, Rudolf Shpringer... It is worth noting that part of the authors discussed in the paper were supported by the representatives of the political elite who were protecting the national position. One of those authors is Ludwig Gumplowicz, a popular representative of the so - called Social Darvinism. His theory is important for us, because apart from Mikhako Tsereteli, it was also discussed by Archil Jorjadze. Archil Jorjadze got acquainted with Ludwig Gumplowicz‟s ideas to analyse the connection between the origin of a nationality and a state. He partly shared Gumplowicz‟s position, that a state did not come from a society having equal rights. A state originated while strengthening inequility, where one group (minority) enslaved the second one (majority) by force and for keeping its supremacy, it created a violent organization, which is now called a state. Unlike Ludwig Gumplowicz, Archil Jorjadze contended that a state is a result of conquest of majority by minority, but this minority did not always differ from majority ethnically. At the beginning of the 20th century, Georgia was economically, socially and ethnically separated. At the same time, the national issue had to be solved in the country. In 1893-1917, apart from the Sixties‟s views, for those people protecting the national position, one of the main basis for ideological transformation was the nation theories written by European, especially West European authors. Contrary to Marxism spread by social-democrats, part of Georgian political elite tried to introduce Georgian society to all those theories, whose value was recognized in Europe. These conceptions could have some influence on developing society‟s national self-awareness. European thinkers views about the idea of a nation became a theoretical basis for Georgian politicians supporting the national position. Thus, it is impossible to analyse the formation of a nation in 1893-1917 Georgia without studying these conceptions and their influence.
a nation, the theories of nation, national issue, the concept of nation