R. Yu.Belkovich, T. M.Khabibulin
Myth of Leviathan (On Giorgio Agamben’s Reading of the Dispute between Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt)
Keywords: Giorgio Agamben, Walter Benjamin, Carl Schmitt, Georges Sorel, myth, state of emergency
The article is devoted to one of the key disputes for the intellectual history of Europe in the last century, which unfolded in the first half of the 20th century between Walter Benjamin and Carl Schmitt. The starting point of the analysis is the reading of this dispute by Giorgio Agamben. According to Agamben, the main point of disagreement between the two thinkers is the possibility of the existence of violence, completely autonomous from law and sovereign power. Answering this question in the affirmative, Benjamin introduces the category of pure violence, which, from his point of view, is capable of destroying the existing law without recreating the logic of power institutions. Schmitt opposes this argument, appealing to his theory of the state of emergency, in which there is no violence outside the realm of law.
In the course of the study, the authors take into account another thinker — Georges Sorel, whose views influenced both participants in the dispute. The authors focus on Sorel’s concept of political myth and utilize it to discuss another important point of tension between Benjamin, Schmitt, and Agamben (to the extent that he spoke about the matter of the dispute) — Thomas Hobbes’ treatise Leviathan.
After analyzing the conflict of interpretations of the eschatological myth ascribed to the treatise, the authors come to the conclusion that de facto at the core of the controversy between Benjamin and Schmitt lies the possibility of overcoming the political myth, which underlies modern political institutions, and the main strategy of the participants of the dispute is the localization of this myth.
Paradigms of Social Development
About Contradictions and Historical Forks of the Transition to a Digital Society
Keywords: digital society, civilizational transition, social inequality, digital inequality, elite responsibility, entertainment society, new barbarism
The article is devoted to the review of the main economic, social, political and cultural problems and contradictions that arise in the process of the transition to a digital society. According to the author, this transition is civilizational in nature, affecting not only economy and social relations, but also the way of life, the system of values and the worldview of most inhabitants of the planet.
The article shows that, as in any other transitional era, in the modern terms, new problems are intertwined with the old ones, strengthening conflicts in the society and engendering uncertainty about the future. The economy of the “capitalism of digital platforms” is much more monopolized than the capitalist economy of the 20th century. Digital monopolies are becoming real competitors of governments, and it is highly plausible that the struggle for power between them will ultimately result in the merge of the power of the state with the economic and intellectual potential of digital giants and the formation of a new version of the state-monopoly capitalism. Coupled with the increasing income gap, digital inequality expands the abyss between the rich and the poor and contributes to the formation of the pyramidal structure of society, where the place in the social hierarchy is determined by the possibility of creating, using and commercializing modern information and communication technologies. The fundamental changes in the labor market due to robotization and the expanding use of artificial intelligence carry the threat of the appearance of a huge layer of “non-demanded people”. This means that, unlike most societal models that existed in the 20th century, the digital society will not be inclusive, which, in turn, will affect its stability. The looming transformation of the consumption society into the entertainment society will also have serious implications. The processes associated with this transformation are fraught with the cultural retrogression of mankind and jeopardize the foundations of the human civilization in the form that took several millennia to develop.
Civil Freedoms or Political Competition: What Is the Advantage of Democracy for the Development of Technological Innovations?
Keywords: political regime, democracy, technological innovations, economic development, political competition, civil freedoms
Today most researchers agree that democratic regimes are superior in producing technological innovations to authoritarian regimes, despite the fact that the question of the influence of the type of political regime on economic growth and its most important component, such as innovative activity, remains debatable. At the same time, there are several alternative, although not mutually exclusive, hypotheses about what causes this superiority. One hypothesis suggests institutions that ensure political competition, and above all, competitive elections, are of key importance. According to another hypothesis, the main prerequisite for innovative development lies in the provision for rights and freedoms of citizens.
The article attempts to test these hypotheses empirically in order to determine which one of them possesses a greater explanatory power. To perform this task, the author employed a method of multi-level regression, which allows taking into account factors at the level of countries, as well as that of individual firms.
The research conducted by the author shows that the presence of competitive elections is not a sufficient condition for innovative development. In contrast, the provision of civil freedoms is a statistically significant predictor. Thus, the liberal aspect of democracy is more important than its electoral aspect for producing technological innovations.
The Invisible Political Officer: How Personalization Algorithms Shape Public Opinion
Keywords: echo chamber, filter bubble, social media, computational modeling, agent-based model, public opinion, political communications
Social media have been firmly entrenched in the modern everyday life. Still, their influence on the formation of public opinion is not well understood. An important feature of social media is that they are not neutral. Not only do people interact with each other on social media platforms, but social media themselves actively interact with people, selecting personalized content for them based on the information about their interests and behavior. In 2011, Eli Pariser hypothesized that content personalization should lead to the formation of a kind of “information cocoons”, or “filter bubbles” — homogeneous groups of users who hold similar views. However, the fragmentation of the Internet community into “filter bubbles” is not the only threat posed by the use of personalization algorithms. Even more dangerously, social media possess the ability to manipulate content selection algorithms in order to influence users’ views.
The article attempts to test the reality of these threats through computational modeling. To solve this task, the author employs a simple agent-based model that simulates the impact of personalization algorithms on communication in social media. The article demonstrates that, contrary to Pariser’s hypothesis, algorithms that select content as close as possible to user preferences result in the emergence of “filter bubbles” rather rarely. The author also finds that manipulation of personalization algorithms makes it possible to influence the formation of public opinion on a stable basis only under two conditions: (1) when all users are manipulated and at the same time they are open to external influence; (2) when manipulation aims at the so called “centrists” who do not possess a clear-cut opinion on some issue.
Party Ideologies through the Prism of Administrative Paradigms
Keywords: political party, program, ideology, elections, paradigm, public administration, subject field, thesaurus, content analysis
The article is devoted to the analysis of proposals for the reform of public administration in the programs of the Russian political parties that participated in the 2021 Duma elections, the assessment of their coherency and realism as an indicator of the party’s political maturity, its willingness to implement its slogans in practice. Using classification methods, as well as content and thesaurus analysis, the author documents similarities and differences between these proposals and considers them through the prism of party ideologies and basic administrative paradigms.
The study does not reveal a clear correlation between party ideology and proposals for improving public administration: party programs with polar ideologies have similar proposals. At the same time, the author discovers a connection between party ideologies and administrative paradigms presented in the programs. Left-wing parties are oriented towards Good Governance i.e., the openness of the authorities and the involvement of citizens in the administration. New Public Management associated with economic efficiency and client-centric state is typical to right-wing and (to some degree) centrist parties. The Weberian paradigm with its emphasis on the legality and procedural aspects is scarcely presented in the programs of Russian parties. In general, the paradigm of Good Governance is most popular in the programs.
The author explains the dominance of this paradigm in party programs both with the populist trend gaining strength all over the world and with a request for social justice inherent in the Russian society. However, according to his conclusion, although parties and society are ready for cooperation, which is reflected in discursive practices, such readiness conflicts with the underdevelopment of the mechanisms of the implementation of Good Governance, which have not yet been developed even at the level of theory. He sees a possible solution to this problem in the unification of the efforts of political scientists and specialists in public administration and overcoming the mismatch between these disciplines.
Precariat in Russia: from “Dangerous Class” to Normalizing Discourse
Keywords: discourse, ideology, precariat, precarization, middle class
The article is devoted to the problematique of using the concept of precariat in the Russian scientific literature. Having fixed the lack of consensus about the criteria of the precariat, its social composition and even its very existence as a class, the author suggests one should proceed from the fact that precariat is part of an ideological rather than a scientific discourse, similar to the discourse of the middle class, with which it has a clear continuity. These discourses are functional for the reproduction of the existing social relations. Therefore, the article attempts to study discourse that is used to describe precariat in Russia, and to comprehend for the reproduction of what relations it is functional.
The research conducted by the author shows that the Russian interpretation of the precariat differs markedly from the Western one. This applies to both the composition of the precariat and its place in the social structure. The Russian authors draw a picture of a specific Russian precariat, which includes almost half of the society. This precariat bears little resemblance to the Western one, but almost completely coincides with the Russian middle class, as the Russian ruling circles view it. Since the state is able to conduct a dialogue with this kind of precariat, which is a passively suffering and no longer dangerous class that does not undermine the foundations of the system, the discourse about precariat and precarization is turning into the same potentially legitimate kind of normalizing discourse as the one about the middle class.
M. Yu.Vinogradov, A. A.Suslova
The Phenomenon of Social Apathy and Its Relevance in Modern Russia
Keywords: social apathy, political anomie, non-participation, passivity, learned helplessness, emotional burnout
The article is devoted to the analysis of the phenomenon of social apathy in the modern Russian realities. Despite the prevalence of the term “social apathy” in the assessment of the current state of the Russian society, there is still no consensus as to whether apathy boils down to rejection of the socio-political sphere or implies broader interpretations — the dominance in the society of an orientation towards minimizing activities, or even loss of faith in the value of the present day (except family and immediate relatives and friends).
The key problems in using the concept of social apathy are the lack of a proven scientific methodology for applying the concepts of individual psychology to the collective, mass states, as well as the historically unambiguously negative attitude towards apathy as a vice, deviation, laziness, which makes it difficult to fully comprehend this phenomenon.
The article outlines key approaches to explaining social apathy in the modern Russia, revealed in the course of the research project “The Phenomenon of Social Mobilization as the Antipode of Social Apathy”, carried out by the Petersburg Politics Foundation jointly with the “Insomar”, the Institute for Social Marketing, in the second half of 2021. Possible reasons for social apathy include purposeful actions of the authorities, spontaneous reaction of citizens to the activities of politicians, anxiety about the future against the backdrop of the weak attractiveness of the present, the collapse of paternalism in the face of a shortage of tools and skills for living without the help of the state, and the unresolved internal conflicts. The authors reconstruct the main interpretations of the triggers of the current cycle of apathy, such as the economic changes of the 1990s, the failure of the “Medvedev thaw” and the pension reform of 2018, the consequences of which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Based on the results of an expert survey and focus groups, the authors delineate hypothetical scenarios for overcoming social apathy and possible directions for the development of the public sentiments, and formulate a number of recommendations for managing political risks, taking into account possible social dynamics.
Yu. O.Gaivoronsky, Yu. A.Balandin
Recruitment of the Governor’s Corps in Contemporary Russia: Evolution of Patronal Networks (2017—2021)
Keywords: patronal politics, patronal network, governors, Russia, Social Network Analysis
The article presents an attempt to study the structural dynamics of federal-regional political networks in the process of recruiting heads of the regions. The authors focus their attention on the current stage of the evolution of the federal center’s approach towards the formation of the governor’s corps, which began with the change of the team in the presidential administration in the second half of 2016. The theoretical framework of the study is the concepts of patron-client relations and patronal politics. For the empirical testing, the authors employ the apparatus of the Social Network Analysis (SNA), which makes it possible to assess both the political elite itself and the specific influence of individual figures.
The conducted research documents a distinct tendency towards the growing structural complexity of the federal-regional patronal network, when an increasing number of federal actors are directly or indirectly involved in the process of recruiting regional leaders, which entails the formation of new intra-elite connections. However, despite the intensive personnel rotation, the tectonic shifts in the structure of patronage are not visible. The backbone of the network remains unchanged and contains on the stable basis a part of the federal political and economic elite, who looks to the leader of the state and enjoys his support. At the same time, the process of the growing complexity of the patronal network is accompanied by an increase in the importance of the President of the Russian Federation, primarily from the point of view of intra-network coordination, which, according to the authors, indicates a rising demand for such coordination in the modern Russia.
“Cinderella Complex” Half a Century Later: Modern Approaches to the Study of Populism and Their Empirical Application
Keywords: populism, conceptualization, empirical studies, ideational approach, political-strategic approach, performative approach
In recent years, the topic of populism has become one of the most popular in Political Science. At the same time, the very content of the concept of populism remains subject of scientific debates, which inevitably affects empirical studies, because it is the theoretical framework that determines the choice of specific analysis tools. The article intends to serve as a kind of navigator for those who plan to engage in an empirical study of populism, to outline the set of conceptualizations of this phenomenon that are currently used.
The article considers three theoretical approaches to populism — ideational, political-strategic, and performative. The author briefly touches upon the history and content of each of these approaches, discusses their empirical application, as well as their inherent advantages and disadvantages, after which he shows in what type of research they can be productive. According to his conclusion, ideational approach is optimal for conducting cross-national studies or extensive quantitative studies within one country. Political-strategic approach could be useful when studying populism in Latin America or in countries, where parties are poorly institutionalized. Performative approach could be a better choice if the study focuses on populist interactions with the media, or on a particular case study.
Virtues against Communism Fishman. L.G. The Age of Virtues: After Soviet Morality. Moscow: New Literary Observer, 2022
Keywords: communism, socialism, Marxism, post-capitalism, virtue ethics, ethics of principles
The article is dedicated to comprehending the ideas set forth in the monograph by Leonid Fishman The Age of Virtues: After Soviet Morality, which raises the question of the reasons for the rapid destruction of “high” communist morality in the USSR, as well as the sliding of the Russian society in the 1990s into a state of “war of all against all”. Setting himself the task of tracing how “evil” is born from “good”, Fishman draws attention to the fact that the communist morality of the Soviet Union contained an internal contradiction due to the combination of what can be called virtue ethics and the ethics of principles. Virtues consist of values that are relevant to certain communities. At the same time, virtue ethics has a dual nature. Under certain social circumstances, it contributes to nurturing a harmonious individual who strives for high social goals. This happens if the ethics of principles rises above it, setting higher goals and general ideas about how to treat other members of society. But if the ethics of principles ceases to function, nothing prevents the virtues from serving pure evil, for even members of mafia clans are not strangers to heroism, devotion, and honor. Fishman demonstrates how the virtue ethics gradually replaced the ethics of principles, bringing closer the collapse of the great communist project.
According to Dmitry Davydov’s conclusion, the value of Fishman’s research is greater than just historical. No communist project can exclude either its humanistic core, with the focus on the liberation of the individual, or its emphasis on the socialization of the individual in these or other communities. But any “harmonious” personality and any community that serves “the good” risk transforming into their opposites: into a selfish individual and an association of “friends”, for whom everyone “who is not with us” is an enemy.