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Experts Talking About Georgia's Orientation
13 June, 2013
The most common topic discussed in Georgian media is Georgia's orientation. It is impossible to escape. A large portion of Georgian mass media are talk shows. A host will have one or more guests and they will discuss things.
That discussion usually ends with and often begins with Georgia's orientation; where Georgia points; or where some experts or politicians or former politicians think current politicians are trying to point Georgia. I find this conversation boring and pointless.

There are several
reasons that it is so common. The first is that many in Georgia have a fear that Georgia by its nature most point somewhere, or be under the control of some other great power. It has no choice but to be oriented somewhere. It's choices are Russia or "The West". It is currently presumed to be western oriented, and there are allegations that some politicians are secretly trying to reorient towards the north. This is highly speculative and the conversation generally stays highly speculative, and often will have elements of conspiracy, and guilt by association.

The alternative to talking about orientation would be talking about practical issues. Steps or circumstances that are of real day to day importance to the people of Georgia. And that is the second reason discussion about orientation is so popular. It takes no preparation or research. If there were more discussion of real practical issues, somebody would have to look into the history of the issue in Georgia and other countries, what the law says and how the law is carried out according to people in different places. In short, work. Blathering on about conspiracies and generalizations in the media and on the stoop, doesn't require any preparation.

The third reason is the cult of the expert. Georgian media focuses on experts and on leaders. What leaders say has importance simply because leaders say it. In Georgian media the definition of information is what leaders, former leaders and experts say. When they have said it the journalists go the experts to have them comment on what the leaders have said. It is always funny to see the front of newspapers that are a collection of heads of people (leaders or experts). In the rest of the world, an expert is an expert in one specific thing. But in Georgia, once the media crowns you an expert, you are an expert in everything.

The forth reason for this conversation is the complex of some small nations as a part of having been a piece of the Soviet Union. Georgia is still not used to being independent. Many people, particularly older people, presume that Georgia really has one main choice, which team to play for, and everything else will be more or less fall into place. I am not sure this is true. Being independent means there are endless small but important decisions.

The real but seemingly small issues are more important. And some of them clearly do illustrate some kind of orientation. For example the decision to make English obligatory in school rather than Russian. This was a very important decision that will have great consequences for decades but somehow this issue is discussed much less than for example NATO. We need to spend more time thinking about the things we care about in our day to day lives, and get the media to talk about those things more than they do. That is a fundamental principal of democracy and independence. The correlative is also true, only autocracies or weak democracies spend most of their time discussing external threats, or abstract orientation, because these are there to hide behind. If we get the small decisions right, in the short term and the long term, the orientation will fall into place.

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