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When the state is “mischievous” and “huge”

Когда государство «озорно» и «огромно»

On the question of responsible editor application “NG-scenario”, Yuri SOLOMONOV responsible researcher of the Department of state policy MSU, candidate of political Sciences Cyril TELIN.


– Kirill Olegovich, I have looked and listened to the YouTube channel of your very interesting lecture. It starts with the story about the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes. In 1651 this-materialist scientist published the book “Leviathan”. In the biblical interpretation of the word just described the terrible sea creature, but Hobbes gave him a much broader meaning. This word he outlined what we now call government… did I understand correctly?

– It is generally true. “Leviathan” in the mid-seventeenth century Hobbes really did call the government or the whole political order. Moreover, after nearly half a century, Alexander Radishchev in the famous book “Journey from St. Petersburg to Moscow” in his repeat gabrovsky a metaphor, denoting the modern state as a “monster oblo, mischievously, huge, stozevno and lay”.

– What two such a thinker could not (at different times) to weaken the impression of a powerful and frightening image of the monster that is bringing such a horror?

– This is a pretty terrible image, but you have to understand that and Hobbes, and Radishchev – each for their own reasons, deliberately exaggerate the “terror” of the state. It is important to note that we, of course, will not see any privalovskaya to the wall of Leviathan for our Windows, as there is no solid “losinogo” monster. And the main reason for this is that “statewest” is divided into small animals, each of which believes himself a cog in a huge machine, a faithful representative and bearer of public authority, that is power. “State” is always a very diverse ensemble, and at times, the orchestra in the spirit of Krylov’s fables, a donkey, a goat and, of course, clumsy bear. Our students – Yes, I think, and not only our – still teach the well-behaved, but quite meaningless to the formula: “the State is subject to state control.” And now to the end of life of citizens preoccupied with this mantra, referring to the “state,” which, as St. Petersburg in one song, and did something there. In fact, for the umbrella of the “state” hides a complex process, complicated relationship functioning authorities, and with his understanding of the “state” and its mission.

– That is afraid of the state as a monstrous monster of biblical proportions still do not?

– Us pushes to this one more circumstance: various authors – from American Scott to the Norwegian Ringen – have repeatedly stressed that we often overestimate the power of the state. Moreover, often overestimate themselves public figures – sometimes good, sometimes out of selfish motives. Because, honestly, most of their activities are the countless laws, orders, sentences, rules, legal acts which still need to apply and implement…

– But isn’t that the real work of government, as they say, on the ground?

– Well, that’s because Ringen writes, in a sense, in droves no official just never does anything. It indicates to others that they need to do. And when we unite with the position of the “dissociation”, the discreteness of the state, we receive a great many disparate directions – not only from the President, from the government, and certainly not only from members but also from those who deliver these solutions. And “deliver” in this case means “to explain” and “interpret” and “apply”…

But not all these interpreters are not included in the running at the top and to the bottom of the pyramid, or, as we say, the vertical of power? There is written for all levels of system authority.

System – that is, vertical in our minds regularly there. It is a pity that mostly only in the minds of it remains. We quite often see high-level officials meetings, I sincerely wonder: how is it that we’re wanted And, but it turned out B. Apply here Lyapkin-Tyapkina, let him answer! The whole state machine is initially focused on the fact that ordinary people are working primarily the lower “screws”, which are small, but all the same holders of power, its authority and power. They can always transfer the responsibility. They can be indicative to flog in the kennel, sorry, to resign. However, compensation for such inconvenience are the authority of a valid order of something – a sort of delegationa democracy in the form of nesting dolls.

– So you think that the state is not a monolithic entity but fragmented institution in which there are a variety of relationships and conflicts?

– Absolutely, and, of course, I think not only me. You may notice that this logic conflicts, discrepancies, conflicts of interest often gives rise to resonant conflicts. Official local level, a kind of sovereign, the janitor, makes a mistake, for example, makes the punishment unjust or undue initiative, then simply afraid to admit his mistake. It is more profitable and easier to come up with any reason, but would not have punished him. He talks about the subversive activities of Americans, about the intrigues of the liberal party, that not until the end we stood up…

But why such “vigilance” about “provocateurs, or the “fifth column” is almost always supported government, and any criticism of the latter is always met with hostility?


– It is just very clear. Remember the President once said about what are the lessons for foreign policy gave him of the street? Well, here is the same yard theme: “its not pass”, or, as one my good friend, “the Russian government before anybody on her knees,” including, unfortunately, its own citizens.

Just imagine that tomorrow will be a big interior cleaning… comrades in power will immediately have questions: wait a minute, what about vertical how to “unity for all and all for unity”? Why is the majority, and punish only me? For a modern system is acceptable, as in the good old days, the criticism of “individual excesses”. But the fundamental claim she just dismisses such neutralizing critics and declaring them to be Christ-or crazy. As Chaadaev in his time.

– Do you think that a large proportion of the conflicts are born in opposition to the regional or local authorities and the Federal Center. Could you give examples of such confrontation?

– We have one well-known example of such a confrontation is, of course, the Chechen Republic, which is financed, as we recall, directly by Allah, and often becomes an arena for the confrontation of the head of region and Federal authorities in the face of the mishustina, that Bastrykin. Moreover, it is significant that in most of such conflicts Pro-government media ignore them is significant. At least we have the Constitution and symmetrical Federation, but due to informal relations, personal acquaintances, “special provisions” some of the heads of regions are still more equal than others. A big mistake is to underestimate informal “underbelly” of any state authority, and only our even more.

If this is another issue of confrontation between the centre and the regions is, of course, the unsteady nature of Russian federalism, which is weaker than the centrifugal tendencies in the constitutional unitary Spain, for example. Governors we seem to be “first on the village”, it’s hard to argue, but we all know how to build most of them with the Federal government. The regions ‘ revenues are still heavily dependent on the will of the Federal Center and the powers they still “delegated”. Not to say that regional elites well accept it.

– Do you think that in modern States, in their relations among themselves and in relations to specific power with their specific society, yet a lot or a little archaic, neskorenykh vices, not the relevant time projects, etc.?

– You can, of course, to answer briefly and clearly: enough, but I think it is important to clarify two points. First, we are not passengers some flying in the bright future of the train which have been overcome in the past of the station and the station, so sometimes to separate “antiquity” from something “appropriate time” is very difficult. And second, we must understand that the “crumbling” state, we must recognize exactly the same as the convenient term “society”. There is no monolithic entity called “society” that would unite all citizens, all people, also does not exist.

– You mentioned sociologist James Scott, who wrote among other things about the phenomenon of stateless societies. Tell me, and we, the ordinary citizens that it is better and more profitable – lack of state or his annoying excess?

A very complex issue, although in this respect I comes to mind the remark of economist Andrei Kolganov: “In Russia the state is simultaneously too much and too little”. So we can say, at the same time suffer from lack and excess. The head is sweating, and the feet are cold.

Any teacher in a state University will not let me lie: accountability of our educational institutions is countless, monstrous mountain of papers, shapes and forms. Often with the same face of the representatives of the business even though I don’t quite agree with their demands “to abolish all the outdated rules”, but I understand that their are numerous reminders to conform to the “established order” is also tiring. Here we have the state, probably too much.

However, under certain difficult stories, we are literally physically feel the lack of the state. Guarantee real estate investors, state forests, support to the tourism sector, the issues of strategic development – here we perceive the symbolic, declarative presence of the state, but no more.

But any major upheaval or a crisis of statehood on the agenda until there are…


– You know, it depends what you mean by shocks and crisis. We have, I think, because of the events of the late 1980-1990’s crisis and the shocks are considered a sharp and very large-scale changes for the worse, accompanied by violence, hunger, financial collapse. But the same crisis can emerge years, even decades.

When Rozanov wrote that in a revolutionary time, a thousand years Russia has faded in a day or two, at most three, he was referring to how quickly collapsed the entire system of social life. Not denial, not agreement, not high yard plot – a collapse, the disintegration of everyday life. And Mature this decay can, in a statistically good times…

But what do you mean daily? All countries exist in some atmosphere, but not all apart…

– Yes, a lot depends on the conditions in which these countries are, what experience they have acquired and that is preceded by specific events. And yet for the gravest crises characteristic is not sharp, clicking, change, due, God forgive me, some imaginary ardent loyalists color revolution, but a slow but steady decline, a slide into depression. When you don’t pay taxes when you don’t respect authority (because it is not something to respect) when you cease to cooperate with each other… the responsibility for this lies not only on ordinary citizens, but primarily on the heads, that such processes do not notice or ignore.

– And how such processes in General can be seen?

Well, this is just too difficult not taking into account existing means of communication and information gathering. It is surprising, as we are simultaneously scared “digital concentration camp” and believe that innocent statesmen are doomed to focus not notice what is obvious to ordinary citizens.

We love to bandy numbers officials often say the average wage in Moscow almost 90 thousand lives, and in General Gorbachev’s “feast of the spirit”. And one can only wonder: well, you go the page-then, see how many in Moscow is the modal salary, which is the most common. And she, generally speaking, is three times lower. Swipe on, see what is the value of social security benefits, what is the degree of income inequality.

In other words, just enough deeper to analyze even so beloved statistics. Look at the GDP growth, and as incomes. Look at the figures of growth of credit, and the debt load of the layman. Look at the pathetic reports “from the field”, and what is said and written by people that you do not pay for reviews.

– That is, it is not that the government can not ignore, but rather about what she doesn’t want to do?

– Say vaguely, for such assumptions should have plenty of grounds. Here we can remember and long to tell you about specific logic “pravitelei” have been well studied in the social Sciences, but I will give an example easier.

Have a wonderful writer Philip K. dick is, “the Man in the high castle”, and one of the characters is very well exposes the observed order: “They are not interested in a man here, not some kid there. Only excite their abstraction: race, land, people”. This is a typical “pravitelei” optics – not the people, and the population, not the voice of citizens, and the statistics, not the quality of life, and sovereignty. Sometimes, however, this “authoritarian high modernism”, which was written about James Scott, emphasizes something else.


– What?

– Interest. Private, corporate, any… it is very suitable quote from “the Caucasian captive”: this is the coat, which we often confuse with the state. The political scientist Bob Jessop wrote that people’s desire to get to state power often due to a desire de facto to rename their interests in “national” or “state”. Let us remember, for example, a simple recent history with the sign “W”, without which about a year was impossible to drive with studded tires: we first explained why it is necessary and required, and then said that no, it’s not critical at all. And drivers already on the penny well spend – and probably not in the sand, and in certain pockets the money and left…

– And if this interest does not preclude the strengthening of the state? After all, as the saying goes, rising tide raises all boats…

– It is very important to notice two things. First, when we talk about strengthening of the state, it is important to be extremely accurate in expressions and understand how our unintentional words will respond. What does “strengthening the state” that citizens became better or that power unit was lycaste? What does “strengthening the state” – that we have overcome the old social evils, or that when saving the state became more efficient to extract from its status as a “rent”?

Briton Michael Mann at the time, proposed to distinguish between “despotic” and “infrastructural” understanding state power: in the first case the state is strong that can Bang the table and say “still gonna do it my way”, and secondly it is able to negotiate and look to society, in the manner of lovers, in the same direction. In our country, it seems more like arbitrary interpretation and “strengthening the state” is perceived in categories a firm hand, the vertical of power, etc. and here it is important to say the second thing: if you look closely at the state of the economy, the gradual erosion of political competition, for some absolutely outstanding arbitrariness in legal and even constitutional issues, it is possible to understand that, in most cases, under the “strengthening the state” hides a rather unpretentious performance. Not the gain as such, but rather his flashy, demonstrative simulation.

You can, for example, to crush NTV, oligarch Gusinsky and with the current hundred dollar billionaires, receiving the state contracts, the state awards continue to celebrate some victory over the oligarchs. Can you condemn for corruption individual Governor or the Minister – and the double-dealing of the others to say “the cleansing power”.

– Is this hypocritical opportunism…

Very precise wording. Hypocrisy is to show something according to what the survivors of the 1990s yearned: “order”, “statism” and “stability”. Opportunism is that yesterday claimed things tomorrow does not have to perform or simply to finish – remember, for example, we had an “expert intoxication” sovereign democracy? Well, where is she now? Where is “nationalization of the elite”, where Medvedev’s modernization, where reliance on “Putin’s plan”?.. Incidentally, let me remind you that this imitational brilliantly reveals that “Putin’s plan”, about which he, his title character said that “Putin’s plan” was invented in the United Russia for the election campaign. In this respect, I wonder how our Third Rome was mirrored from the first Rome: Cicero, I remember, called “to be rather than to seem”, and at the present time is much more valuable line is the opposite: we have the “party of power” that convinces everyone in his conservatism, it goes to the polls with the liberal agenda, we have the same statesmen are fighting with the populists, then they become themselves.

– And how dangerous this kind of behavior?

– I think the main danger is quite obvious: focus on the countless Potemkin village typical of the logic of the temporary worker, who explains to the residents: “While I’m here, let’s slightly improve the facade and come up with a good explanation as to why we limited to this. Yes though, because after me, as you know, the deluge.”

You know, a Latin American democratic transformations – in Brazil, in Argentina, for example, gave rise among the people of these countries, the belief that “if the junta was better, the order was Yes stability”, but in a democracy, all hopes and dreams went out the window. The blame was placed on the new government who even not do anything in time, and not old, that his ill-conceived campaign aimed at “tactical successes” policies brought the economy to handle.

But the imitation, that we would have seemed from the outside, well-read people – so it was in Soviet times, when “some pretend to work, while others pretend to pay”, as is the case now. Comes to what a professional in a certain area is ridiculous to look at the various declarations, this field is dedicated to: the doctor can not without irony to refer to the description of the “state of health”, the teacher – to the description of the “situation in education”, the farmer – to the description of the next big wins over reality in the field of agriculture.

Lincoln, it seems, is credited with the phrase that “it is possible some time to fool everyone all the time, you can fool a few, but we cannot fool all the people”. And here we have, as I see it, constantly trying to wipe it on such achievements.

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