Introduction

The Russian political science does exist. Outside Russia this statement may seem unfounded. Below we will endeavor to support our assertion and at the same time explain why it needs the ground.

The rudiments of the political science started to shape already in the late Soviet Union, although under a different name: what specialized political science could we talk about, if the answers to all questions were given in only one true doctrine, the official “scientific communism”? Nevertheless, even then in some academic institutions (more or less closely related to the CPSU Central Committee) there were people who used their position to publish (under the headings being absolutely perfect in terms of ideology) their research papers oriented towards totally different models, i.e. the universal standards of scientific quality. Sometimes they were succeeding although with a scanty circulation, and often distributed in semi-enclosed regime (the so called label “For Officstandardsial Use Only”). Clearly most often other countries were becoming the objects of these researches, primarily “developed capitalist” ones, as they used to put it. It was much more dangerous to deliver unprejudiced analytical evaluation of Russian society. Nevertheless, it was that time that the prototype of Russian political science was created at. By the way, within this edition the reader will find a text by one of those people who sowed these seeds, i.e. the book Germanskiy fashism (German Fascism) by Alexander Galkin published in 1967 was extremely popular in his time within the intellectual circles, not least because the totalitarian regime image presented in the book was directly related to the practices of the communist power.

The Soviet Union collapsed. The emergence of the public politics in its last years reasonably required new methods of its description and understanding. 90% of that was journalism and publicism; the democratic revolution is a bad time for the bird of Minerva. However, there were people seeking to make their profession and vocation nothing else but a responsible and disciplined science; they’ve received a long-awaited opportunity to write freely, and they’ve started to write. They are still writing.

The foreign political science literature flow into Russia has played a crucial invigorative role. A good deal of translations has appeared (it continues to multiply now); the books that earlier were kept under restricted access (one could get them only with the permission from the “competent authorities”) appeared to be at free public access in the libraries; finally, the borders were opened, and all of us after each trip are still coming back with our bags full of books. Russian political science seemed one step away from integration into the world science. Some people managed to do that, but only on the personal rather than institutional level; in general, the relations between Russian and world political science still remain asymmetrical. Over time it has become clear that more systematic and institutional efforts are required to accomplish this goal. The first result of one of such efforts is in front of you.

The thing is that in Russia people write in Russian. It is natural; but outside Russia it is almost exclusively Slavonic scholars who are able to read in Russian (which is also natural). We are totally aware that English is the main language of the global scientific communication; nevertheless, only few of us (rather tens, but by no means hundreds) seek to release their works to the domain of the colleagues of, so to say, “non-Cyrillic” countries. We suppose that such isolationism is harmful for the Russian political science. However, it was not the only reason to offer you this collection. We believe that our partnering countries are not benefiting from it neither.

Today the opinion about Russia, the political processes occurring inside and around it are mostly shaped by the external observers. The external look is often right, and we have no intention to disavow it. However, the truly comprehensive picture will be created only by adding the “participant observer” experience. The lack of such double-optical view provokes the risk of false evaluations, misunderstanding of the reasons for the current events, and wrong forecasts of the future. The political analysis is inseparable with the decisionmaking process in the sphere of politics; in this case the price for a mistake is extremely high. We would like to decrease the probability of such mistakes.

Thus Russian Public Policy Foundation has launched this project. Since 1996 we have been publishing the quarterly magazine Politeia which is one of the Russian most prestigious publications in the political science sphere. Aristotle’s term πολιτει′α was chosen as its name on purpose. Its both meanings are important for us: the one that calls for the broader view on the sphere of the political that embraces not only power institutions as such, but also contiguous political unions and alliances, as well as civil organizations (“a form of organization of the inhabitants of the state”)1 Aristotle. Politics.1274b, 36—39.1, and also the other one that tells us about the ideal of the mixed and moderate government that guarantees dignity and freedom to each citizen.

The first edition of the annual “Russian Polity” consists of the best articles published in our magazine in 2007—2008 and is dedicated to Russia and its relations with the closest neighbors. Before we move to their presentation, let us briefly stipulate one technical detail. Our authors quote works published in other languages: sometimes using the already existing translation, in other cases translating on their own. Of course, it would have been better to find the original equivalents to all of these quotes, but such a decision would have unacceptably extended the time period of the edition preparation. In those cases when it was possible to find the original text, we’ve done so, but in most cases we had to turn to the double, or reversed translation of the quoted fragments into English. We hope that there are no grave distortions and apologize to the foreign colleagues, whose texts became subjects to this operation.

The article of Leonid Fishman is dedicated to the criticism of today’s popular alarmist moods regarding the future of the Russian political science. Arguing with the authors who closely link emergence and development of political science to evolution of democracy, L.Fishman proves that political science appears as a result of the masses’ entrance to the arena of public politics, rather than the democratic institutes establishment. He believes that under modern conditions the “decline of democracy” does not mean the “demise” of the political science, because the power relations are always present (and research in this sphere can inspire political scientists) and the pluralism of paradigms that the political science borrows from other disciplines always leaves a possibility to immerse oneself into those fields of study that do not pose a direct threat to the regime, but at the same time serve as potential suppliers of concepts and methods for the political science itself.

Leonid Blyakher makes an attempt to reveal the hidden mechanisms that shape the basis of the “nostalgic” mood overwhelming the majority of spheres and aspects of the social life in modern Russia. In order to find out why the country that experienced such a radical shift towards the West in the 1990s turned back to the “sweet embrace” of the past and rejected era, L.Blyakher analyzes the specificity of the Russian political space. He searches for the roots of such specificity in the principle of organization and substantial characteristics of the Russian Center. According to his findings, the decisive role in the country’s history belongs to the fact that in Russia, unlike Europe, the secular and spiritual spheres were merged in the face of the Ruler who, being vested with the supreme secular power and at the same time having sacred religious status, was the main mediator between the proximal reality and the sphere of the transcendental. The study of the Russian political space itself is preceded by the brief analysis of the processes that determined structural features of the political space of Europe and the states at the world’s periphery.

The article of Nickolay Rabotyazhev covers the research on the geopolitical component of Russian Conservatism. Russian Conservatives' geopolitical concepts are reviewed in the interconnection with their historiosophic constructs and other aspects of the conservative worldview. Having thoroughly analyzed the ideas of I.Kireevsky, A.Khomyakov, N.Danilevsky, K.Leontiev, N.Ustryalov, I.Ilyin, the Eurasianists, the representatives of the Communist Party patriotic faction and the modern “white” Conservatives (V.Aksyuchits, N.Narochnitskaya, K.Myalo etc.) N.Rabotyazhev comes to the conclusion that although the Russian Conservatism development was far from being linear it’s possible to speak about a certain continuity of the Conservative thought in this country. In his opinion, the Russian Conservatives are usually characterized by the organic understanding of the society and the rejection of liberal individualism; and their geopolitical views are based on the idea of Russia's original historical way and its contrast to Europe (that is often transformed into the more or less expressed anti-Western moods) as well as on the belief in the messianic predestination of the Russian people and (quite often) pan-Slavism.

Ivan Zabaev’s text traces possible channels of religious factor influence on the specific Russian version of socialism formation. Using the logics of M.Weber’s work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism”, I.Zabaev reveals the categories that played the dominating role in people’s consciousness in the pre-revolutionary Russia. According to his conclusion, these categories were “obedience” and “resignation”. It was obedience and resignation that are enabling the salvation (main value in Orthodoxy) of an Orthodox person. In everyday life such orientations were easily transformed into the readiness to obey the “superior”. Once elaborated, they turned to be quite stable and, being separated from their religious roots, ensured a sort of asceticism on the secular path.

Yury Krasin analyzes the impact of social inequality on the Russian political process. Yu.Krasin speaks about the Russian phenomenon of the “excessive inequality” conditioned by poverty and scrutinizes its consequences such as “culture of inequality” that coming into politics creates the atmosphere of intolerance and confrontation, stays in the way to the national unity and destroys the basics of civil solidarity; and “political poverty”, i.e. the exclusion of the bigger part of the population from the public sphere, the loss of the ability to represent one’s interests before the society and the state. Although the “poor Russia” keeps silent, in the depth of the society dangerous processes are engendering and the energy of protest is being accumulated, without getting openly into the political sphere and it is expressed in the socially deviant behavior (drug addiction, alcoholism, crime, religious fanaticism, etc.). Yu.Krasin believes that such forms of protest are as detrimental as a revolt since they exhaust the creative potential of the people, thereby challenging the future of Russia.

Believing that the innovative development is a “categorical imperative” for states aimed at maintaining and strengthening their positions in the world community, Alexander Galkin conducts a detailed analysis of the obstacles that prevent Russia from joining this path: ranging from the deficit of highly qualified labor force and lamentable state of the Russian science to the specificity of the Russian elite’s consciousness and particular features of the mass perception. The article provides compelling evidence that the country’s transition to the innovative development requires such setting of strategic priorities that would differ from the one that can be traced in the relevant official statements. In order for the innovative development to become a reality, the minefield of problems should be cleared, and the necessary social and political institutes capable of securing the success of the undertaken efforts should be established.

The article of Vladimir Rimsky is based on the series of empiric studies conducted by the INDEM Foundation since the late 1990-s with the direct participation of the author. Rimsky addresses the problem of understanding the corruption, especially within its current national interpretation. The author sees the specifics of Russian corruption in its strong link with the bureaucratic system of public administration. The article is focused on the factor of the underdevelopment of power and property with its deep historical roots. The author also dwells on the formation and widening of the corruption networks that control the significant resources. Rimsky is sure that it is only the system approach that can combat corruption. In particular, this phenomenon cannot be curbed without reformation of the bureaucratic administration system and its adaptation to the solution of real problems in the country.

 

Ella Paneyakh attempts to interpret the process that is called the law enforcement using the relations between the tax inspectors and businessmen in the post-Soviet Russia as an example. The empiric base of the study was the series of the autobiographic interviews with businessmen from Saint-Petersburg, Moscow, Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk, and Leningrad region. E.Paneyakh analyzes the institutional consequences of inconsistency, changeability and inapplicability of the Russian laws. She shows what the Russian officials really control and how this control is carried out under the situation when it is not possible to get the full law enforcement. The author reviews the informal rules that regulate relationships between businessmen and officials and the pressure techniques used by the officials from the law enforcement bodies with an aim to force counteragents to fulfill the informal conventions. E.Paneyakh concludes that the existing informal practices of dealing with the formal law have already been institutionalized, which makes them independent from the quality of the formal laws.

As Tatiana Evgenyeva and Antonina Selezneva show, one of the specifics of modern Russia is the actualization of the “enemy image” in the mass consciousness. It is in particular expressed in the growth of radical nationalism and xenophobia, especially among the youth. On the basis of social identity theory the authors assume that this tendency is the consequence of the Russian youth’s value vacuum that emerged after the USSR’s collapse. They believe that it is the absence of the value system, which the society could unite around, that created a favourable atmosphere for the negative identification through the “enemy image”.

The article of Elena Potapchuk covers the analysis of causes and consequences of the weak regional participation in the introduction of new political metaphors. According to the author, the “muteness” of the regional authorities is caused by the federal structures political “deafness”. The process of designing political metaphors within the regional policy has to sublimate into the demand of the practical solutions to the specific problems. As it is shown in the article, such approach is far from being harmless since by rejecting political initiatives regional politicians actually transfer their functions of strategic planning to the center that is not always able to take into account the regional specificities. Apart from that, the political center and regional authorities appear to speak in a different language, thereby breaking the unified communication code that is responsible for the contacts inside the system.

On the basis of the approach combining elements of the political, literary and sociological studies, Boris Stepanov analyzes Alexander Prokhanov’s novel Mr.Hexogen as a form of the ideological search, and tries to find out how the novel identifies value lacunas and the ways to fill them in. Viewing Prokhanov’s novel as a sort of a symptom reflecting such features of the public consciousness of the 2000-s as sacralization of power, simulative nature of politics and its media-oriented character, vagueness and indistinctness of the political oppositions and a strive for constructing a holistic ideology that turns into the eclectic combination of the prepared ideologies of various origins, the author not only analyzes the literary construct constituted by the symbolic work of Prokhanov being the chief editor of the Zavtra newspaper, but also reviews the evaluation of this construct by the various interpretative communities representatives.

Victor Kovalev attempts to determine domestic political discourses based on the analysis of the science fiction works. According to V.Kovalev, in the modern Russia, where due to the narrowing of the public politics and political competition spheres the opposition is gradually being deprived of the opportunity to follow the rules of democratic polities, and real politics is increasingly falling back into the shadow, science fiction is virtually becoming an ideal object for revealing the society’s political discourses, especially those of the oppositional nature.

The article written by Svyatoslav Kaspe is a provocative text built on the comparison of the current position of the Commonwealth of Independent States with the situation in the early Medieval Europe of about 5—9th centuries. The basis for such defiant analogy is the qualification of both situations as the post-imperial. Using the method and terms of Edward Shils, S.Kaspe demonstrates that the deficit of value legitimacy is the general problem of the political organisms finding themselves in such situations, whereas the search for an external center that could become the source of such legalization is a general objective. The author considers the “Western empire” as the only realistic and at the same time acceptable candidate for such role and believes that Russia’s acquiring the status of one of its plenipotentiary subcenters would be an optimistic scenario.

Kirill Koktysh presents the comparative study of the ontological bases of Russian and Belarusian regimes. Having performed the detailed analysis of the value systems and worldviews of Russian and Belarusian power elites, K.Koktysh comes to the conclusion that despite their asymmetry (monetary context as the worldview basis in Russia and public and political one in Belarus) they are quite symmetrical in terms of the macro-constructs. In both cases we observe a certain symbiosis of the mutually controversial logics of decision-making and decision-legitimization, but the logic of the latter rejects in essence the logic of the former, and therefore, the use of such logic will inevitably lead to the erosion of the very system of decision-making. According to the author, such situation suggests that both countries have not finished the “transition” yet; now they are going through the inter-project stage, and the range of the “transition’s” failure options has increased since a number of more favorable scenarios have already been missed.

Based on the analysis of the data obtained from the public opinion polls conducted by the “Eurasian monitor” in 2005—2007, Igor Zadorin comes to the conclusion that the former USSR’s population’s new perception of integration just started to develop. The article provides a convincing proof that the choice of one vector of integration or another (or autonomous development without joining alliances and unions) is to a great extent influenced by the current economic situation in the state (its deterioration results in a much greater inclination towards integration), as well as the economic successes and/or failures of the major centers of gravitation, i.e. Russia and the European Union. According to the author, the process of gaining sovereignty in the post-Soviet space has not exhausted itself yet, and juxtaposing it with the process of integration implies that the latter will be threatened with discredit and deception. New integration not being based on the common past should be thoroughly prepared and argued for, because its expediency is no longer obvious for the population and requires explanations and proves.

The article of Valery Dubovtsev analyzes threats to Russia that are described by the modern political scientists and publicists. Not claiming to give a comprehensive analysis of the empirical facts that allow to evaluate the level of the specific threats, V.Dubovtsev views his objective in analyzing the validity of arguments provided by different authors and, upon excluding the rhetoric, obtaining some generalized image of the possible threats constituting the real context of the country’s development. The basis for the research study was provided by the materials of the discussion “The Russian State: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow” organized by the “Liberal Mission” Foundation as well as by the separate works of the liberally and pro-governmentally oriented experts.

Natalia Ryzhova and Natalia Simutina provide arguments evidencing that Blagoveshchensk — Heihe (the Russian and Chinese cities) area might be interpreted as crossborder. The border plays a contact rather than barrier function; migration, mostly the floating exchange, is growing, commodity and cash flows are increasing, and the citizens of both territories actively interact with each other making profits out of the border resource. At the same time, it is indicated that these processes take place in the institutionally indefinite cross-border field. As a result, the crossborder interaction is often of the informal nature and is based on the Chinese priorities.

These rather diverse texts are united by the high scientific quality and absolute lack of the political bias. We hope that the acquaintance with them will provide you with more comprehensive and more carefully drawn picture of Russian politics. We suppose that the image of Russian political science will also become more adequate. We would like to express our gratitude to the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, which grant made the edition possible. In 2010 the second annual edition will be published.