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NGOs in the Service of Global Governance: The Case of Uzbekistan

In the years after the breakup of the Soviet Union, nongovernmental organisations mushroomed in Uzbekistan. But these NGOs were merely instruments in the hands of their sponsors - multilateral organisations and private foundations. The NGOs were essential to the sponsors, who used them as tools to change local practice, orienting it towards more privatisation, democracy and individual rights. But when times changed, the NGOs found themselves adrift. Caught between an authoritarian government (that kept them under surveillance) and foreign sponsors, local organisations found little freedom of movement. They had no social base to fall back on, no civil society that could be mobilised in their defence.

PERSPECTIVEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 12, 200867NGOs in the Service of Global Governance: The Case of UzbekistanBernard Hoursof their functions as interfaces and media-tors, NGOs are inevitably caught up in these contradictions. They are exposed to the state on the one hand, and on the other to financial backers. In Uzbekistan they have just been through a crisis: several organisations were simply closed down – in particular those funded by the Soros Foundation. The subject of this article is NGOs and governance. Uzbekistan is taken as a case in point, an example in the field of a general problematic. Our study is based on materials collected during four months of field research carried out during 2004 in Uzbekistan, and mainly in Tashkent, the capital.The first section will be devoted to NGOs in Uzbekistan as windows to the west, with a dual valence, internal and external. What comes in and what goes out through these openings? Next, we will analyse the fiction of civil society that serves as a basis legitimatising the activities of theNGOs: a civil society that is both impossible and still to come. Several examples ofNGOs will enable us to see that the strategies being developed aim at attaining civil societies that are virtual rather than actual, and are represented and staged rather than actually present. We are led to the conclusion that as there is no such thing as an actual organised civil society,NGOs merely stage sector models of good governance in a society that functions on a completely different basis: authority, nationalism, corruption and violence.For these NGOs, good governance is many different and incompatible things: not only a project, a set of financial arrangements, a fiction, a delusion, but also a demand encysted in the constraints to which NGOs are subjected. 1 Windows to the WestOnce upon a time, the USSR came to an end. All the NGOs of the region could begin their story that way. This break, initially thought of as the founding moment of a new world, has dragged on, an endless transition towards – what? Nobody seems to know any more. Time passes on – as do its illusions. Endless transition ends up not being a transition at all.In the years after the break- up of the Soviet Union, non-governmental organisations mushroomed in Uzbekistan. But these NGOs were merely instruments in the hands of their sponsors – multilateral organisations and private foundations. TheNGOs were essential to the sponsors, who used them as tools to change local practice, orienting it towards more privatisation, democracy and individual rights. But when times changed, theNGOs found themselves adrift. Caught between an authoritarian government (that kept them under surveillance) and foreign sponsors, local organisations found little freedom of movement. They had no social base to fall back on, no civil society that could be mobilised in their defence.Having previously been actors in development, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are today one of the main actors in globalisation. One wonders whether development is today not an obsolete referent, replaced as a global project by governance. It now seems inappropriate to see the struggle against poverty in the manner of the 1970s, as economic and social develop-ment. It is also noteworthy that govern-ance is a highly normative concept imply-ing reference to such criteria as democ-racy, transparency, pluralism, and civil society, in other words, to a clearly western mode of government. One of the hypotheses developed in this article is that NGOs in Uzbekistan, and also to some extent elsewhere, are acting in the name of global governance, and that they are one of its tools. The case of Uzbekistan is particularly interesting: former member of the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) and a new national state that has come under strong western influence, it is nonetheless keeping up its historic links with Russia: A central Asian country, its geopolitical situation is highly sensitive, not only militarily but also as regards energy resources and the struggle against Islamic radicalism. As at the time of central Asian splendour, today this region lies on a frontier between the orient and occident, e g, in terms of ideology and of governance. There are also frontiers between democracy and dictatorship, between the post-Soviet world and the west, between the residuum of the cold war and neoliberalism, between authori-tarian government and governance, and between nationalism and globalisation. On each of these frontiers we come across specific contradictions. On account Bernard Hours (bernard.hours@ird.fr) is with the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD), a French public research institute in the field of development studies.
PERSPECTIVEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 12, 200869learning procedures with a view to achiev-ing behaviour more in line with western expectations. Violence on women, for example, was combated by several dozen NGOs financed by foreign sponsors. Another emergence was that of a new institution, the market, which presupposed familiarity with competition and the development of entrepreneurial skills. This led to a prolif-eration of “businesswomen’s” NGOs, combining the emancipation of women and the acquisition of market skills, and at the same time putting to use the old within the new, many of the new “women leaders” having learned in old communist party organisations how to wield authority.The most radical entity to emerge, however, was the concept of civil society. In the previous context, civil society had been the party. A new one had to be learned. The American notion of empowerment and its techniques came into vogue with the NGOs in Uzbekistan, as elsewhere. “It is a matter of techniques, of developing and adjusting artifices and procedures. Constraints, but above all roles, have been created and tested in practice” [Pignarre 2005: 176].Another conceptual novelty was public opinion. The Uzbek government set up a GONGO – the internationally acceptedterm for “governmental” non-governmental organisation – as centre for public opinion, to which at present several current NGO cadres are to move. Political “subjects” have points of view and opinions that have to be studied by means of surveys, the aim in this case being not so much to track opinion as to control it. These studies are in fact market surveys of political and social values. They mobilise large numbers of agents and generate impressive volumes of statistics, all in the name of a techno-logical logic that was supposed to replace the ideological logic of socialism but has ended up simplyliving with it. In the post-Soviet world most heads of state are former party leaders; this isparticularly true of Uzbekistan. These leaders are learning the new modes in which power is wielded and the new ways in which consensus (or at least its rhetoric and trappings) has to be manufactured.These conceptual and ideological inflows from outside are applied by means of appropriate tools and methods;NGOs use them a lot. Examples are instruments used in training provided by the Open Society Institute run by the Soros Founda-tion, or those used by the AmericanNGO Counterpart, very busy in Uzbekistan, where it specialised in training cadres and financing small projects. One of these tools is civic advocacy: evidence on a prob-lem given by members of the public; it in-volves reporting the problem and propos-ing solutions. “Crisis Centres” and “shel-ters” receive female victims of violence and manage the visibility of various social issues. The Soros Foundation has launched numerous “resource centres”, which pro-vide financial, methodological and technical assistance to emergent groups in society, now called civil society. The centres teach role-playing, simulation techniques, arbitration, negotiation, and “coalition”-building. What theseNGOs are importing to the region is in fact simply the American approach to power and conflict management.Ideological Opening-upThe internet, known in some circles in Uzbekistan as “the frontier of illusions”, is a perfect tool for this type of conceptual and ideological opening-up. It projects into the outside world with its pluralism in all fields an experience – unfortunately only virtual – of freedom and alternatives. The experience is all the more virtual as its context is one of an overblown rhetoric of nationalism and identity. SeveralNGOs offer sessions on internet navigation. Interviews of the learners show that the web functions as the stage setting of a dream, a support for idealistic and mystical projections, at the same time as a base providing information and knowledge. Unfortunately, the knowledge and information gained are usually irrele-vant, taken outside context, and cannot be used to compare the world of the web with the discouraging one of local realities. Instruments and tools serve for the most part simply to propagate western models, economic, social, political and even cultural; Islam and the status of women are primary targets in most of the surveys and pseudo-surveys carried out by local NGOs on behalf of foreign sponsors. In the world of NGOs there are sleeping partners who give orders and agents who carry them out. Outside the framework of the univocal and unilateral norms emanating from the major providers of finance (United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the European Commission) and applied by foreign and local NGOs, there is very little flow the other way – except in the form of applications for finance for programmes, training and aid.The local operators, working under harsh local constraints – political, techni-cal, fiscal and administrative – were all originally callow, naive and dependent – except of course for those who had been trained in the community party frame-work; these veterans took up the NGO model with alacrity, putting it to their personal profit. The relationship between the two groups is still asymmetrical today, with disillusioned cynicism having replaced the idealism of the early stages. Apart from this unbalance, the set of western norms that theNGOs are supposed to teach and apply defines in fact govern-ance as it is understood by multilateral institutions. This can be defined as the reproduction, in as unproblematic a way as possible, of market economy and civil order. This has to be done by managing pluralism in a way that is at least minimally transparent, and manufactur-ing consensus in a way that is neither too obviously fictitious nor too brutal, thanks to plausible arbitration between divergent interests.Good governance is in the last resort simply governance that is deemed good by the global powers that be. This inflow of western models to be imposed on local societies indicates a position of domina-tion (Hours 2002). What then are local NGOs able to do, how much leeway do they have, and what are their objectives in the field delineated above?2 Seeking Civil Society When discussingNGOs, one should distin-guish between localNGOs and those that are foreign or international. Though all are part of the same scene, they occupy very different positions. ForeignNGOs in Uzbekistan are the same as those in the rest of the world. They act as vectors of western models – economic, social, moral and humanitarian. One could add
PERSPECTIVEjuly 12, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly70“cultural” to this list, as the western model is the product of history as perceived and interpreted by westerners. Some of these international organisations are very well-known – Médecins sans frontières, Save the Children Fund and Open Society Institute. Though they have different objectives, all share a manifestly western approach to humanitarian and develop-mental problems and to the issue of democracy.The foreign NGOs have brought in these “problems” and identified their nature in their main sectors of activity. The main fields in which these NGOs are active – and in which local NGOs have subsequently developed because resources were available – are not very different today from those of the 1990s; the main differenceisinthe regression of organisations intended to enable civil society to emerge in Uzbekistan. One of the main “points of entry” of NGOs in the region was the environment. The partially dried-up Aral Sea is the emblem of the ecological problems that came to light with the demise of theUSSR. SeveralGONGOs (i e, “fake”NGOs, as the oxymoronic designation implies) are still working in this field: the management of nature, even if merely verbal, is presumed to move things out of the field of politics (Ecosan, e g, an organisation controlled by the state, assiduously attends inter-national gatherings). In the fields of edu-cation and health, numerous local NGOs have their origins in international pro-grammes piloted by specialist foreign NGOs. Many of these are now working out-side the country; and others have with-drawn, either because of inadequate results or on principle, transferring re-sponsibility to locals. This widely held principle, however, is by no means easy to practise in Uzbekistan. One field of NGO activity that is always very busy is women’srights and conjugal violence (the term one hears most often locally). More than a 100 NGOs are involved in these issues. In most cities several business-women’s associations have started to work in this field, the American notion of woman leader having opened up interest-ing prospects to women, and in particular to those who are party members, and havepromptly seized the opportunity to recycle their careers. These groups, having received strong support from NGOs finan-ced byUSAID, have become local lobbies moving away from their initial aims. Yet they are still treated asNGOs (e g, Tad-birkol Ayol, a businesswoman’s associa-tion active in several cities of Uzbekistan). With the exception of Freedom House, which is linked to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), organisations dealing with human rights are not having an easy time. The Uzbek state has set up its own organi-sations to act as alibis or as screens, simulating concern for issues of this sort. In the early 1990s, these NGOs were active in the context that was locally anti-Soviet and globally anti-totalitarian; at the time, democratic expectations seemed realistic. Today, though American financial support is still forthcoming, it is more discreet. Several of these NGOs are promoting pluralism in the media (e g, Internyus, which got into trouble in 2005), advancing new tools for communication under the cover of technical training and develop-ment. Public opinion, a concept that emerged only in the post-Soviet era, serves as a pretext. It is at stake in the struggle over management and control of the media. Most of the organisations in question are either tightly controlledNGOs (e g, Ijtimory Fikr, a centre for the study of public opinion) or (in most cases) outright GONGOs. They have been employed to develop a quantitative, statistics-based sociology used by the government for its own ends. A multiplicity of charitable NGOs deal with youth, the handicapped, and prisoners; they take the form of small, fragile organisations that occasionally approach foreign sponsors or the govern-ment for financial support. The more stable of them enjoy government support. The first generation of local NGOs developed with the explicit aim of arousing the will and generating the ability to reshape civil society, which was in a shambles. They were set up quite the opposite of the western models imported in theearly 1990s, supported by foreign NGOs.Democratic EthicsThe problematic notion of civil society should in fact be dealt with at far greater length. This would take us, however, well beyond the scope of this article. To our particular intents and purposes, civil society could be defined as an entity in the form of a totality, plural in character, and capable of producing the consensus of citizens that constitutes the foundation of democracy. In the USSR, the relative lack of both democracy and citizens (as distinct from masses and people) explains to a large extent both the lack of civil society in Uzbekistan in 1990 and the western project of setting up a market economy and political democracy. The most symptomatic organisation in this respect is the Open Society Institute (OSI) inspired by the liberal thinking of Karl Popper and financed by the Soros Founda-tion. From its headquarters in Budapest, theOSI spread throughout the post-Soviet world, into numerous societies in eastern Europe and central Asia. Its aim was to promote the emergence of democratic so-cieties by forming a civil society capable of the transparent and pluralistic arbitration that could produce an authentic horizontal consensus in societies accustomed to the vertical exercise of authoritarian power ac-companied by empty political rhetoric, with scant concern for real social diversity. In other words, the OSI’s objective was to combine political therapy, a liberal ideo-logical approach and post-cold war global democratic ethics [Atlani-Duault 2003]. The favourite tool of the OSI is the resource centre, providing training and information and organising debate. Until 2004 centres of this sort opened up in many major Uzbek cities. Their aim was to accustom people to open information and to the right to voice their opinions freely in public, and at the same time to give them a grasp – legal, social and socio-logical – of the outside world. Social science was part of this pedagogy; in Uzbekistan, it was focused in particular at various times on the status of women, school textbooks and curricula that in some cases were anachronistic. This work was carried out in small groups led by trained organisers. Its aim was to spread awareness and knowledge of the world at large, of values, and of social problems, with particular stress being laid on the organisation and mastery of debate (role-playing, coalitions). It wasclearly a technique of consensus- building with a view to producing civil society. Resource centres provided an
PERSPECTIVEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 12, 200871educational framework that was both dynamic and open; they gave structure to opinions voiced by political players in the making, suggesting not only methods, but also western models of governance that were presumed to be universally applicable. In 2003, the former president of Georgia claimed that it was the Soros Foundation that brought about his fall. This tells us quite a lot about the political stakes surrounding theNGOs’ promotion of civil society. As there was no such thing as civil society in the USSR, pedagogy that aimed at introducing it was necessarily foreign, and was therefore inherently suspect – unless, of course, it foregrounded suppo-sedly traditional or community organisa-tions, the latter – ‘mahallas’ (neighbour-hoods) – being in fact sites of power and control rather than of pluralism. Thus, though pedagogical efforts of this sort have not only failed to really change the authoritarian nature of the Uzbek regime, but have actually led it to cancel the authorisation and registration of the OSI, and at the same time of all NGOs financed by it. This has probably hit some 50 per cent of theNGOs operating in the country and about 30 per cent of financial aid. Our estimate is intended simply to indicate the impact of theOSI’s activities in Uzbekistan, an impact that the ban shows up very clearly. Apart from the Soros Foundation, the main backer isUSAID and its satellite offshoots, now practically the only NGOs still in operation. Such are the NGOs that are actively working at building up a civil society in Uzbekistan. The field itself, however, has evolved. Following independence, democratic expectations both inside and outside the country were strong. They developed until about 1995, when foreign NGOs made a survey of their activities, and concluded that on balance the results were negative. Since this date the lack of economic reform has led backers to turn to projects that were less political and increasingly technical. As the regime reorganised, basing itself on client relationships, corruption, and single party domination, behind a facade of fictitious pluralism and a smokescreen of exacerbated nationalist phraseology, the democratic expectations of the local population were frustrated.The Reorganisation Subsequently the local NGOs reorganised, taking into account this deficiency in democracy that was transforming civil society into a mere mythical expectation. Those NGO activists with marketable exper-tise – or at any rate most of them – recycled themselves, moving into openings financed by foreign sponsors. Giving up the organi-sation of democracy, they became involved in the production of statistical data on social “problems” and exclusion. The main exception to this trend was the Soros Foundation, which stuck to its initial course until it was banned in 2004. This is how the “NGO research consultancies” came into being, financed byUNDP, the World Bank and European programmes to carry out socio-economic surveys. Some of these organisations have even given up their traditional non profit-making status and set themselves up on a commercial basis. Run by sociologists who have left the academic world, they develop by adapting to the themes rolled out by their sponsors. Among the best known are Expert Fikri (Centre for Social and Marketing Research), Tahlil (Centre for Social Research) and Shark, a similar research consultancy dealing with social issues (status of women, delinquency, healthcare, youth, etc) using the social science tools, more or less simpli-fied, that sponsors favour. Besides these research consultancies, limited in number because of limited demand, there are numerous other NGOs. Some are pioneers in the field and others more recent entrants. They struggle along, doing social and/or voluntary work with groups that are at risk in a society that is being torn apart by violence, unemploy-ment, corruption, and arbitrary power. We investigated in particular Women and Development, an organisation financed by a German foundation linked to the Christian Democratic Union. It deals with female pris-oners and educational programmes. Given the relatively limited lasting impact of its activities, its institutional profile is rela-tively high. Many of the leaders are members of a family of former Soviet dignitaries.Barkamolik, anNGO that for a long time drew support from the Soros Foundation, deals with the abuse of women, divorce and the autonomy of the psychic subject in general. The closing of the Soros Founda-tion’sOSI has exposed this organisation to risk in the immediate future.Sabo is anNGO of the same type, run by a woman, a former government official. It deals with elderly pensioners and with young people in peripheral housing estates. For a long time it was financed by international sponsors, German in this case too, and subsequently for some time by the Soros Foundation. The crisis of NGOs in Uzbekistan has put it at risk. After cuttingback on civil society, sponsors also gradually distanced themselves from the management of problems arising from social exclusion, the results of which are difficult to capitalise. They turned to community projects such as community development in Africa, based on the micro-credits now in vogue in the “struggle against poverty”.Such is the overall picture of NGOs in Uzbekistan. Are they still apparently serving global governance, despite repeated disappointments over the past decade and more? 3 Serving Global GovernanceThe assertion contained in this subtitle can be supported by two observations drawn from an analysis of multilateral technical documents and of the types of logic that have been set up, i e, ideological logic on the one hand and financial logic on the other. The survey we carried out in 2004 enabled us to make an in-depth study of four organisations. Meeting the leaders of some 30 organisations active in various fields also gave us an overall grasp of the currentNGO “landscape”. The organi-sations we studied in detail are Women and Development,OSI, Barkamolik, Shark and Fact. We interviewed not only their managerial staff but also, wherever possible, the “beneficiaries” (if there actually were any) of their activity. This enabled us to base our analysis on clearly defined, and largely convergent material. It is on this material that our overall hypo-thesis is based: i e, that in Uzbekistan, the case under examination, local organisations are developing a western model of global governance, functioning as its technical and pedagogical tool.
PERSPECTIVEjuly 12, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly72Multilateral sponsors such asUNDP, the World Bank, and the European Union are exporting to Uzbekistan economic norms and standards linked to the market and to privatisation; political norms and standards modelled on western democracy; and western societal norms and stand-ards centred on such issues as the status of women, children’s rights, and ethnic minorities. Good governance can be seen as a set of management standards apply-ing to a plurality of sectors, in the fields of economics, politics and ethics. For geographical and military reasons and reasons linked to fuel resources, western pressure has lessened somewhat in the political field. It remains strong, however, in economic reforms and humanitarian rights and standards.NGOs are essential to sponsors, who use them as tools to change local practice, orient-ing it towards more privatisation, more democracy and more individual rights. These are the three fields targeted by programmes financed by the main multi-lateral sponsors. Apart from these sponsors, two German foundations are operating in a similar way, as alsoUSAID, the main non- multilateral sponsor, apart from the Soros Foundation. Through USAID, the US state department supports several organisa-tions whose function is to finance and train local NGOs. Apart from the multilat-eral ones,USAID is the main financing “desk” to which Uzbek organisations apply when seeking resources. There are practically no private voluntary sponsors. Apart from multilateral organisations, the now-banned Soros Foundation, and the Uzbek government, which supports its own GONGOs (usually to provide social, political and media alibis), USAID and its subsidiar-ies are at present the only resort for NGOs.Dependence on SponsorsThe USAID distributes funds through American organisations set up to provide training and resources to localNGOs that respond to calls for tenders. Competition between localNGOs in meetingUSAID’s strategic and thematic options has become very strong indeed. We carried out at some length a survey of Fact, an “NGO providing services to NGOs”. Fact teaches trainees how to set up NGOs, how to draft budgets, etc; it also offers internet access and devel-ops some projects in “social research”. It is financed by two sponsors that are depend-ent onUSAID, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) and Counterpart International. The latter is an American consortium financed byUSAID; it is highly active in the republics of central Asia, organising shows, video films, panel discussions on humanitarian and social subjects; its approach is based on barely-revised American norms. Another USAID offshoot is the Eurasia Foundation, which finances seminars and workshops on education and law. Before it was banned, the Soros Foundation was the main private organisation operating in this field controlled by the state department of the USA. Local NGOs are totally dependent on these sponsors. Caught between an authoritarian government that keeps them NABAKRUSHNA CHOUDHURY CENTRE FOR DEVELOPMENT STUDIESBhubaneswar-751013, ORISSATel: 0674-2300471 / 2301094; Fax: 2300471E-mail: ncds_bbsr@dataone.in ICSSR Institutional Doctoral Fellowships for the year 2008-09Applications are invited in the prescribed form for award of ICSSR institutional Doctoral Fellowships for the year 2008-09. Nabakrushna Choudhury Centre for Development Studies has been allocated three Fellowships (2 ordinary and 1 Salary Protected). The Centre offers ICSSR Doctoral Fellowships only in Economics, Sociology and Anthropology.Eligibility: 1. Postgraduate in Social Sciences with at least 55% marks.2. The candidate should have cleared National Eligibility Test (NET for JRF/Lectureship)/ M.Phil/or two research articles published in reputed social science journals (reprints to be attached).3. The applicant must be registered for Ph.D under the guidance of a faculty member of the Centre as main supervisor but those who are not yet registered may also apply. They will have to get registered/re-registered as the case may be, within six months of award of fellowship. Age:The upper age limit for a doctoral fellow is below 35 years as on 30th May 2008 (relaxable by 5 years in case of SC/ST). For teachers and professional staff of research institute holding regular posts the upper age limit would be 45 years. In exceptional cases, where a candidate is found to have outstanding ability, the age limit may be relaxed marginally at the discretion of ICSSR.Value:The selected candidates will be paid a fellowship amount of Rs.6,000/ per month (Rs.5000/- per month if not NET qualified) plus Rs.12,000/ per annum as contingency grant. Duration of the fellowship is two years and extendable by one year in exceptional cases only. In case of an employed scholar his/her salary will be protected. In addition, a contingency grant of Rs.12,000/- per annum will also be paid. Duration of a salary-protected fellowship will, in no case, be more than two years.Only short-listed candidates will be called for interview.Applicants are requested to submit their applications along with the proposed Research Proposal latest by July 31, 2008 to the Director I/C. Application form is available in the Centre on all working days or by post by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope and can also be downloaded from ICSSR website: www.icssr.org DIRECTOR I/C
PERSPECTIVEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW july 12, 200873under surveillance, and foreign sponsors, local organisations have little freedom of movement. They have no social base to fall back on, no civil society that could be mobilised in their defence. This uncom-fortable situation leads to a lot of com-plaints. Local NGOs deplore the lack of co-ordination between sponsors and the ab-sence of common objectives. They regret that “westerners” (as we are now obliged to call them) share no overall vision. The many forums have no follow-up (in the form e g, of workshops, training pro-grammes). The pedagogy of civil society is being abandoned and strategies are fading out, leaving merely technical objectives: aid and development. The smallamounts of finance obtained by numerous NGOs for small projects are leading to fierce competition for results that are barely visible, their scale so exiguous that virtually no capitalisation can take place.Thus in Uzbekistan ideological depend-ency on models of NGO governance can be seen as a “post-face” to the cold war. Economic dependency on the outside world is total. Society (civil or otherwise) has neither the means nor the will to change this. Available energies are entirely absorbed by the management of day-to-day survival or of its alternative, personal enrichment. It is no exaggeration to say that the situation ofNGOs in Uzbekistan is woeful. Totally subservient, apparently, to a western project of global governance, they are unable to base their legitimacy on any civil society that could conceivably be mobilised; this being the case, their legiti-macy inevitably seems fragile. For many small organisations with short life-spans, founding a NGO with government approval is often first and foremost simply a matter of obtaining employment and – if aid is forthcoming from a sponsor – remunera-tion of some sort. Family members are recruited and the organisation becomes a sort of “social business”. Many academics and research workers are involved in this sort of activity. A DelusionDropped by its sponsors, discouraged by the failure of Uzbek “civil society” to emerge, it is now obvious that civil society in Uzbekistan is a delusion. The problems faced by the people, in contrast, are only too real. Though no civil society exists in Uzbekistan, most foreign operators of local NGOs nonetheless continue stead-fastly proclaiming the global western norms encapsulated in the term “govern-ance”. But good governance is (to put it mildly) hard to find in this country without civil society and living under a harsh nationalist regime. Through the NGO window, however, which has remained ajar, one can nevertheless see, in the outer world, the “benefits” of western standards and the “happiness” enjoyed under good governance in other countries. With “cut and paste” models of governance, and with local NGOs largely unable to show much initiative, one wonders just how long the simulation of models that have no local effect will be able to go on. Recent events in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan should be mentioned in con-nection with the subject of this article. The “democratic revolutions” observed in Georgia and Ukraine following contested elections, have demonstrated how effec-tive the pedagogy of democracy and the techniques of expression and protest spread byNGOs under American influence can be. The milieux in which these move-ments apparently originated are trained political elites capable of handling power and of raising popular support in cities and staging it as a show in the capital.The Kyrgyz scenario is also a post-electoral one. The NGOs militating in fa-vour of “American-style democracy” cer-tainly played a part in it, though without managing to control the entire complex of events; the political break was less clear-cut than in Georgia and Ukraine. Power was taken over by a politician who had been part of the former scene, and who rapidly obtained endorsement from Mos-cow. It should also be noted that protest started off in the provincial city of Osh, where revolt against poverty and corrup-tion possibly outweighed the ideological struggle for democracy.In Uzbekistan, the violent repression and bloodshed that crushed the demonstrators in Andijan revealed a revolt against corrup-tion, poverty and dictatorship, taking the ideologists of American democracyby surprise. When theUS failed to come up with the support that was expected, Islamic forces were able to leap into the gap.Severely RepressedThe NGOs in Uzbekistan quietly support this type of movement. But without being able to trigger it off, for the past two years they have been severely repressed. Their enthusiasm for Georgia and Ukraine stands out in contrast to the embarrass-ment of westerners; intoxicated by the president’s blackmail, the latter seem to be able to see no alternative between his rule and the Islamic chaos.These recent events enable us to see in perspective the seemingly automatic and repetitive nature of the democratic movement in the region. Though western models of governance have indeed been introduced and spread byNGOs, the latter, kept at arm’s length, are unable to gain a direct grip on society. Society, whether civil or not, protests when it is hungry; democracy is an optional extra, a gift package made in the US. It can develop only if there is already a politicised social base under sufficiently strong ideological influence.As its name indicates, revolt is first and foremost a protest against a situation in which abuses have become insupporta-ble. Revolution, according to the ideol-ogy of western democracy and the norms of governance associated with it, is differ-ent. It is part of a process controlled by a civil society that is no longer banned and can carry itself into power. The NGOs are thus in a position that is more or less decisive, according to the political situation of the country involved; they open the way to a democratisation based on what the promoters of western democracy consider to be the norms of good governance.Since the fieldwork was completed, in 2004 and 2005, more than 60 per cent of theNGOs have been closed under government pressure. During the second half of 2005, UN High Commis-sioner for Refugees (HCR), Counterpart, Internyus, and Freedom House were closed. In Russia the government is start-ing to put pressure on NGOs. These events appear to be merely reactions against excessive influence exercised by the west through theNGOs.

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