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Civilization Systems and Models of Social and Economic Development of Russia and Other European Post-Communist Countries

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 31-12-2010
Мир России. 2010.  Т. 19. № 3. С. 23-45. 
Тематический раздел:
The discussion of transformation outcomes has become increasingly tense in the recent years and is now challenging contemporary social sciences. Two major approaches can be distinguished today. According to one of them, transformation is a linear process and it refers to a logical transition from non-market to market economy. Such understanding of social development constitutes the classic theory of modernization (W. Rostow, T. Parsons). Similar lack of alternativeness is also a characteristic of the increasingly popular world-system analysis (I. Wallerstain). Yet it can be argued that institutional structure and value systems, which determine the inner logics of social development, are not so universal in nature. The end of 1990s has seen the rise of new theories of non-European modernity, the variety of capitalisms and the trend towards distinguishing modernization from westernization. These ideas have received much support in developing countries. We too argue that the difference of transformation outcomes in European and Eurasian areas cannot be adequately explained in terms of single-vector deterministic model. The reason for the emerging variety of socio-economic developments may very well lie in the inner civilization differences between countries.

We argue that both, Marxist and liberal unitarisms with their optionless evolutionary approaches to certain sociohistoric organisms, ignore the interconnection of common and particular in the human history and thus become a subject to discussion. Along with unitarian approach, according to which the development processes within particular sociohistoric organisms follow a single logic in human history, there also exists a pluralist multilinear approach. It implies, that humanity is represented by a set of relatively autonomous historic entities, each of which has a certain life cycle with its own stages of birth, development and decease.

The concept of monolinearity has been criticized as far back as in the late XIXth century by a Russian historian N. Danilevsky, whose notion of civilization concurrency ('ryadopolozhennost' tsivilizatsiy') [Danilevsky 2003] suggests that along with some universal essentials civilizations may have very specific goals of development and their own criteria of civilization's successful reproduction. Danilevsky is also the author of the idea that among the factors, which stipulate multilinearity of historical process and the variety of options of social development, a special role belongs to the type of civilization we choose. He also produced his own theory of cultural-historical types: civilization is a notion far more extensive than science, art, religion, political, economic or social development taken alone. Civilization includes it all. I am saying that even religion itself is a notion inferior to that of civilization.' [Danilevsky 2003, p. 129]. He reckoned that such analysis of history-dependent types of civilization can help explain many phenomena in the past, the present and the future of different peoples, especially since he had learned about the particularities of Russian culture and history. Although he never criticized the Romano-Germanic culture, Danilevsky completely denied its universality and perceived his native Russian civilization as its equal but essentially different counterpart.

In XXth century the popularity has come to such advocates of historical pluralism as O. Spengler, A.J. Toynbee, L. Gumilyov, S. Huntington and others. By accepting the possibility of concurrent development for countries, which belong to different civilizations, one does not have to deny the universality of technologies of existence in the very broad sense of its meaning. Although what we must consider is that institutional structure and value systems, which regulate development processes within certain social organisms, may not, and usually are not, universal in nature. Thus it makes sense, that different civilizations and, consequently, national states, which fall under these civilizations, are very likely to develop along different vectors.

The institutional theory has also produced a hypothesis, according to which there exist different institutional matrices that can be regarded as latent mechanisms of functioning and reproduction of sociohistoric organisms. The matrix acts as a stable and historically dependent set of interacting institutions that are specific for particular civilizations. By applying this logics in comparative analysis of Eastern and Western macrocivilizations some Russian economists argue that in historical perspective Eastern matrix persistently features non-market mechanisms of distribution, centralized state and the priority of collective values over individual ones.

The existing variety of development paths can generally be reduced to the differences that arise between two dominating types of civilization, which contingently can be referred to as European and Asiatic. The first one emerged from ancient polises and, basically, represents the chain of societies with private property, the balance between civil society and civil institutions, advanced personality and the priority of individual values. The latter type - Asiatic one - is historically connected to Asian despotisms, the domination of state property, all-powerful government institutional structures, the lack of civil society and so forth. We rely on the explanatory concept of basic institutional structures, which distinguish Eastern civilizations from Western ones - the so called relations ofpower-property. This concept has been developed by an outstanding Russian orientalist L. Vasiliev in his works from 1960s - 1990s. It is peculiar that in the course of human history this type of civilization has been dominating geographically as well as historically. And it also explains why in the XXth century etacratism (in other terms, etatism or statism) has developed in the countries, which fall under the Asiatic civilization area.

Yet it should be underlined that there is no such necessity as to draw the dividing line between monolinear and multilinear approaches. We cannot as well ignore the experience of the previous centuries, which has been institutionalized in verifiable sources. This experience provides evidence of completely different options of social development not only for the organisms that have literally become history, but for those which survived until today. Some of them progressed from savagery, feudalism and then onto capitalism; some have initially turned to the Asian mode of production and have only recently developed the advanced forms of capitalism (postindustrialism); the others got 'stuck' in a non-market phase of development and adapted it to the circumstances of contemporary global system. Yet we are only able to speculate within a definite historical horizon, that is measured by the life of a few nearest generations. The point is: there is no sense in crossing swords regarding the future of humanity beyond the XXIst century.

Starting from the end of 1990s the Western literature brings an increasingly bigger number of publications, which support theories of non-European modernity and variability of development and attempt to separate modernization concept from westernization. These ideas have gained a lot of support in developing countries, where authors draw attention to the lack of explanatory power of existing social theories, which are incompatible with non-Western forms of contemporary society.

According to multilinear approach in the modern world there coexist several main civilizations with distinct institutional, axiological and behavioral characteristics. These civilizations are connected with dominating religious systems. As applied to Central European, Southern European and Eurasian areas (post-communist countries, which are in the process of transformation) - these religious systems are Catholicism, Protestantism, Orthodoxy, Islam. The social, economic and political situation in the corresponding countries is essentially different in a number of aspects. Moreover it explains the variation of development paths and the outcomes of liberal reforms in many post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Consequently we argue that these civilization particularities must be closely studied.

Even today many European researchers and analysts are still convinced that social and economic order of contemporary Russia is not essentially different from that of the developed European countries - a still another type of capitalism. One of the most popular approaches is the so called variety of capitalisms approach [Drahokoupil 2009]. According to this approach the variety of social and economic systems, which exist in contemporary Europe, may be reduced to several fundamental forms (e.g. 'liberal market economies', 'controlled market economies' or even 'dependent market economies'). So it, basically, reduces the problem of determining the outcomes of various policies to the problem of diagnosing various states of capitalism in different countries depending on the structure of its economic institutions and the presence of foreign capital. Yet it is never discussed how and why Russia and its predominantly 'orthodox' post-socialist neighbours deviate from any of these classifications.

Etacratism in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe was enforced from the USSR. The ones that resisted most were the countries which already had the most experience of market economy, some forms of civil society and the rule of law in the course of their history. During the 45 years of Soviet domination these countries have always been the most unreliable periphery of the 'true socialism'. All of them belonged to Catholic and Protestant Christian cultures. At the same time, etacratism voluntarily and rather autonomously developed in countries, which have never known capitalist relations and had a different history - China, Vietnam and Mongolia.

The contemporary societal system, which formed in CEE countries, was a result of a single anti-communist revolution of 1989 -1991, which according to V. Ilin had a system nature. These revolutions were encouraged by the idea of catch-up modernization. In CEE and Baltia the original goal of transformation, which included higher standards of mass consumption, social state and technological modernization was rather quickly reduced to two basics which represent the idea of progress - market economy and competitive democracy (political pluralism along with democratic freedom) [Bin 2006, p. 262-266].

The development in Russia, as well as some other countries of the former USSR, went in a different manner. The achievements of market economy and liberal democracy were far more modest than in the CEE neighborhood. We hold the following conceptual viewpoint on Russia's development. The contemporary Russian society, as well as Soviet, belongs to a particular civilization (Eurasian), which is essentially different from European (Atlantic) in relation to its institutional structure and system of values. Thus, in the social space of Europe there actually exist at least two substantially distinct 'Europes'.  
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