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The main goals of reforming Russia during the last twelve years were the conduct of liberal market reforms and the creation of a democratic political system. Despite the noticeable progress achieved in this way, especially in the area of freedoms, the overwhelming majority of qualitative features of this system have not been achieved. In today's Russia, an oligarch bureaucratic system, which amazingly co-exists with private, delegative and illiberal democracy, conceals itself behind the façade of the formal legal and some institutional features of representative democracy and the division of powers. Russian and foreign researchers have suggested many concepts to explain what has happened. The overwhelming majority of them name Russia's lack of civil society as one of the main reasons for the failures of Russia's democratic transition. Only such a society may act as an equal partner of the state by seeking the character of its activities that are legal and responsive to the preferences and expectations of people.
The experience of forming Western-type democracies demonstrates that the essential conditions of creating a democratic political system and civil society underlying it are as follows:
1. Such an organization of political state power and public governance, under which all decisions being significant to the people of a country are made involving them.
2. The self-organization of society, the creation of effective non-governance institutions in such society that are independent from the state and that express the needs of the majority of social layers and groups.
3. A high level of assurance and protection of human rights and freedoms.
4. An ongoing dialog, agreement of interests and priorities between authorities and the population within the regularly updated and multilevel social agreements/contracts by and between them.
Although, following the international standards in the area of human right, the right of people to participate in the affairs of the state (first of all, through their participation in elections), and to self-organize (first of all, through the exercise of the right of association) is guaranteed by the Constitution of the Russian Federation, today's Russia is rather far from the model of participatory democracy and mature civil society. Instead of civil society, a fragmented socium still exists in the country. Governance authorities at all levels operate in the regime of secrecy from the population, they are not held accountable to the population, and public political power is tightly interwoven with private, financial economic power. Bureaucracy and corruption in bodies of public authorities have reached such levels that after many years of delay federal authorities were forced to start an in-depth administrative reform.
In many aspects, the efficiency of this reform will depend on whether we will recognize as its goals not only the accomplishment of accountability and transparency in the activity of governance institutions and officials employed in them, the acceptance of other criteria for the recruitment and promotion of officials, but also the creation of legal, informational and other conditions for the involvement of people in the preparation and application of managerial decisions. Good governance and full-scale democracy are only possible under the conditions of a true civil society, whose members are included in a dense network of public organizations and movements, and are comprehensively involved in politics and governance.
All of that means that the objective of changing the political conscience and behavior of Russians becomes critical at this stage of creating a true democracy and market economy in Russia. We are to look for ways to transit from today's informational consultative participation of people in politics and governance to a competent, deciding and effective one. To do so, we need to find ways and means to stimulate the socio-political structurization and self-organization of society and its members, to help to replace the passive paternalistic preferences of the majority of people with activistic ones, and to comprehend their group and common interests, and to arm Russian with democratic technologies of conducting negotiations and concluding public contracts with authorities at all levels.
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