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Charm of Georgian meritocracy

By Messenger Staff
Tueday, February 1
Georgian media analysts and political opponents are still discussing President Saakashvili’s recent public interview in which he was answering presumably live questions from the Georgian population. In the interview he touched upon different issues, some of which have received broad speculation. Among other surprises was a new term used by the President – “meritocracy”. A year ago he mentioned the term while in the US, this time he also used the word explaining that meritocracy exists in the country, where success is based on talent and the merit of a person. The term meritocracy was first used by Michael Young in 1958 for defining the form of governance in which people are promoted according to their talent and merits. This is a worthy formula and no reasonable person could oppose it, nevertheless it does have many critics. Meritocracy could be considered a kind of a myth which justifies any kind of status quo, so when the ruling administration claims that it has established a meritocracy in the country how can you argue. Therefore such a claim points to the beginning of stagnation.

In general initially the public, the media and analysts did not pay much attention to the word, perhaps because many just did not understand what it meant. However once analysts had studied the text closely and possibly searched for the meaning of the word ironic, critical remarks started appearing. Those nasty critics are mentioning many representatives of the current administration and saying that many of them are quite far from the idea of meritocracy. Analysts say that the President’s use of the term is the highest form of cynicism after naming certain figures holding key positions in the current administration.

Analysts have tried to fathom why the President used the term. Some believe that the President wanted to justify some steps which have caused a deviation away from the democratic position taken by the rose administration; therefore he tries to find explanations for the limited democratic development in the country. The overwhelming authoritarianism should be covered with new terms, phrases, effecting doctrines, new concepts, confusing the population but effective from a demagogic point of view. Meritocracy is a good bite for internal as well as external digestion. Most critics and opposition members are confident that today’s Georgian reality is a long way from meritocracy. Critics think the country is more like a plutocracy when the vast majority of the wealth is in the hands of the ruling elite, who receive high profits, high salaries and numerous other benefits. They also believe that nepotism is flourishing in Georgia, with families and clans obtaining high positions based on friendship, relations and other links. In other words cronyism and hypertrophy of democracy. All this scientific terminology can be used in discussions of the current situation in the country.

Opposition thinks that the ruling authorities are based not only on political parties which are necessary for a healthy statehood but on clans and clan interests. Some critics have advised the government and the president that instead of using confusing terminology they should use plain names, identify things clearly, explain their meaning and give clear examples.