Abstracts 2, 2019

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Paradigms of Social Development

Leonid Fishman

Commodification as Factor of Moral and Political Progress

Keywords: commodification, capitalism, morality, neoliberalism, market, values

The article attempts to understand the phenomenon of commodification. Today, discussions on commodification usually reproduce the key points of the old, moralized debates about capitalism. Commodification is considered almost exclusively a derivative of capitalism that reached its highest triumph in the neoliberal era. This prevents an adequate understanding of this phenomenon. Commodification is much older than capitalism, therefore its moral aspects are much broader than the effects of capitalism on the sphere of morality and ethics.

The focus of discussions on commodification is largely determined by the widespread opinion that in a “normal” state of the society morality and market are isolated areas, and market destroys moral values. The article expresses and justifies the argument that there is no clear boundary between these areas, which opens up a possibility for significantly less univocal assessments of the historical and social role of commodification. The author demonstrates that in many cases the monetary value serves as a benchmark for the social value of a particular practice, emphasizes the universalizing and emancipating effect of commodification, and reveals the meaning of a reduction of free labor caused by commodification. According to his conclusion, it is commodification that contributes to the primary formation of universal (and simply human) values — in their commodity form.

In the final part of the article the author analyzes the relationship between commodification and neoliberal transformation of capitalism. Having documented the transformation of an individual into “human capital” over the recent years, the author interprets this trend as being indicative of the fact that today, for the first time in history, the “human” as it is, in its full, or almost full, volume, acquires a primary “economic” form of the universal value.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-6-27

Pages: 6-27

Political Theories

Maria Steynman

Transformation of Metaphor of Power in the 20th Early 21st Centuries (On the Example of Works by J.R.R.Tolkien and G.R.R.Martin)

Keywords: political metaphor, political myth, power, fantasy, Ring of Power, Iron Throne, Game of Thrones

The metaphor of power is so broad that, without claiming to fully consider all its aspects, M.Steinman focuses on its relatively narrow aspect, related to the narrative field of the fantasy genre in the context of the political changes of the 20th — early 21st centuries. The purpose of her research is to trace the transformation of the understanding of the political metaphor in terms of characteristics that allow it to become one of the key tools of political reflection. At the same time, Steinman draws attention to another important property of political metaphor — its ability to model one or another version of political reality.

The connection between metaphor, political myth and fantasy genre is both obvious and debatable. The matrix of fantasy genre was originally created as a field of deep reflections on the topic of modernity rather than as a way to entertain the reader. It is this consideration that encouraged Steinman to combine in the framework of one study Lord of the Rings by J.R.R.Tolkien and Song of Ice and Fire by G.R.R.Martin — each of these authors tried to identify and comprehend the political problems of his time.

These problems have received the clearest expression in two images — Tolkien’s Ring of Power and Martin’s Iron Throne. At the same time, according to Steinman, the metaphor of the political game, phrased as “the game of thrones”, possesses a dominant meaning. The analysis of modern media, in particular, provides a compelling evidence of its dominant role. Every time the political agenda implies a debate or elections, memes are activated that refer to the characters of Martin’s novels and a TV-show based on his book. At the same time, one can often see the simplified use of a meme at the level of exploitation of a recognizable formulation.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-28-47

Pages: 28-47


Kirill Koktysh

English Concept of Freedom: Experience of Deconstruction

Keywords: freedom, property, merchant, free trade, world market, metaphor, symbolic figure, modal personality

The article attempts to deconstruct the English concept of freedom. Having documented the multi-layered structure of this concept, which can be represented as a set of shells that consistently embrace the nuclear concept, the author traces the history of the formation of its key components, such as Anglicanism, individualism, property, trade, and etatism. It took over one hundred years to combine all these components into the concept of freedom, after which it entered the stage of the applied implementation. According to the author, it was the English concept of freedom that 

formed the basis of the British Empire, as well as the international legal order that developed in the 19th century, and the British national character.

It is noteworthy that the British Empire was built on formally anti-imperial value foundations. It is primarily about the concept of free trade that allowed England to fully utilize the advantages of possessing the most developed industry in the world at that time. Although in theory free trade provides freedom to everyone, in practice England was the only beneficiary because free trade reduced many politically motivated costs for England. The analysis conducted by the author reveals that in fact the liberal free-trade theory contains class approach, which was used to justify the right of the possessing class to dominance. The world order, for its part, was based on the “metaphysical essence of the world market”, which de facto structured the international legal space of the 19th and 20th centuries.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-48-65

Pages: 48-65


Dmitry Davydov

Anarcho-Localism and Crisis of Left Political Thought

Keywords: Marxism, anarchism, localism, centralism, communism, socialism, post-capitalism, basic income

The article is devoted to the analysis of two opposing tendencies in the left-wing political thought. The first one is left-wing centralism, which is understood as a concept (common among many left-wing concepts) that emphasizes the priority role of the centralized coordinating organizations (parties, states, world associations, etc.) in the political struggle and/or build- ing post-capitalist social relations. The second one is anarcho-localism that focuses on network self-organization and decentralization. Having documented the gradual ousting of left-wing centralism by anarcho-localism, the author identifies the complex of objective and subjective factors that stimulated the process. According to the author, the growth of anarcho-localist tendencies within the left-wing political thought was associated with the rethinking of the teaching of Karl Marx after the publication of his previously unpublished works, disenchantment with the Soviet-style bureaucratic socialism, recognition of environmental problems caused by the large-scale mass production, and the rise of the counterculture. However, in his opinion, a key role in pushing centralism to the periphery of the left-wing political thought played the emergence and the development of new communication technologies that opened the way for the transition to network social interactions.

The author interprets the predominance of anarcho-localist ideas in the left political thought as the evidence of its deep crisis. In support of his argument he refers both to the unsuccessful practical experience of social movements inspired by these ideas, which demonstrated their weakness in the face of the global bourgeois system, and to the fundamental inability of anarcho-localism to work out a convincing, preferable and, most importantly, realistic image of the future that reflects the complexity of the world socio-economic and political interactions. He predicts an increase in the demand for the cen- tralist leftist concepts as the society develops further.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-66-84

Pages: 66-84

Religion and Politics

Alexander Marey

About God and His Vicars: Christian Concept of Power

Keywords: Church, power, authority, state, Augustine, Apostle Paul, John Chrysostom

The article examines the concept of power, developed in the framework of the Christian theology of the late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Having analyzed the peculiarities of the modern discourse on power, the author comes to the conclusion that representatives of all branches of the Russian humanitarian knowledge consider power only within the framework of volitional theory. He sees an alternative to this theory in the concept of power as a force that brings order developed in the Christian theology. For Christians, beginning at least with the Apostle Paul, power has a transcendental nature, since it is established by God and comes directly from him, and for the same reason it is always a blessing. The unpredictable transfer of power from God to a ruler and unpredictability of God’s decision make power a burden that one cannot refuse to assume rather than a desirable prize. The duty of a ruler is to take care of the soul of his people and lead his people step by step towards salvation. The reward for this is the eternal blessing that the monarch who rules righteously gains after death. The final part of the article gives a brief overview of the theological discourse on power in modern Russia. On the basis of the analysis of the Patriarch’s messages to the World Russian People’s Council, “A Commentary on St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans”, written by Metropolitan Hilarion (Alfeev), as well as a number of other sources, the author shows that over the past eight years, the hierarchs of the Church completely abandoned the topic of “power” so that the very term “power” almost disappeared from their speeches, and if any, it is used as a synonym for the concepts of “state” or “state power”. The anticlerical authors, on the contrary, try to appropriate and distort the apostolic statements about power, attributing to the Church wrong intentions and narratives.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-85-107

Pages: 85-107

Political Parties

Erika Pozhidaeva

Party Strategies as Success Factor of Radical Right Populists in European Political Space (Qualitative Comparative Analysis)

Keywords: radical right populist party, strategy, political space, qualitative comparative analysis

The article presents the results of a comparative research study aimed at identifying the conditions for victories and defeats of radical right populist parties in modern Europe. First, the author provides theoretical justification for why such victories and defeats depend on the strategy of both radical right populists and their competitors from the traditional party families along three problematic dimensions — economic, cultural and European. After that she elaborates a hypothesis that the success of a radical right populist party is a result of its convergent strategy along the economic dimension in conjunction with the prevalence of divergent strategies among the mainstream parties along the cultural and European dimensions and tests it on the data of 12 right populist parties using the qualitative comparative analysis (QCA).

The empirical results partially confirm the hypothesis, identifying the link between the success of a radical right populist party and its commitment to a convergent economic strategy combined with the divergent strategies of the mainstream parties along the cultural and/or European dimensions. However, the research did not reveal the conditions for the defeat of such parties and did not explain the cases of Great Britain and France, where the radical right populists achieved notable success despite the fact that most identified conditions were absent. This begs further research with a focus on outliers. Such research may expand the list of success/defeat factors for radical right populists, taking into account the distribution of voters’ preferences in various dimensions of the political space.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-108-124

Pages: 108-124

Russian Regions

Alexander Kynev

Phenomenon of Governors-Outsiders as Indicator of Recentralization (Experience of 19912018 Years)

Keywords: regional power, regional elites, cadres’ turnover, recentralization, center-regional relations

Abstract. The article attempts to summarize and analyze cases of electing/appointing “outsiders”, or people who have little or no relation to these regions, as the heads of regional administrations in post-Soviet Russia. The author identifies four different approaches to the formation of regional authorities in the order they were used: the system of appointments with elections only in certain regions, 1991—1995; direct elections, 1996 — early 2005; “granting power” to candidates proposed by the president, February 2005 — May 2012; direct elections using the “municipal filter”, since June 2012; compares the peculiarities and results of cadres’ turnover under each approach, and reveals five heterogeneous types of “outsiders”: “pure outsiders”, “returnees”, “adapted outsiders”, “naturalized outsiders”, and “federalized locals”.

The study conducted by the author shows that, contrary to the myth of nearly a full turnover of the regional authorities at the beginning of Yeltsin’s era, at that time no radical change in the composition of regional leaders took place. In 1991—1995 the former regional executives were predominantly reappointed, while appointing “outsiders” was not practiced. During the period of direct election of regional leaders, “outsiders” sometimes participated in the regional electoral campaigns, but in order to succeed they had to obtain support from these or the other groups of the regional elite. The mass appointment of “outsiders” began after the transition to the system of “granting power” to candidates proposed by the president, but this practice became most widespread only in 2016—2018. It was during these years that the regional authorities experienced the toughest turnover in the entire newest Russian history.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-125-150

Pages: 125-150


Alexey Gilev, Irina Shevtsova

Foundation of Vertical: Elections and Distribution of Inter-Governmental Transfers at Local Level (Cases of Novgorod Oblast and Perm Krai)

Keywords: local self-government, intergovernmental transfers, elections, clientelism, “political machines”

Over the last fifteen years municipalities in Russia have lost a significant part of their financial autonomy: the average share of transfers from regional budgets to municipal budgets has doubled. Simultaneously, municipalities have lost their political autonomy from the regional authorities. The article is dedicated to finding answers to such questions as whether the growth of the financial and political dependence of municipalities went hand in hand with the politicization of regional intergovernmental transfers and whether election results affect the amount of funds received by municipalities from regional budgets. The authors used an original dataset on two types of intergovernmental transfers, the distribution of which depends on regional authorities, for 70 municipalities of the Perm Krai and the Novgorod Oblast, 2013—2017.

The regression analysis conducted by the authors confirmed the hypothesis that redistribution of budgetary funds between municipalities is decided on political grounds, but this holds true only at the beginning of the electoral cycle, which is consistent with the model of rewarding a loyal electorate. As is the case at the federal level, this is about rewarding those who produce “good” electoral results and punishing those who produce “bad” electoral results rather than courting swing voters or buying off most problematic territories. The fact that the municipality has its own parliamentarian in the regional legislature can also contribute to obtaining more transfers. Municipal needs for infrastructure have no impact on the size of transfers.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-151-167

Pages: 151-167

Foreign Polities

Tatyana Rudneva

Influence of EU Enlargement on Europeanization and Democratization of Candidate Countries (On the Example of Serbia and Croatia)U

Keywords: Croatia, Serbia, European Union, democratization, stabilization, conditionality, EU enlargement

According to many experts, the desire to join the EU has played an important role in the Europeanization and democratization of the countries of the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). According to the external incentives model, which has become widespread among the European integration researchers, these countries succeeded in assimilating the liberal democratic norms due to the credible prospect of joining the EU as well as favorable internal circumstances that ensured low domestic costs of implementing relevant reforms.

The studies on the EU 2004 enlargement, which affected mainly CEE countries, confirmed that the credible prospect of entering the EU and low domestic costs indeed contribute to the democratic consolidation of the candidate countries. However, the possible effects of the subsequent enlargement are less clear. Although the EU has not abandoned its enlargement policy, its ability to promote democracy further to the East, including the Western Bal- kan region, is often under question.

The article attempts to determine whether the model of external incentives can explain more complex cases than the CEE countries. On the basis of the comparative analysis of the current situations in the two Western Balkan countries — Croatia, which entered the European Union in 2013, and Serbia, which is a candidate country, T.Rudneva concludes that the model of external incentives retains its explanatory power for these cases. At the same time, her research indicates that due to the high domestic costs of reforms and a lower prospect of joining the EU, the process of EU accession of the Western Balkan countries will be slower and perhaps less successful than it was in the case of CEE, and its Europeanizing and democratizing influence will be more limited.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-168-184

Pages: 168-184

Book Review

Andrey Teslya

Populist Novel in Ideological Context Eco U. Superman for Masses: The Rhetoric and Ideology of the Populist Novel / Translated from Italian by Yu.Galatenko. Moscow: Slovo, 2018

Keywords: mass culture, populist novel, reformism, conservatism, revolutionism

The Russian translation of Umberto Eco’s “Superman for Masses” was published in 2018, but the essays included in the book were written long before that — in 1965—1976. This is in fact what makes these essays interesting, because they reflect the ideological and political “foundation” of the author’s specific theoretical constructs, thereby allowing us to look from the today’s point of view at the precursors of the future theory contained in those constructs.

The theoretical framework of the reviewed volume refers to the time period preceding 1968 — this is about the division of culture into “high” and “low”, which is still relevant, and the idea of the liberating potential of culture as it is and the “revolutionary nature” of any genuine art work. In this regard, the interpretation of the “populist novel” looks unambiguous i.e., essays that represent “reformist” and, therefore, “conservative” vision. One can equate “reform” and “conservatism” since any “reform” implies preservation of social order: not only does it refuse to question social order, but also it reinforces social order through repetition. Nevertheless, the analysis in Eco’s logic of the peculiarities of “Secrets of Paris”, the most influential “populist novel”, demonstrates that essays of this kind possess a different potential — an ability to introduce a problem that would be unacceptable for readers in any other format. As a result, the “populist novel” and “mass literature” turn out to be areas that not only establish the existing order, but also introduce fundamentally new elements, relaxing resistance of the audience through the redundancy effect, presenting new ideas along with the familiar ones.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2019-93-2-185-190

Pages: 185-190