Abstracts 4, 2018

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Russian Polity

Konstantin Pakhalyuk

Historical Past as Foundation of Russias Polity (Assessing Putins Speeches in 20122018)

Keywords: discourse, post-fundamentalism, political communications, politics of memory, symbolic policy

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: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-6-31

Pages: 6-31

Yury Korgunyuk

Presidential Elections in Post-Soviet Russia through Lenses of Cleavage Theory

Keywords: cleavage theory, electoral cleavages, political cleavages, presidential elections, post-Soviet Russia

The article analyses the results of the presidential elections in the post-Soviet Russia through the lenses of the cleavage theory. The research methodology includes factor analysis, correlation and regression analysis as well as special methodological tools: coefficients of maximum and effective range, politicization and socialization of electoral cleavages, and a coefficient of aggregate dispersion of electoral cleavages.

The author concludes that parliamentary elections represent a much more fruitful ground for such studies because the existence of a front runner in presidential elections significantly distorts the political and electoral space of a country. The structure of the political cleavages (PCs) in elections by party lists has always been stable. All three PCs — socioeconomic, authoritarian-democratic and systemic — became evident already in 1993 and their hierarchy did not change throughout almost the entire post-Soviet period. In contrast, in the presidential elections these cleavages appeared separately only in 2000 and 2018, while in other cases systemic political cleavage “bandwagoned” with either socioeconomic or authoritarian-democratic cleavage.

The author also documents different developmental trajectories in the structure of the electoral cleavages (ECs). In the presidential elections all three political cleavages initially were mapped into a single electoral cleavage, while in the parliamentary elections different political cleavages corresponded to different electoral cleavages. The structure of electoral cleavages in the presidential and State Duma elections became similar only in the 2000s, when the first electoral cleavage became associated with the authoritarian-democratic political one and the second EC — with the socio-economic PC. At the same time, 2016 and 2018 parliamentary and presidential elections witnessed a complete convergence to a single structure of political and electoral cleavages.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-32-69

Pages: 32-69

Andrei Starodubtsev

Conditions for Successful Governance in Modern Russia (Subnational Level)

Keywords: bad governance, subnational regimes, regional governments, intra-elite conflicts

The article is devoted to the discussion of the hypothetical conditions of the successful activity of the regional governments in the contemporary Russia. Based on the literature analyzing the features of governance under domination of practices of bad governance, as well as considering circumstances and factors of governance at the subnational level, A.Starodubtsev describes the challenges that the regional governments face during the execution of their direct responsibilities. Analyzing the institutional, structural and personal factors that are able to affect the process and results of regional public administration, he studies the possible outcomes of their various combinations. The key thesis of the article is the idea that the combination of a governor’s intention upon creating favorable conditions for the development of the regional economy, on the one hand, and ensuring political control over the region, on the other, established positive outcome for long-term socio-economic development. All other combinations of factors are assessed as less favorable. At the same time, in accordance with the basic assumptions of the model proposed by the author intra-elite conflicts create the greatest difficulties for development. Under the Russian political circumstances, intra-elite conflicts are fundamentally non-institutionalized. As a result, political actors do not have well-established channels of interest representation as well as a long-term planning horizon, accountability to voters and other mechanisms, which usually mitigate the consequences of such conflicts. However, the reasons for the lack of stable development in regions with intra-elite conflicts require further analysis. Researchers have yet to learn what exactly impedes economic growth in polycentric systems at the subnational level and how political conflict between different segments of the elite affects the selection of those who govern the respective regions.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-70-89

Pages: 70-89

Anastasia Kazun

Global News Flow (What Countries Russian Media Talk about and Why)

Keywords: global news flow, agenda, international news, international communication, press, TV

The article is devoted to the coverage of foreign states in the Russian mass media. On the basis of the global news flow theory, which is applied to the analysis of the Russian media for the first time, the author considers what countries the Russian media discuss the most, analyzes factors that explain a number of news pieces devoted to this or the other foreign country, and compares agendas for television and newspapers. The empirical data include the materials from the most quoted Russian TV channels and print newspapers for the year of 2017, presented in the database Factiva. In total, the author analyzes 26269 mentions of foreign countries in TV news and 39171 mentions of foreign countries in the articles in print newspapers. In order to reveal factors that explain the Russian media’s interest in different countries, the author builds several regression models. The independent variables include states’ geographical and economic characteristics as well as the intensity of the direct contacts between countries.

The research study demonstrates a rather important influence of the geographical, economic and relation-based factors on the number of mentions of this or the other state in the news. At the same time, the author identifies significant differences in the agendas between the Russian TV and the press. The final regression models that aggregate all variables have a much greater explanatory power in the case of the press than in the case of TV. The author hypothesizes that such differences may result from the fact that the Russian TV is more politically biased than the press and more responsive to the government demands. This may partially trump the importance of geographical, economic and other factors.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-90-105

Pages: 90-105

Political Theories

Hannu Nurmi

Voting Theory: ui Bono?

Keywords: social choice, incompatibility theorem, participation, Condorcet extension, electoral reform

The theory of voting has largely developed independently of the mechanism design research, but with the introduction of the concept of strategic voting the two traditions found a common ground. This happened some fifty years ago. Yet, despite the voluminous literature that has emerged since then, the impact of voting theory on the design of political institutions remains marginal. Often the assumptions are deemed too simplistic or too abstract or plainly “out of this world”. It looks as if there is a demand for research that aims at building bridges over the wide gap that exists between the abstract social choice results and the behavioral-institutional realities characterizing political systems of today and tomorrow. We illustrate the applicability problems by discussing a relatively recent proposal for electoral reform of the single-member constituency system in electing the members for the House of Representatives in the United States. The proposed reform would seem to solve a major flaw in the existing system. As is often the case, this comes with a price, though: the proposal is plagued with problems of its own. However, the voting theory results have a wide area of applicability beyond voting. Yet the applicability of the voting theory results in these areas have remained largely unexplored. This article aims at suggesting some applications. Most straightforward ones pertain to multiple criteria decision making.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-106-121

Pages: 106-121


Leonid Fishman

Capitalism and Culture

Keywords: capitalism, culture, progress, success, religion, spirit of capitalism

The article is devoted to studying the interrelationship between capitalism and culture along different dimensions. Are there any “ideal” cultures that are more conducive to the development of a “modern”, “economically efficient”, “progressive” i.e., ultimately, capitalist, society? To which extent can we justify the attempts within the concept of “culture matters” to reshape other cultures in accordance with this ideal type? To what degree is such measure relevant for Russia? The author’s analysis reveals that the ideal capitalist cultures have never existed. Capitalism in itself is a culture and even a religion. Because capitalism never states this directly, it seems that traditional religions one after another serve as voices of capitalism, replacing each other as expressions of the “spirit of capitalism”. History shows that capitalism evolves and accommodates new cultures and subcultures that are much farther away from what was once considered an ideal type for a successful capitalist culture. Since culture is the last resort of the expansion of capitalism, the latter is doomed to recognize over time all the existing cultures as successful. However, this will mean its “sunset”: once every culture will be recognized as successful, the recourse base of capitalism will be finally exhausted that would lead to the end of capitalism as a culture.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-122-139

Pages: 122-139

Victor Martianov

Global Capitalism in Decline: Political Implications

Keywords: capitalism, expansion, commodification, limits of development, center and periphery, social stratification, political utopia, rentier society

On the basis of the analysis of the most recent tendencies in the development of modern societies, V.Martianov hypothesizes that capitalism as a historical phenomenon is experiencing a crisis of crises, because all of the methods previously used to resolve contradictions inherent in capitalism (such as geographical expansion of capital, commodification of different spheres of public life and creation of credit financial bubbles) have reached their natural limits. According to his conclusion, the crisis can no longer be resolved by economic means, because such a solution can only aggravate the structural contradictions of the world markets by inflating yet another financial collapse and/or the spatial transfer of the epicenter of the crisis along the center-peripheral axis of the world economy. The global decline of capitalism requires a political solu- tion, which implies recognition and legitimation of the new political ontology (the erosion of basic economic classes, the rise of the prekariat and various minorities), transformation of the principles of social stratification and alteration of conditions for access of different social groups towards public resources.

Obviously, a new configuration of social groups will have to reinvent the foundations for social harmony and distribution of public resources under the conditions of a society that lacks economic growth, mass labor and is characterized by the leading role of state. At the same time, under the pressure of the monetary social order the political format of nation-states provides fewer and fewer opportunities for an increasingly vulnerable majority. According to the author’s evaluation, as the strategies of the expansion of free markets and complete commodification of social relations are depleted, rentier society, which is related to state, basic income and acknowledgement of the value of each individual outside of the economic realm, will become a more attractive alternative to the capitalist order in terms of both values and institutions.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-140-161

Pages: 140-161

Foreign Polities

Sergei Khenkin

Politico-territorial Organization of Spain: Old Problems and New Challenges

Keywords: Spain, state of autonomies, Basque Country, Catalonia, ETA, separatism

The politico-territorial organization of Spain (state of autonomies) that was formed at the transition stage from Francoism to representative democracy for a long time seemed rather viable. At the same time it is obvious that the state is incapable of fully integrating the Basque Country and Catalonia — the most developed and wealthy regions with distinct cultural-linguistic specificity. The Spanish authorities managed to triumph over the Basque separatist terrorist organization ETA that announced its disbandment. However, separatism in this autonomy continues to develop in peaceful forms. The powerful separatist movement in Catalonia that entered the scene at the times of global crisis challenged the principles of the Spanish territorial organization and exposed a number of problems requiring urgent solution.

In this context, it becomes increasingly important to implement a set of financial-economic and political-legal reforms aimed at transforming the state of autonomies in order to strengthen it. First and foremost, it is necessary to modernize the Constitution of Spain that was adopted in 1978 during the democratic transition — its several provisions have outdated since then. However, there is a lack of a broad inter-party consensus necessary for reforming the legislation. The approaches to solving multifaceted political-territorial problem often only further fragment the leading parties of Spain.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-162-179

Pages: 162-179


Alexander Sungurov

Expert Seminars as Communicative Platforms (Russian Post-Soviet Experience)

Keywords: expert community, expert seminars, authorities

The article is devoted to the experience of the functioning in Russia of public expert seminars on the problems of the socio-political life of the country as a platform for interaction between the authorities and the expert community, as well as within the community itself. The first section briefly describes the history of the emergence of a prototype of such seminars in the late USSR, which is interpreted by the author as the birth of a private-public sphere under the conditions of a strict party control over the public sphere. The second section discusses the development of public-political clubs of the perestroika period and their role in expanding the public sphere and recruiting future political and public figures. The third section covers the 1990s. The author shows that at the beginning of that decade the Russian authorities were open to interaction with the expert community more than ever. He proposes a hypothesis that such openness can be explained (at least partly) by the arrival of a new team in the government that included many people from the academic world.

The last section presents a comparative analysis of the three expert seminars that were most active in the first half of the 2000s — the seminars of the clubs “Civil Debates” and “Open Forum”, as well as the seminar “Politeia”. One of the most important tasks set by their initiators was the formation of an open expert environment, accumulating the expert potential scattered in the bureaucratic, business and public structures, and overcoming the split of the national elite into micro-communities that hardly contact with each other. However, it was not possible to solve these tasks, and the activities of the seminars gradually came to naught.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2018-91-4-180-195

Pages: 180-195