Leuville in my Heart

As we celebrate the 98th anniversary of our declaration of independence proclaimed by my father, Noé Jordania, on 26 May 1918, the plans are nearing completion for the modernization of the Domain of Leuville, near Paris, and its perpetuation as a museum of our First Republic and a living Franco-Georgian cultural center. On that occasion, I would like to share with my fellow Georgians and friends my feelings and thoughts about the importance and meaning of this national treasure.

The domain of Leuville is extremely close to my heart, since it was the site of my childhood, my teens, my youth; and beyond this personal aspect, Leuville remains a mystical entity of the utmost historical and vital importance for all Georgians, wherever they might be.

The renewal of interest for our first republic that we are witnessing in Georgia corresponds to a sociological phenomenon unique in our history: for the first time in centuries there is now a whole generation of young Georgians who have never known the soviet, or for that matter any other foreign domination. As they assume their rightful place we can see appearing in Georgia a whole social layer finally freed from the visible and invisible constraints of soviet communism that strongly distorted the world-view of so many generations of Georgians and prevented them, unaware, from seeing clearly and appreciating the true worth of the great patriots who created modern and democratic Georgia from the chaos of the first world war.

As Professor Stephen Jones reminds us: “the Democratic Georgian Republic introduced the vote for women, the separation of church and state, the establishment of a multiparty parliament, private property, free and universal education, unemployment pay and a minimum wage, the redistribution of land in the countryside, and a free press…Georgia’s new leaders tried to balance entrepreneurial rights (including privatization in the countryside) with state responsibilities to its poorest citizens …State support for industry, combined with the principles of economic liberalism, was widely practiced...”

Democracy does not reside only in texts and government institutions; it resides primarily in the minds, the comprehension of all citizens – which is not yet the situation in Georgia. The proof can be seen in the confusion between Stalinist communism and western socialism, despite the fact that they are so clearly and profoundly antithetic, as well as the complete lack of understanding among the Georgians – and in general all former Soviet denizen – of the simple reality that all Western countries, including the United States, function on the basis of socialist-inspired institutions that were established in the 20th century: by the labor party of Ramsay McDonald in Great Britain, the Front Populaire in France, all the Scandinavian countries, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the US; institutions such as Social Security, Paid Holidays, Medical Insurance, Welfare, Unemployment Insurance, and many others. Political maturity is not reached just like that, one needs time for the evolution of thoughts and mores.

Hence the extreme importance of the domain of Leuville: as the physical site of the perpetuation of our first republic, it represents an essential part not only of the national patrimony but also of our national political health, demonstrating through its physical existence the essential validity of the democratic and Western-oriented destiny of our country.

All Georgians, whatever their political inclination, should be proud that Georgia was the first social-democratic country in the world. The domain of Leuville will remain for always a witness of this essential phase of our national evolution.

Gaomarjos Sakartvelo!

The Georgian Government first acquired the Leuville Chateau at the beginning of the 20th century, when members of the Menshevik government left Georgia due to the Sovietization of the country, emigrating to France in March 1921. The Georgian Office of the State Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues in February announced that the Leuville Chateau is to be turned into a Georgian academy for Georgian artists and historians. The Government of Georgia has allocated more than EUR 100,000 to this aim.

Redjeb Jordania

19 May 2016 20:45