Our Analytics 24 december — 14:05

Azerbaijani ruler (Notes in the margin)

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BY EYNULLA FATULLAYEV

Ilham Aliyev grasped the essence of the people, for he was a ruler. Ilham Aliyev grasped the nature of rulers, for he was always close to the people.

For five centuries, humanity has been comprehending the character and nature of power through the prism of the theory of Machiavellianism, which recognised tie right to strong power. The coming milestone of social and philosophical enlightenment with the victory of the Reformation anathematised Machiavellianism, with the help of which the character of powerful sovereigns was interpreted. However, one of the brilliant representatives of European philosophical thought, Hegel, talking about reason and the dialectics of history, first spoke of the cyclical nature of history, which subsequently also developed in Marxism itself. Every Jacobin revolution is followed by the decline of universal civil freedom, which means the onset of reaction and the emergence of Bonapartism. Isn't Machiavellianism the best theory for recognising Bonaparte's character? And this name has become a household name and synonymous with the word ruler. They returned to Machiavellianism incessantly in order to understand the outstanding mind of the ruler.

Flipping through the pages of 'The Prince'

Attitude towards Ilham Aliyev

Is the attitude towards the ruler changing? Stendhal changed his attitude towards Napoleon three times, for the last time rejecting Bonapartism at a table in a coffee shop in Prussia, throwing a newspaper with the news of the crushing defeat of the French in Russia. Although it was after the victory at Austerlitz that the extreme republican enlisted in the ranks of the victorious army, advancing in the hierarchical ladder of the French infantry. What would have happened if Napoleon had nevertheless preserved Moscow and won the war with Russia? It is difficult to judge, because history, as you know, does not like the subjunctive mood. But Machiavellianism helps us to reveal the true nature of Stendhal's attitude towards Napoleon, if the French commander had won after the Battle of Borodino.

Machiavelli wonders. What's better? For the ruler to be loved or feared? Machiavelli believes that it is better to be feared and loved at the same time.

And we will ask the question from the point of view of Machiavellianism. Was Ilham Aliyev more feared or loved? Surprisingly, Ilham Aliyev, perhaps one of the few in the history of post-Soviet countries, managed to rise above the power, taking on the role of an arbitrator and a fair judge. In Azerbaijan, they have always feared the authorities, which were more identified with the secret police, but they loved the just president, who was close to the people. Aliyev personified the state. And the state apparatus was endowed with power. The decisions were made by the authorities, but the last word was with the state. The people did not fear Aliyev, but loved him. A ruler who professed two imperative values: justice and dignity. For Ilham Aliyev, justice was also the rule of law. But our own justice.

Was Ilham Aliyev loved or feared?

In the first years of his presidency, Ilham Aliyev was largely perceived as the political heir and successor of the mission of the Founder of the Third Republic, Heydar Aliyev. Although Azerbaijan had its own statehood before Heydar Aliyev, by the time one of the outstanding representatives of the Soviet political galaxy returned to power in Baku, Azerbaijan resembled a sick person of the post-Soviet space. The country became a testing ground for multicoloured separatist tendencies, easy rejection of territories and turned into a state where there was no power. Azerbaijan could only be saved by the strong and skilful hand of the great ruler. Heydar Aliyev saved the country. But he did not have time to complete the mission. Living contemporaries of the Aliyev era told: back in the late 1990s, a few years after coming to power, 70-year-old H. Aliyev was in search, thought about tomorrow, a successor, and the completion of the work he had begun. The choice of the great ruler fell on Ilham Aliyev. Why he? This issue has haunted everyone in this country since the election of Ilham Aliyev as the head of state. The people gave a vote of confidence to the son of Heydar Aliyev. This was a manifestation of the highest confidence in the ruler who saved the state. And it seemed to many that Ilham Aliyev was in the shadow of his great father.

First test

Ilham Aliyev showed his fiercely decisive and military character during the first attempt at a colour revolution in the autumn of 2005. Everyone thought so: Ilham Aliyev is in the shadow of his father. And when a self-sufficient state came out of the shadows, few people knew and understood that Ilham Aliyev had been at the helm of the authorities since 1998-1999, developing and implementing the state strategy. The outstanding intelligence, remarkable character and virtuoso skill of Ilham Aliyev predetermined the course of the new history of Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev stopped the attack of the lightning orange plague. The first attempt at a colour revolution in the post-Soviet space was drowned precisely in Azerbaijan.

Opposition against popular revolutionary ideas and the struggle against violent changes in the social formation at that time were characterised by the reactionary spirit of the times. And the understanding of the Western press as an eternal substance that defamed the Azerbaijani government, identified it with the persecutors of democracy and freedom. But Ilham Aliyev did not reckon with Western public opinion. Aliyev does not like the whispers of the dark side. He goes his own way.

Only a few years later, when the failed Georgian Rose Revolution brought trouble on Tbilisi, in the vicinity of which Russian tanks appeared, when Kyrgyzstan realised the Trotskyist dream of a permanent revolution, and Ukraine could not decide on a choice between parodic authoritarianism and unbridled democracy, the Azerbaijani vanguard of the revolution lived through rethinking of values. How did Ilham Aliyev guess the trend of political development?

Orange plague was drowned in Azerbaijan

Machiavellianism explains this by the outstanding mind of the ruler: 'Minds are of three kinds. One comprehends everything itself. The other can understand what the first has grasped. And the third does not comprehend anything itself and interferes with others.' Machiavelli describes the first mind as outstanding. The post-Soviet countries with a barracks-feudal socialist formation and an unsettled political system were not even ready for the perception of liberal ideology and for the idea of ​​forming people's power. What kind of liberalism in countries where there was no market and no bourgeoisie? Liberal transformation resulted in unbridled political chaos and social upheaval. Ilham Aliyev saved the country from chaos, shocks, pseudo-liberalisation. Ilham Aliyev, as one of the most educated rulers in the post-Soviet space, understood that liberalism is an ideology that grows on market soil. And in Azerbaijan, as in the absolute majority of post-Soviet countries, the anti-market consciousness has not been overcome. The imposition of values ​​causes a national crisis: confrontation, civil wars, regional crisis...

Machiavellianism also explains the nature of the origin of modern colour revolutions, which are aimed not at a radical breakdown of the system, but at the replacement of political elites: 'People, believing that the new ruler will turn out to be better, willingly rebel against the old, but soon they are convinced by experience that they were deceived, because the new ruler is always worse than the old one.'

The theory of civic nationalism

The global spirit of Hegel continued to seek new forms of governance of human society, stopping at the continuum of Western liberalism, which eventually lost in the historical sense to the civic nationalism of the West. Thus, the West has chosen the Rule of the State! And in the middle of the 2000s, the Azerbaijani leader chooses the theory of civil nationalism dominated by the rule of the state. In the concept of Ilham Aliyev, the state is a super-value. It is to this theory that he links his Karabakh strategy. Revanchist civic nationalism must make the dream come true: the restoration of state integrity. Since about 2005, the return of Karabakh has been cultivated as the main dogma of Aliyev's ideology.

Aliyev's theory: civic nationalism, the supremacy of the state and Karabakh

In the 2000s, Ilham Aliyev opted for state capitalism with the active role of national chaebols. The president's logic is understandable, because state capitalism made it easy to control the dominant part of the national income: petrodollar resources. Moreover, Azerbaijan is turning into one of the most powerful hydrocarbon countries in the world. And the role of the oil and gas country is correlated with the new energy security strategy of the West. Over the past two decades, Azerbaijan has turned from a failed state into a country that has played a key role in the security system of the most powerful West! Which a few years ago frightened its energy partner with the locomotive of the revolution. Ilham Aliyev's oil strategy creates one of the most reliable financial safety cushions: the Oil Fund. And the three global crises that shook the economic structure of the world (including a pandemic!) did not cause in Azerbaijan the apocalyptic scenario of development predicted by sceptics. The airbag works and saves the state and society.

But the Azerbaijani president is a very flexible politician. Ilham Aliyev, at first glance, leaves the impression of a conservative politician, but he is easily ready for innovations and transformations. During his seventeen years in power, Ilham Aliyev changed several forms of government, several political teams, revised the principles of relations with society.

At the same time, Ilham Aliyev never had associates. He does not accept corporate governance. 'Stability is higher than democracy.' This historic recap, addressed to countries of 'disenchanted democracies' following the collapse of hopes of the Arab Spring, was first heard in Baku. From the lips of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Ilham Aliyev predicted a threat to the centuries-old systemic order in the Middle East using the example of revolutions burning with hot flames and in the medieval auto-da-fah of the Arab countries fired up by ISIL. The explosion of the big Arab question covered Europe itself with waves of migratory refugees who lost their homeland and shelter. Only five years later, America elected as president a man who repeated the 'Azerbaijani truth' that stability is superior to democracy.

But on the way to stability, Ilham Aliyev faced many trials: new European Maidans, eastern shaitans and the Armenian diaspora...

Ilham Aliyev went to his dream

Guiding star

However, Ilham Aliyev's guiding star was the love for historical Shusha, sung by the eastern khans. The Azerbaijani president went to the goal of returning Karabakh through the thorny paths of many years of hopeless, uncompromising negotiations. In Armenia, presidents were swept away, the prime minister was shot, riots were raised and a colour revolution was carried out, but Karabakh remained in the tenacious hands of state terrorism. Most of Azerbaijan dreamed of the hope of the return of Karabakh, but did not fully believe it. Aliyev persuaded in every speech. Struggled. Repeating his dream like a mantra. Inspiring a new spark of hope.

What happened is not explained by rational logic. But the army raised by the order of Aliyev liberated Karabakh. The virtuoso geopolitical combination of the Azerbaijani president opened the way for the victorious army, which hoisted the banner of victory at the Shusha fortress... The people's dream has come true. To this day, it is difficult to perceive and accept reality. Karabakh was sacred for us. And the Armenians canonised it.

But Machiavellianism explains our victory in the following way: 'All the armed prophets won, and all the unarmed ones died.'

The holy idea was supported by the most powerful Azerbaijani armada of retribution. Which President Ilham Aliyev had been preparing for the day of retribution for many years. And this day has come...

'Ilham Aliyev inscribed his name in history in golden letters,' after the end of the war, this confession was heard in the mouths of every second Azerbaijani.

What will descendants say about the victorious ruler? The rulers are judged. There are unflattering evaluations even of the most glorious Azerbaijani sovereign, Shah Ismayil I. After all, the Shah lost the Battle of Chaldiran... and lost Tabriz! But the victorious sovereigns are canonised forever and ever. Aliyev returned to us pride, honour and dignity... History will tell about him: great ruler!

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