The passive and disillusioned people, although well dressed, have no future, and the day to day living is their main concern. The city is just for driving through nowadays
It has been like this for 15 years.
Tkibuli used to be a prosperous town. Wages were high, and everybody had work. Now it is an industrial cemetery with the ghost of Stalin still alive on top of his plinth in the city square. The whining from the worn down dentists office creates a surrealistic atmosphere around the market as the lucky ones do their shopping. “Now this is the real face of communism, this is the result of a failed system”, you might say. And most will agree, and praise them selves for being lucky enough to live in Western Europe or the USA. But wait a minute. It also happens in Western Europe.
Industrial death in Norway.
Let's look to Norway for a second; currently the worlds best country to live in according to the HD Index. I have had the chance of visiting several places like Tkibuli in Norway. Although not that worn down, the common denominator for those places was that they were built around a coal mine or a single factory, producing for one big owner and a stable regulated market. With economic neoliberalism came the financial crisis, and the same thing happened there as in Tkibuli: First rage against the owners, then apathy and finally a disillusioned unemployed workforce.
The question I asked when visiting those Norwegian communities was: Why don’t they do something? Why do they passively look at their houses falling apart, and not lifting a finger to create new business? But then they got money from the government in an attempt of rebuilding the communities. Hope was lit! The mantra was innovation, and the solution was to stimulate investors to invest in new factories, well advised by the business consultants. Most of the money was spent on an endless chain of speculative projects with no substantial gain for anybody except the consultants. And when they left (most of them never even showed up there in person) there was silence and even less money.
The industrial community.
I had no answer then, and I haven’t any now. Only maybe an explanation: The traditions. What happens when a population, which in generations have been used to stability, a foreseeable career where a man was rewarded with the title foreman if he worked hard, was loyal, voted the right party and joined the union, and a life span in security, suddenly is thrown into a crisis? The promised future suddenly vanishes, and left is only fear and anger. Then when you realize there is nobody around to blame any more, you turn inwards and blame your self. Then the only thing left is to talk about the past. I mean: How could the thought of innovation, the hope that lies in painting your house, and the energy needed to create new business suddenly emerge within a population under such conditions? Well it doesn’t. It is not possible. The young ones leave, and the ones left depend on the young ones to send some money home.I look at the men sitting beside the bumpy and destroyed Tkibuli streets: They are victims, and not to blame for sitting there punishing themselves for something they are not responsible for.
Additional notes July 2008
Today when I passed through Tkibuli I decided to write an appendix to this short story. Something has happened in Tkibuli. I reminded my self to write about the newly renovated dentist’s office, the new roads with asphalt, the renovated housings, and the atmosphere. It has changed. Not much, but just enough to notice when you drop by the market to buy some bread and vegetables. So I did write about it, but I guess the Russians manage to destroy it this time too.