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Current Socio-Political Problems of Russia’s Modernization

русская версия

Опубликовано на портале: 17-04-2011
Мир России. 2010.  Т. 19. № 4. С. 53-68. 
Тематический раздел:
In this paper the author analyzes the state and the role of the major agents of Russia's eventual modernization, their inter-relationships as well as structures and processes, which prevent Russia from following the path of civilized development. Many agree that Russia's current underdevelopment with respect to developed countries creates a demand for its accelerated modernization, i.e. transition to a competitive, knowledge-driven and highly technological economy. Such strategic maneuver has become extremely necessary due to an obvious failure of the previous modernization project, i.e. 'westernization' that led to a criminalized privatization, and thus an emergence of an enormously unequal caste-like society. In spite of rather favourable initial conditions (an abundance of natural resources, high intellectual potential and the relatively low cost of labour) everything collapsed. According to many leading experts the scales of the country's economic downturn have been greater than those of the USA during its Great Depression. Its current economic growth already causes a lot of problems and lacks stability, since it is intensified purely through an inflow of petrodollars and foreign loans. This calls for a substantial change in the key spheres of public life, where the role of efficient state cannot be underestimated. The efficient state relies primarily on its people's trust, whose interests, rights and freedoms it carries out and secures. Does this apply to Russia's current authorities? The analysis of the data from a number of all-national surveys shows that Russian people more or less explicitly regard the Russian state as a protector and a mouthpiece of the rich, the administrating and business class, whose interests are not only interrelated but usually tightly soldered together through a corruption contract. The Russian state is regarded as a 'socially oriented state' only in 16% of cases, while only 21% of respondents see it as a 'democratic' state. However, it should be outlined that the people clearly distinguish between the supreme power: the president, the prime minister and their appointed officials, whom they trust, and the rest of power structures, whom they usually distrust. Neither the legislative bodies, nor the executive power are legitimate in Russia's public opinion. Moreover, precisely such identification of the latter with governmental bodies leads to a negative perception of power and its rejection as a whole. Thus there has once again formed an opposition between 'us' (common people) and 'them' - the ruling class of the state bureaucracy and business, which has already been the cause of social cataclysms in the past. What lies at the core of this cleavage, which has to be overcome in order to make modernization possible? This article addresses the issue of the no. 1 enemy in any democratic state and any positive change in society - namely corruption. The existence of a strong lobby of higher bureaucrats and large businessmen has led to the adoption of an emasculated version of the anti-corruption law. Precisely, it has been revised to exclude the internationally accepted clause, according to which illegal property is subject to confiscation. The analysis shows that this law, be it a purpose or a misunderstanding, has an absolutely opposite effect and only imitates the struggle against corruption. Unfortunately, the adopted law and the following practice create an impression that authorities (except for supreme power) clearly aim at reducing the scale of the public discussion and making the people conform to it as an inevitable evil, which can be overcome by through occasional disciplinary measures. As a result the problem remains completely unresolved. A thorough analysis of the nature and factors of corruption in Russia and other countries, who, at least, seriously try to solve this problem (China), or have recently fought it (Singapore, Turkmen, Japan) or have solved it long ago (Switzerland, Scandinavian countries, Germany, etc.), show that Russia completely lacks such strategy. Corruption in todays Russia is a multifold phenomenon of total lawlessness: the unbundling and stripping of budgets, bribery, criminal protection and crime suppression, money laundering, the lobbying of business interests via all branches of power, etc. Moreover, after the tragedies of Budenovsk, Dubrovka and Beslan corruption has apparently become one of the major causes for growing terrorism and extremism. Why do then authorities struggle so relentlessly against the consequences - i.e. terrorism, and limit themselves to doubtfully efficient measures when fighting against its primary cause? The author is trying to answer this question. A struggle for Russia's new path development will not only be open to the public, the public itself will have to become one of its major actors. This is the motive, which was announced in the President's Address to the Federal Assembly. Unfortunately, since 1993 the vector of Russia's policy has been generally oriented towards a completely different future: the people were about to lose the status of a political actor and become a passive force of the state and societal change. This is not a casual turn, although it is only a declaration of Dmitry Medvedev. It seems to be the result of the previous modernization attempt, which has brought up a cynical, avaricious and consumption-oriented personality. It looks as though the state has finally realized that Russia come to a dead-end with market 'mutants' swarming in its structures, criminal and semi-criminal business. This dead-end can only be overcome through a multifold modernization and meritocratic mobilization of masses. The main obstacle, which prevents them from entering the process of modernization is lawlessness and insecurity that lead to a total irresponsibility. That is why successful modernization would only become possible when people regain trust in themselves as an active force of this process. The first step towards such change is a shift from imitative democracy to an authentic sovereignty of people, the supremacy of their power, which is a direct warranty of the Russian Constitution: i.e. the carrying out of referendums, which address the most vital issues of the country's being, including efficient measures against corruption, which the Russian Parliament has yet failed to develop. The people can provide a substantial support for power in working out clear and long-term goal as well as appropriate means for the fulfillment. The making of a free society for free people is a worthy goal after all. Although it requires a solid social, legal, moral and ethic basis, which would help moderate the people's social an economic instincts, its manners and habits, which were fostered by an inefficient and often anti-social use of private property over the means of production. In other words, a development of civil control over the state and business authorities is desperately needed. The results presented in this paper help distinguishing the core problem which has to be resolved by means of both, society and the state, to enhance the process of modernization: the creating of a new public solidarity between the state and its people, the people and business, since the previous models have already proved their inefficiency. First of all, this concerns the change in the character of power, which has to demonstrate its loyalty to the people rather than currency traders, corrupted officials and the semi-criminal business. Today, as never before, Russia requires a strong state, which would be able to overcome the total corruption, oligarchic and monopolistic structures, which harm its economy and postpone modernization. The critical review of existing social and political practices allows for a number of reasonable, as well as quite disputable suggestions, which could prove useful in stipulating the process of modernization in Russia
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