# 7

Manana Shamilishvili


Anti colonial concept based on European values in Georgian “political writing” of the second half of 19th century

 Abstract: The Georgian journalism of 19th century is the brightest conceptual expression of anticolonial nationalism. The Russian colonialism enhanced the feeling of Georgian nationality and the desire of national freedom. The study of complex phenomenon such as National identity in the context of common European tendencies has given us the opportunity to research journalism - “political writing” as the alternative explanation of national conception. The construction process of Georgian national identity, we discussed as the main publicist coincidence of tendencies of the period and as the context of European social-cultural experience.

Key Words: Georgian Journalism of the second half of 19th century, European values, National Identity, Writers media text

19th century Georgian nationalism Publication in anticolonial period is the most impressive conceptual reveal. Russian colonialism strengthened the national feeling of the Georgian national independence and desire. National identity of the complex phenomenon of the time section of the common European tendencies in the context of research has given us the opportunity, "political writings" of that time (such a definition offered by Niko Nikoladze Contemporary Social and Political Journalism synonymous). National concept as an attempt to discuss alternative explanations of the topic.

For long period of time, during most of the 19th century European countries tried by applying to different methods to solve the problem of industrial modernization, political consolidation and cultural homogenization of society. These processes started relatively late in Georgia and procrastinated for some time, which was natural. Transformation from agrarian society into the industrial is connected to some specifications (weak, lack of competition national bourgeoisie and dual social nature if Georgian working class in borders of Russian empire represented the major significance of the development of Georgian capitalism). Like Europe in this process the main role was played by the idea of nation and formation of conformable national identity.

As one of the major institutions of formation of Georgian national identity is considered “typed” capitalism (according to the term introduces by N. Berdznishvili about which we will have further discussion, based on theory of B. Andersen (Andersen 2001: 177)) we would notice from the begging and repeat again that its true that talking about the Georgian capitalisms lacks the basis, but we used the term to draw attention to the mentioned and not for mentioning the exact event. Long term and artificially stopped process of transformation of the society can be attributed by the tem “pre capitalism”.

From the second half of the 19th century, especially after the reform in Georgia, edition activity significantly develops. In the forms of printed books, newspapers and magazines appear the first products of mass consumption. Increases the number of typographies and temporary additions by the end of 90s number of periodicals significantly increase, among them the daily editions. Accordingly, development of press market helps the formation of readers’ circles, public as nations “imaginative whole”. Reading a newspaper creates a feeling of uniting the separated parts of the society. Exactly in the editions of newspapers and its readers is being formed, discussed nation, national identity and concepts of national interests. By committing their ideas on the pages of newspaper different parts of society tried to identify what being Georgian is, where its border crosses, what is the interconnection between nation and empire, where does the national history start and etc…

The main sign of formation of this exact society is connected to the development of press market, about what in the 50s of 19th century Nikoloz Berdznishvili (berdzenov) (1829-1874) pointed out. In his very interesting publicist speeches he has paid attention to the essence of journalism, the importance of the development of “typed capitalism” for Georgian society, cultural-literal life. Concerning the first edition of “Tsiskari” by Iv. Kereselidze, he printed the review “a few words about the Georgian literature (for the edition of first book of Georgian literature magazine “Tsiskari”)” in newspaper “Kavkaz” which persuades in trueness above mentioned. It’s true that scientific works cannot tolerate the full siltation, but we think that it is worth the risk to use the large extract, by which we can demonstrate the progressive thinking, area of thinking and forward-looking of Nikoloz Berdznishvili.

(…) Let’s take a look at so call “new world” or America. everyone who reads anything know how fast the cities grow there, abandoned places turn into the settlements and the life flows there, where just some time ago the place was empty.

And how do they start foundation of new cities there?

They put printing machine in the little house, built from the branches of streets and start edition of newspapers. So what that from the beginning the circle of readers of this newspaper are only his coworkers (and maybe sometimes someone who is looking for adventures and accidently stopped by)?! Time will pass and exactly around this little wooden house will start appearing first streets, than – districts, and in two or three years there will be new city built, which will later have commercial, industrial, literature and other importance. So, in America, newspaper and magazines become the beacon, around which the population gathers, start multilateral and various businesses, and this business is based on unstoppable movements and advancements…

(…) Mental direction of the given epoch, its character, dignity and shortcomings is defined by journalism; oral capitol comes into the movement of the particular country and people. Besides this journalism is the most trustful and devoted leader during the creation and exchanging of new ideas. It turns the places out for the cashes of different ideas, without what the truth can not arise, as one of the thinkers was admitting this the right way” (Djologua 2010: 76-77).

As we see the text contains a lot of considerable details even for today. we will not exceed if we say that after Solomon Dodashvili, Nikoloz Berdznishvili expressed the values for Georgian society the most clearly: Europe/America as the only alternative for the progress and development and from this perspective laid the basis for the positive meaning of the journalism. To the pathos of the article corresponds “militarism of Europe and future of America” (1889) by Ilia Chavchavadze (Chavchavadze 1952: 445-446). In general he gave a great importance to the works of N. Berdznishvili and considered himself as his ideal successor.

There is no doubt that Nikoloz Berdznishvili is one the grounders of so called process of “Georgian European values”.

Each social movement creates its own narrative of national history, identity and the nature of nation. by following the discussions unlashed in the press for the particular period of time, we can conclude that it became some kind of metanarrative, from one side as peoples and from the other as struggle between powerful and cultural human (opposition baptized by the name of “struggle of fathers and sons”), which later (and today) transformed into the confrontation of culture and nation human (so called literature centrism and “building the nations” ideas, battle between rational and “irrational” discourses). Georgian journalism demonstrated exactly the competitive models of Georgian Nation. So, in the 19th century establishment process of the national identity was not determined in advance and had an alternative character.

Russian colonialism strengthened the feeling of Georgian nationalism and the desire of national independence. Colonialism was firstly implemented through the language form, that’s why the Russian metropolis emergency plan included the rule of concurred people in their own languages and rules, which finally, had to end with difficult assimilation. If in other colonies this process was going on moderately successfully, in Georgia it required some kind of pre work. No matter how paradoxical it sounds, foundation of paradoxical publishing in Georgian language was one of the goals of the plan. The thing was that the empire required some typed media in order to deliver the information to the border population about the success it had in battles (as we know in the same century it went through several battles with Turkey). There is no doubt that strengthening of any kind of empire requires the typed word. For example, there is argumentative thought that Rome used the handwriting of its elite to become and empire, when it became the main source of communication between government and people. Social and government structures of Roman Empire formed under the influence of the writing (Inis 1950: 35-39).

Let’s return to the research epoch from the protojournalism. It needs to be taken into the consideration that during the indicated period of time very few could read not in Russian but even in native language. Language of assimilation was fluently spoken only by those representatives of Georgian elite who served in the military (in Russian policy of course included the creation of safe, ideologically dependant layer. during that time the military school were created for this purpose). Finding the indicated reasons shows the situation, which caused the reason for self conquest to become of the main reasons for creation of Georgian press.

if first Georgian editions were the exact same as the periodicals published in Russian during that period and mainly were limited to kingdom apologies, later, as if strengthened by the care of new generation was persecuted by the strict censorship and were closing one after another. Censorship really had a big concern, which was caused by the main significance of the industrial publishing. Whatever could not be said directly was hidden in the text, metaphorically and was read between the lines. So the writer could always find the way out, even in the conditions of strictest censorship. What we can’t say about a journalists, who places a strict goal – to put in order the imagination and based on the facts offer such work, which can benefit the society in the given period and actualize the problematic topics. This feature differentiated journalism from creative work. And exactly by using this feature, writer-journalists spoke to the reader and reached the goal more successfully by manipulating the readers’ feelings. However, later, by the end of 19th century the institution of censorship weakened, as empire in general, which destroyed itself by the hands of Marxists who were created from its own indoors because of incapability to continue the same way. Later, changed into the Bolsheviks they, themselves included Russia.

Based on European constitutionalism, Georgian journalism tried to popularize the European educational tradition by reflecting the global problems into the local sections. We were dealing with the term called “localization” which is often used to reflect big things into the local and often to change them. Popularization of works of Jan-Jak Russo, Francois Walter, Deni Didro, Frances Bacon, John Stuart Mill, DuPont, Louis Blanc, Salace, Herbert Spenser and many others helped the actualization of the integration of society, which was ill with the disease of “particularism” into the European culture.

If the generation of “Tergdaleuli” was talked about the idea of Georgian European Values based on the education received in Russian, New generation was going to solve the problems of the country by using the education received from the original source and was creating totally new journalism. Sergei Meskhi, Niko Nikoladze, Giorgi Tsereteli, Besarion Jafaridze, David Chkotua and Ivane Meskhi were discussing the priorities of European education over the Russian educational system, about the problems of “educated youth”, about the need of Europesation of education.

It is not an accidental that Niko Nikoladze proposed the term of “political writing” as the synonym of his modern publications (Georgian Publicity 2007: 157-166). He was the reformer of our modern publications, establisher of high professional standards, which is based on the education and analysis of the idea of scientific state. For the propaganda of new ideas publicists used new methods (e.g. citation, as strengthening of intellectualism) as well as literature-creative method: political satire, humor, allegory. Big importance was given to sarcastic and travel letters. separately should be mentioned “Droeba” – “Krebuli” creation of foreign bureau of correspondents and reports from epicenter of events taking place in Europe (documentation reflection of days of Paris Commune, from Geneva, letters delivered by the organization “Ugeli” founded by the Georgian students of Zurich and so on.) this was the beginning of the Georgian political thinking.

This way, frontier Georgians of the indicated period put the idea of “State building” as a goal. They confronted the national cultural-educational program against the Russian “educational” interests. This firstly, was expressed in the foundation of native language newspapers and magazines and in popularization of European values.


Andersen 2001: Andersen B. Imaginative Society. Thoughts about the premises of nationalism M., 2001 (in Russian)

Chavchavadze 1952: Chavchavadze Ilia, full collection of narratives in five sections. Edition of Pavle Ingorokva, S.3, Tbilisi, 1952 (in Georgian).

Djologua 2010: Djologua Tamaz, History of Georgian Journalism, section 1, Tbilisi 2010 (in Georgian).

Georgian Publicity 2007: Georgian Publicity (19th century), edition of Tbilisi university, 2007 (in Georgian).

Inis 1950: Inis Harold, Empire and the Means of Communication, 1950.



Volume 5, Issue 2


Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature

Georgian Electronic Journal of Literature