Мартьянов Виктор Сергеевич
The Decline of Public Politics in Russia: From Public Politics to Political Administration

Lib.ru/Современная литература: [Регистрация] [Найти] [Рейтинги] [Обсуждения] [Новинки] [Помощь]
  • Оставить комментарий
  • © Copyright Мартьянов Виктор Сергеевич (urfsi@yandex.ru)
  • Обновлено: 09/10/2017. 43k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Политика, Обществ.науки
  • Скачать FB2
  •  Ваша оценка:
  • Аннотация:
    Martianov V. The decline of public politics in Russia: from public politics to political administration: the depoliticization of the regions // Russian Politics and Law. 2007. Том 45. N 5. p. 67-82. Annotation: In recent years regional (subfederal) politics and public politics as such have been disappearing. Moreover, politics in the regions is increasinglyless connected with the classic public conflict of interests, whichis resolved through periodic popular appeals by elites in conflict. Publicpolitics is becoming political administration within a power hierarchy.The Russian regions have stopped being regarded as topics of politicalanalysis. Henceforth, regional government must be studied by applyingtheories of administration, economics, and statistics. Regional leadersare heading the boards of directors for key companies or becomingparty functionaries, administrators, and economic executives "in thesovereign"s service."

      The Depoliticization of the Regions
      In recent years regional (subfederal) politics and public politics as such have been disappearing. Moreover, politics in the regions is increas- ingly less connected with the classic public conflict of interests, which is resolved through periodic popular appeals by elites in conflict. Public politics is becoming political administration within a power hierarchy. The Russian regions have stopped being regarded as topics of political analysis. Henceforth, regional government must be studied by applying theories of administration, economics, and statistics. Regional leaders are heading the boards of directors for key companies or becoming party functionaries, administrators, and economic executives "in the sovereign"s service." In recent years the public space of Russian politics has consistently shrunk at all levels of political decision making-federal, regional, and local. The role of those outside the elite has been reduced to formal approval of decisions that have already been made. Local elections or regional agendas no longer set policy in the units of the Russian Federation (RF). Rather, administrative and economic problems, as well as federal decisions that must be implemented, determine the regional course. All this grows out of the complex centralization of the Russian federalist model, which can be characterized only with difficulty as anything other than "unitarian."
      Centralization has transformed real politics into administrative resources, backroom lobbying, prosecutorial pressure, inter-elite exchange of services and resources, and deals involving power, signatures, seals, and the like. An imposed merger of the elite, combining power and property, together with the abolition of mechanisms ensuring the public and transparent nature of power and predetermined election results, have brought public politics to its natural end. In the kind of politics to which this system gives rise, there is no real clash of political views. Instead, political opposition is ousted, as something nonstandard and outside the boundaries of real (public) politics. Diverse methods of cutting off opposition exist, from accusations of fascism and extremism to administrative pressure at all levels.
      There was a time when the consistent depoliticization of Russian regional administration was obviously driven by objective necessity: to unite the country and prevent the "parade of sovereignties" that threatened to end in national disintegration; and to establish basic vertical governance of the regions by the federal center. Bringing regional legislatures into line with their federal counterparts was an additional goal. In terms of preventing centrifugal tendencies, strengthening the Russian state was inevitable. The problem was choosing an effective strategy of centraliza- tion, but today the resultant choice cannot be considered optimal or good. The federal center depoliticized "regional politics" by implementing a set of measures, the most important of which are listed below.
      The introduction in 2000 of presidential representatives and the formation of federal districts. The president"s representatives were sup- posed to improve local administration and provide firsthand, objective information on the regional situation. The effective administration of eighty-nine units of the Russian Federation obviously cannot take place from the Kremlin if it is confined to the federal center and if there is no oversight system that is independent of the regional governors. President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation clearly stated this point in his 2005 address: "the next major state-building goal is to strengthen the Federation. What we most want to achieve in this area is an effective state built within the current borders. Of course, uniting the units of the Federation is a complex process, but without unification . . . we can- not concentrate the state"s resources on governing a huge and uniquely composed territory."1
      The same goal was cited when the federal center approved the "vol- untary merger" of administratively superfluous ethnic regions with low population densities and units that pay into the federal budget: Kam- chatka oblast and Koriak Autonomous okrug (to form Kamchatka krai); Krasnoiarsk krai, Evenk, and Taimyr; Irkutsk oblast and Ust Orda Buryat Autonomous okrug; Perm oblast and Komi-Permiak Autonomous okrug (to form Perm krai), and so on. Afew other large-scale mergers have been planned for units of the Russian Federation. In this way, the Kremlin is gradually making a transition from the ethnic-territorial principle to a purely territorial one as the basis for the administrative division of the country.
      The abolition of regional political parties and of political blocs formed by regional alliances. From now on, only federal parties with at least fifty thousand official members and a registration approved by the state in the form of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation can take part in elections. This measure deprives the regions of even limited political sovereignty. Merely to stay in politics, regional leaders must join federal political holding companies, usually those associated with the "party in power." Joining a federal structure such as United Russia naturally restricts regional leaders" freedom: United Russia regards them as territorial curators, not independent politicians. Hence, the regional leaders no longer control their own "electoral capital." Obviously, the reliance on "pocket parties" deprives regional elites of opportunities for political maneuvers and bargaining with the federal center.
      The introduction of a proportional system for State Duma elections beginning in 2007 and of a proportional or mixed system, now being gradually introduced, for the election of regional legislatures. Relatively "independent" regional politicians, who used to win in single-mandate districts, have many fewer opportunities to add their names to party lists. The parties draw up their lists in the federal center, which will make it more difficult for regions to lobby for their own interests. The official rationale for changing the electoral system is to put the parties at the center stage of Russian politics on which "normal" politics can develop. But in Russia today there are no strong federal parties that are completely independent of the Kremlin. Given the absolute dominance of the "party in power," the party system now being formed in essence reproduces the archetype of the Soviet one-party regime. Moreover, Russia"s parties long ago ceased to be ideological; instead, they are "project-oriented."2 Parties are not so much institutions representing the interests of certain social groups as lobbying organizations working on behalf of specific financial-industrial groups and elites. As a result, despite laws intended to strengthen the role of parties in Russian politics, various nonparty public initiatives, youth movements, networking structures, and the like are becoming increasingly effective. We should note here that during the "color" revolutions in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), it was youth and other nonparty movements, not parties, that demonstrated real political efficacy.
      The introduction of a system for presidential appointment of governors (under the guise of "coordinating" candidacies with the regional legislatures). The "appointed" Russian governors lose their former degree of political independence from the center, because they no longer depend on direct election by the population of a given territory. Naturally, the appointed governors have rapidly disappeared from the lists of influential Russian politicians. The governors of the units of the Russian Federation have experienced a genuine loss of influence and independence now that they can be removed at any moment because they have lost the political immunity that they had when they were directly elected by their constituencies.
      Whereas a governor formally used to have a dual responsibility-to the federal center and to the people-he is now accountable only to those above him in the power hierarchy. Appointed governors in fact have no responsibility for the regional socioeconomic situation, which is the main indicator of their work. Regional heads merely implement federal projects and initiatives that are based on "universal methodologies" and usually do not take into account the developmental characteristics of individual territories. As a result, the authorities make many mistakes. We can see the need for constant, retroactive correction of errors in the "monetization of benefits," housing and communal services reform, basic research, building policies, and so on.
      President Putin"s signing of a decree "On Presidential Representa- tives" Councils in the Federal Districts." The Presidential Representa- tives" Councils, which the pundits immediately dubbed "party economic activists" offices" [partkhozaktivy], have become another means by which the federal center can communicate the party line and influence regional elites and powerful executives in the economy.
      The creation in 2005-6 of public chambers that substitute for civil society at the level of the Russian Federation and of the units of the Federation. Membership in the RF Public Chamber is defined in a way that contradicts the goals it was created to achieve. The Federal Law on the RF Public Chamber stipulates that state agencies, not civil society, determine the composition of the chamber. State agencies can create only something similar to themselves. The illusion of shared power, which is limited to the approval of political decisions that have already been made, compels public chambers to defend the status quo. According to this rationale, the chambers find themselves on the same side of the barricades as the power elite. Hence, public chambers have value only in the combined "symbolic capital" of their members-a resource that the ruling elite will use to secure moral legitimacy for decisions, laws, and reforms enacted by the authorities. Vladislav Surkov, an ideologist and organizer of the RF Public Chamber and deputy chief of staff to the president, in general confirms this assessment: "If everyone treats the Public Chamber as nonsense, then it will be nonsense. If we take it seriously, it will be serious. We regard it as a certain type of mechanism. For letting off steam, admittedly, but what"s wrong with that? It is an ef- fective public mechanism for letting off steam. It provides a mass outlet for emotions and sentiment. The entire American civilization is based on letting off steam."3
      The raising of the bar for State Duma elections and regional legis- latures from 5 percent to 7 percent. So high a bar effectively prohibits any opposition party without support from the federal mass media from being elected to the State Duma. As a result, while the weak opposition is struggling to exceed 7 percent-"chewing up" its members" already low approval ratings and further destroying its already limited chances of winning parliamentary seats-the "party in power" has 50 percent of the vote and absolutely dominates the regional and local parliaments. If the popularity of the "party in power" declines, moreover, it can be revived like a phoenix in an endless number of clones and "dormant" backups by overhauling its ideology and rhetoric.
      The argument that we should exclude small parties from the electoral process merely because several countries (the United States, Great Brit- ain) have developed relatively stable two-party systems is itself dubious, to put it mildly. World political history shows that super-parties that are artificially set up from above disintegrate easily. Viable large parties must grow out of small parties and public movements, which know how to attract their constituents" votes. For example, Great Britain"s Labour Party, which ousted the Liberal Party from the political arena at one time, is such a party. We can see that the exclusion of small parties-most of which stand in opposition to the integrated monster, the "party in power"-has dramatically increased the percentage of protest voters, who have not found a "party of their own." We have made this change even though most countries neither have nor want a two-party system. By the way, the one-party rule of the Communist Party in China or the Liberal Democratic Party"s sixty years in power in Japan have yielded significant economic results. Why not use this as justification for rein- stating the one-party system we had in the Soviet period, on the grounds that the fewer parties we have, the more effective the union of party and nonparty members will be?
      The progressive abandonment of minimum turnout requirements dur- ing elections. For federal elections to be considered valid today, at least 50 percent of the electorate must turn out to vote. In regional and local elections, this figure is 25 percent. At present, in the Russian regions usually only about one-fourth of the voters take part in local elections. In most cases, the favorites are known in advance. In the same elections statistics record the highest percentage of protest votes. Only the elimi- nation of the minimum turnout of 25 percent can, in many cases, make these elections formally valid if not legitimate.
      The elimination of the line "against all" in ballots at all levels. Under Law No. 67-F3, "On the Main Guarantees of Electoral Rights," which is currently in force, units of the Russian Federation can pass laws elimi- nating the line "against all" in regional and local elections. The regions have hardly ever used this right. We should note here that, as recently as November 2005, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation ruled not merely that this ballot choice was legitimate but also that citi- zens had the right to distribute, at their own expense, campaign materials supporting the candidate "against all." In fact, the ruling recognized sup- port for the choice "against all" as legally equivalent to real candidates. The ruling of the Constitutional Court (No. 10-P of 14 November 2005) states: "the voters can express their will not only by voting for or against individual candidates but also by voting against all candidates included on a ballot."4 Obviously, opponents of the amendments eliminating the line "against all" will appeal to the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation after the laws go into effect. A ruling overturning the new law, however, sounds like something out of science fiction.
      One can, of course, object that most contemporary democratic states do not include "against all" on their ballots. But real democracies also do not have ballots that in principle offer no alternatives, giving voters only a pseudochoice between the "party in power" and its satellites and par- ties used for the "technological dumping" of protest voters-the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR), Motherland, or the Russian Pension- ers Party. In the absence of a viable opposition, the presence of the line "against all" is progressive, since by voting "against all" constituents can state what they think of those in power, the "constructive opposition," and the level of democracy as a whole.
      By voting "against all," the Russian electorate assesses the legitimacy of the elite and of the political regime as a whole. The line "against all" has acted as a barometer of political pressure, which has been steadily rising in Russia since 2000-2001 as the elite has "tightened the screws," thus bringing about an overall decline in its own legitimacy. Voting "against all" is by no means the irresponsible, marginal choice that the regime would have us believe. On the contrary, such people are consciously exercising their right to vote by showing that they are not willing to swal- low any political "pap" that is offered. The citizens who eat what is put in front of them and choose between horseradish and radishes [equally hot, according to a Russian proverb-Trans.] or apolitically "kiss off" the election are the irresponsible ones.
      Unlike the absentees, those who couldn"t care less, and the "loyalists," protest voters deliberately go to voting booths and make a quite rational choice. The increasing number of votes "against all" reveals the exis- tence, not the absence, of a democratic political culture. In essence, when "against all" steadily takes second or third place in regional and local elections behind the "party in power," that statistic becomes an unpleasant, silent question asked by the active segment of the population of those in power. It assesses the regime"s legitimacy and the public"s trust in it. It also attests to the curtailment of public politics, the increasing difficulty that broad population strata are having in obtaining access to those in power and in finding any legal means of expressing their sociopolitical interests other than voting "against all." The regime clearly understands this. The Public Opinion Foundation (FOM) found that 54 percent of Russian voters were convinced that "against all" should remain a ballot choice in June 2006 (when the line was dropped). Thirty-one percent of those surveyed had used the line "against all" at least once.5 In other words, in terms of its active supporters, the party "against all" lags behind only the "party in power." Greatly troubled by this symptom, the regime decided simply to do away with this barometer of social protest.
      Eliminating the legal expression of civil protest through the line "against all," however, merely stimulates the growth of protest in real life. Passive protestors will ignore the elections, but those inspired by ideology are likely to intensify their attempts at direct action, using such methods as picketing, strikes, demonstrations, and public protest against the unjust status quo. Most voters will be even further disillusioned in the ritual of elections as the main symbol of democracy.
      Finally, we cannot rule out the possibility that in the near future, a law requiring the indirect election or appointment of the mayors of large towns (probably analogous to the new procedure of naming governors) will be passed. It is an open secret that in most units of the RF there is conflict between the governor and the mayor of the oblast center. We can easily see that a confrontation between regional state power and autonomous bodies of local self-government interferes with the building of a complete hierarchy of executive power. For this reason, we can anticipate that a fundamental political decision will soon be made to extend the power hierarchy to include large towns: president, governor, mayor. Then the heads of local self-government will find themselves dependent on the regional executive power. The implementation of this initiative will abolish the autonomy of local self-government and transform Russia into a unitary state.
      Thus, the federal center is deliberately establishing a political system that blocks all mechanisms of "letting off steam" and effective feedback between the authorities and society-a model "vertically integrated de- mocracy." Whereas the governors and the regional elites used to accept some political responsibility and absorb some negative publicity for the situation in their region, all complaints will now be directly channeled to the federal center. The "unification" of Russian federalism means that the elites at all levels are losing any means of rapidly responding to changes in society. A false circle of stability is emerging at the very time when political initiatives can come only from the federal center, while positive responses are simulated by "substitutes for civil society" and implementers of the federal agenda in the regions. The system has closed in on itself: "Some people may sincerely believe that all these changes are promising signs of a "stronger state." . . . But a strong state directs its strength to realizing its citizens" interests and protecting their rights. . . . Now we observe the opposite: the executive "hierarchy" increasingly resembles a wall separating the regime from society."6
      The elite has proven itself incapable of reacting to serious domestic problems and threats in a timely manner. Centralization of power as a basic redistribution of authority in favor of the center in such a model of "unitarian federalism" is turning out to be formal and ineffective. As a result, the ruling elites have lost their sensitivity to rising social tension, which can be resolved only through social explosion, public protest, and other conflict scenarios-that is, outside the institutions of public politics that those in power have overturned.
      The Cost of Unstable Stability: The Return of the Nomenklatura
      As implemented, the model of unitarian federalism ever more clearly resembles the archetypal mechanisms by which the regime functioned in Soviet society. The structural transformation of government institu- tions historically reproduces the Russian constant of an integrated power hierarchy, whether under the Russian empire or the USSR. Today, the country"s top elite already constitutes a new, collective Politburo. As a result, it does not matter exactly which member of the new Politburo becomes acting president after the next election. The only difference between the new system and the USSR is that the new Politburo has effective control of most large property in the country, whereas in the USSR the people, represented by the state, formally owned all large as- sets, and the elite merely performed executive functions.
      Despite certain advantages-such as the restoration of basic gov- ernance to the Russian state, the observance of federal laws, and the prevention of regional separatism-the depoliticization of the regions has had several negative consequences. Unification has turned regional politics into a "supplement" to federal politics, with no right to political initiative.
      As a result, the elite, in the absence of electoral and other mechanisms of ensuring feedback and public consensus, runs the risk of finding it- self in a difficult situation if the socioeconomic situation deteriorates. The examples of effective demonstrations against the "monetization of benefits" and higher fees for housing and communal services clearly show that only extreme measures and conflict scenarios of interaction are effective, as do the massive, successful protests in support of cars with steering wheels on the right and of redirecting the oil pipeline to bypass Lake Baikal. We could also cite the acquittal in response to mass pressure of the motorist A. Shcherbinskii, who was nearly "scapegoated" in the case of Governor Mikhail Evdokimov (killed in a traffic accident). There is no other way to capture the authorities" attention. The curtailing of public politics eliminates all [constructive] means of expression for public protest, other social activities, and regional political initiatives. As a result, such activities can take only forms that are destructive for the current political regime.
      Centralizing political power and stripping the regions of their politi- cal autonomy have not actually had a stabilizing effect. In reality, the Russian political system has lost certain important reciprocal ties with society. The inability of formal political actors and organizations (par- ties, mayors, governors, regional legislatures, and the State Duma of the Russian Federation) to influence real politics only politicizes nonpoliti- cal public issues, spheres, and institutions. What we can see here is the "cursed aspect" of unitarian federalism: the politicization of nonpoliti- cal spheres and the growing influence of a nonconstructive, marginally radical opposition.
      In Russia, the content of real politics is increasingly shifting from formal institutions and practices to informal ones. By its nature, real poli- tics does not lend itself to formalization. The inability of formal leaders, institutions, and rituals to exercise real influence promotes only "shadow politics." As a result, real politics is more and more often implemented "outside politics." That is, it has abandoned the formal institutions and practices with which it is customarily identified (elections, parties, and legislatures at different levels). The elites make key political decisions through nonpublic institutions, such as lobbying and backroom agreements. Formal institutions, such as elections and referendums, are then supposed only to legitimize decisions that the elite has already made. From the opposite standpoint, the public and the opposition also give up political action within formal political institutions, through which they cannot influence those in power-hence the growing popularity of various types of networking; horizontal, direct, and other untraditional kinds of democracy; nonparty public initiatives; mass civil actions, and the like.
      Thus, the centralization of power is not in itself a guarantor of greater stability if the public interprets it as a monopolization of political power and the restriction of political mechanisms that express "popular opinion." This problem cannot be solved through attempts to "freeze" the political and economic status quo, through populism and situational pragmatism, and through one-time financial injections into conflict-ridden units of the Russian Federation (Chechnya, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, etc.). Only a new popular (national) consensus, which the federal center often con- fuses with elite consensus, can provide stability. The abstract concept of freedom, which was obtained in 1991, must be supplemented with justice and fairness. What makes any political regime legitimate is not its democratic or undemocratic nature but its capacity to meet the criteria of "natural justice and fairness," as these reflect the unwritten public consensus that exists in society.
      Effective administrative political and public reforms can only "shadow" and extend the new public consensus. The essence of a new public consensus requires a new concept of a just and fair community life for Russians, which would legitimize the current sociopolitical regime in the eyes of the majority. Today, we cannot see such broad popular consensus in terms of certain basic principles and values. Hence, political reforms are treated as illegitimate, rejected, and met with indifference bordering on quiet sabotage by the masses. Moreover, Russia has neither an effec- tive institution to promote upward mobility or recruit new elites nor an open elite that can command the mechanisms and practices of effective social consolidation. For this reason, Russia remains internally divided and faces an uncertain future, despite its centralizing political reforms. First, the reforms perform the technical task of maintaining the status quo without changing the underlying social structure, which cannot satisfy many social strata. Second, the [centralizing] reformers have proposed no coherent goals or sense of how Russia should look in the future. Nor is such a sense self-evident, any more than the current joint existence of the elite and the rest of society is self-evident. Third, the reforms set up a dangerous model of "noncommunication" between the bodies of power and society, where the limited, elite-based agenda leads only to the hidden accumulation of conflicts that this agenda excludes.
      Can Public Politics Recover from Its Decline?
      To some degree, Russian society itself has encouraged the tendency to virtualize politics. Through many elections in post-Soviet Russia, the democratic majority has demonstrated that it needs a strong state more than a campaign against bureaucrats, high tax rates for big business more than the anarchy of a "self-regulating market," social guarantees more than market risks, social justice instead of harsh efficiency, and equality more than freedom for the few. At the threshold of the millennium, society made it clear to the elites in just this way that, in its view, liberal reforms in Russia were over. Accordingly, the majority is no longer interested in building democracy or the free market, which already function in real life, but in the observance of uniform rules in both the political and the economic markets. So far, only the state can ensure the observance of at least the laws in force; its functions cannot be privatized by individual, financial, and industrial groups. As Cicero said, "To be free, we must all become slaves of the law." Naturally, a minimum state acting as a "night watchman" cannot handle such a task.
      The strengthening of the state, however, was implemented in a strange way. The executive power hierarchy has dominated the other branches of government, the nomenklatura has taken precedence over public politi- cians, and state structures rule civil society. The dominance of the "party in power" does not, however, mean reducing all influential political and economic actors to a common denominator. The point is that at the elite level the struggle over economic and political interests will not be an interparty struggle but will take place within the "party in power" itself, where political and economic claims based on interests will conflict with one another and seek resolution of the conflicts. In real politics such struggles take place before the eyes of the electorate, but now society cannot see them because they are waged within the "party in power" and take the form of "apparatus games." Such a process increases opportuni- ties for taking advantage of authority even as it strips civil society, as a place where social and economic problems are publicly resolved, of its political dimension, artificially setting it "outside politics."
      Because Russian politics has no real actors "outside the government," public politics-a central and multifaceted institution of contemporary democracies-is automatically in decline. As a result, the Russian elite uses both civil society and its heart-the mythical middle class that has been "lost" in contemporary Russia-only as theoretical justification for its own legitimacy.7 Russian political rhetoric convinces us that the abrasive ideological debates between "rightists" and "leftists" are over, as are their projects of large-scale changes and social experiments. What wins elections is the populism of power, combined with defenses of the best of worlds in which, as it turns out, we are all already living despite "individual flaws."
      But in the long term, the political regime cannot acquire enough le- gitimacy by relying only on the status quo. There must be a new social contract, which has not been achieved in the post-Soviet period. As a result, any crisis affecting the political regime, which Russian society increasingly views with skepticism, offers an opportunity to restore real politics. Obviously, any ruling party and any political elite would like to stay in power forever. But we also know that real democracy is a politi- cal regime in which the ruling party must, sooner or later, lose power through elections.8 Endless manipulation of the election laws to favor the ruling elite or the enactment of administrative reforms to perpetuate and "insulate" the elite will not make them immune to competition and change. These strategies cannot permanently impose a political status quo that favors the ruling elite in conditions of democracy. For this rea- son, we are not surprised by the legitimate indignation of broad social groups (those whose salaries are paid out of the state budget, retirees, and young people) within the opposition and among intellectuals. Their anger is in response to the ease with which the current elite molds issues, boundaries, and forms of civic expression to benefit itself.
      Open competition among elites ensures the stability and effective- ness of representative democracies. In these systems, the majority (the people) elects only its administrators, to whom it delegates its authority.9 At one extreme, a weak elite that cannot ensure that all laws are observed causes democracy to generate into ochlocracy (mob rule) or oligopoly (oligarchy). But at the other extreme-the direction in which the ship of Russian politics is moving today-lies the danger of the nomenklatura privatization of popular sovereignty.
      The goals and means associated with the political administrative reforms of recent years directly oppose the conditions and mechanisms of effective democracy. First, democracy requires constant competition and elite rotation at all levels. Second, it supports the development of upward social mobility, which keeps the elite open to new talents and professionals. Third, it assumes the presence of an effective, unwritten social contract that takes into account the interests of all significant social groups during decision making and supports a vertical consensus of the elite and society. These conditions either do not exist in contemporary Russia or are increasingly subject to restrictions.
      Specifically, the arena of competition and of political and economic elite rotation is shrinking every year. The elite is increasingly becom- ing closed and castelike in nature. Worse, the elite is effectively uniting against the background of a divided people, although democracy as an axiom envisions the opposite: elite competition and an unwritten public consensus regarding the basic values of the social contract. Despite a shortage of cadres, especially at the federal level, principles of personal loyalty remain more important than professionalism. Accordingly, "cas- tling" [as used in chess-Ed.] in the Kremlin and in the regions usually involves horizontal transfers of existing staff members. Moreover, one gets the impression that the federal center no longer views regional political elites as a cadre reserve. The social "up escalator" that is the state cadre reserve also does not function. With each electoral cycle, the amount of "new blood" (mayors, deputies, and governors) decreases. The influence of forces that offer alternatives to the "party in power" and could resist administrative pressure and regional and federal electoral barriers is in catastrophic decline.
      The elite power hierarchy-which has distributed property, authority, spheres of responsibility, and business interests within itself-benefits from preserving the status quo; society as a whole does not. In post-Soviet Russia after the turbulent 1990s, the elite and the branches of govern- ment established a consensus. So narrow a consensus, however, cannot substitute for the missing social contract between "those at the top" and the masses, power and the people.
      Today Russian politics has become an internal affair of the elite. The reality of popular sovereignty and the existence of a social contract are merely simulated, and the voters are assigned the role of political dum- mies. "Real politics" is defined as the elite"s effective implementation and optimization of its own decisions, as pragmatism and consensus. Conflict-free politics-aimed at balancing elite interests within the framework of the status quo and "presenting only conflicts between good and better" [an allusion to state-approved Soviet literature-Trans.]-is replacing real politics. This type of power discourse does not address problems of social justice and fairness, the well-being of all, or the terms of a new social contract that would inspire actions that could transform the status quo. This type of consensus is a pale echo of a social contract, a long-term strategy of a ruling elite that would like to twist the terms, means, and forms of consensus to serve its own interests and determine for itself the laws of real politics and the boundaries of politically accept- able/unacceptable, reasonable/unreasonable, and just/unjust.
      Meanwhile, public opinion perceives a widening gap between the self- legitimizing foundations of Russian politics (democracy, the state, law, elections, the separation of powers, and so on) and observable reality. This naturally delegitimizes the political regime, a process aggravated bythe coexistence in the minds of political actors of at least four reference points in addition to ideological differences. The four reference points for legitimate reality are Soviet society, post-Soviet society, Western society, and some ideal social state.
      Effective representative democracy is a complex and fragile mecha- nism that often fails. The leading European democracies needed hundreds of years to fine-tune and adapt their systems. Copying ready-made politi- cal systems usually proves ineffective. In addition, we can find examples of successful contemporary societies that entirely lack the separation of powers and the classic European system of checks and balances: China, the United Arab Emirates, Luxembourg, Israel, and others. The success of any political regime depends on many factors: the presence of public politics, elite competition and rotation, an effective social contract, effec- tive feedback mechanisms between the government and the people, and the like. At present, Russian society, which has passed through another historical transition, must first determine "how" and according to "what values and goals" it should live in the future. But the ruling elite intends to preserve the situation of "delayed strategic choice," which it presents as stability and consensus.10 Even so, we must choose, sooner or later.
      Boris Yeltsin, Russia"s first president, set up a political regime that largely depended on his personal ties and informal agreements with oligarchs, governors, parties, and so on. Vladimir Putin is "next in line," a president whose main goal is to set up an effective political system that would be functionally independent of the personal sympathies and antipathies of the "man in charge." The achievement of his goal depends on the ruling elite"s ability to adopt an inclusive and long-term "people"s perspective." Until most Russians agree that this is how Russian society "must be organized," the society will be neither united nor stable nor just.
      Real politics must be based on a social conflict that cannot be solved using nonpolitical means. Real public politics loses its meaning if the results are known in advance. Politics is a game in which the end results are open. The unpredictability of the game that is being "solved" in the here and now grows out of the freedom enjoyed by political actors. In this moment history is interrupted and new rules are established. It is a mo- ment of freedom from tradition and dubious laws of historical necessity, which in reality reflect no more than somebody"s social interests.11
      At present, it is difficult to find true unpredictability in Russian politics and in the system of "unitarian federalism": the winners are known in advance. In truth, real politics consists in the opportunity occasionally to revise "objective laws" and historical compromises to make them fairer, even if this type of real politics is increasingly implemented outside formal and public political institutions.
       "Stenogramma poslaniia-2005 Prezidenta RF V. Putina Federal"nomu sobraniiu RF," available at www.kremlin.ru/appears/2005/05/10/1357_type63372t ype63374type82634_105546.shtml [not available as of July 2007-Ed.].
       For more detail, see V.S. Mart"ianov, "Politicheskie partii sovremennoi Ros- sii: ot ideologicheskoi real"nosti k virtual"nomu populizmu," in Rol" politicheskikh partii i obshchestvennykh organizatsii v formirovanii organov vlasti. Sbornik statei (Ekaterinburg: UrAGS, 2004), pp. 173-80.
       "Stenogramma vystupleniia, pripisyvaemogo zam. glavy Administratsii Prezidenta RF Surkovu," available at http://compromat.ru/main/surkov/doklad.htm [accessed July 2007-Ed.].
       Rossiiskaia gazeta, 18 November 2005, no. 260.
       All-Russian survey conducted by the Public Opinion Foundation on 17-18 June 2006 in a hundred cities and towns of forty-four Russian oblasts, krais, and republics. N = 1,500, statistical error 3.6 percent. See http://bd.fom.ru/report/cat/ policy/elections/tobeornot/tb062412 [accessed July 2007-Ed.].
       B. Vishnevskii. "Meniat" ne lidera a sistemu," Politicheskii zhurnal, 14 August 2006, nos. 29-30 (124-25).
       A.Iu. Shankina, "Srednii klass v Rossii: okhota na Nessi," Polis, 2003, no. 1.
       A. Pshevorskii, Demokratiia i rynok. Politicheskie i ekonomicheskie reformy v Vostochnoi Evrope i Latinskoi Amerike (Moscow, 2000), pp. 28-30.
       I. Shumpeter, Kapitalizm, sotsializm, demokratiia (Moscow, 1995) [Joseph A. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New York: Harper, 1942)].
       A. Tsuladze, Politicheskaia mifologiia (Moscow, 2003), p. 347.
       B. Kapustin, "Konets "tranzitologii"? O teoreticheskom osmyslenii pervogo postkommunisticheskogo desiatiletiia," Polis, 2001, no. 2.

  • Оставить комментарий
  • © Copyright Мартьянов Виктор Сергеевич (urfsi@yandex.ru)
  • Обновлено: 09/10/2017. 43k. Статистика.
  • Статья: Политика, Обществ.науки
  •  Ваша оценка:

    Связаться с программистом сайта.