ON IDEOLOGICAL FORMULATION AND TRANSMISSION IN ISLAM KARIMOV’S “IDEOLOGY OF NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE”

Andrew F. MARCH


Andrew F. March, Lecturer in Politics, Hertford College, University of Oxford (Oxford, United Kingdom)


Introduction

Islam Karimov is unique in Central Asia not for his autocratic style of rule but for the extent to which he has gone to legitimate his regime through an official state ideology—“The Ideology of National Independence”—elaborated and propagated through over a dozen books (both in his name and in those of Uzbek intellectuals) and dozens more pamphlets. This rhetorical and ideological project has received very little attention from Western academics. It does, however, merit study as an ambitious attempt at political legitimation.

At the core of these ideological texts is a smaller corpus of texts that deal explicitly with the problem of “ideology.” These texts are anything but a rote, textbook presentation of the content of Karimov’s ideology. Rather, under the guise of an ostensibly theoretical discussion of the role of ideology in any society, Karimov and his collaborators elaborate a subtle political logic of authoritarianism. In brief, “ideology” is presented in these texts as the necessary pre-political foundation of a community that serves to fuse nation, state, goal and regime, thus replacing constitutionalism and procedure as the pre-political “givens” of the state. In Karimov’s words, “it is natural that the state system, its operation and accompanying policies should above all be constructed on the basis of a concretely formulated ideology.”1 This conception of ideology is then developed so as to argue away the need for open, competitive politics by suggesting the presence of unassailable, unifying and self-evident political goals to which all rational Uzbeks subscribe.2

In this article I will focus on two issues of import that highlight the essentially authoritarian nature of Karimov’s discourse on ideology. Within these texts, Karimov and his court intellectuals expound upon the proper nature of ideological formulation and transmission. I will show below that what makes Karimov’s “Ideology of National Independence” above fully authoritarian is the understanding that the ideological tasks of goal-formation, consciousness-shaping, identification and national unification are a closed, elite-driven, pre-determined affair with a certain bindingness for the political system.

Subjects, Leaders and Thinkers: Ideology as a Closed Process

Karimov and his collaborators are quite explicit about the elite-nature of ideological formulation in their conception. Karimov writes that “we must continue to provide concrete answers to the question, above all, of what kind of society we want to construct, how we imagine our future, and then it is necessary to unite people around these noble ideas.”3 Whoever “we” might refer to, it is clear that it is not the “people” who are to be united. They are, rather, to be presented with this ready-made ideology. One of Karimov’s prominent ideologues considers the “people” as the “object of national ideology, which lifts from its ranks worthy representatives or delegates power to them so that they might provide the state with its driving force. As such, political institutions emerge as the main subjects of the production and realization of national ideology.”4 In the present period, “since the attainment of independence in 1991, it has been state actors with President Islam Karimov at their head who have been in the vanguard of the formation of the national ideology. Thanks to their efforts, the national ideology has attained a systematic quality and been strengthened with scientific-philosophical foundations.”5 There is a near admission that the “Ideology of National Independence” is essentially the collective utterances of Karimov: “The most important works, enjoying both methodological and practical significance, belong to the pen of the President of the Republic of Uzbekistan, Islam Karimov. In each speech, essay and interview of President Karimov, the ideology of reforms has been reflected, the goals and means of national development have been analyzed, and the basic tasks and directions for the realization of constitutional goals have been elaborated.”6

Clearly, the Karimovist project thus involves the claim to the elite formulation of the national ideology, which itself provides the general contours and constraints of national politics. What is the basis of this claim? What is the source of the “special knowledge” if not dialectical materialism, the proletarian consciousness or the Quran? Karimov and his court intellectuals utilize an argument based on praxis that is brilliant in its simplicity, vagueness and appropriateness for this particular governing clique. Tadzhiev writes of Karimov’s texts that “behind each determination of the national ideology lies a deep scientific analysis and the broad practical experience of governing the country at the high level of state and social construction.”7 The claim to a “deep scientific and philosophical foundation” is one that is made with great frequency throughout the texts but with little clarification as to what exactly comprises this foundation. One is tempted to dismiss such claims as the most hollow form of positive self-presentation, an attempt to say simply: “Trust us. It’s all been worked out scientifically and philosophically and we’ve taken into account all important foundations, traditions and sources. We’re sound.” The argument from praxis is, however, more subtle and more sincere. It is a way of both turning the regime’s thorny Soviet past into an asset and creating a virtuous cycle of experience, knowledge and authority.

The argument from praxis can be paraphrased as: “Since we have already been running the state, we have a special position and access to knowledge based on the experience of statecraft which gives us a special capacity to run the state. You should, therefore, trust us to keep on running the state (which will give us even more experience and access to knowledge which would, thus, give you even more reason to trust us, which would…).” The claim to authority based on experience thus not only justifies present rule but ensures a perpetual claim on that basis that can only grow with the very fact of successfully making the claim.

The praxis argument draws, first, on a positive association with the state and state authority. The state is a good thing; it is benevolent, neutral, unifying, and paternal. Karimov’s association with power is not hidden or apologized for, but used to its full advantage. Furthermore, there is an implicit appeal in the claim to special knowledge from praxis to the conservative ideal of knowledge through habit, practice and experience rather than pure reason, doctrine or speculation, particularly in a time of reform. Without ever explicitly mentioning Karimov’s communist past (this is fairly excluded by their references to the Soviet years as “alien domination”), there is the implicit manipulation of the common knowledge of it through the promise of “safe change” during the difficult period of transition.

It is in this context that Karimov himself is treated (by himself and others) as both father-figure and “leader-ideologue.” He writes that news of the educational accomplishments of Uzbek students abroad make him “boundlessly happy, as if it were the success of my own children” and that the highest goal of his actions is “the welfare of my people, which I place above all else.”8 Similarly, Karimov’s formulation of the national ideology in order to fill the ideological vacuum and provide the nation with ideological immunity from “alien ideologies” is compared elsewhere to the way “a gardener-aksakal tenderly and carefully grows young saplings.”9 There is, thus, some use of the common and predictable association of paternalism with the person of the leader, according to which the leader’s claim to authority is primarily concentrated around his superior personal concern for the well-being of his nation. The rhetorical value of the paternal image is not only the psychological association with obedience and authority, but more usefully, the image of sincerity, neutrality and selflessness. The father does not command his children for his personal benefit (i.e., the leader is not “political”) but for their own (he is above politics). This is a clear extension of the treatment of the ideology as neutral and reflective to the leader, who is also said to be engaged primarily in the “process of reflecting national interests.”10

It must be said, however, that authoritarianism in Uzbekistan, unlike in Turkmenistan, is not primarily founded on a cult of personality or on Karimov’s personal charisma. These images of a benign, sincere and industrious “father of his nation” are channeled into the utilization of the “leader principle” in relation to ideological formulation, according to which any advancements or achievements are ultimately traceable to the influence of the leader himself: “In the first years of independence, by the initiative and under the leadership of President Islam Karimov, a strategy of reforms was delineated, which has since been validated by events. Its foundation included the experience of various states in the transition to market relations, the consideration of historical experience as well as the particularities of the mentality of our people. The well-known Five Principles of reforming our society were thus scientifically formulated by President Karimov.”11 The capacity for ideological “correction” that was discussed in the previous chapter in relation to the ideology itself is also transferred to Karimov personally, justified by the fact that “our leader is essentially not only the author of reforms, but also of national state sovereignty and the model of a new Uzbek statehood.” His ostensible capacities for judging situations, finding solutions, influencing hearts and minds and mobilizing toward the realization of national goals is the product of his “wide access to all kinds of information” as well as his “praxis of directing the country” and modeling its socioeconomic development. Only the head of state has the experience of directing the state and conducting international relations necessary for constructing the proper hierarchy of the interests of the individual, society and state. In this sense, the head of state not only has a mandate to defend the national interest, but to “give them a concrete form”, i.e., to determine them.12 In perhaps the most explicit admission of the authoritarian nature of ideological formulation, Tadzhiev writes that “the national interest is identified from the top of the pyramid of the governing of society in the process of integrating the strategic needs of national development, which often cannot be identified as distinct from the structures of power, knowledge and individuals.”13 This quote reiterates the tight linking of the concepts of state, nation, national development and ideology referred to in the introduction, with the crucial expansion of the circle now to include the specific wielders of power in the personages of Karimov and his clique.

There is, thus, present in this statement the explicit assertion that the ideological formulation process, with all that implies about the content of politics in Uzbekistan, is not an open, competitive process, but one imposed from above. This conception of special knowledge based on praxis and the unique position at the top results in a re-formulation of the traditional “leader principle” as “head of state-ideologue,” who is characterized as a “form of internal source of progress that includes the knowledge and perception of the historical inevitability of the present actions.” Karimov “objectively appears as the country’s main and basic ideologue”, due to his broader experience, commitment to the articulation of national goals of development, as well as superior analytical, organizational and communicative skills, and thus the “studying of his works and praxis as leader of the country in relation to the questions of its strategic development is one of the main factors in the formulation of a national ideology.”14

Thus, any treatment of Karimov as “special”, as meriting personal obedience or admiration, is constructed in relation to his concrete achievements in the fields of ideological construction and state building, in which he is seen as the latest incarnation of the icon of the “Great Uzbek Statebuilder.” Most importantly, we see the charismatic treatment of the ideology itself. The ideology is often anthropomorphized, treated as a subject and agent capable of “correcting” tendencies, regulating politics, providing direction and so on, without any discussion at all of how an “ideology” is supposed to do these things on its own. Here, those capacities are predictably transferred to the person of the leader, as if in trust, revealing the true authoritarian intent of the discourse on ideology. “Ideology” is first constructed as the ideal manifestation of the national identity and yearnings for development and statehood, with the mandate to regulate all political processes in relation to these goals. The obvious benefit to the regime of ascribing these features to “ideology” is obviously its impersonal, vague and encompassing nature, making the project seem less about the rule of one man or group of men and more about the rational self-direction of the nation. This metaphor of the acting, thinking ideology is, however, a proxy for the personal prerogative of Karimov. Having fully established the “ideology” as paramount and pre-political, these authors then go about re-ascribing all of its theoretical and practical capacities to Karimov himself, not primarily because of his own personal virtues, but rather only in relation to his special capacity to take responsibility for the ideology. It is, thus, in the discussion of ideological formulation that the authoritarian nature of the project becomes explicit. Importantly, it is a mode of legitimation tailored to justify the rule of someone already in power, based as it is on the argument of special knowledge through the praxis of rulership.

Karimov’s special relationship to the national ideology is key to his self-legitimation not only insofar as it gives him the substantive claim to special knowledge. There is something in the very act and practice of proclaiming a new national ideology, particularly in a post-colonial context, that is also a form of legitimation. Why is there the need for a “new national idea”? Because, according to Karimov, Uzbeks were deprived of this previously by an alien force. He is thus in a position to argue that by the very process of formulating a national ideology, whatever it might be, “we overcome old views, the yoke of humility and slavery still preserved in the consciousness of people from the previous period, and move forward.”15 Naturally, the close association of his own person and his own regime with this act of national liberation is also a powerful act of personal legitimation.

Karimov and company are quite explicit about seeking to include traditional institutions, artists and intellectuals in the ideological project, but are equally explicit about the precise position they are to occupy. Special treatment is given to the problem of intellectuals in civil society. After numerous statements on the need for intellectuals to be independent from the state, to jealously guard their intellectual freedom and to have a separate public status, Tadzhiev goes on to redefine the concept of an intellectual in ways beneficial to the regime. While intellectuals have always been tightly linked to the history of Uzbek national statehood and are called the heart of the nation, it is asserted that intellectuals ought to stay out of politics: “By entering into politics without being practitioners of state and social construction and economic development (the managing of macroeconomic processes), [intellectuals] cause irreparable harm to their nation. In this case, we are dealing with fake intellectuals that stand for a revolutionary and opposition, that is a sharply politicised, position, completely abdicating from their entire range of social principles, such as non-violence.”16 We have in this quote a number of convenient decontestations, both implied and explicit. About intellectuals we learn that “real intellectuals” are not supposed to be either technocrats or revolutionaries, i.e., interested in power in any way whatsoever. In a word, they are supposed to be apolitical, in both decontestations of the term given here: Intellectuals are not supposed to engage in either “good politics,” which is about efficiency and expertise in technical matters (but not the determination of values, goals or principles), nor in “bad politics,” which is about upheaval, disorder and opposition. Thus, intellectuals should leave the “managing” of society to the experts, but if they throw their weight behind revolutionaries, radicals and opposition movements (all synonyms in Karimov-speak), they cease to be intellectuals because of some supposed professional commitment to non-violence.

Furthermore, Tadzhiev attempts to build into the definition of the intelligentsia a specific commitment to “moderate positions,” peaceful means of achieving them, and a general “humanist” attitude to others, while the opposition movements in Uzbekistan are invariably characterized above all by their “anti-humanist,” selfish and power-hungry aims. The regime, thus, ought not fear the critique of the intelligentsia, because “a real intellectual strives for truth, and if he uncovers some injustice or if something inappropriate is occurring, then he pronounces his criticism, but always in the correct form, constructively, without calls for the violent resolution of the problem.”17 Indeed, the role of the intelligentsia regarding those who do seek to achieve their ends through any means necessary is to “disarm them intellectually,” that is, to put their skills directly in the service of the regime in its battle against all political opposition. The intelligentsia can be trusted with a higher degree of freedom in order to perform this function because “freedom (with the rare exception) does not spoil the intellectual, as the intellectual is by nature a centrist and a rationalist.”18 In this sense, intellectual freedom is further decontested not as the measure of non-interference from the state, but from an “alien idea,” the subjugation to which “is far worse than any economic or political dependence.”19

This discussion of intellectuals is clearly inspired not only by the ubiquitous fear that autocrats have of dissident intellectuals in general, but in particular by the fact that the original secular opposition to Karimov (both as communist and as nationalist) was spearheaded by two prominent writers and intellectuals, Abdurakhim Polatov and Muhammad Solih. Two other of Karimov’s court intellectuals point to the experience of Georgia and Azerbaijan, both of which were led by dissident intellectuals immediately following the collapse of the U.S.S.R. and both of which experienced civil war: “What would happen in Uzbekistan if the likes of Madaminov [Solih] came to power? Doubtlessly the same tragic events would be repeated as in Georgia under Gamsakhurdia and Azerbaijan under Elchibey, neither of whom had the slightest idea about how to run a state, the economy or politics. Both of these former dissidents showed that it is easier to be a politician in opposition than to solve the problems of the country. Thus the same would happen in Uzbekistan if Islam Karimov did not battle decisively the leaders of the radical opposition and let them come to power.”20

Drawing on the logic of praxis and the rhetorical manipulation of recent events, political opposition as such is thus tightly associated not only with radicalism and extremism but with civil war and chaos.

This treatment of the role of intellectuals in the political and ideological formulation process (from the pen of someone who would presumably wish to be considered one) thus further closes off access to the hegemonic determination of the pre-political. It is clear after the explicit statements on Karimov’s guiding role and the narrow role for an independent intelligentsia, that not only is the “ideology” to be that which determines what is included within the national project and that which is firmly excluded, but that this ideology is to be the exclusive product of a very small number of people, tightly linked to the present hegemonic political order.

Ideological State Apparatuses: The State and Ideological Transmission

The final piece of Karimov’s hegemonic strategy relates to the elevation of the Ideology of National Independence to quasi-state status and the mobilization of state apparatuses for its transmission. Karimov writes that just as it is in the economic sphere (i.e., the first of Karimov’s Five Principles), “the state is the main reformer in the spiritual sphere of life, raising up the best national qualities, and we should set up the respective legal foundations for the guidelines of spiritual development.”21 In a similar vein another collaborator writes that the “comprehensive development of the individual, his spiritual-moral integrity and wealth, ought to be realized through the immediate participation, assistance and support of the state, political and national movements and cultural-enlightenment organizations, taking as their weapon the basic principles of the Ideology of National Independence.”22 In the language of Western political theory, Karimov is seeking to enshrine a particular conception of the good life in the basic institutions of the state, enlisting all sorts of educational and cultural institutions (Ideological State Apparatuses) as part of the state-directed project of guaranteeing loyalty to the state and uncoerced consent to its directives.23 The call to intellectuals is not to engage in debate about ideological problems but to “determine effective paths and methods for instilling the idea of national independence into the consciousness of each citizen.”24

Karimov and the Karimovists are quite explicit about the range of institutions to be included in the task of ideological transmission, as well as about the bindingness of the ideology on all politically active elements: In “modeling joint action directed at the further development and strengthening of sovereignty, it is necessary to concentrate all intellectual forces of the Republic, all efforts, toward the elaboration of the ideological foundation of social and economic policy.”25 The saturation of society with the claims of the ideology (described as the “property of the whole nation”) is, thus, presented as a prerequisite for preserving state sovereignty, a tactic obviously designed to equate national statehood with the value claims of Karimov himself, the national interest with the tenets of the ideology, and national security with political unity. The “intellectual forces” to be enlisted include all levels of education, where “the curriculum, textbooks and teaching aids will reflect the essence and content of the Ideology of National Independence,”26 academic research institutions, cultural-educational foundations, art and literature, religion (which is valued for the way its “moral, humanist values inculcate the idea of national independence in people’s consciousness”—i.e., for the utility of official religion for official nationalism), the family, the mahallia, work collectives, political parties, NGOs and mass media. To this end the state has established, among other institutions, the Manaviat va Marifat (“Spirituality and Enlightenment”) center, with branches down to the mahallia level, which distributes Karimov’s publications and organizes “ideological education” classes; textbooks have been revised “from the point of view of national spirituality”;27 and state television features constant excerpts from Karimov’s texts and those of his pantheon of Uzbek historical figures, in addition to the pro-regime programming and news ubiquitous in authoritarian regimes. The selections from the works of historical figures tend to be of three main varieties: Those that emphasize the tradition and importance of statehood, those that simply refer to historical glories or accomplishments in art, literature and science, and those that give direct support to Karimov’s nationalist orientation. Amongst the latter, characteristic is the regime’s use of the 15th century literary icon, Alisher Navoi. Navoi is not only considered the greatest poet and prose-writer in classical Chaghatai, a Turkic language of which Uzbek is often considered the modern descendent, but is known also for his polemics in which he argues that the language of the Turks is the literary equal of Persian and Arabic.28 In Karimov’s hands, Navoi becomes a proto-Uzbek nationalist and a symbol of the Uzbek nation’s pre-eminence amongst the Central Asian Turkic peoples.

Of particular importance is Karimov’s institutional managing of Islam. He has continued the Soviet system of maintaining an official network of madrassahs, Islamic universities and mosques, all of which are supervised by the state and feature instruction in “Karimovism” as much as in Islam.29 Official Islam in Uzbekistan emanates out of the “Muslim Directorate of Uzbekistan” (an institution originally created under Stalin as one of four “spiritual directorates” in Muslim areas) headed by the Mufti of Tashkent, appointed by Karimov. The Directorate is officially responsible for the training of all clerics and the administration of all mosques in Uzbekistan. Karimov retains strict control over the Directorate and its Mufti and has enlisted it in its Gramscian war of position against all forms of independent religious expression. Of particular note is the August 2000 Program for the Defense of Our Holy Religion and the Fight against Fundamentalism and Extremist Tendencies, in which Mufti Abdurashid Bahromov elaborates 23 points regarding the practice of Islam in Uzbekistan.30 These points reserve the sole right to issue fatwas and prepare the Friday sermon to the Directorate, command all imams to denounce terrorism, extremism and all forms of political engagement on a religious basis, require the teaching of the Karimov’s works in theological seminaries, and authorize the Directorate to screen imams on the basis of political loyalty. Thus, while public demonstration of faith is much more acceptable in Uzbekistan today than before perestroika, and Karimov himself includes various Islamic rituals and symbols as part of his public performance, the regime seeks to limit the practice of Islam to outlets controllable by the state. Naturally, the pronouncements of the Tashkent Directorate are about as legitimate amongst those inclined toward a political expression of Islam as the pronouncements of Karimov himself, and the organizational roots of the main fundamentalist organizations begin in the networks of unofficial (and illegal and persecuted) mosques.31

The emphasis on coordinated state action to disseminate the ideology is supplemented by the regime’s own claims that it is losing the war for the hearts and minds of the Uzbek people. Tadzhiev argues that the regime’s goal for the ideology, “not to claim a monopoly or domination, but to become all-national (above classes, non-partisan, non-sectarian, etc.), to combine within itself national and universal values, to be mobilizing and integrative, concrete, practical and consolidating, to be a guarantor of the integrity of the state-political and cultural-spiritual space,” i.e., the goal of ideological hegemony, is failing and that “the national idea, unfortunately, has not become dominant in the ideological settings of the population.”32 Tadzhiev explains this failure to achieve hegemony as a result of “stagnation in the process of developing political-legal forms of mass conscious.” The failure is, naturally, not attributable to Karimov himself who has apparently used every public appearance to criticize “stagnation, educational inaction, hollow words, academic hair-splitting, historical prejudice at the expense of realism and vitality, alienation from real problems and dryness.”33 The rhetorico-ideological force of these statements is two-fold. The first relates to the leader-principle discussed above. The logic of authoritarianism is founded partially on the appeal to authenticity, efficiency, effectiveness, pragmatism and competence, with the leader portrayed as the purest embodiment of these qualities. A trope that thus frequently emerges in authoritarian regimes is the construction of the leader’s own bureaucracy as an obstruction to the direct realization of the leader’s wishes for his people. The well-documented “If Stalin/Hitler only knew” phenomenon under those regimes of portraying the leaders not as responsible for their crimes of state but actually as victims of their own corrupt and avaricious subordinates thus has its Uzbek manifestation.34 The construction of bureaucracy as a minor Other, in addition to benefiting from the classic populist mistrust of bureaucracies, academics and intellectuals, has the effect of directing any resentment toward the regime away from the leader—who is always sincerely struggling for the common good—and toward the faceless sycophant class. This tactic can be seen as something of a final line of ideological defense: When the regime fails to convince that the true object of loathing ought to be the primary Other (Jews, kulaks, revisionists, wreckers, “Wahhabis”), a proxy Other of the regime’s own servants is constructed.

The second, and clearly primary, function of the claim to failure is, however, the call to ever increasing vigilance and intransigence. If there is anything an authoritarian regime despises more than instability, it is too much stability. The stability argument for authoritarianism depends for its credibility on the urgency of combating visible and growing threats. Too much success in eliminating threats is a potentially self-defeating cycle for an autocracy. In this case, this means that the regime is inclined to magnify not only the military threat of the opposition group but also its success in penetrating the consciousness of the Uzbek masses. Tadzhiev writes, that “despite the fact that the entire force of the means of mass communication has pushed spirituality and the national ideology and that all efforts have been expended for the development of the national ideology … the religious extremists have used the spiritual-ideological vacuum in the consciousness of the population and the traditional sympathy for Islam [as well as] methods of social pedagogy and psychology to instill their ideas into concrete individuals.”35 There is thus no effort to deny the fact that the entire apparatus of state has been put to use for the transmission of Karimov’s ideology, no claim that it has been spontaneously internalized by the people because of its resonance with their natural beliefs and aspirations. The purpose here is to establish that the “national consciousness” has been hijacked by an alien ideology and to discuss what is to be done. This involves, naturally, a measure of respect for the “Wahhabis” and the way they cleverly inspire and mobilize the youth, even though the fruits of these successes are invariably characterized as terrorism or vandalism. The Karimovist call is thus to fight a fire with fire. There is nothing wrong with the content of Karimov’s ideology, rather their methods of transmission and propagation have been lazy and formulaic: “Our ideological propaganda and agitation has been oriented to an abstract object, through TV, newspapers and radio, unsystematically and with an enormous separation from the life problems of ordinary citizens.” The regime’s portrayal of its own propaganda techniques as a study in formalism and failure is thus not an indictment of the content of its ideology, its hegemonic aspirations or its monopolization of state apparatuses. It is rather a rhetorical exercise in constructing a crucial lack, a problem to be engaged with and overcome. The self-flagellation is thus a call to arms, a call to ever greater and more effective use of Ideological State Apparatuses until the point where the Ideology of National Independence is seen “as the natural result of the sovereign development of our country and its place in the world community,”36 i.e., until the ideological war of position against the Islamist opposition is won.

Conclusion

Islam Karimov’s justification of authoritarianism rests on a conception of ideology as the foundation of the state and as its pre-political “given,” i.e., that to which all actors must subscribe before the entry into politics. The use of “ideology” in this way only serves to legitimate a specifically authoritarian political system when, first, it is shown that the content of that ideology predetermines the answers to all significant political questions (questions that would be the subject of competitive politics in a democracy) and, second, it is shown that the formulation of that ideology is the prerogative of a small elite around Karimov and that it takes on a binding character to be transmitted and enforced by the state. Whatever claims might be made by Karimov to head a democratic state or to be implementing democratic reforms, what is noteworthy from the texts I have analyzed above is just how explicit Karimov is in pronouncing his authoritarian nature once the logic of his discourse on ideology is clarified.


1 I. Karimov, “Natsional’naia ideologiia—dlia nas istochnik dukhovno-nravstvennoi sily v stroitel’stve gosudarstva i obshchestva,” in: I. Karimov, Nasha vysshaia tsel’—nezavisimost’ i protsvetanie rodiny, svoboda i blagopoluchie naroda, Vol. 8, Uzbekiston Publishers, Tashkent, 2000, p. 451.
2 See: Andrew F. March, “State Ideology and the Legitimation of Authoritarianism: The Case of Post-Soviet Uzbekistan,” Journal of Political Ideologies (forthcoming), where I discuss in detail the concept of “ideology” in Karimov’s texts and how it results in a justification of authoritarianism.
3 I. Karimov, “Natsional’naia ideologia,” p. 452. Emphasis added.
4 Kh. Tadzhiev, Teoreticheskie i metodologicheskie voprosy natsional’noi ideologii, Uzbekiston Publishers, Tashkent, 1999, p. 47. Emphasis added.
5 Ibid., p. 46.
6 Ibid., p. 10.
7 Ibid., p. 11.
8 I. Karimov, “Ideologia—eto obyediniaiushchii flag natsii, obshchestva, gosudarstva,” in: I. Karimov, Svoio budushchee my stroim svoimi rukami, Vol. 7, Uzbekiston Publishers, Tashkent, 1999, pp. 96-98. Emphasis added.
9 National Society of Philosophers of Uzbekistan, Ideia natsional’noi nezavisimosti: osnovnyie poniatia i printsipy Uzbekiston Publishers, Tashkent, 2001, p. 7.
10 Kh. Tadzhiev, op. cit., p. 74.
11 Ideia natsional’noi nezavisimosti, pp. 35-36. Emphasis added.
12 Ibid., p. 74.
13 Ibid., p. 75. Emphasis added.
14 Ibidem.
15 I. Karimov, “Natsional’naia ideologia,” p. 450.
16 Kh. Tadzhiev, op. cit., p. 69. Emphasis added.
17 Ibid., p. 71.
18 Ibid., p. 73.
19 I. Karimov, “Ideologia,” p. 83.
20 M. Gafarly and A. Kasaev, Uzbekskaia model’ razvitiia: mir i stabilnost’—osnova progressa, Drofa Publishers, Moscow, 2000, p. 252.
21 I. Karimov, “Osnovnye printsipy obshchestvenno-politicheskogo i ekonomicheskogo razvitiia Uzbekistana,” in: I. Karimov, Rodina sviashchenna dlia kazhdogo, Vol. 3, Uzbekiston Publishers, Tashkent, 1995, p. 32.
22 R.Z. Zhumaev, Politicheskaia sistema Respubliki Uzbekistan: stanovlenie i razvitie, Akademia nauk RU, Tashkent, 1996, p. 157.
23 See: L. Althusser, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” in: Lenin and Philosophy and Other Essays, New Left Books, London, 1971.
24 Ideia natsional’noi nezavisimosti, p. 62.
25 R.Z. Zhumaev, op. cit., pp. 157-158.
26 Ideia natsional’noi nezavisimosti, p. 62.
27 I. Karimov, “Osnovnye printsipy,” p. 33.
28 See: A. Navoi, “Suzhdenie o dvukh iazykakh,” in: Sochineniia v desiati tomakh, Vol. 10, FAN Publishers, Tashkent, 1970, pp. 107-110. The text is also interesting for its obsessions, so reminiscent of cultural politics in multinational states today, with the tendency of Persian-speakers (“Sarts”) not to learn Turkic, with the deficiencies in the Persian language and with the presumed “national characteristics” of the “Sarts.”
29 Characteristic of this is the new Islamic University in Tashkent, the grounds of which are covered in large billboards of Karimov and smaller placards bearing his quotes and slogans.
30 See: Bakhtyar Babadjanov, “Islam officiel contre Islam politique en Ouzbekistan aujourd’hui: la Direction des Musulmans et les groupes non-Hanafi,” Revue d’etudes comparatives Est-Ouest, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2000.
31 See: A. Khalmukhamedov, “Islamskii faktor v Uzbekistane,” Svobodnaia mysl’ (Moscow), No. 4 (1473), 1998; Ia. Umanskiy and A. Arapov, “Svetskii islamizm: variant Uzbekistana,” Svobodnaia mysl’, No. 7, 1995; V.A. Ponomarev, “Islam v Uzbekistane, 1989-1995,” Polis (Moscow), No. 2 (32), 1996; R. F. Abazov, “Islamskoe vozrozhdenie v tsentral’noaziatskikh novykh nezavisimykh gosudarstvakh,” Polis, No. 3 (27), 1995 and Ahmed Rashid, Jihad: The Rise of Militant Islam in Central Asia, Yale University Press, New Haven, 2002.
32 Kh. Tadzhiev, op. cit., pp. 82-83. Note the initial rejection of domination (gospodstvo in the original) as an aspiration juxtaposed immediately with the lament that the ideology has not yet becoming dominant (dominirushchaia). The rhetorical tactic of juxtaposing the denial of hegemonic aims with the assertion of them in slightly different language is a frequent way of dealing with the problem of the liberal, democratic expectations in the post-communist era. Since the regime must maintain pro forma commitments to democracy and open politics, the use of juxtaposition is one method of transmitting the actual message of the texts, although in this case one is struck by how explicit the admission of non-democratic aims actually is.
33 Ibidem. “Stagnation” (zastoi) was a concept also employed by Gorbachev to refer to the Brezhnev period as part of his similar top-down efforts for controlled, managed reform. Criticism on the grounds of “stagnation” has the benefit of appearing to be critical and reformist without bringing into question the basic presumptions and direction of the regime. The regime is guilty of not living up to its promises, but of promising the wrong things.
34 Ahmed Rashid recounts the often told story of how Uzbek peasants, when driven from their land by the Uzbek army in their 2000 campaign against the IMU, naively asked to present their story directly to Karimov who they assumed was ignorant of what was going on in the area (“If Karimov only knew!”). Many of the men were subsequently beaten and tortured for their effrontery.
35 Kh. Tadzhiev, op. cit., p. 83.
36 Ideia natsional’noi nezavisimosti, p. 71.

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