Factors and Consequences of Russian Reforms
Опубликовано на портале: 31-12-2010
Экономические реформы и в России, и странах Балтии, так же как и в Центральной и
Восточной Европе, начинались с лозунга «Назад в Европу». И элита всех этих
стран, и большинство населения, особенно интеллигенция, были твердо убеждены в том,
что к этому приведут энергичные либеральные реформы. Реформы проводились, на первый
взгляд, одни и те же, и советники извне были одни и те же, но результаты оказались
разными. И это не случайно. Последствия применения одной и той же стратегии транзита
по-разному сказались на развитии стран Центральной и Восточной Европы, а также бывшего
СССР, отказавшихся от организации общества и экономики по советскому образцу. В чем
же причины различных последствий одних и тех же преобразований? Да и были ли они
одними и теми же на деле? Анализу факторов специфического «транзита по-русски»
и посвящена данная статья.
Economic reforms in Russia, Baltic countries and all across the Central and Eastern
Europe started under the ‘back to Europe’ slogan. Their elites as well
as a majority of population and especially intelligentsia were quite convinced that
it had to be drastic liberal reforms that would help achieving this goal.
At the first sight, the reforms were initially the same as well as their advisers,
but the results turned out different. That was not a chance. The dominating Anglo-Saxon
model of liberal capitalism ignored civilizational specifics and national models
of societal systems, which were subject to rather universal reforms. The implementation
of the same transition strategies has lead to diverse consequences in development
path of the countries, which turned away from the Soviet-like society and economy.
In a quite short period of time the countries with European culture, Western Christianity,
longstanding tradition of private property and the rule of law demonstrated some
obvious success in economic growth and the adoption of liberal democracy. These were
the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia.
An uncomfortable result of the transformations for the former Soviet countries was
a consequence of a complex interlacement of historical factors, socio-political situation
and unfavorable external actions. We will draw our attention to some of them.
First factor. It was a very important distinction between the former Soviet countries
and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe that the latter missed one whole
generation of the ‘real socialism’. The elder generations of these people
retained the market economy skills and the skills for civil self-organization. Their
younger generations had a lot more freedom to go abroad in order to adopt these skills.
Besides that, the Diaspora of these people always supported the transformations with
their capitals, direct inclusion in reforming process and remigration. In many countries
of Central and Eastern Europe private property for land and small city businesses
persisted, and the first steps towards liberalization of economy were taken already
in ‘socialist’ regime. In socio-economic sense ‘socialist’
Europe (Poland, Hungary, Estonia, Lithuania, etc.) was always ready for reforms,
while there was absolutely no socio-political establishment for such transformation
European reforms were backed by the availability of a consolidated and ready-made
society managed by national counter-elites, which always opposed the Soviet regime.
The same reforms in Russia were aimed at the non-existing groups of population, and
the reformers have never wanted to achieve the primary goals of democratic movement.
Second factor. Neither Russian leaders, who took part in first parliamentary scrambles,
nor young academic workers, who knew the principles of capitalist economy according
to the western literature, were absolutely unprepared for applying their idea in
real situation. It was not by a chance, that ruling positions in the process of decision-taking
were soon to be grasped by Soviet nomenclature in the faces of Eltsin and Chernomyrdin.
Why did it happen that way in Russia unlike the rest of Europe? It was only Soviet
nomenclature which had both, class consciousness and class identity. That is why
in Russia and most of the CIS countries the power was seized in the hands of young
nomenclature leaders. And in the process of reforms this group has strengthened its
ruling positions through privatization of a major part of state property. Weak democratic
culture was the cause for the failure of the revolution, which successfully swept
through Central and Eastern Europe.
Third factor. The complicated transition to market economy and civil society in terms
of modern informational revolution imposed a number of specific requirements for
the individuality and creativity of its actors. The analysis shows, that the most
significant empirical indicator of the population’s readiness to participate
in economic and technological innovations and civil initiatives is a degree of urbanization.
Of course, it the qualitative measure of urban way of life.
Quick urban population growth, dramatic collisions, which develop through invasive
isolation of yeasterday’s peasantry, the domination of pathological urban processes
have all led to the marginalization of typical Russian city with the people, who
‘gave up’ their traditional culture without accepting modern urban culture.
Still the transformation of this culture into urban culture took place. And individual
was to adopt an urbanized identity. It has been an obvious trend with the way urban
population behaved during the political events of 1990-1992. Cultural affinity of
the middle classes was already inherent to a majority of urbanites. But the author’s
analysis shows that the proportion of transforming actors across the whole country
was still rather small. This was then proved by the following events beginning with
the democratic meetings of the end of 1980s.The scale of these events was incomparable
to the same processes in Baltic and East-European countries.
What followed in the beginning of 1990s destroyed this last chance. The matter is
that a majority of the most advanced urbanites was concentrated in defense industry
and its satellites. The necessity of constant maintenance of its up-to-date production
has led to a massive concentration of the intellectual forces of the country. The
number of those employed in research institutes and engineering departments was around
1,8 million people with outstanding creative capabilities. With the collapse of the
USSR Russia inherited 82% of its military potential and 80% of its industrial sites.
Besides that, it was military engineers who worked in these industries made up the
core of the democratic movements in 1986-1992. They were the most active supporters
of market economy, law-based state, demilitarization of the country and westernization.
None of the reform-oriented actors had doubts about the necessity of the military
industry’s conversion, its reduction and reforming. But what happened was just
shrinking of its staff and production volumes, which surpassed the reduction in non-military
sector by a number of times. If the structural changes in the countries of Central
and Eastern Europe were to rely on non-military economy, it was absolutely different
case with Russia. Its prereform economy was the military core of the so-called ‘socialist
camp’. That’s why its demilitarization resulted in the collapse of economic
back bone and deurbanization.
Besides that, a large number of descendant and most educated citizens have emigrated.
The real number is not known, because since 1986 these records were given up. In
the beginning of 1990s every sixth Russian emigrant was whether a scientist, an engineer
or a medical doctor. A majority of people who had the chance to get a well-deserved
job had directly or indirectly to do with the industrial-military complex. In USA
former Russians provide 20-25% of the high-tech market, which is around 10% worldwide.
Those who stayed in Russia languished in almost poverty. Their earnings were ridiculously
small, which made them regard themselves as social outsiders.
The industrial-military complex in today’s Russia was replaced by an economy
of natural resources extraction. But here a different quality of people is being
employed. These are ‘peasant-workers’ using the term of Polish sociologists.
That is how Russian demilitarization shifted the country’s economy to make
it an extracting periphery of the world-system with the relevant quality of human
Thus by virtue of the structural economic specifics of prereform Russia and the concentration
of the ‘socialist’ military industries, the deterioration of the industrial-military
complex has led to the deterioration of democracy-oriented and active part of the
Fourth (and the essential) factor. The system of pseudosocialist countries had its
core, semiperiphery and periphery. The core was the domination of ‘clear forms’
of etacratism (statism). The periphery was an atrophy of etacratism imposed by the
military forces of the USSR in combination with western economic institutions, values
and social norms. Among countries of the core we put a majority of former USSR republics
(with the exception of Baltic countries and Ukraine); among the semiperiphery –
Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, etc.; among the periphery – Poland, Hungary,
Czech Republic, Slovenia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, etc.
The geographic coverage of ‘socialism’ falls together with:
A) the western region of the postprimary enslavement of peasantry (Prussia, Poland,
B) the supremacy region of the state mode of production, the absence of private property
relations and the dominance of the ‘power-property’ relations. There
were no established classes in the western sense in these eastern post-communist
societies. In other words, these societies (Russia, Transcaucasia, Central Asia)
cannot be subject to the theories and categories, through which the genesis and structure
of western societies is explained. Here lies the forth latent difference between
Russia and its western neighbors: ‘we’ were the core and ‘they’
were the periphery of the geographical system of pseudosocialism.
The nature of differences between ‘the core’ and ‘the periphery’.
The problem of socio-economic situation which was faced by the group of reforming
countries, and above all Russia, has stimulated the discussion of the interpretation
of the transformational processes. It is now clear that there are two alternative
approaches. According to one of them these processes develop in a single line with
the inner logics of the one-way transition from non-market economy to market economy.
But this idea is confronted by the idea of ‘dispersion’ of civilizations,
which feature universal and specific goals and criteria for successful reproduction
of their vital functions (not always materialized in development). Recognizing the
parallel development of countries with different civilizational specifics does not
cancel the universalism of technologies in the broadest sense of this term. Institutional
systems and the systems of values, which determine the development possibilities
of social organisms, do not possess universal properties. It should be noted, that
there is no such necessity to delimit the approaches described here. We can hold
our discourse within the definite historical horizon including some consequence of
the proximate generations. It makes no sense crossing swords against the future beyond
our century. Using this approach we cannot ignore the experience of the past centuries
which is reflected in verifiable sources.
The ‘dispersion’ approach to the transformational processes in a post-communist
world helps understanding the major differences in development divergences and outcomes
of liberal reforms in countries, which seemed to originate from the same grounds.
From this viewpoint there are some primary civilizations with distinct institutional,
axiological and behavioral features. These civilizations match the appropriate religious
systems. In connection with the Central European, South European and Eurasian realms
(post-communist countries in the state of transformation) it is Catholicism, Protestantism,
Orthodoxy and Islam.
The author argues that the Soviet-like society, as well as modern Russian society,
forms a certain entity with specific institutional structure and the system of values,
which refer to a different civilization (Eurasian) which has significant distinctions
from the European (Atlantic) model. The historical roots of the modern Russian order
lie in the long centuries of the country’s history – Eurasian Orthodox
civilization which ignored the private property institutions, market, law-based state
and civil society.
It appears very useful to consider the concept of Russian historians J. Pivovarov
and F. Fursov, according to which the system-forming element of Russian history is
the power of authorities as the only significant social subject. This system features
the all-mightiness of the supreme power, the suspense of property relations and law,
the diffusion of responsibilities, etc. which is absolutely different from the western
rule of law.
We will draw our attention to such an important development factor as a history of
property relations. Like in all of the East since the coming of the Golden Horde
an individual could not really own a property, he could only wield it. The supreme
owner and power was the state, which existed as a typical despotism since the times
of Ivan the Terrible, where everyone was nearly enslaved.
It was only in the second half of XVIIIth century that private property was enabled
for a privileged minority of aristocrats. As for the major part of the population
(peasantry) they never became real proprietors until 1917. In other words, Russia
have never really entered the path of transforming from traditional society into
feudal state with the logical adoption of capitalism unlike the European civilization.
Etacratism is the Russian societal system. By virtue of its historical heritage USSR
had developed a new societal establishment by the beginning of 1930s. It was new
social system neither capitalist, nor socialist. An etacratic system. (literally
– the rule of the state – from French and Greek). Etacratism is not just
a chain of deformations an deviations from some the basic models of capitalism and
socialism, it is a separate development stage of the modern industrial society with
its own development and functional principles.
The concept of etacratic nature of the Soviet-like societies leads to the dominating
role of the ‘power-proprietary’ relations. This concept suggests that
in the Soviet society it was not the dichotomy of class relations, but hierarchical
relations in the ‘power-property’ system, which was the key determinant.
It means there is no logical opposition between ‘owner’ or ‘non-owner’.
The hierarchical position determines the capability to appropriate property and becomes
a primary stratification criterion.
It is characteristic that the countries of Central and Eastern Europe were forced
on etacratism by the USSR. Thereby the toughest resistance to the new system was
observed in countries with stronger ties to market economy, democratic institutions.
All of them belonged to catholic and protestant cultures. At the same time etacratism
flourished in other historical entities – in Russia and China, Vietnam and
Mongolia, which proves the logic of its emergence.
That is why in distinction from Central and Eastern Europe, Baltic countries, in
the case with Russia and its Eastern neighbors there have been a minimum of changes
after the remarkable events of the edge of 1980-1990s. It preserved etacratism with
the inherent ‘power-property’ relations with new private-property coating:
there emerged a peculiar stratification which combines the still-dominant hierarchy
determined by the rank of nomenclature and some elements of class differentiation
determined by the property owned and the labor market positioning.
Russia seems to have been stuck in the Soviet time and space if latent features and
dominating socio-economic structures are analyzed, though it has inherited many attributes
of the private-property economy and democratic organization during the process of
the post-Soviet transformation. The collapse of the communist system in Russia has
resulted in a new evolution stage of Eurasian particular civilization.