Ideology in the Era of “Cynical Reason” (Interpretation of Ideology in Slavoj Žižek’s Works)
Keywords: : ideology, cynical reason, Marxism, post-Marxism, Slavoj Žižek
The article is devoted to the critical analysis of the concept of ideology developed by Slavoj Žižek, the modern Slovenian philosopher. The author reveals the possibilities and limitations of Žižek’s approach to understanding the phenomenon of ideology and considers the initial presumptions and methodological assumptions that this approach is based upon. The article shows that despite the indisputable originality, Žižek’s theory is not devoid of contradictions, and the interpretation of ideology as an illusion and mystification, which is justified within the framework of Marxist political philosophy, loses its foundations in the context of the post-structuralist methodology.
According to I.Demin’s conclusion, Žižek’s philosophical and political thinking falls prey to the scheme that Peter Sloterdijk defined as “mutual tracking of ideologies”. Criticism of ideology here implies criticism of one ideo logy from the standpoint of another, or criticism of “bad” ideology from the standpoint of “good” ideology. The “criticizing” ideology is not clearly articulated, but implicitly assumed. The fact that the “critic” of ideology prefers not to reveal his own bias constitutes an integral part of the strategy of ideological criticism, as opposed to scientific criticism.
Ideology as the principle that structures social reality obtains an allencompassing character in Žižek’s interpretation, since it underlies all human actions and human thinking. However, if there is no way to separate ideology from scientific knowledge, to distinguish between ideology, philosophy and religion, it turns out that ideology is everything and nothing at the same time. With this interpretation, “ideology” becomes an unoperationalizable concept for Social and Political Sciences, and therefore useless. At the same time, a number of the provisions formulated by Žižek (on ideological “fastening”, on the role of the enemy figure in the ideological discourse, etc.) may be in high demand in the course of developing an adequate methodological strate gy for studying the phenomenon of ideology, which distances itself from both “naïve” objectivist doctrines and the extremes of the political anti-essentialism and anti-universalism.
Political Implications of Philosophical Parrhesia in Michel Foucault’s Late Lectures: Genealogy of Critique and Reality of Philosophy
Keywords: Michel Foucault, parrhesia, Platonism, reality of philosophy, genealogy of critique, philosophical speech
The concept of parrhesia (free, true and courageous speech) is central to Michel Foucault’s last lecture courses. In this “late” period of his scientific career, the French philosopher started a thorough analysis of the ancient and early Christian sources with the aim to construct a detailed genealogy of the two phenomena that played a crucial role in the Western history — the genealogy of subjectivity and the genealogy of the “critical tradition” in philosophy. In order to analyze the latter, during the lecture course “The Government of Self and Others” (1982—1983), Foucault turned to the texts of Plato, which he considered foundational for the philosophical practices of veridiction in the West. The Platonic paradigm presents philosophy with a number of fundamental tasks, the main of which is the task of constantly testing the reality and seriousness — testing the words (logos) through the deeds and practices (ergon). Foucault postulates that in the modern philosophy this test invariably results in a certain attitude towards politics and power, which assumes rejection of the direct participation in political affairs, constant criticism of our mistakes and misconceptions, the search for and revelation of ways, in which we, as subjects, are able to change ourselves. In this article, the authors attempt to shed light on the genealogical significance of Foucault’s concept of parrhesia and its relationship to the modern philosophy; present the classification of parrhesia (on the basis of Foucault’s lectures) that allows to identify political and philosophical dimensions of this phenomenon and their different modalities, as well as review in a holistic way the Platonic philosophical parrhesia and consider the problem of its complex relationship with politics, which becomes especially acute when the “reality of philosophy” is being tested.
Zombie of Biopower: Is the Concept Outdated?
Keywords: biopower, biopolitics, necropolitics, zombie ideas, power, political authority
The article is devoted to the discussion about what the concept of biopower, developed within the framework of the postmodern critical theory, means in the context of the modern world, both in general theoretical and empirical sense. According to the author’s conclusion, although this concept remains significant for Political Science, it is largely outdated and could turn into a scientific zombie idea. Giorgio Agamben, one of the classics of Political Philosophy, who denied the danger of the COVID-19 pandemic on the basis of the methodology of biopolitics, is case in point. Another evidence comes from the fact that researchers from different countries, including Russia, increasingly look for new approaches and tools of the biopolitical analysis, and try to saturate the concept with new ideas and data.
This article proposes three ways how to make biopolitical research more relevant today. One way is to rethink the normative/moral foundations of biopower, to reject an implicitly negative assessment of the concept. Another way is to expand the historical framework, to pay greater attention to historical cases that allow us to trace different stages of the evolution of biopolitical patterns, to focus on the analysis of specific manifestations of biopower in concrete situations. The third way is to move towards the synthesis of critical biopolitics and evolutionary biopolitics, which draws data from the natural sciences. According to the author, these efforts together will make it possible to move from the unidirectional asymmetric link “the political influences the bio logical” to a more complex scheme of mutual reflective influence of the political and the biological.
Religion and Politics
I. V. Kudryashova, A. S.Kozintsev
Islamic Parties between Sacred and Profane: Transformation of the Concept of Party in the Muslim Political Discourse
Keywords: Islamic parties, communication system, state- and nation-building, ummah, the Arab East
The article is devoted to the analysis of the transformation of the concept of Islamic party in the Muslim political discourse. Considering the processes of separation of Islam and politics as the formation of independent communication systems, the authors try to find an answer to the question of how, despite doctrinal restrictions, the notion “Islamic party” managed to acquire the features of a stable political concept. The authors propose a hypothesis, according to which, as the socio-political modernization of the Arab countries proceeds, the political system appropriates this concept, thereby specifying Islamic values at the level that allows to combine these values with new power institutions and fulfill specific political actions with these values.
To test this hypothesis, the authors turn to the analysis of the temporal structure of the concept of party in Quran (Sunnah), the texts of the first ideologues of the Muslim Brotherhood and the rhetoric of the modern Islamic movements that occupy stable positions in the national parliaments. As a result of the study, the authors document the polysemantics inherent in the Islamic doctrine and identify the main parameters of the temporalization and pragmatization of the concept. According to their conclusion, the Islamic parties’ abandonment of Quranic time and placement in the national-historical contexts, as well as the erosion of their initial core values, determine the mo dern perception and functional significance of such parties: they act as an institution that differentiates Islamic norms and ensures their combination with the institutions of the nation state that emerged in the process of moder nization.
Paradigms of Public Development
Wasta as Social Capital and Legitimate Conservative Order
Keywords: Wasta, social capital, group loyalty, Arab world, modernization
The article examines the relationship between the traditional group relations (intrafamily, clan, etc.) in the Arab society, which provide access to the political rent, and the processes of socio-political modernization and the building of civil institutions. The Arab governments usually explain the inefficiency or “deviations” in the work of such institutions by national characteristics, adherence to the idea of nation-building, etc., but never by the desire to preserve power and assets of the traditional elites that are based on group loyalty. One of the most common ways of accessing power in order to acquire and redistribute tangible and intangible benefits in the Arab world is Wasta, or a system of connections, based on group loyalty and client-patronage relationships. Loyalty to one’s group that almost everyone belongs to by birth or due to certain life circumstances ensures the interests of the individual in the broadest sense. Wasta’s network and group ties, based on the principles that are at odds with those that the civil society is built upon, impede the development and modernization of social and political institutions.
While researchers have studied Wasta relations as such rather structurally, both at the micro-level (from the social network point of view) and at the macro-level (from the institutional point of view), the attempts to build a holistic model that considers Wasta simultaneously from both viewpoints have not yet been crowned with success. The article proposes the conceptualization of Wasta as social capital, which makes it possible to represent this type of relationship as one actor’s “investment” and the other actor’s “loan”. One can also use this holistic model in the analysis of other informal ties inherent in other cultures but also based on group loyalty and client-patronage relationships and provide fertile soil for maintaining conservative order.
From “Power of the Worthy” to “Power of the Popular”: Splendors and Miseries of Meritocracy in a New Technological Era
Keywords: capitalism, post-capitalism, meritocracy, plutocracy, personocracy, neo-feudalism, rental society
The article is devoted to the study of the phenomenon of meri tocracy, which arouses considerable interest today both in political journalism and academia. The article shows that meritocracy has largely become the ideo logy of modern neoliberal elites, and therefore often serves as a cover for the actual plutocracy. Although the framework of cognitive capitalism witnesses a certain movement towards meritocratic principles of the formation of elites, it simultaneously prepares ground for the emergence of a kind of “trap of meritocracy”, when, for a number of reasons, the layer of “educated and talented” turns into a hereditary caste.
At the same time, according to the author, the future hardly belongs to meritocrats, no matter how well they fit into the realities of the high-tech economy. New developments in artificial intelligence are jeopardizing many forms of intellectual work, leading to a cut-throat competition for a decreasing number of high-paying jobs. In turn, the bourgeois world of labor is being replaced by a post-capitalist world of idleness and creativity as the production of intangible goods. The rapid development of social media makes emotional and social intelligence, as well as the ability to achieve popularity and influence through media activities, increasingly important. In other words, modern technology makes life difficult for cognitive elites, while opening up enormous opportunities for very different social groups. In this regard, the author puts forward a hypothesis according to which popularity will become a key criterion for the formation of elites in the foreseeable future rather than merit. Postcapitalist personocracy will gradually replace bourgeois meritocracy, which, however, does not exclude the possibility of the preservation of the myth of meritocracy, implying that those who can skillfully attract attention will be assigned various merits.
Kh. A.Gadzhiev, A. S.Semchenkov
Political System Sustainability in the Re public of Kazakhstan (Index Analysis)
Keywords: Kazakhstan, political system, sustainability, stability, political system sustainability index
The problem of the sustainability of the political system is one of the most pressing issues in Political Science. The wave of social and political upheavals that took place in the 21st century in various countries requires studying the factors that determine the ability of modern political systems to maintain their essential features in case of undesirable conditions. Today it is already obvious that the sustainability of the political system, mechanisms and principles of its functioning depends not only and, perhaps, not as much on the socio-economic sphere, the development of democratic institutions or the presence/absence of a destructive external influence, as it is often assumed. Rather, intra-systemic characteristics play a key role.
The multidimensionality of the manifestation and the multifactorial nature of the formation of stable political systems not only determine the possibility of a huge number of definitions of sustainability, but also give rise to considerable difficulties in measuring it.
The authors analyze the political system of Kazakhstan using the sustainability index that they developed earlier. The study shows that throughout most of the post-Soviet history of the country, the level of the sustainability of its political system was above average, and now Kazakhstan already surpasses Russia and Ukraine in this parameter and is approaching Belarus. Moreover, if the existing trends continue, the sustainability of the political system of Kazakhstan in the short term will only increase. According to the authors’ conclusion, this trend is hard to reverse unless there is a force majeure in the global economy or new military and political threats emerge, which the republic will not be able to tackle without resorting to the help of allies.
Heir and Bastard (Notes on the Social Genesis of Ressentiment)
Keywords: ressentiment, aristocracy, middle class, envy, Frie drich Nietzsche, Max Scheler
The article focuses on redefining the social genesis of ressentiment. The concept of ressentiment, widely used today in the form shaped by Friedrich Nietzsche and fine-grained by Max Scheler, turns out to be both overly and insufficiently connected to the social structure of the societies, for the analysis of which it is used. The reason is that although Nietzsche’s and Scheler’s ideas about ressentiment refer to the socio-structural aspects of its genesis, they do so in a contradictory and incorrect manner. Without noticing their own contradictions, both thinkers elevate genesis of ressentiment to the moral standards of the lower classes. Using the examples of younger heirs and bastards of the medieval aristocratic families, as well as the examples of other relatively privileged social groups, the author shows that one should rather seek the genesis of ressentiment within higher social strata. At the same time, the author shows that the moral feelings and behavioral strategies germane to ressentiment can be adopted and are adopted by representatives of other classes. In this form, it attracts attention in times when the oppressed classes obtain real opportunities to change their position, or, at the very least, they receive reasons to believe that they could achieve more if such an opportunity had been given to them.
Supreme Power: “Forgotten” Category in Political Science?
Keywords: supreme power, sovereignty, sovereign, source of power, state studies, political theory
The article is devoted to the analysis of the concept of supreme power, which, according to the author, is undeservedly neglec ted by the modern Political Science. Despite the high importance of this concept, its definition is lacking in dictionaries, as well as most textbooks and reviews.
Legal Science and State Studies have known this concept at least since the 16th century. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, due to the works of such scientists as Boris Chicherin, Alexander Alekseev, Nikolay Korkunov, Georg Jellinek, Lev Tikhomirov, Petr Kazansky the academic consensus was formed that supreme power can be defined as legally unlimited, complete and unconditional power in the state. At the beginning of the 21st century, the interest in this category has revived, which resulted, in particular, in the previous concepts becoming relevant again.
After having critically analyzed the existing ideas of the Russian researchers on this topic, the author comes to the conclusion that elaboration of the relevant theory of the supreme power that lives up to the modern level of knowledge, requires interdisciplinary approach and combined effort from lawyers, political scientists, historians, and sociologists. Having convincingly demonstrated that today this task is still far from being complete, he focuses on a number of key problems for the development of such a theory and outlines possible directions for finding their solution. According to his conclusion, the category “supreme power” has a significant heuristic potential, and its “return” to political, as well as constitutional and legal, science would enrich their methodological tools. In particular, its application to the analysis of political systems makes it possible to discern behind the facade of the constitutional separation of powers not only who governs (i.e., exercises this or that authority granted by the constitution), but also who rules i.e., has the right to make final decisions on key issues of political life.
Russian “Party of Power” vs Dominant Party
Keywords: “party of power”, Russia’s nomenclature, dominant party, United Russia party, Administration of the President of the Russian Federation
The article presents a factual analysis of the origin and formation of the “party of power” in Russia. The work demonstrates that at all stages the Russian “party of power” was designed and controlled by the Administration of the President of the Russian Federation.
The research carried out by the author shows that Russia’s “party of power” does not meet the criteria that would allow to qualify this political party as dominant, in any of its “incarnations”. This fully applies to the United Russia party that does not exert a significant impact on the appointments to the political and administrative positions and does not have any effect on the decisions that determine the state’s policy. The dominance of the United Russia party in the electoral field is ensured primarily by the electoral corruption, as well as by the fact that its “electoral machine” is represented by the system of public authorities at all levels, from federal to local. In turn, the dominance of this party in the State Duma and the rigid and strictly hierarchical administrative structure that it built in the lower chamber of the Russian Parliament allows the Presidential Administration to control the legislative process and parliamentary activity in general.
According to the author’s conclusion, the “party of power” is an externally controlled political organization of a party type that protects the interests of Russia’s ruling nomenklatura and implements its goals in the processes of the formation of public authorities through electoral procedures, as well as in the course of the legislative and parliamentary activity. Not only does such an organization fail to meet the criteria of the dominant party, but it also fails to fully correspond to the concept of a political party per se.