What was my motivation to go there? It had been on my mind for the past four years – the patriotic camps.
The camp – collective
Patriotic – one idea
Now I understand that collective one idea is just the means for something bigger. But this something bigger was yet to come to my mind when I stepped in that circle with some predetermination.
I didn’t like the idea of patriotism in contemporary Georgia and the meaning it carries. I considered that preaching patriotism in these camps would be a complete ‘patriotic brainwashing’. At that time I identified patriotism with nationalism, superiority, fetishism of the past and constant readiness for war. When the camps were founded some military officers taught the ‘Patriots’ how to shoot. They lived in military tents and exercised much physically. They resembled a youth military unit.
I was wandering what these young people of 15-23 years old thought patriotism was. So I went for a research. Last year I recorded interviews where most of active camp participants claimed patriotism meant loving the country. And there came my next question.
-What does it mean to love the country?
The answers I received were almost similar. -Loving the country means fighting for it in war, defending Georgian traditions, toasting. I think these were the basic answers.
The primitivism of the idea of patriotism made me both laugh and outrage.
Some facts I knew about the camps at that time:
1. They sing/listen to a national anthem every morning.
2. They raise the national flag.
3. The camp is divided in squads. Each squad of around35 people has a leader.
4. Each squad has a name (სახელი), slogan (შეძახილი), credo (დევიზი), and a hymn (ჰიმნი) of patriotic nature.
5. They wear uniforms – a red cap that says patriot, a red t-shirt with the Georgian flag on the left sleeve, a rain jacket resembling the Georgian flag from the front side.
6. Young people are selected from all over the country and they spend 10 days together in wooden cottages that replaced tents soon after the camps were established.
7. The camps are supported by the Presidential fund.
I think that was it. And this year, with this knowledge about the camps I decided to spend the whole 10 days with them. These 10 days turned out to be an observation not only of them, but also of myself.
And now I know the name for them ‘the Patriots’ - they are the civil military unit, who, ‘if necessary, can go to war without thinking it twice’.
The Leader is Always Right ლიდერი ყოველთვის მართალია
Will be coming soon…