Essay about The Evolution of Democracy in Georgia

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The Georgian people made its choice on 26 May 1918, when it voted for democracy and pluralism in the conditions of a free Georgia. 26 May was destroyed by Bolshevik bayonets, but the idea of freedom and democracy remain undefeated in the Georgian - Statement of the National Democratic Party, 1988.1

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the Caucasian country of Georgia (map below) was among the vanguard of forces seeking the dissolution of the Soviet Union. It was the only republic to join the Baltic in flatly refusing to even consider signing Gorbachev's new Union treaty in 1990.2 Agitation for Georgian independence led to a series of bloody clashes with the authorities that only served to further radicalize the nationalists. When
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Yet the Georgian nobility lacked wide popular support, which precluded its nationalism from becoming a mass movement."4 Although relatively large (the Georgian nobility accounted for over five percent of the population in the nineteenth century, compared to less than one percent for neighboring Armenia), the Georgian nobility was also widely disliked, and had been losing its wealth and strength since the Russian takeover.

A much more significant movement in late Imperial Russian Georgia was Socialism. Georgian socialism was founded in the 1880s by Sylvester Jibladze, Nikolai Chkheidze and Noe Zhordania, who were followers of Plekhanov but joined the Mensheviks after the split in the Russian Social-Democratic Workers' Party. Although the Transcaucasian Social-Democrats did not hear of the schism of the Second Party Congress until nearly a year after it occurred, once their delegates returned they embraced Menshevism en masse.

The strong elective tradition among Georgian workers and the practice of keeping intellectuals distant from the workers' committees proved to be fertile soil for those who opposed Lenin's more centralized and directed organization of the party... From January 1905, Georgian social democracy became an almost exclusively Menshevik movement.5

Indeed, Georgia was one of the chief

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