Abstracts № 1, 2019

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Political Theories

Nikita Savin

Political Theory and Concept of the Political

Keywords: political theory, the political, political concepts, political event, human

The article explores reasons and political meaning behind the fact that in the modern Russia the government is increasingly using allusions to the past. On the basis of the post-fundamentalist tradition in Political Philosophy, the author claims that during the third term of Vladimir Putin’s presidency, history turned into a quasi-transcendence aimed at enriching political life with value dimension. In particular, the following phenomena are supportive of this statement: securitization of historical memory and the use of historical arguments to justify important political decisions. Why history was chosen as a major source of value legitimization of Russian polity can be explained by the seeming objectivity of historical facts and the underdeveloped moral discourse in modern Russia, when ethics of virtue trumps ethics of principles.

On the basis of the discourse analysis of Vladimir Putin’s speeches in 2012—2018 the author concludes that state is the main actor of the Russian history, and a key political virtue is service to the state. Concrete historical events or figures are used to play a role of examples of serving the state. The arguments based on history are persuasive because first, the past is perceived as objective, and second, the images of the heroes who sacrificed their lives for the sake of their motherland possess emotional strength. The latter does not only explain the prevalence of commemorating military events in the Russian history, but also relegation of the topic of political repressions to the outskirts of the public space, so that the emotionally strong images of victims are not used to justify alternative political values.

Vladimir Putin, by the means of the performative statements, introduces historical topics into different areas of state activity and expands the space of the relevant past by emphasizing the pre-revolutionary period. The repertoire of the historical past used for political goals comes down to the events that precede the beginning of the 1990s i.e., to that “moment of the Political”, when the process of the formation of the modern Russian polity unfolded. This leads to the increasing autonomization of the space of the collective memory. Relating the collective “We” to the distant pages of the past requires imagination. However, this very imagination often produces its own world of meanings, which is completely divorced from the real political problems of today.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-6-21

Pages: 6-21

Kirill Chmel

Reducing Complexity: Revolution in Contemporary Left-Wing Political Thought

Keywords: revolution, Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger, Benedict Spinoza, left political thought, conceptual analysis

The article is devoted to the analysis of the role of the concept of “revolution” in the modern left discourse. Using the method of theoretical reduction, K.Chmel identifies three main currents in the modern left thought that determine the approaches of the left to the revolution in the context of the contemporary state of the world of politics and allude to such canonical left-wing philosophers as K.Marx, M.Heidegger and B.Spinoza. His hypothesis is that the failure of the left to define revolution stems from the lack of an adequate conceptual apparatus. If earlier the right had to borrow from the language of the left, today the opposite is true, and “constructions” of the left, in fact, do not go beyond the reaction to the victorious neoliberalism.

Even the methods of the struggle of the left for their agenda are dominated by the system of liberal democracy rather than by the ideas formulated by the left movement itself. This applies not only to the electoral resistance in the form of elections, but also to non-electoral resistance, the highest form of which is protests with a limited negative agenda. As a result, there is no place for revolution with its pathos of liberation and radical social transformations either at the level of theory or in practice.

According to the author, the reasons for the inability of the modern left political thought to define revolution in the context of the contemporary state of the world politics lie in the refusal of the left to turn to the concepts with a positive tone and their reorientation towards the strategy of providing a response to the dominant right political project.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-22-40

Pages: 22-40

Religion and Politic

Alexey Makarkin

Orthodoxy: How Nationalism Trumps Universalism

Keywords: Orthodoxy, autocephaly, nationalism, universalism, Russian Orthodox Church, Orthodox Church of Ukraine, Patriarchate of Constantinople

The history of the new Ukrainian autocephaly once again proves the utopian nature of the idea of the universal Orthodoxy, based on strict adherence to the gospel principles. Although all parties to the current Church conflict officially defend such principles, in practice none of them follow them. Universalism is replaced by the competing versions of nationalism, which provides Churches with additional legitimacy in the increasingly secu- larizing societies that pay little attention to the Church dogma, but at the same time retain archaic features. The key factor in the world Orthodox politics is the longstanding rivalry between the Russian and Constantinople churches, which is largely related to the competition between the two national ideas, the Russian and the Greek. This is why the Church of Constantinople unilaterally granted autocephaly to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The Ukrainian autocephalist movement from the very beginning was based on a demonstrative repulsion for Moscow and has an anti-imperial politicized nature. Constantinople’s universalism, which disguises centuries-old nationalism, led to a paradoxical result — the Ecumenical Patriarchate legitimized the creation of a national Church, aimed at maximally weakening its main rival. This is despite the fact that the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which is the largest in terms of the number of parishes and constitutes an integral part of the Moscow Patriarchate, was not admitted to the Orthodox Church of Ukraine.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-41-59

Pages: 41-59

Cyril Fokin

Supernatural Punishment Hypothesis (Critical Review)

Keywords: religion, evolution, cooperation, positive illusions, supernatural punishment, free-rider problem, altruism, authority

The article is devoted to the supernatural punishment hypothesis elaborated by Dominic D.P.Johnson, Professor at the Oxford University, and a possibility of applying this hypothesis to Political Science. The essence of the hypothesis is that religion and belief in gods improve human cooperation and form a basis for altruistic behavior. Johnson views people’s ability to believe in the “supernatural agent” who is watching them and who will surely punish them for their sins as the evolutionary meaning of religion. The author provides a detailed analysis of Johnson’s concept and demonstrates its unequivocal scientific importance, but at the same time he pinpoints its weaknesses such as data interpretation and adequacy of using the terms “religion”, “altruism” and “group cooperation”.

The author proposes several alternative explanations of the evolutionary meaning of religion and considers it from the meme theory perspective. According to his conclusion, if altruistic behavior is indeed natural to human beings at the biological level, then an institution of religion can be viewed as its higher form, but not its cause. In order to make both positions in this scientific debate clear, the author invites metaphors of symbiosis and parasitism for describing relationships between a human being and a belief in a supernatural agent (religion). Johnson’s hypothesis deserves close attention and scrutiny as an argument in favor of the “symbiosis” metaphor. However, one must use it with caution, admit its limitations and avoid oversimplification of a highly complicated model of the human sociality that inevitably includes religious consciousness.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-60-80

Pages: 60-80

Paradigms of Social Development

Nikolay Rozov

Epochs of Turbulence and Ways to Overcome Them

Keywords: epoch of turbulence, global crises, revolutionary waves, intrasocietal order, international order, international law, responsibility of elites

The article is devoted to conceptualization of the phenomenon described by the term “epoch of turbulence”. The epoch of turbulence is defined as a historical period when social and international conflicts become more frequent and aggravated, exacerbated by the increased violence, which is reflected in the social sentiments full of confusion and anxiety, intensity of insurrections, revolutions, and wars that affect the strongest states and violate significantly their internal social order, as well as the order of international relations. Epochs of turbulence occur at both regional and global levels. Due to the European nations’ global expansion that started in the 16th century, epochs of turbulence in Europe are especially important, and by the 20th century they have become increasingly global. Six major epochs of turbulence can be identified: 1) 1517—1648 (Reformation and religious wars); 2) 1789—1815 (Great French Revolution, the subsequent revolutionary and Napoleonic wars), 3) 1848—1871 (“Spring of Nations”, the Crimean War, the Bismarck Wars, the Paris Commune); 4) 1914—1919 (World War I, the Russian Revolution and the polemogenic revolutionary waves); 5) 1939—1953 (World War II, Communist Revolutions and Korean War); 6) 2003 — present (the current epoch of turbulence). The notion of the epoch of turbulence is included in the conceptual model of the coevolution of social, mental and functional orders. It is shown that each of the epochs of turbulence was overcome through the adoption of a new international order, new principles of the internal political structure of the states, the spread of novel religious, social, and moral values. On the basis of the factors that made it possible to overcome the epochs of turbulence in the past and documenting the basic causes of the current epoch of turbulence, the author delineates the contours of the international order that is capable of providing a solution to the situation of chaos and uncertainty.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-81-96

Pages: 81-96

Boris Makarenko

Twenty Seven Years Later: Are There Post-Communist States?

Keywords: post-communist countries, modernization, democratization, political development, party systems

The article analyzes the outcomes of the political development of the post-communist states. First, on the basis of the various quantitative measures of modernization, democratization and state capacity, such as the Bertelsmann Transformation Index, the Economist Democracy Index etc., the author documents the close relationship between a country's successes in political democratization and market economy, on the one hand, and strengthening statehood, on the other hand. After that the author presents the analytical review of the evolution of the political regime and electoral formulae (taking into account the effect of the changes that were introduced to the electoral formulae), as well as the development of political parties and party systems. The author compares trajectories of the development for the countries located in the Western and Eastern parts of the post-communist space. The article explores the role of the external factors, such as states’ desire to fit into the institutions of the European integration, and the internal factors that influence transformation strategies at different stages of post-communist development. The author evaluates the phenomenon of retraditionalization, which takes place both in the West and in the East of the post-communist world. The final section of the article demonstrates the correlation between the level of competitiveness and the institutional maturity of party systems and the degree of democracy/authoritarianism of the political regime. The author concludes that the concept of the “post-communist space” has not lost its relevance for Political Science, because the transformation processes in most countries of this region have not been completed yet.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-97-113

Pages: 97-113

Russian Polity

Leonid Bliakher

Political Forms of Russia and Socio-Political Structures of North Eurasia

Keywords: political form, power, respect, Northern Eurasia, Russia, nomadic peoples, sedentary civilizations, costs of control, autarky, household, empire

The article attempts to describe the political form of Russia on the basis of the specifics of the landscape of Northern Eurasia, as well as the characteristics of settlement and management on this territory. In their turn, these factors determine such important features of Northern Eurasia as the initial autonomy and autarky of households, the lack of need for local communities to resort to external “tools” and forms of macro-social organization (including political structures). At the same time, as shown in the article, external forces (sedentary civilizations) found it too costly, or even 

economically meaningless, to exploit such communities, because the costs of controlling the territories of Northern Eurasia exceeded the benefits of the surplus product.

Under special conditions, primarily related to climatic cataclysms, local communities, however, united into large systems that implied certain political structures. In this case authorities played a borderline role between society and the exogenous highest force, acting as a mediator of political meanings. At the same time, authorities did not so much extract the surplus product produced in the society — rather they distributed the resources received from the outside sedentary civilization. They did so in accordance with the place of an individual in the hierarchy, his/her proximity to the mediator. Which political form was built — a “common dress” for different communities included in the political body — depended on the source of higher meanings, the method for obtaining monopoly on translating those meanings, the existing options for acquiring the distributed resources, and the principles of distribution.

The author traces how these features, which are in general inherent in Northern Eurasia, manifested themselves in the establishment and evolution of political forms in Rus, Russia, the USSR, and the Russian Federation.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-114-148

Pages: 114-148

Russian Regions

Igor Okunev, Petr Oskolkov

Consequences of Involution of Russian Regions (Comparative Analysis Based on Expert Interviews)

Keywords: administrative reform, involution, administrative-territorial division, spatial identity, autonomous districts

The article attempts to identify the attitude to the reform of the administrative-territorial division that took place in Russia in the mid-2000s in the affected regions and to trace the reasons for why people perceive the reform in one way or the other. The empirical data for the study come from a series of in-depth interviews with the representatives of the regional government, local government and civil society obtained in the administrative centers of the territories that lost their autonomy as well as the regions that they were united with.

The study revealed that the reform had not only official goals, such as reducing economic inequality and increasing the efficiency of public administration, but also unofficial goals. The federal center pursued strengthening of centripetal forces within the Russian federalism, while regional elites desired an increase in the regionals budgets and improvement of the status of their regions. As the reform progressed, official goals increasingly gave way to unofficial ones, which led to the suspension of the reform. The regions that obtained new territories advantageously increased their weight in the structure of the Russian federalism and gained complete control over the financial flows and the executive power in the districts, but the price to pay was a compensatory redistribution of budget funds. The territories that were joined to the regions benefited from the implementation of a number of infrastructure projects, the increase in the funds allocated to support the national culture, and the access to krai/oblast programs, but they lost out in terms of their status and having a direct link to Moscow.

The study showed that psychological factor plays the key role in the per- ception of the reform. Regardless of the real consequences of the unification for a particular territory, those who have obtained a higher status support the reform, while those who lost their status opposed it. The main reasons for the negative assessment of the reform are the following: (1) the lack of a common institutional model for integration; (2) high expectations; (3) the absence of a clearly defined goal of unification; (4) the status and political-cultural “aberration” that made people blame the reform for their own problems, even those that had nothing to do with the reform.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-149-166

Pages: 149-166

Evgeny Ivanov, Leonid Issaev, Andrey Korotayev, Alisa Shishkina

How Syrian Conflict and Its Migration Crisis Echoed in the Southern Regions of Russia (On the Example of Karachay-Cherkessia)

Keywords: Syrian conflict, migration, refugees, Syrian Circassians, Karachay-Cherkessia

Although, in comparison to other foreign parties to the Syrian conflict, Russia plays a very modest role in resolving the refugee crisis, the latter echoed in Russia as well. One of the consequences of this crisis is that it brought the Circassian issue back to the domestic political agenda in Russia — first and foremost, at the regional level.

After the start of the civil war in Syria the Circassians — descendants of the Adyghes who were forced to move to the Ottoman Empire in 19th century — began to migrate to Russia. Most of them settled in the Northern Cauca- sus — Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia. However, they faced a lot of problems, especially those Circassians who moved to Karachay- Cherkessia: its authorities do not favor an inflow of Circassian migrants because they fear a change in the balance of the ethnical forces in the region and reflect the attitudes of the Karachai majority. As a result, while in Adygea and Kabardino-Balkaria repatriates from Syria obtain support from the regional 

authorities, in Karachay-Cherkessia they can rely only on the local philanthropists and the Circassian community.

The article is devoted to the analysis of the key factors that hamper Circassians’ repatriation to Karachay-Cherkessia and impede their adaptation to living in the region. The empirical data come from the surveys of the citizens from the four Circassian villages with a significant number of repatriates as well as interviews with the Circassian migrants from Syria who settled in the region.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-167-185

Pages: 167-185

Foreign Polities

Oleksandr Vasyukov

New Minorities or Unrecognized Peoples? (Experience of Central and Eastern Europe)

Keywords: subethnos, ethnographic group, ethnic (national) minority, Central and Eastern Europe, ethnic identity

The article presents the results of the study of ethno-political processes unfolding in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), with the focus on the three largest local communities that succeeded in obtaining recognition as ethnic or national minorities —Ruthenians, Kashubians and Silesians. Having considered the meaning of the term “subethnos” and its equivalents established in the CEE countries, O.Vasyukov describes the legal status of these communities and analyzes in detail the discourse they produce (aimed at securing the status of individual peoples) and strategies that are used to solve this task, emphasizing the role of the language “building”.

The study shows that the concept of subethnos/ethnographic group formed within the framework of academic science was actively involved in challenging ethnic communities’ claims for recognition. The definition of such communities as subethnos should be qualified as a deliberate strategy aimed at symbolically homogenizing the ethnic picture of a country and simplifying the political process by excluding actors claiming to represent the relevant groups. However, with the collapse of the non-democratic regimes in the region, the ideal of ethnic homogeneity as the basis for the stability of the national state proved not viable. Over the past decades, the region witnessed a decent number of organizations that are fighting to improve the social and legal status of their groups. At present, the interaction between activists acting on behalf of these groups and the state authorities can be viewed as bargaining, where activists decide which strategies will help them to achieve their goals in the most optimal way, and state authorities weigh pros and cons of possible concessions that will allow them to preserve integrity and cohesion of the state-forming nations.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-92-1-186-201

Pages: 186-201