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Chapter 6 of "The Georgien - South Ossetian Conflict"



6 Discussion and Analysis

The Soviet nationality policy can easily be said to be a pragmatic compromise between ideology and reality. But the Soviet nationality policy can also been seen as a mobilisation of ethnic populations, via nation-building, to accomplish Soviet-style modernisation, as it is prescribed in the Soviet strategy of development from rastsvet (blooming), over sblizhenie (rapprochement) to sliianie (merging).

However, it becomes clear that we stand before a two-stringed policy going in opposite directions. Suppression of nationalism and state-sponsored development of the very same. I have concentrated on the over-all structure of this policy, but it is important to stress that this policy of course was subject to different degrees and variations. It should be mentioned that while the fundamental structures of this policy were laid out during Stalin, his period of rule was also a period of severe repression of aspects of nationalism and national identity that was not wished or unofficial. Furthermore, during Stalin most of the non-Russian republics experienced a so-called period of Russification - promotion of Russian language and culture. But in comparison to most other republics, the Transcaucasian republics had a higher level of cultural autonomy, and far from as high an emigration of Russians, as for example the Baltic states or Kazakhstan.

Therefore, on the one hand there were severe repression, varying degrees of Sovietization/Russification and autonomy, and in Soviet parlance, nationalism was equal to chauvinism, therefore calling for internationalism and for playing down ethnic particularism and nationalist feelings. On the other hand there were state-sponsored nation building and encouragement of the development of separate national and ethnic identities. This contradiction went unresolved in official nationality policy and was reflected in the formula 'national in form, socialist in content' (Hunter 1994, p.14 and Suny 1989, p.300).

The policy of korenizatsiia (rooting/nativization) had immense consequences for the development in the respective federal units. Combined with modernisation this policy can be characterised as an incubator of nationalism. The policy meant an ethnic consolidation of the titular nationalities, and the empowerment of their national leaderships and intelligentias. In Georgia it meant a gradual re-establishment of Georgian political control and ethnic dominance over their country, a process that hardly had begun during the brief independence period of 1918-21 (Suny 1989, p.298).

Furthermore, Georgia, and the other official nationalities, experienced a cultural revival (or in some instances what Hobsbawm and Ranger would call a process of invention of tradition), a Soviet subsidised fostering of ethnicity through, as mentioned, national theatre, opera, film, publishing, mass-media and higher education. Of course socialist in content but national in form. In these ways Georgians became a cohesive nation, with a growing national awareness and consciousness like it never had been before.

The territorialisation of ethnicity together with the strengthening of the titular nationalities left the minorities within the different designated homelands with few guaranties against discrimination. Ethnicity became a condition for success. These developments increased the pressure on the minorities within the republics to assimilate or migrate.

Furthermore the policy of korenizatsiia backslashed in the way that sooner or later the indigenous elites created their own power base in their respective republics, acquiring independent attitudes and practices with nationalistic implications. 

But as we have seen, this was also the case in the autonomous republics and regions within the Union Republics, taking the hierarchical structure of the entire Union into consideration. The consolidation of Georgian ethnicity had produced an increasingly potent nationalist mood in all parts of Georgian society - and counter-nationalism among the ethnic minorities within the republic (Suny 1989, p.314).

Another aspect of importance here is the federal system which with its inherent contradictions paved the way for conflict constellations between the three layers of the Union: The Union centre on one side, the Union Republics on the other and the autonomous units in between. The relationship of the centre of the entire Union, Moscow, to the Union Republic was replicated in the Union Republics in relation to the autonomous units, to the effect that these would have Moscow as a natural allied in relation to the Union Republics. Ian Bremmer depictures the situation in this way:

Table 7  (Bremmer 1993, p.14)


First-order titular nationality

Second-order titular nationality

Non-titular nationality







First-order titular nationality





Second-order titular nationality





Non-titular nationality





The table shows the basic dynamics of the Soviet construction in relation to the different units in the federal hierarchy, and is very important in the course of the conflicts in e.g. Georgia as to the Georgian - South Ossetian and Georgian - Abkhazian conflicts and the role of the Soviet centre and later Russia. The Soviet political-administrative system functioned as a crafty system of ethnic disparity. Conflicting ethno-political power structures were an inherent part of the system, because of the hierarchical system of units. This meant a continuos competition between ‘governments’ for status and legitimacy over a specific ethnic defined territory and a competition of sovereignty, which was intensified in the transformation phase and the eventual collapse of the Soviet Union. The South Ossetian leadership saw the all-union leadership in Moscow as its natural ally, capable of controlling the union leadership of Tbilisi, in respect to the limitation of the powers of the Georgian leadership towards South Ossetian autonomy.

Furthermore, as we have seen, the policies of the centre, especially in terms of language and education, exposed the second-order nationalities and the non-titular nationalities more to the processes of Russification. Which also can be interpreted as tying these groups more to the federal centre than the republican centre.

It is, however, important not only to see this conflicting structure as an administrative problem of jurisdiction. The fault lines ran parallel to the ethnic and hence it was also a problem of competing societal systems. In the light of the theories of nationalism, the ethnic or cultural community of the South Ossetians poses a threat to the nationalism of the dominant Georgian community. The South Ossetian community represents an alternative cultural community that may choose to leave the larger Georgian community, when they find it suitable. In this way the South Ossetian ethnic elite functions as effective rivals to the Georgian State exactly because of their cultural fundament. The elites are capable of mobilising popular support because they control the symbolic resources of their community.


Finally, one can in a way view the Soviet understanding of nations as a mixture of the political and the organic versions of the notion of the nation. The Soviet idea was initially, that by fostering and cultivating the nations it would hasten the development of a new Soviet nationality. The processes of modernisation would, together with a uniform nationality policy, in respect to all the officially recognised nations, create, in form, different nations but in content similar nations tied to the Soviet State. Hence the Soviet definition of self-determination was meant as a ‘right’ to integration rather than as a ‘right’ to secession, it was meant to unify rather than fragmentize, as we recognise from the political notion of the nation.


One can speak of a social contract made between the state and the populations, or rather the elites, in which the state would offer job security, price stability, absence of inflation, a certain welfare and even progress. This did not happen. The recent rise of nationalism can therefore be interpreted as a result of the fact that the state did not fulfil its promises in respect to economic gain and welfare, and as a consequence of the economic crises, in the 1980s, the Soviet Union collapsed. This view, I think, has some explanatory value, but it is important also to see it in the light of the fact that the Soviet type of understanding also contained the ethnic-organic understanding of the nation, and that this understanding gained, as we have seen, influence.


Stalin’s definition of the nation was ethnic and objective, and this was the basis of the federal system. The Soviet nation-builders had a too instrumental view on nationalism; they underestimated the emotional and cultural understanding of nationalism. Nationalism took root and was not a ‘through-coming train’ between economic stages of development[1]. Nationalism, or nation-ness as Anderson prefer to call it, seeped down into the collective consciousness of the different populations. The way the system evolved you clearly see that the Soviet communists did not anticipate the emotional appeal, as well as the political potential of nationalism. The Soviet system was an incubator of nationalisms, holding as an ideal the principle of congruity between state-structures/units and ethnic groups. Ethno-national elites were developed and with them a consciousness of being potential nations with own statehood.


The ethno-territorial division of the Soviet Union and the policy of nativization meant a politicisation of ethnicity, with its concept of titular nations, with special rights, priorities and privileges and their homelands. This policy had consequences for the inter-ethnic relations in the federal republics and later for the eventual dissolution of the Soviet Union. When communism as an ideology and state faded away, what was left was the ethnic notion of the nation.


With the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the obvious fall-back position became ethnicity, exactly because of the territorialisation and politicisation of ethnicity, which was based on the concept of titular nations and their homelands with special rights, priorities, privileges leading back to Stalin’s definition of a nation as an ethno-nation. The term ‘fall-back position’ may not seem so appropriate to use in this connection as it might suggest something inevitable or natural. The point, however, is precisely that ethnicity and nationalism was fostered and cultivated by the Soviet system, but with the decrease of and eventual lapse of Soviet power and communist ideology as the content, the national form was the remainder.


The interesting fact is that the ethnic conflicts in Georgia, or for that in sake most of the former Soviet Union, have almost only been fought in and around the autonomies: Nagorna-Karabagh, Chechnya, North Ossetia (Prigorodnyi), Abkhazia, and South Ossetia. In Georgia the Abkhaz and South Ossetians only constitute respectively 1.8 and 3.0 per cent of the population. The largest ethnic minorities the Armenians (8.1), Russians (6.3), and Azeris (5.7) have been relatively quiescent[2]. The main difference is their status of titular nationalities and the hence following rights and privileges. As concluded in the previous section the Soviet nationality policy can be said to have been an incubator of nations and nationalism. And it is important to stress that this was, as mentioned, not only the case of the republics but also of the autonomies, which also fostered an ethnic political identity.


The conflicts can therefore be said to be more about administratively political matters rather than ethnic matters. The elites feared loosing the privileges, which the Soviet nationality policy had guaranteed. Here I find Brass’ understanding of nationalism useful as ethnic elites making use of the ethno-national identity to put forward demands on the political or economical level to obtain, or maintain - as in this case- political power or economic gains. Brass puts, as we have seen, special emphasis on the interaction between the state and the peripheral ethnic elites in times of drastic changes of society, that being changes in the political context and in the balance of the centre-periphery relations. The specific circumstances, he mentions - transfer of power from colonial to post-colonial states, during succession struggles, and at times when central power appears to be weakening - are as written for this case of ethnic conflict between the peripheral South Ossetian ethnic elite and the Georgian state.


But it is, however, also important to stress that this mobilisation of ethnicity, was set in system and institutionalised by the Soviet System, it was not something constructed ‘yesterday’ by the elites. Furthermore, ethnicity or national identity is malleable but within limits and in continuation of this it takes time to create or shape the feeling of community. But let us now turn to look closer at the Georgian and South Ossetian national movements to see what the dynamics of the conflict can be said to be in the light of theory of nationalism.



Georgian Nationalism


The Georgian national movement was partly initiated by dissident human rights activists from the 1970s (like Zviad Gamzakhurdia), who in the atmosphere of Gorbachev’s Glasnost, once again entered the scene. But the strive was not for freedom in the sense of political liberties enjoyed by individual citizens, within a country. It was the strive for freedom in the sense of collective self-assertion vis-�-vis other nations. A reflection of the Soviet notion of the nation and a consequence of the process of nation building of the Soviet period, and though the content was no longer communism but freedom and sovereignty, the form was still ethno-national.


This is also reflected in the way that a planned project of the Transcaucasian railway system, criticised in 1987 by Georgian academics for the ecological consequences, became a focal point for the Georgian national movement. Initially a question of environmental issues but manifested within an ethno-national frame.


The Georgian national movement was first and foremost directed against the Soviet system, which was interpreted as a continuation of Tsar-Russian imperialism. In the euphoria of strive for independence from the Soviet state, the Georgian national movement was arguing for Georgian independence on grounds of Georgian distinctiveness. The entry of Georgia into the Soviet Union was seen as Soviet/Russian occupation of Georgia, and the slogan of the national movement became ‘Georgia for Georgians’, directed foremost against Russian influence and presence.

A worship of pre-Soviet and pre-Russian Georgia took form. A clearly primordial understanding of the Georgian nation as eternal and great was manifested and cultivated. A clear sign of this primordial approach of understanding the Georgian nation is seen in an opinion poll made in 1990. In this most of the participants were of the opinion that the Georgian monarchy before 1801 was of greater importance in the national self-understanding than the Georgian Republic, that existed in 1918 to 1921 (Dehdashti 1997, p.27).

The Russian annexations of Georgia in 1801 and again in 1921 are conceived as ‘end of history points’, and in this lies the primordial conception of what I in part 1.1, described as the view on communism as a parenthesis, something that has interrupted a natural historical course. But as we have seen in the part called ‘the Soviet setting’ this is hardly the case. Georgia mainly developed into a self-consciousness ethno-nation during and due to Soviet rule and the general processes of modernisation in that period. But as we have seen in the theories of nationalism, the sense of continuity, shared memories and collective destiny are essential ‘components’ in creating and imagining the community. Therefore, ‘the natural part’ in this phenomenon does not lie in the eternal natural course and premodern history, but in the necessity of drawing on history and collective memories in order to imagine the community and act as one distinctive cultural and political unit. In this way it is symptomatic that the leaders of the Georgian national movement, and its different fractions, were lead by academics like Zviad Gamsakhurdia, a professor of literature, Merab Kostava, a professor of music, Djaba Joseliani, a doctor in history of art etc.

The distinctiveness was especially emphasised through the Georgian language as unique from the surrounding nations’ languages. Thus the ‘Georgia for Georgians’ slogan was initially expressed in the language laws (mentioned in the empirical part), which were meant to strengthen the Georgian-ness and renounce Russian influence. It was meant to function as a complete Georgianization of the educational system and public institutions. In the strive for Georgian independence, the Georgian parliament, therefore adopted the former Georgian constitution from 1921, before Soviet Rule.

The language laws and the laws on citizenship were meant as protection of the rights of the Georgian majority, in this way citizenship was based on nationality, defined ethnically. The minorities were seen as non-Georgians. However, they were not to be denied citizenship, but still they were defined as second class citizens: Formally recognised but basically seen as an anomaly, and thus treated as tolerated historical guests. In this light the national movement explained the existence of national minorities in Georgia, as an artificial situation created by the communist Soviet rule. Following this argument the minorities, and especially those with autonomies, were viewed upon as foreign elements and a Soviet installed threat against the realisation of Georgian independence and hence the autonomies were regarded as unlawful.

This of course also plays a role in the Georgian understanding of the conflict as it is connected to the Georgian self-perception of being the eternal historical victim surrounded by hostile powers (especially Russia) and to the insecurity as to the border regions, inhabited by minorities, which has given cause to perceive them as a possible and likely 5th colon. Therefore, you often encounter a reluctance of the term ethnic conflict, to describe this conflict, as the Georgians understand it as a political conflict instigated by the Russians, exploiting the Ossetians and Abkhaz in order to, so to speak, clip the wings of the Georgian aspiration for national self-determination. This view is further strengthened by the fact that the former conflict in the 1920s also is perceived as a Russian instigated Ossetian rebellion in order to seize Georgia.

This furthermore explains the Georgian insensitiveness towards the concerns of the minorities, as it is largely not perceived to be a domestic problem but rather an instrumentalized conflict instigated by Russia. The Georgian national movement could thus only perceive the minorities reaction on the Georgian strive for independence as treason and the minorities were thus seen as ungrateful guest.

In addition this view led to the fact that the expressed concerns and fears of the minorities were mainly interpreted as a threat to the territorial integrity of Georgia. Despite the fact that, as we have seen in the empirical part, Russia did play a negative role, this have lead to a completely incomprehensibility as to the situation of the minorities and a monopoly on Georgian interests and affairs and thereby excluded the possibility of any cross-ethnic “all-national/Georgian” alliances.

South Ossetian Nationalism

The South Ossetian national movement came into existence later than the Georgian and mainly in response to the developments in Georgia proper. The specific version of the Georgian nationalism, as ethno-nationalism and, thereby, the diverted view on minorities, had a strong influence on the development of the South Ossetian national movement. Specifically it started to take form as a reaction to the proposed language laws in Tbilisi.

However, as in Georgia proper it was environmental problems that, in the atmosphere of the openness of perestroica, initiated popular protests in South Ossetia. The typhoid epidemic in South Ossetia in early 1988, caused at first critique of the local South Ossetian communist authorities. But in the light of the wave of nationalism and the ‘Georgia for Georgians’ euphoria in Georgia proper, these socio-economic condition were soon connected to the situation of the South Ossetians as an unfairly treated nation within the hierarchical structure of nationalities of the Soviet Union and especially within the Union Republic of Georgia. The South Ossetian national movement stressed the fact that the self-government of the South Ossetians was very limited and the standard of living and the economic development were worse than in other parts of Georgia. The underdevelopment of South Ossetia was interpreted as lack of subventions and investments on behalf of the authorities in Tbilisi.

The general issues of democratisation and civil rights were surely a part of the discussions within the South Ossetian national movement, but it did not dominate the discussion. In this way the South Ossetian national movement was not especially anti-Communist, it dealt, as in Georgia proper, with the collective rights of the Ossetian nation, and not with their individual civic rights within the state. Therefore as the conflict with the Georgians took form a co-operation between the national movement and the South Ossetian communists evolved.

The South Ossetians stress that the Georgian national movement worked for a state for the Georgians with no place for the minorities. Hence it was the fear of future repression and marginalisation in an independent Georgia that drove the South Ossetians to form a national movement. The language laws, for example, were not just a question of national pride or symbolism, they would have had severe consequences for the South Ossetians in a material and social sense. As mentioned in the empirical part of the project the Russian language functioned more or less as the official language of the autonomous region, above the Ossetian language, and only 14 per cent of the Ossetians master the Georgian language. If Georgian were to be strengthened and Russian simultaneously weakened, it would mean an effective marginalisation of the South Ossetian community in an independent Georgia.

Following this, the South Ossetian national movement referred to the Georgian Republic of 1918-1921 (the last and only time Georgia was independent) to show how the Georgians behaved when they were ‘masters in their own house’ and the South Ossetians faced the Georgians without the protection of the Russians. Therefore, when the conflict escalated it became part of the collective South Ossetian self-consciousness to refer to the incidents, during the first period of Georgian independence, as ‘the first genocide’ against the South Ossetians and this conflict as ‘the second genocide’. 

As in Georgia proper, the national discourse in South Ossetia is quite primordial. The past is glorified and the Ossetian descent from the ancient Scythian and Alanian warlike tribes that ruled over vast parts Eurasia is emphasised in media and science. The South Ossetians have thus lived on the southern slopes of the Caucasian Mountains in two thousand years. Both the Georgian and South Ossetian national consciousness operate within this time frame. However, it were the processes of modernisation of the South Ossetian society in the Soviet period, together with the nation-building process, derived by the Soviet nationality policies, that led to the development of a South Ossetian intellectual ethno-national elite. The nationality policies of the Soviet Union, with its concepts of titular nations, in the autonomous units as well, lead to the consciousness of being a potential nation. Like in Georgia, it is symptomatic that the leaders of the South Ossetian national movement, and for that sake the Communist elite, were lead by academics like President Chibirov, a historian, the Foreign Minister also a historian, the former Foreign Minister an archaeologist, his main assistant an ethnographer etc.

The South Ossetians argue with the same logic as the Georgian national movement, for a writing-up of the political rights and territorial status of their unit. The logic of self-determination of nations, grounded on ethno-national distinctiveness and ‘ancient’ historical arguments.

When the process of democratisation began it was expected, in many of the autonomies, that the de jure rights of the autonomies were to be taken seriously, respected and even developed. In many cases, as in the Georgian - South Ossetian case, these rights were questioned and disregarded as Soviet relics. At the same time the advent of democratic elections threatened the (titular) minorities’ privileged position. Therefore, the leaderships of the autonomies often raised their voice in the support of the centre in Moscow and for the respect of the Leninist principles of equality of nationalities. Hence, it was the elites and the national movements rather than the ethnic groups as such, in the former Soviet republics and autonomies that were the primary internal actors. But the fault-lines ran parallel to ethnic lines and the conflicts were therefore articulated in ethnic terms. It is important to stress that the conflict was articulated exactly in ethnic terms mainly because of the Soviet system and its territorialisation and politicisation of ethnicity. In the light of Brass’ ideas, the South Ossetian elite played, so to speak, the ethnic card or rather maintained the emphasis on South Ossetian distinctiveness, in order to maintain their privileges and advantages.

The ‘Georgia for Georgians’ atmosphere in the transformation period stimulated not only the South Ossetians and the Abkhaz but also other minority groups. E.g. in the Azeri populated areas of southern Georgia it came to violent clashes in the transition period, but not in an organised way exactly because they lacked the ethnic elite, the semi-state structures and a well-defined territory that the Soviet system had fostered in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. So even though the autonomies, during Soviet times, had little political competence, in the transition period they could quickly and with few resources make an effective ethnic mobilisation. This argument follows Brass who states, that without elites differences and/or disparities will just vanish or be accepted or maybe be the cause of sporadic or isolated incidents of conflict or disorder.

While the national movements of most of the Union Republics, like Georgia, went for the realisation of national self-determination through the dissolution of and secession from the Soviet Union, the case of the autonomies was remarkably different. The demand of the South Ossetian national movement for self-determination was directed towards the political centre of Moscow. For the South Ossetians the preservation of the Soviet Union was important in two ways; first of all it would prevent a cementation of the division of North and South Ossetia, secondly Moscow would keep its position as patron of the South Ossetians. This is also a reflection of the Soviet federal structure as we have seen in the ‘Soviet Setting’. The Union Centre in Moscow was by the autonomous units within the Union Republics, to a large extent seen as a protector or as a potential allied.

The South Ossetian national movement together with the local Communist government, therefore, expressed their national self-determination by the wish of hindering the dissolution of the Soviet Union. In this way, from the point of view of Tskhinvali, it was not the South Ossetians but the Georgians that should be seen as separatists. When the Soviet Union dissolved the South Ossetian national movement turned its attention towards the Russian Federation, aware of the fact that South Ossetian independence with or without North Ossetia was unrealistic; instead they opted for joining the Russian Federation.

Here it is interesting to note that nationalism as defined by Hobsbawm and Gellner, as a political principle, which holds that the political and the national unit should be congruent, would mean that the South Ossetians should opt for independence, this, as we have seen, was not the case. In stead they chose the option which guaranteed maximal control of the homeland and its resources in the given situation. Following Smiths definition of nationalism, they wanted to join the Russian Federation where they could maintain maximal control. Not untill this option failed, and North Ossetia backed the Russian view, the South Ossetian national movement went for full independence. In this situation the national movement changed the myths of the unity of the North and South Ossetians, and claimed that they split several centuries ago. The North Ossetians reaching the Caucasus north of the Caspian See and the South Ossetians south of the sea, hence in this way, though related, their distinctive courses made it natural for them to have separate political roof.

It now seems that we are ending up with the conclusion that the Georgian – South Ossetian conflict, was a political-administrative conflict rather than an ethnic conflict and hence should be named the Georgia – South Ossetia conflict instead. I think it should be clear to the reader by now that this conflict was not about incompatible ethnic identities but rather two competing societal structures. On one hand the South Ossetian local government and the Georgian government and on the other hand in light of their ethno-nationalist policies two competing societal structures. Hence a conflict of sovereignty. But one of my points is exactly that since this conflict ran alongside an ethnic faultline or to put it in another way, was played out in ethnic terms, it thus had a specific dynamic.

The ethnic community of the South Ossetians represents an alternative societal relationship able to compete with the Georgian territorial state as a political organising principle. The survival of an ethnic society depends on its identity, but due to the Soviet nationality policies, which meant a territorialisation and politicisation of ethnicity, also in the South Ossetian case on its autonomy. The Soviet nationality policies linked territory and ethnicity. With territory came status of being the titular nationality, which meant privileges and precedence over the other minorities. Without territory no special rights were provided.         

The collapse of the communist state, or rather the Soviet federal structure, meant not only a collapse of the economy and administrative institutions, but also of the fragile and entangled Soviet federal system. Insecurity and uncertainty can best describe the situation. 

In the light of the security dilemma discussion I think we in this case can talk of a ‘real’ security dilemma in the sense that the Georgian national movement at first mainly was directed against Soviet/Russian influence and presence – ‘cutting’ Georgia loose from the Soviet Union. The South Ossetian national movement was at first concerned with its status within Georgia and opted for an increase of their autonomy and not secession.

As the Soviet Union showed more signs of collapsing and the democratisation process of Georgia turned into an outbidding of nationalist rhetoric’s the South Ossetians felt increasingly threatened and increased their nationalistic rhetoric’s. The Soviet federal system had made the centre the obvious allied of South Ossetia. With the imminent collapse of the Soviet Union it was natural for South Ossetia to approach Moscow for help. This only worsened the situation as this fitted perfectly into the Georgian perception of the conflict as imposed by Moscow in order to subdue Georgia.  

Only then you could talk of malign intend as the Georgian nationalists clearly directed their rhetoric’s not only against the Soviet Union and Russia but also against the minorities especially the South Ossetians. Stating that their autonomy was a Soviet imposed one and had no place in an independent Georgia calling them ungrateful guests. From then on we can speak of a security spiral, where both the Georgians and South Ossetians strengthened their respective identities, making ethnic crosscut bonds impossible. Starting, as has been described, a war of declarations, further worsening the relationship. And finally starting arming themselves literately.   

What made the fighting so fierce and brutal could be ascribed to the incompatible deeply felt values and identities of the two parties but on the other hand, as we have seen in the chapter on the dynamics of ethnic conflict, there do exist logical structural explanations for this. This is in no way meant as an excuse for the atrocities committed and in no way to say that they are an expression of rational behaviour. No - but anarchy, be it understood in security or everyday language terms, do as we have seen, carry an argument as does the argument of conflicts gaining their own life and logic.

One of Anderson’s points is that the nation and with that nationalism makes people kill and die for it. I agree to the point that the nation or ethnic identification is very strong and in certain circumstances take priority and re-arrange all other identities accordingly. I however find to drastic to make the conclusion that people are ready to sacrifice themselves in the name of the nation. As we have seen in the chapter on the dynamics of ethnic conflict there are other circumstances and arguments that carries substantial weight and I am thus inclined to state that these sacrifices often are interpreted retrospectively rather than prospectively. I am not saying that there does not exist examples of this but in the midst of warfare often even the root causes to a conflict becomes subordinate to the actual warfare and grievances experienced.

] This view on ethnicity, as a momentarily phenomenon, disappearing with modernisation, was until recently common in liberal theories as well. 

[2] It can be stated that these groups are more widely dispersed throughout the republic, which they are, but there are areas in southern Georgia with large concentrated populations of Armenians and Azeris.

Chapter 7