Why has Russia not transited todemocracy? Evaluating Fukoyama’send of history
Plan• Introduction• History-Marxism-leninism-Stalinism-Gorbascev• Post soviet union political environment• Failure of liberal reforms.• Return to increasing authoritarianism.
Introduction• Geographically, the biggest country in the world. Most ofthe population in Europe, and most of the territory in Asia(Eurasia)• 4/5th are ethnically Russian and the rest are of otherethnicities fighting for more independence• Identity crisis a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma (W.Churchil) Unpredictable, confusing. Western/non western debate.“idealism of Russian soul’’ Economic growth under Putin improved public mood but atthe expense of greater authoritarianism thus lashing anyhopes for transition to democracy.
History-what went wrong?• Failed experiment of Marx’s communism?But what is Marxism?• dialectic materialism-class struggle over material resourcesshape history. All fighting essentially for economic interests.• History of mankind is the history of means of production(slavery-feudalism-CAPITALISM)• Critical of capitalism-alienating, exploiting labor, hoardingsurplus value.• The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains! Theyhave a world to win! Working men of all countries, unite!
Marx reloaded…• But Marx did not lay down the post revolutionframework of running the society• In Marx’s revolution, other cleavages likeethnicity, religion etc were to be submergedwith the proletarian revolution
Russia welcomes Marxism• Early industrialization phase. Only 8% wereproletariats but in miserable safety, legalconditions as compared to western counterparts• Workers and intelligentia’s disposition wasconsistent with Marx’s ideas. Russia-a ripeground for revolution• Bolshevic revolution 1917 (Lennin). One partyrule with democratic centralism model. AntiBolsheviks, anti communism factions werebanned. After a civil war, finally soviet unionformulated in 1923.
Stalinism• Heir of Lenin• Three opposition movementsLeft-Trotsky=revolutionery momentum to becarried on to western Europe.Right-Bukharin=a gradual evolutionary socialism byimproving efficiency even by retaining the alreadyowners of factories i.e. the capitalists and lettingpeasants produce freely.The centre or orthodox=both rationalized economicpolicies as well as spread of revolutionary idealsof 1917.
Stalin cont…Stalin’s position• “Socialism in one country”. Trotsky and Bukharin expelled.5 year planning system• Agricultural collectivization-peasants were leftovers of classstruggle. Assaults and take over of peasant lands,livestocks. 1932 , famine killed millions and finally party’scontrol over food.• centrally planned production targets for every manager andworker within the Soviet Union• During the First Five-Year Plan, an industrial infrastructurewas built inthe Soviet Union in an incredibly short period oftime
Stalin’s legacy (1952)• A superpower against west (cold war).Industrial production matched with West• Years of dictatorship and terror had killed offwhatever popular enthusiasm had onceexisted for heroic efforts to “build socialism’’
Count down to the fall• Rampant corruption, black market. Immobilityof institutional authorities. Some stayed till lifetime.• By the mid-1970s, the Soviet economybecame dangerously dependent upon energyexports and sales of vodka• Afghan war• International pressures (evil empire)
Gorbaschev-last blow to sinkingempireLiberal reforms, undertaken by Premier MikhailGorbachev, reduced the power of the state:• Perestroika: Reduced state control over the economy• Glasnost: Reduced state control over information(media) and citizens’ political activityGoal = Maintain Communist rule by modernizingeconomy and devolving power. 1990 key:a. Flawed elections create enormous pro-Communist(anti-reform) bloc in the legislature (supreme Soviet)b. Gorbachev and liberals (pro-Western/pro-democracy) repeal Article 6 of Soviet constitution –allows emergence of formal political parties
Toward free market and privatizationunder Yeltsin• Running on a platform of greater democracy andmarketization, Yeltsin gained 90 percent of thevotes in his Moscow electoral district.• Yeltsin’s calculation: devolve power to Republics(some of which want to secede). ReduceGorbachev’s power by undermining authority ofcentral government. Becomes president in 1991.• Hardliners support coup which fails to bring downYeltsin.
Battle against parliament• Yeltsin proposes “shock therapy” economic reform in1992: rapid privatization and lifting price controls inflation central bank raises interest rates to suckmoney out of the economy recession• Communists block some policies in the RussianParliament (Supreme Soviet and Congress of People’sDeputies).• 1993: Yeltsin assumes “special powers” to implementreforms by decree• parliament impeaches. Yeltsin dissolves it. Militarysides by him
Privatization failure1. Weak institutions• Weak legal framework for corporate governance• Political uncertainties2. Managers had an incentive to maximize theirshort-term capital gains by selling assets forpersonal gain rather than keep the enterprise asa going concern and maximize future profitsthus decapitalizing the enterprise at the expenseof other (smaller) shareholders.
economic costs and increasingconcentration Real wages, down threefold since 1992!• By summer 1996, most shares in Russiaslargest firms transferred to a small number ofmajor banks (and their owners) at shockinglylow prices.• In Russia today, these “oligarchs” control up to85% of the value of the countrys leadingprivate companies.• Democracy hijacked!
Hijack con…• Private media is owned by oligarchs supportsYeltsin in 1996 elections.$500m spent howeverlaw limited it to $3m.• West supports Yeltsin due to his privatization andfree market economic model. Loan of $10bgranted• Yeltsin wins. But cancels all promises madeduring campaign.• 1998 economic collapse (aftershock of Asian crisis) =anti-Yeltsin sentiment. Oligarchs turn on him fearingreforms. Yeltsin resigns.
Putin’s eraa. Unity: New “party of power” formed 3 monthsbefore 1999 election– active assistance from• then President Yeltsin• then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin– Combines elements of platforms of all otherparties (non-ideological party) – draws supportfrom past centrists and nationalists
Party cleavages• No successful party emphasizes freedom ordemocracy:• Nationalists advocate authoritarian state torepress internal enemies of Russia,Communists want return to commandeconomy, and• Unity just wants people to support thegovernment
. Recentralisation Construction ofan unitary state• Presidential representatives in regions. Pressures onregional leaders.• Creation of federal districts: aiming at increasing thefederal government’s presence in the regions• New Tax Code: Greater control over taxreceipts and greater share of taxes going to thecentre
Bye bye civil society• Regional media absorbed into federally-runmedia. Most of the mass media economicallyor politically dependant on government.Massacres and massive human rightsviolations in Chechniya kept secret.• Bye to independent workers unions. FNPR =central organization of unions, left over fromSoviet Union. No significant internal reform todate.• 2001: Labor code restricts non-FNPR unions
Bye, Rule of law• Putin issues decrees with no obvious source ofConstitutional authority• Putin targets any oligarchs that oppose him(i.e. give money to political opponents) butnot those that support him or stay out ofpolitics
In a nutshell• Accumulation of power in the presidency• Prime minister merely auxilary of the “omnipotent”president• No opposition in Parliament (death of partypluralism)• Weak civil society• The Judiciary: not independent, ineffective, corrupt• Central government and bureaucracy as solution foreverything, overcentralisation• Additional effects of the war in Chechnya on thepolitical system: reinforcement of already existingauthoritarian pattern, cult of personality,nationalism, centralism
Personality cults• October 2009 poll:– 23%: All the signs of a personality cult aroundVladimir Putin already exist.– 26%: More and more conditions are being createdfor such a personality cult– 38%: No sign of a personality cult– 12% undecided
When will Russia become a democracy?Russians’ opinions (2004):• 18% - never• 10% - it is a democracy already• 5% - in 5 years• 23% - in 15-20 years• 13% - in 20-50 years• 8% - in more than 50 years
Towards conclusion• Russia is not a democracy in transition. It’s system of semiautocracy that ‘works’.• According to Nations in Transit 2004, President Putin’spolicies “have sought to centralize power, leaving littleroom for a vibrant civil society, independent media, orpolitical opposition… While Russia has emphasized theimportance it places on maintaining strong ties to the West,it is headed in an increasingly authoritarian direction.”• Examples: repression of NGO’s, of independent media,important influence on elections by Government
Fukuyama questionedRussia is not democratic. The so called “Democratization” was ameans used by elites (Gorbachev then Yeltsin) to defeat opponents.History is not ended!