Abstracts 2, 2021

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Political theories

I. M.Lokshin

Democracy against Popular Sovereignty? (Faces of Power of the People: Theoretic Reconstruction)

Keywords: democracy, sovereignty, vindication, people, power, Jean Bodin, John Locke

In the article, on the basis of the classical political philosophers, the author distinguishes between three ideal-typical modi of political superiority of the people: “democracy”, “popular sovereignty” and “the natural right of the people to vindicate the supreme power”. Differen ces between them are drawn according to the criteria of (a) the distance between the holder of the supreme power and the holder of power that allows the routine management of the state, and (b) the degree to which the former controls the latter. The theoretic reconstruction of the modi of the political superiority of the people is based on identifying three ways to assert political superiority, expressed in the concepts of κράτος, sovereignty and vindication. This approach makes it possible to trace the specifics of each of the identified modi: “democracy” in its original (ancient Greek) sense is the power of the people, based on the obvious superiority (over the nobility) in their strength, in their excess of power, thanks to which the people are able to effectively implement their will in the public sphere; “popular sovereignty” makes the people a key political agent not by referring to their excess of power, but by securing their legal position as a source of laws and any public power; finally, “the natural right of the people to vindicate the supreme power” asserts the moral and teleological primacy of the people’s good over that of the rulers.

According to the author’s conclusion, the three modi of the political superiority of the people differ from each other primarily in the extent to which the people are involved in the political process. Under “democracy” this extent is maximal, in the case of the “natural right to vindication” it is minimal, while “popular sovereignty” finds itself in the middle between these two extremes: both threats of the decisive “alienation” of the people from power and its usurpation by the “trustees” and tyranny of the people are absent. The author thinks that this middle ground of the “popular sovereignty” represents one of the reasons why it is this modus that symbolizes the architectonics of the modern democracy.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-6-29

Pages: 6-29

S. S.Izotov, I. A.Inshakov

Aesthetic Dimension of Social Contract: Criticism and Development of Franklin Ankersmits Approach to the Political

Keywords: concept of the political, aesthetic approach, theory of social contract, Franklin Ankersmit

The aim of the article is to clarify the ontological foundations of the political representation within Franklin Ankersmit’s theory in the context of the modern discussion about the crisis of the liberal-democratic project and the political per se. Taking an almost unique position in this discussion, Ankersmit insists on the presence of the political in the contemporary institutions of democratic representation, resorting to the tools of the theory of aesthetics to justify his viewpoint.

The authors recognize Ankersmit’s approach as a promising direction of the reflection on possible ways out of the political crisis, but at the same time they draw attention to its inherent flaws arising from the insufficient conceptual elaboration of its political and ontological foundations. Ankersmit does not clarify how representational relationships arise and what mechanisms are responsible for maintaining the connection between the representative and the represented. Based on the aesthetic theory of Martin Heidegger, as well as the interpretations of the social contract by Carl Schmitt, Paul Ricœur and Alexan der Filippov, the authors suggest that the theory of social contract can be used as an ontological basis for Ankersmit’s concept, and show how the aesthetic approach to the political can be harmonized with this theory and why Ankersmit’s criticism of this theory is substantively inaccurate. The authors’ arguments demonstrate that the theory of social contract can be articulated in the categories of an aesthetic approach to the political and become its ontological foundation, thereby resolving certain concerns about the origin and functioning of the relations of representation in the society.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-30-46

Pages: 30-46


L. E. Bliakher, K. V. Grigorichev, Yu. V. Elokhina

Forced Enforcement, or The State in Search of Enforcer

Keywords: legitimate violence, monopoly, state, enforcement tools, subjectivity

The article examines a specific situation that is emerging in Russia and is associated with the erosion of the state monopoly of the legitimate use of violence. With the example of a seemingly routine private event that looks like a single failure in the system, the authors show that it represents one of the most significant practices of power holders, the essence of which they define as “forced enforcement” and analyze its origins and possible implications.

In a gigantic country, the regions of which vary significantly in the level of their socio-economic development, enforcement of rules is associated with costs that exceed the amount of the resulting benefits. Therefore, the state limits its function as an enforcer to the control only over the key industries and does not encroach on the rest. However, under the contemporary conditions this tactic stops working. Since key industries are no longer able to meet the needs of the enlarged state, it begins to extend its control to the new social and economic spheres. The dramatic expansion of the area of application of the enforcement tools and complicated procedures associated with the need to control these tools themselves make them more and more costly. Thus, the task is to make them less costly, while maintaining, or even increasing, the volume of work. The very fact of intentionally setting such an insurmountable task makes the corresponding organs look for non-trivial solutions that are outside the state-imposed rules. Created as “enforcement machines”, they acquire their own mind and interests, and thus their own subjectivity. They no longer enforce the rules, but begin to form them, trying to shift the fulfillment of their functions to citizens and thereby pushing them to search for new enforcers that are not at all connected with the state.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-47-67

Pages: 47-67

K. O. Telin

One-Eyed King: Phenomenon of Positive Program in Russian Politics

Keywords: Russian politics, positive program, political parties, power, opposition

One of the central issues of the Russian politics is whether its participants have the so-called “positive program”, and the representatives of both the ruling regime and opposition regularly talk about the need for such program. The article examines three interrelated issues: 1) what a “positive program” means and how this phenomenon is interpreted in the Russian political space; 2) to what extent it is correct to accuse Russian parties in their lack of a “positive program”; 3) whether the current government, which articulates the demand for a positive program more often than others, has such a program.

In this article the author shows that, being a specifically Russian phenomenon, a “positive program” today presupposes not only the advancement of concrete proposals and initiatives that look into the future and represent an alternative to the current political course. Its most important feature is the acceptance of the status quo: in order for the initiatives of an individual politician or a party to be recognized as “positive”, they should not infringe on the legitimacy of the existing order. It is this criterion alone, according to which the programs of a number of parties can be deemed “non-positive”. In terms of their concrete, alternative and future-oriented programs, many parties are not inferior, if not superior, to the United Russia that largely devotes its party program to the chronicle of the achievements made by the country (not the party) as well as to Vladimir Putin who did not offer to the public a single document called “program” in any of his presidential campaigns.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-68-96

Pages: 68-96

L. M. Issaev, K. S. Eremeeva, A. R.Shishkina

Framing the Syrian Conflict in the Russian Federal Media

Keywords: Syrian conflict, Russian media, framing, information field

The article analyzes features of the coverage of the Syrian conflict by the Russian media. Empirically, the study is based on the articles published in 2015—2019 in the most cited federal media resources — the online edition of RIA Novosti, as well as the newspapers Izvestia and Vedomosti. The authors employ the method of qualitative content analysis in the MAXQDA program. Given the extremely important role that farming plays in media resources, the authors focused on identifying keyframes of coverage of the events in Syria, which allowed them to trace the main trends in presenting these events, as well as document technologies and techniques used by the media to create political images related to the Syrian crisis. The research study showed that the collective frame of the Syrian conflict in the Russian media has the following features: (1) emphasis on the diplomatic component to the detriment of the military one; (b) demonization of the United States; (3) ignoring causes of the conflict; (4) anti-terrorism rhetoric. Two technologies were actively used in framing — the technology of fragmenting information, which prevents the formation of a general picture of what is going on, and the technology of attention distraction aimed at playing down coverage of the controversial events, which violates the integrity of the frame by focusing on relatively insignificant and obvious events.

According to the authors’ conclusion, despite all the efforts of the federal media, the Syrian operation of Russia failed to become a “small victorious war” that would provide a wave of patriotic mobilization in the country. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Syrian crisis has actually disappeared from the media agenda and is unlikely to make any significant contribution to changing the Russian information field in the future.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-97-120

Pages: 97-120

Russian regions

R. F. Turovsky, M. S.Sukhova

Co-optation of Opposition in Russian Regional Parliaments: Game That Breaks Rules

Keywords: authoritarianism, opposition co-optation, regional political regime, political parties, regional legislatures

In order to increase their stability and neutralize protests, autho ritarian regimes often resort to co-opting opposition, in particular, via offering spoils (important positions) in the legislative bodies to the opposition. In the case of federations, the units of which have their own legislatures, such mechanism can be applied not only at the national, but also at the regional level. Modern Russia is a case in point.

The article examines the strategies and practices of co-opting opposition implemented in the Russian regions. The authors document a dynamic growth in the number of regions that practice consensus rule in the legislatures, while maintaining a large regional diversity in the composition of the “ruling coalitions”, which usually do not include all the present parties. The research carried out by the authors demonstrate that, in full accordance with the theory of rational choice, when making a decision to co-opt one or another opposition player, the authorities take into account her strength. The institutional capacity (number of spoils available) of the regional parliaments also affects whether co-optation mechanism will be invoked. At the same time, the analysis of the consequences of co-optation practices reveals their weak effectiveness as an instrument of restraining protest activity of the opposition, especially in the case of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. According to the authors’ conclusion, the limited influence of such practices on political processes in the regions can be explained by both the regional authorities’ actions (a formal and selective approach to co-optation) and the logic of the opposition itself, which tends to see spoils as the recognition of its political weight, rather than a deal with the authorities. Such considerations make the relations between the authorities and the opposition in the regions a positional game, rather than a direct “purchase” of loyalty in exchange for spoils.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-121-143

Pages: 121-143

Foreign polities

P. V. Maksimova

Overcoming Identity Crisis: Limits of Consociationalism and Stagnation in Northern Ireland Conflict Regulation

Keywords: Northern Ireland, identity, consociationalism, conflict regulation, conflict management, democracy

For many decades, Northern Ireland has been characterized by a tense conflict of identities with frequent outbreaks of political and religious violence. At the end of the 20th century, a consensus was reached between the opposing sides on the need for a peaceful settlement of the contradictions, which was reflected in the 1998 Belfast Agreement. The most important part of the agreement was a transition to the consociational model of governance. Consociationalism was assumed to “cure” the Northern Irish region, save it from violence and antagonism, and help to establish a dialogue between the representatives of the region’s key collective identities — unionists and nationalists. However, although 22 years have passed since the introduction of the consociational system, the settlement of the conflict has not seen any obvious progress.

The article attempts to trace the reasons for this state of affairs and, in particular, to find out whether consociational model could, in principle, live up to the expectations. Based on the analysis of the fundamental characteristics of this model, as well as the institutional patterns in the Northern Irish politics, P.Maksimova comes to the conclusion that consociational practices not only failed to contribute to the elimination of the antagonistic moods in the society, but also helped to preserve them. According to the author, consociational system is merely an instrument of crisis management, which, if misinterpreted, can only intensify confrontation and block the final settlement of the conflict. This is exactly what happened in Northern Ireland, where the specific features of the consociational system made it almost impossible to abandon group identities.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-144-162

Pages: 144-162

Ju. Everett, E. Redžić

Seeking Representation: The Development of Hungarian Minority Parties in Serbia and Slovakia

Keywords: Serbia, Slovakia, Hungarian minority, minority politics, party development, post-communist transition

Ever since the 1920 Treaty of Trianon there have been sizable Hungarian minorities found in countries neighbouring the modern Hungarian state. Since the fall of authoritarian communist regimes and the rise of political plurality these minorities have sought representation, often through minority parties. This lens of political parties is applied in this article, in order to examine the seeking of representation by the Hungarian ethnic minority in Serbia and Slovakia. The overall development of parties is outlined, the stages of their development is illustrated and each stage is analysed in detail. The main findings are that Hungarian minority representation is incredibly fragmented and dogged by conflict in both countries, involving many splits in parties, with the formation and liquidation of parties common. However, during exceptional times they were able to show a united front to nationalist governments, this was observed in both Slovakia and Serbia. In more recent times conflict has returned to the fore, with the situations somewhat divergent. The high level of conflict within those seeking to offer political representation to the Hungarian minority in Serbia was notable, as was a lack of an end in sight. On the other hand, there were attempts to unite made in Slovakia, although they are yet to experience much success.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-163-182

Pages: 163-182

Historical Retrospective: Contemplations and Hypotheses

D. S. Shevsky

What Is the Collapse of the USSR?

Keywords: collapse of the USSR, systems theory, self-description, fiscal crisis, intra-elite conflict, mass mobilization

The article justifies why the collapse of the Soviet Union should be analyzed as the intersection of a number of diverse processes and phenomena. According to the author, the existing discord within the discussion about the reasons for the collapse of the USSR can be largely explained by the fact that researchers are not trying to determine the essence of the phenomenon they are studying and to reveal the totality of its features. The lack of the reflection on what exactly the end of the existence of the USSR was and when it happened, leads to isolating individual components of the process. As a result, some authors associate the collapse of the USSR with the dire economic straits, others consider the rise of nationalism to be the main culprit, others emphasize the role of specific actors, etc.

In order to determine what exactly the collapse of the USSR meant and when it happened, the author identifies the fundamental characteristics of the entity itself, dividing it into the USSR-system and the USSR-state, and traces how these characteristics changed. His research shows that the collapse of the USSR can be divided into at least two different, albeit related processes: the collapse of the system and the collapse of the state. The collapse of the system meant a change in a self-describing narrative, the most important elements of which were the discourse of the indisputable achievements of the 1917 October Revolution, the CPSU’s monopoly of power and its monolithic nature, confrontation with the capitalist countries and the socialist (state-owned) economy. It is the breakdown of these “load-bearing structures” that predetermined the future collapse of the state, making it possible for destructive factors to materialize in the form of a fiscal crisis, intra-elite conflict and mass mobilization.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2021-101-2-183-201

Pages: 183-201