Abstracts № 4, 2023

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Paradigms of Social Development

K. E.Petrov

Challenges of Agora of Digital Society

Keywords: digital society, populism, fake news, democratic regime, polis democracy, epistemological crisis, Agora, ostracism, information security, elections

The article attempts to use the theory of conceptual metaphor to compare distant communicative practices of Ancient Greece and modern times. The author interprets digital communications and social media as Digital Agora, or Agora 2.0. Just as during ancient times the influence of the Agora made the Athenian aristocracy reckon with the demos, the influence of social media has significantly reshaped the modern political process, limiting the former capabilities of the elites. The use of the conceptual metaphor of Agora 2.0 allows the author to clarify similarities in the functioning of open communication systems, within which the mass dissemination of persuasive fake news and/or foreign interference in the electoral process turn out to be essentially insurmountable.

Societies have to adapt in order to compensate for the potentially destructive effects of agorocentric structures. According to the author, it is still an open question of whether the Digital Agora will cope with numerous challenges, or whether the trends causing irreparable damage to democratic institutions will prevail. When examining a potential response to the challenges posed by the existence of the Digital Agora, the author makes use of a biological metaphor of an immune response, employing it to analyze most probable scenarios — from a radical ban on the Agora 2.0’s very infrastructure to the introduction of subtle homogenizing institutions that prevent the unchecked growth of populist influence.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-7-30

Pages: 7-30

Political Theories

D. V.Balashov

Theory of Distributive Justice Based on Virtue Ethics: Is It Possible?

Keywords: theories of justice, deontological ethics, utilitarian ethics, virtue ethics, happiness, prosperity, basic capabilities, social state

The problem of social justice plays one of the central roles in modern political philosophy, and since 1970s it has been subject to vehement debate. Although social justice is a multifaceted phenomenon, distributive (economic) justice, associated with the fair distribution of goods in society, remains its most important aspect.

Almost all modern theories of distributive justice follow one of the two classical ethical traditions: deontological and utilitarian. However, since the second half of the 20th century, a third ethical tradition has started to emerge — virtue ethics, whose proponents criticized both deontology and utilitarianism. The emphasis on virtue that lies at the heart of the new tradition assumes a shift in focus from a universal rule to individual decisions of a separate person. This change in perspective makes it much more difficult to use virtue ethics to construct theories of social justice. Nevertheless, such attempts are being made. Among them is the so-called capabilities approach of the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum, which has become quite widely known in the scientific community.

Nussbaum has reconsidered Aristotle’s philosophy, updating its key provisions for the modern world. By shifting the main focus from the category of virtue to the category of opportunity, she attempted to justify the idea of an “Aristotelian welfare state” with a high level of redistribution of goods in society.

The article is devoted to the analysis of Nussbaum’s concept. Having carefully considered its key tenets, D.Balashov shows that this experience of building a political and philosophical theory of justice on the basis of virtue ethics was not crowned with success. Although declared as Aristotelian in spirit, the capabilities approach in fact has a weak relation to Aristotle’s teachings, which, in particular, points to the problems that modern authors face when they are trying to draw on the heritage of the distant past.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-31-50

Pages: 31-50

R. Yu.Belkovich, S. V.Vinogradov

Equality of Luck: Evolvement of Egalitarian Theories of Justice in the Late 20th Century

Keywords: social justice, equality of opportunities, luck egalitarianism, John Rawls, Ronald Dworkin

Since the publication of John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, the egalitarian tradition, which associates fair institutional structure with reaching equality in one aspect or another, has started to play a central role in academic discussions of the social justice problem. The article is devoted to the analysis of the evolution of egalitarianism of luck, which by the end of the 20th century has become the main direction in the framework of this tradition. The proponents of this direction in their argument depart from Rawls’s idea about the lottery of birth, according to which a game played by a fortune, being arbitrary from the moral point of view and affecting the distribution of resources in society, is unfair, and therefore should be compensated.

Rawls’s approach to minimizing the role of luck in a fair distribution did not guarantee sufficient compensation for natural inequalities, assuming at the same time excessive compensation for “expensive tastes”. Trying to solve this problem, Ronald Dworkin distinguished between brute and option luck, using the model of the “veil of ignorance”, behind which the amount of fair compensation is determined. Further development of egalitarianism of luck at the turn of the 1980—1990s is associated with the names of Richard Arneson, Gerald Cohen, John Roemer and some other authors who made a number of amendments and changes to the concept of undeserved luck and proposed their own ways to neutralize its consequences for society.

The arguments of proponents of luck egalitarianism at the end of the 20th century aimed at strengthening the role of an individual’s freedom of choice and implantation of the ethics of responsibility into the theory of social justice. At the same time, the interpretation of luck as a true “currency of equality” made the question of fair distribution conditional upon the consensus on the limits of human capacity for systematic cultivation of virtues and the scope of individual responsibility for one’s own destiny.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-51-66

Pages: 51-66

Russian Polity

G. A.Borshchevskiy

Traditional Russian Values: Institutional Analysis

Keywords: traditional values, ideology, conservatism, strategic planning, civic identity

The article presents the results of an institutional study of the official Russian narrative about traditional values, which is aimed at identifying the degree of their integration into the system of legal norms. Using methods of comparative legal, thesaurus and content analysis, as well as the analogy method, the author attempts to assess the optimality of the choice of traditional values in Russia from the point of view of constitutional norms and postulates of the world religions and determine to what extent these values are incorporated into the documents of political goal-setting. The author treats as traditional the values recorded in the “Fundamentals of State Policy for the Preservation and Strengthening of Traditional Russian Spiritual and Moral Values” approved by the presidential decree in 2022, and compares them with the values of the Constitution, the basic moral imperatives of Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Judaism, as well as with the values outlined in the strategic documents and national development goals of the Russian Federation.

The study shows that the officially declared traditional spiritual and moral values do not fully coincide with the constitutional ones and, at the same time, are more focused on secular ethics than on the principles of the world religions. Simultaneously, the author reveals their inconsistency with the top-level goal-setting documents and national projects. According to the author, in the current conditions, such a discrepancy, which weakens the effect of a legislator’s actions, may be preferable to the consistent and systematic introduction of values with their conventionality being questionable. Revealing socially significant norms is possible only after conducting a detailed and substantive study of public opinion, longitudinal trends, political and economic processes. Otherwise, normative entrenchment can cause further polarization of the society rather than its consolidation.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-67-93

Pages: 67-93

Foreign Policy Perspective

M. O. Shibkova, A. S.Guliuki

Conceptual Foundations of Italian Foreign Policy in the Greater Mediterranean Region

Keywords: Greater Mediterranean, Italy, foreign policy, regional security complex, European Union

The article is devoted to determining the role of the Greater (or, in its Italian version — Expanded) Mediterranean in Italian contemporary foreign policy doctrine. In the theoretical part of the study, a comprehensive analysis of the concept of the “Greater Mediterranean” is presented via consistently examining its interpretations, such as macro-region, regional security complex, space-time (place of development) and subsystem of international relations (international political region). The practical part opens with an excursion into the history of the penetration of this concept into Italian political thought, showing that it has undergone a significant evolution. The first attempts to consider the Mediterranean beyond its geographical boundaries were associated with the confrontation with Great Britain and searching for theoretical justifications for the “defensive imperialism” of Mussolini’s regime. During the Cold War an expanded Mediterranean was seen as a territory that Italy's national security directly depended on.

The development of the geopolitical concept of the Expanded Mediterranean in its current form falls on the 1980s. Initially, the corresponding notion was used only within the expert community, but in the second decade of the 21st century it became entrenched in the country's military-strategic documents, more and more often replacing the wording “European-Mediterranean region”. These documents interpret the Expanded Mediterranean as a priority zone of national strategic interests, a geopolitical space where Italy should play a leading role in the fight against challenges and threats, as well as in establishing cooperation with regional players. However, such positioning of Rome is fraught with the difficulties of both economic and political nature, including those related to its membership in the EU and NATO.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-94-112

Pages: 94-112

Social Consciousness

M. G.Matskevich

Times Can Be Chosen: Images of Desirable Past in the Eyes of Russians

Keywords: desirable past, “site of memory”, presentism, cultural memory, communicative memory, sociological surveys

The article, based on the secondary analysis of all-Russian quantitative and qualitative sociological research data, examines the question of the Russians’ attitude to various time periods in the history of the country. Surveys over the past 20 years have documented an increase in preferences for the present over the past, while the late Soviet period is still relatively attractive. The author interprets the fact that this trend, although to a different extent, can be traced within all age cohorts, as evidence that images of the past, which were similar in their meaning, were formed and promoted in both communicative and cultural memory. The politics of memory, constructing images of the recent past, did not contradict the ideas transmitted by family memory. Data from quantitative and qualitative studies indicate the dominance of a largely negative image of the 1900s and a positive image of the Brezhnev era.

Having tested the existing explanations for the continued popularity of the Brezhnev era as a desirable past, the author comes to the conclusion that each of them is valid to the extent that it does not claim exclusivity. Nostalgia (in its broadest interpretation), the state’s memory politics, the hardships of the 1990s, and many other factors played a role in establishing the image of the late USSR as a golden age in the Russian history. At the same time, the study once again confirms that presentism dominates the perception of the past, and the attitude towards the past depends to a decisive extent on the current events and the current situation. According to the author, in today’s Russia, the idealized image of the late Soviet period turns out to be what Pierre Nora called a “site of memory”. And the fact that not all Russians are familiar with a detailed map of this “site of memory” does not defy its symbolic significance.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-113-140

Pages: 113-140

R. E. Barash

Family History and Family Memory in Russia of the 2020s

Keywords: historical memory, tradition, identity, family memory

The author explores how chronicle and memoirs, history and memory reconstruct the past, while simultaneously influencing each other, using the methodological division of commemorative resources. The empirical basis of the study is the data of surveys conducted by the scientific group of the Institute of Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences in the fall of 2020 and spring of 2022.

The sociological data help the author to clarify how today, in the postmemory era, the private and family memory of our compatriots responds to the state historical discourse and to what extent family history acts as a means of reconstructing the national past. With the growing interest of Russians in their own identity and their inclusion in digital communication, the popularity of genealogical projects is increasing, with the help of which not only family memory, but also national history, is reconstructed, and the perception of the past is changing. Information about family history is the most important source of information about national history. Emotionally and meaningfully rich stories from eyewitnesses increase the historical interest of their children and grandchildren. History as a resource of identity turns post-memory carriers — close relatives, civil society, and bureaucracy — into creators of memory, and therefore history makers.

One of the most striking examples of genealogical mnemonic, which became possible due to the post-memorial commemoration, as well as the digitalization of archival information about the war period, is the Immortal Regiment project, which symbolically connects national history and family memory. With the help of digitized archival data and virtual genealogy projects, many Russians are successfully reconstructing family history, especially when unknown circumstances of family history are felt as a “premonition” of family memory. The “incompleteness” of stories of a significant part of Russian families, primarily about the 1930—1950 time period, gives rise to a demand for historical authenticity, but the perception of the past through the circumstances of the lives of relatives makes such perception less “white-or-black”, calling for a balanced and “understanding” assessment of history, whatever it may be.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-141-162

Pages: 141-162

Historical Retrospective: Reflections and Hypotheses

A. A.Berlov

Development of the Approval Procedure for the Head of Russian Government in the 1990s

Keywords: Russia, 1990s, President, State Duma, approval procedure for the head of government

The article is devoted to the analysis of conflicts surrounding the approval procedure for the head of the Russian government in 1996—1999. The procedure was formed under the conditions of the acute confrontation between the President and the State Duma, with both aiming to fill the procedure with their own different content. While the presidential branch of power assumed that the appointment of the head of government was its prerogative, and the functions of parliament were purely advisory in nature, the deputies insisted on expanding their own participation in the process, demanding, in particular, that the State Duma should take part in determining a range of candidates proposed for its consideration.

The author documents the gaps in the mechanism for approving the head of government described in the 1993 Constitution and examines in detail the positions of the State Duma and the President on the procedure provided for by this mechanism. After that the author turns his attention to the conflict that occurred in August-September, 1998. According to his assessment, the legislative branch’s victory in this conflict was largely explained by the fact that, given the confrontation experience they already had with the president, the deputies began in advance to work out possible strategies for pressuring him. The launch of impeachment procedure and consultations with voters, the Federation Council, and extra-parliamentary political associations, appeared to be the most efficient strategies.

However, the State Duma’s victory was not consolidated at the institutional level. As a result, the legislative branch, out of all its gains, retained only ceremonial and consultative components of the approval procedure for prime minister. The presidential branch of power has returned all the positions it lost in 1998, regaining its decisive role in appointing the government.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-163-177

Pages: 163-177

Book Review

D. V.Efremenko

Who Would Grasp Balkans with the Mind? Belov M.V., ed. Historical Politics in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia. St Petersburg: Nestor-Istorija, 2022

Keywords: former Yugoslavia, historical politics, national identity, ethnonationalism, ontological security, mnemonic struggle, securitization of historical memory

The publication of the collective monograph “Historical Politics in the Countries of the Former Yugoslavia” is undoubtedly an important event both for political studies of historical memory and for Slavic and Balkan studies in Russia. Based on this monograph, D.Efremenko, using the example of the Western Balkan countries, reflects on the importance of the actor approach in memory studies, as well as on the role of historians in the formation of the collective memory of national communities. From his viewpoint, it makes sense to consider the phenomenon of post-Yugoslav “historical revisionism” discussed in the monograph not only as a substantive revision of the historiographic canon of Tito’s era, but also as a politically conditioned paradigm shift — the replacement of this canon with nation-centric historiographies.

According to Efremenko, the texts presented in the monograph clearly indicate that historical narratives still play a crucial role in political discussions, being an integral component of the ontological security of macropolitical communities. In particular, the Kosovo (Vidovdan) myth continues to exert a strong influence on the Serbian political leadership’s decision-making related to the resolution of the conflict in Kosovo and the country’s integration into the European Union. This example demonstrates that problems in the field of ontological security can possess serious consequences for confirming or changing the international status of a country, as well as maintaining reliability and sustainability of alliances and partnerships with other states.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-178-189

Pages: 178-189

S. M. Khenkin

Latin America: Swings of Political Pendulum Iwanowski Z.W., ed. Latin America: Political Landscape in the Midst of Turbulence. Moscow: ILA RAS, 2022

Keywords: Latin America, political regime, reshaping of political landscape, left turn, drift to the right, “second edition” of the left turn, struggle of political alternatives, “socialism of the 21st century”

The left and right, democratic, hybrid, and authoritarian systems, consolidated and unconsolidated democracies, rising giant-states and underdeveloped economies coexist in the region of Latin America and the Caribbean, which covers more than three dozen states that share common historical destiny, language, and religion. This makes the region a fertile ground for studying various types of regimes, political processes and alternative development paths in the modern world, as vividly demonstrated by the collective monograph “Latin America: Political Landscape in the Midst of Turbulence”, published at the end of 2022.

Based on a thorough analysis of the situation in the region, the authors of the monograph show that political life in Latin America is characterized by instability and constant reshaping of the political landscape. The strengthening of the positions of right-wing forces replaced the left turn of the 2000s, and since the beginning of the 2020s, the continent has again drifted to the left. The authors pay special attention to the following factors of turbulence in the development of the region: a natural-resource-based economy in most Latin American countries, poor quality of governance, a decline in trust in political institutions caused by regular corruption scandals, the criminalization of society, the increase in drug trafficking and violence, and the inability of law enforcement agencies to ensure citizens’ safety. Several chapters of the monograph are devoted to the varieties of regimes of the “21st century socialism” that exist in Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, as well as to the oldest socialist regime on the continent in Cuba.

According to the reviewer’s conclusion, with the publication of this monograph the readers received valuable work that allows them to better comprehend the essence of the complex political processes that take place in Latin America today.

DOI: 10.30570/2078-5089-2023-111-4-190-198

Pages: 190-198