As always, Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev congratulated the Kazakhstanis on the beginning of the new year. The video recording of his New Year address was shown on all the national TV-channels and appeared on the Akorda website at the midnight of December 31, 2017.
If we are to forego the purely human emotions, the gist of President’s address looks as follows. He named these events as the main country’s achievements of 2017 – the winter universiade, the international exhibition Astana EXPO-2017, the activities at the UN Security Council and the participation in resolving the Syria conflict, the birth of the 18 millionth Kazakhstani, the Constitutional reform, the new industrial projects including the digitalization and the development of the transport potential of the country along with the increase of the size of the pensions and the other social benefits.
The fact that Nazarbayev had not said a word about the problems and the difficulties, in this case, is quite understandable since the celebratory format of the address demands speaking only of the good, the bright, and the merry. However, any celebration ends, and everyday routine begins. For this reason, we want to attract the reader’s attention to an exceptionally alarming fact – the discrepancy in the evaluations of what is going on in the country between the authorities, on the one hand, and the civil society, on the other.
Let us prove this observation.
Well-known Kazakhstan political scientists Erlan Karin and Dosym Satpayev belong to the same generation and have simultaneously begun to publicly perform the role of analysts and prognosticators. In the past, they had often been seen sitting together and supporting each other at different events. Then, Karin turned to the state service where he has made a rather impressive career. Now he is Chairman of RTRK Kazakhstan whereas Satpayev continues acting as an independent expert.
Dosym Satpayev gave his assessment of the year 2017 in his Forbes-Kazakhstan interview under a telling title “The Year of the Fried Chicken”. Erlan Karin presented his evaluation in his Telegram channel from where the text has been republished by many Kazakhstan media including web-site Tengrinews.
So, here is a quote from Erlan Karin.
“One of the main political trend is the fact that, in the course of the year, the authorities have been setting the agenda. If, in the previous years, the authorities had often found themselves in the reacting position, often had to act as the number two – following the events, acting post-factum, then, in 2017, they proposed the initiatives that had sprung discussions and debates. In this regard, the authorities have become more adaptable and more flexible in communicating with the society”.
“Of course, during the year, there had been different situations – the questionable ones, the ones that caused anger, but, in general, they were resolved rather quickly. More often than not, the authorities had managed to act as a mediator in these situations, consequently, there were no obvious antagonisms and conflicts. Even the issues that, in the previous years, seemed to have divided the society into the oppositional camps lost their edge in 2017. And this result I think is one of the main political outcomes of the year. In short, they set the all-embracing agenda, worked out the uniting platform, and started moving towards the unifying goal”.
Now, compare this quote to Dosym Satpayev’s position.
“The outgoing year started on a merry note and finished on a sad one. The redistribution of the responsibilities among the branches of power in the beginning of the year showed, quite predictably, that, in the supra-presidential system, such measures only create an illusion of reforms. The main goal of the Constitutional changes, as it was stated, was to increase the responsibility of the government and the Parliament. Moreover, it was underscored that the new law would significantly strengthen the role of the Parliament by making it more independent which includes taking responsibility in the periods of the political and economic emergencies. However, the year 2017 showed that everything remained as it used to be”.
“Thus, this year, the government and the Parliament, as usual, have shown their managerial impotence and the low effectiveness in how they react to the crisis situations since, from the beginning, the problem was not how to hand over the responsibilities, it was to whom they should be handed over. But this concerns not just the government and the Parliament. This year, we have, once again, confirmed that not one single artificially created political institute, be it the pro-presidential political parties, the state-owned media, or the non-profit organizations affiliated with the state, is a priori incapable of being effective in the state of emergency or crisis”.
“Fourth, as an attempt to upgrade the internal policy from the standpoint of changing the ideological accents. It started after Marat Tazhin had assumed the position of First Deputy Head of Nazarbayev Administration after Maylybayev’s arrest. Especially considering that, during the recent years, Nazarbayev Administration has seriously lowered the bar in the sphere of not only the analytical work but of the prognostic functions as well. As a result, we have had a crack up in the domestic policy that, among other things, had clearly manifested itself during the land protests.
In 2017, they have tried to raise the bar by presenting the new ideological projects, from the program of “modernizing the consciousness” to the decision on converting the Kazakh language into the Latin alphabet. But before attempting to modernize the consciousness of the society, the elite must modernize its own consciousness. If this does not happen, as the practices of the other countries show, the purging of the brains “upstairs” may be started by those who were once “downstairs”. Besides, being continues to determine consciousness. In a society where the poor outnumber the rich or the middle class, where many feel alien to this feast of life, where the right one is not the one who is right but the one who has more rights, no program to modernize consciousness created “upstairs” is going to work. Therefore, we do not need a modernization program written on paper but a real, non-mythical modernization of the economy and the political system carried out in real life. Only the effective political and economic reforms that will improve the well-being of the majority of the citizens can serve as the foundation for the appearance of a reachable “Kazakhstan dream” that, for many, may come true in real life”.
One can agree that the discrepancies in the evaluations of the political results of last year between the two Kazakhstan political scientists possess the systemic nature. The reasons are obvious – being determines consciousness. One is working for the state and, therefore, must show flexibility in complying with the orders given by the high authorities. The second must remain as objective as possible, otherwise, his skills will simply seize to be in demand at the market.
Meanwhile, this very fact indicates that the state and the society in Kazakhstan have parted beyond recall, that they do not hear each other and do not listen to each other which is critical for the country and its future.
The same kind of the mutual “deafness”, along with the economic problems and the mass-scale desire of the citizens to live better, had caused the collapse of the Soviet Union. To us, personally, the Kazakhstan of 2017 is strongly reminiscent of the USSR of 1980 when, after the successfully completed Olympic games, there followed the worsening of the relationships with the US and the collective West, the death of the then “leader of the nation” Leonid Brezhnev, and the Bacchanalia with his successors. And we all know how it ended.