Once again on the “We Have Our Own Path” Concept

Isa Shahmarli’s suicide revealed a wide gap within the society about the future of the country and the nation.

It has been several days but discussions over Isa Shahmarli’s suicide cannot be tamed. An act of suicide committed by a young person, gay even, in a very demonstrative way pushed the society into turmoil, as treasures hidden in depth of sea and exposed by waves. And the issue here is absolutely not a matter of gay rights, as some attempted to portray it.

The issue revealed a wide gap within the society about the future of the country and the nation. It was as if we saw the other side of faces of many people, who have been talking about Europe for many years. Even those, who have been living in Europe for a long time and therefore do not even know Azerbaijan and speak impeccable English, opened up discussions on “we have a great culture” topic, promoted by “intellectuals” of Azerbaijani State Television (AZTV). Most consistent democracy supporters started to talk about “cultural differences” and orientalism. The interesting part is that the reference points that they all appealed during these discussions, in reality are their passionate opponents – classics like Mirza Jalil, Uzeyir bay and Sabir.

The last is obvious – for our society these figures, who accomplished the impossible starting from Akhundov till the first half of the past century, are just dead busts far from their missions and essence of their struggle. Everyone appeals to their names: “intellectuals,” executioners, police, pop-priests, those who bribe and those who take it. To repeat their names like mantra and to say at the end “may the God rest your soul Mirza Jalil” demonstrating some non-sense and even incredible stupidity have become something like koan used in Buddhism. Everyone uses it. But, I did not expect our compatriots, who lived in Europe for many years and integrated into its society, to use their names while advising the opposite of what they had done and the path they had selected. Perhaps, they do not know what is AZTV and how deep can its poisonous ampoules and syringes go (please, don’t tell me that you don’t watch AZTV, it is not about television, AZTV is not a television, it is a mentality, it is like a Sufi templar containing the absolute truth. I am talking about faith here, deep metaphysical levels).

During the discussions, people were arguing that “we have our own path” and this path is different from the European one, and that the things we said are primitive oversimplifications. People need to be told that we have many others, who can talk about culture on this topic more elegantly, and your repetition of it in English is nothing more than plagiarism. Any tar player, mugham singer, prosecutor, corrupted-inquisitor, pop-priest and even the gay population itself can explain “we have our own path” mantra to anyone through any possible ways. They can talk enough about Nizami-Fuzuli, tar-mugham, national traditions, dolma-khoncha, buta-garayli, and insert the “9 climates,” and even mumble about more powerful “the first opera in East” (“the first republic” rhetoric is frozen for known reasons), well, why do we need you then?

Indeed, it is impossible not to be stunt – how it can be that we are “discussing” the issue that had been solved by the history a long time ago? I mean, are we that archaic as a society? The time has shown that there are not many “nation-specific” ways of humankind’s development. Everything goes through evolution, modernization of society and there is no need to invent a bicycle here. The attractiveness of a modern society is an axiom. Fascination of our society by Turkey in 80-90s was due to its relative development in comparison with us back then. The Japanese, the nation that Azerbaijanis admire, would be siding by Mongolians if they didn’t carry out Meiji revolution.

Search for “alternative civilization” has started a long time ago. First in Europe itself the orientalism reached its culmination in art as esthetic direction in XIX century, then a number of authors spoke about differences of civilization. Spengler, Berdyayev, Genon, Gumilyev and etc. – almost all XX century passed in light of these discussions. This issue was particularly widespread in Russia in XIX century due to its unprecedented territorial expansion. There was even a special type of Russian art called “русский восток” (Russian East). Sometimes, these look ridiculous. Russian composer Miliy Balakirev had a piano play titled Islamey. Now, every time mini-skirted Russian ladies perform it during concerts it causes laughter. View from the outside without knowing the essence – this is the real orientalism. Exactly like our compatriots living in Europe discuss the topic of “we have our own path” in English.

However, in 1991, the collapse of the Soviet Union – the backbone of “alternative civilization” issue put a bold period at the end of discussion. There are only remains like Cuba, North Korea, Afghanistan, Somalia left from “alternative” discussion. Europe is not just a continent – it is a collection of values. When all humankind get newest ideas, modern technology, education, the most simple piece of electronics, medicine, movie, fashion, shaver, cosmetics from the West, how come the public and cultural models of the West are refused?

With this way of thinking, today’s participants of the discussion would call enlighteners of XX century, whose very names they constantly repeat, Mirza Jalil, Hagverdiyev primitivists and orientalists, present folklore as culture, say about Sabir that “he was palavering when he had great school of ghazal”, and ridicule Uzeyir bay uttering that he was composing some “opera” when we had the great mugham, wouldn’t they?

In fact, all these existed back then as well. Unfortunately, this is not often mentioned, but along with “Molla Nasraddin”, magazine of “Fuyuzat”, which attempted to be alternative to the former by promoting poems and ghazals, was published in the same year, but disastrously failed after one year. It was a deadlock and reached its blind alley quickly. Despite the resistance, the society was in need of modernization, renewal and this need gave birth to that generation of enlighteners.

Friends, you are saying cultural, civilizational processes are complex things, not “primitive”? What about explaining the simple formula of this complex thing to society, is it very easy? Do you think we should open up a huge discussion starting from Plato to Hegel, from Nietzsche to Heidegger, from Spengler to Bodriyar, from Rimski-Korsakov to Faraj Guliyev for society to truly understand its path of development? You need academic discussions, am I right?

In fact, this “we have our own path” slogan is the government’s pleasing argument relevant to existing governance, and you must be blind not to see it.

Anyway, indeed all these discussions are meaningless. Our people know their gains and losses very well dear friends: when you have health problems, you run to the West, give your children Western education, travel mainly to Europe (the well off part of the society), the rest immigrate mainly to the West (nobody wants to go to countries that have found their “own paths”). You all use Western technology with pleasure, fly with its planes, dive into its modern technology, watch and discuss its moves and etc. Therefore, don’t try to wheedle this society, they know their gains very well, their only problem is fraudulence. Any fraud will feel like fish in the water in this society – be it heterosexual, or homosexual, or even metrosexual, it is their own business.

Now, the main problem of our society is these frauds with “alternative” claims, and not “we won’t ride cars” anymore. Time has shown that the most dangerous of them are indeed the ones, who “ride the car,” and perceive Sabir and other enlighteners only as propagandists of consumerism.

In Isa Shahmarli’s case, along with unprecedented pressure from society, as I understood, the fate of the lead character of his favorite movie, which he re-watched many times, also played a role. The inexistence of Azerbaijani cinematography and lack of any chance for it to appear on the horizon are conditioned by archaic public structure of society. Cinematography cannot exist in feudalism, my dears, because cinematography was not just a technical invention, but also the product of evolution. Since we don’t have it yet, it is impossible.

P.S. Actually, if you look from a different angle we do have “our own path.” We have created one of the most unique things in the modern word – hard-core rightwing homosexuals.

ГлавнаяOp-edOnce again on the “We Have Our Own Path” Concept