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[The Political Analysis of Postcommunism. Kyiv: Political Thought, 1995, pp. 13-50.]

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Chapter 1.

The Political Philosophy of the Postcommunist Era

Introduction Yevhen BYSTRYTSKY. 1-5 Yevhen BYSTRYTSKY, 6 Alexandr ZINOVIEV, 7 Oleh BILYI.




Periods of considerable social and political changes are always accompanied (preceded or crowned) by transformations in the political philosophy of society. By the latter one should understand not only such by-products of rationalization in the guise of numerous social theories and scholarly constructs but also those forms of mass experience and popular self-understanding on which are based the legitimacy of the whole bulk of collective existence, the recognition of social institutions, and expectations of certain social and political reforms and events. It is at first obvious that in the everyday practice of relationships and attitudes toward oneself, truly tectonic latent, invisible changes in the course of history are stored up and at certain historical junctures suddenly surface and erupt onto the political landscape as cataclysms revolutionary transformations of society, which then have to be recorded, theoretically understood, and explained.

Initial steps toward attaining mass understanding and public discussion attempts to create the social conditions for awakening the individual (Gorbachev-era glasnost against the background of the so-called Brezhnev "period of stagnation") were no doubt, indicators of the social and economic crisis of the "communist project," which were only the first signs of coming profound and radical changes. The demolition of the Berlin Wall and the "wall of silence" around the little man of the "great" Soviet people resulted in the public articulation of all the latent individual and /16/ collective moods, desires, wills, and expectations which constituted the basis of the social legitimation of the previous political system, political order, and political institutions. This is why the changes that have occurred in this period in the language, public discourse, and mass media constitute a watershed and the institutional consolidation of essential transformations in society's political sphere as a whole.

People's awareness of their national/ethnic and cultural identity has assumed great significance in altering the system of political legitimation in the postcommunist period. Political philosophy and the practice of legitimizing postcommunist authority are indissolubly linked with unflagging attention to problems of ethnic identification, national culture, and nationalism.

Society's "idiosyncrasy" of Soviet Bolshevik ideology and, at the same time, to the political theory of classical Marxism freed up the intellectual sphere, which was then flooded by hasty and foolish revisions of the old political textbooks on scientific communism and historical materialism, by "theoretical" quests for a "particular" ethnospecific "third road" to the future, or by the unsystematic and superficial borrowing of terms from the vocabulary of Western political philosophy like "democracy", "parliamentary system", "rule of law", "law-governed state", "civil society", etc.). All this points to the need for a radically different approach to and understanding of the postcommunist experience.

The essence of this chapter resides in the analysis of the conceptual and theoretical foundations for understanding postcommunist political realities, the ethnic and cultural factors shaping the current regimes, and a critical assessment of the verbal modes of political discourse in the postcommunist period.









Theoretical Foundations for Understanding Postcommunism


1. The Concept of Postcommunism


Beginning with the Modern period and that of the socalled bourgeois revolutions, the awareness of historically decisive discrepancies between the conscious, i.e., rationally goal-oriented socially significant acts and actions of individuals (as "rational beings") and the unforeseen consequences of their common collective life (as "political animals") in time led to the formulation of the classical or the Modern type of socio-political theory and political philosophy in general. Its distinctive peculiarity (already laid down by the Modern period in the socio-political genesis of political science) lay in the fact that political theory, from its very inception, was designed to accomplish a dual task: first, to lay bare the rational structure, an essence or general law, of the motive forces of society and of its cataclysms and, second, to construct such a system of political knowledge and ideas (ideology), on the basis of which the collective forms of human life could acquire purposefulness and rational predictability. It is precisely in the political theory of the philosophers of that era that the motto, "knowledge is power," which dates from that time, reveals its true meaning as a total will to power in the form of a projected domination over reality based on rational control over the latter.

A system of universal, world-view certainties, of general assumptions, "foremeanings" or "prejudices" (H.G. Gadamer) arose, on the basis of which all further empirical judg-/18/ments about the structure of the world as a whole and especially on the law-governed nature of social life, the factors affecting its development, and the possibility of comprehending it scientifically. We call such a system of assumptions (interpretative framework) the project of the Modern, which characterizes the possibilities of historical development in a dialectical spirit. The issue is primarily one of understanding history as progress in human self-understanding, of the idea of emancipation through progress of the Mind, science (or social action led by scientific knowledge as in Marxism), and also of the attainment by such means of maximal material and spiritual welfare.1 This ideological foundation (beginning with Spinoza, Hobbs, the Enlightenment philosophers up to and including Hegel, Marx, Comte, Spencer, and so forth) makes up the basis of political thought, the political ontology of the project of the Modern. Its collapse is experienced by the postcommunist political being as the destruction, first of all, of the ideology and theory of a rationally understandable (scientifically-planned) organization of "politics" in the broadest sense.

The period following the break-up of the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc, following the collapse of the communist system as a whole, is linked by contemporary social and political thinkers to the termination of a certain historical epoch. Both its content and the plurality of new social, geopolitical, economic, cultural and existential realities which have emerged and are emerging before our eyes, replacing the simple bipolar macropolitical concept of confrontation between two world systems "communism" and "capitalism" are currently the focus of political studies, ideas, and projections. The global nature of these transformations, which touch the political life of virtually the whole world and entail tangible changes in peoples' ways of life in the former socialist countries and far beyond, gives every reason to view our time as the postcommunist era in world history.

Unlike those political scientists who treat postcommunism as a spontaneously coined and vague term applied for the sake of more convenient description of tumultuous current developments in the so-called postcommunist states, our /19/ journal endows the concepts of postcommunism and postcommunist era with universal theoretical content, promising methodological value, and great heuristic potential.

To begin with, its semantics reflect the feeling of a certain cultural epoch coming to an end, which is 'today universal. Beginning, if not with Nietzsche and Heidegger, then more distinctly with Guardini, Lyotard, Derridas, Eco and other modern philosophers, this feeling was expressed in common images of the end of morality, metaphysics, ideology, of the end of new times, and in its generalized form it got fixed in the socio-humanitarian thought in the image of the universally known today "post-modern." In our opinion, historian and political scientist Francis Fukuyama resorted to a typically post-modern image of the end of history, indicating an intrinsic connection between the notions of the post-modern and postcommunism.

Unlike the post-modern, however, postcommunism has explicit enough sociopolitical content. Proceeding from the historical fact of the end of the communist system, it also points to the termination of a great all-European epoch marked by a certain political ideology and methodology of political thought, which evolved in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries concurrently with Utopian and the Enlightenment belief in the possibility of a rationally organized society based on scientific planning and total control. With the collapse of communism, whose ideology and content were oriented toward a maximal imposition of these classical foundation of West European ontology on reality, albeit through police and state coercion, torture and violence, the inadequacy of classical political thought also comes to light. The postcommunist era calls for qualitatively new, non-classical attitudes for its scientific and theoretical substantiation and potential political prognostication and management.

In terms of political theory, alongside the notion of a postcommunist era we encounter a different type of political thinking which Mikhail Gorbachev, unwilling to part with the communist epoch, traditionally dubbed "new thinking." All the subsequent events of communism's overall debacle proved, however, that no renovation of the old political /20/ model and established patterns of political thought could bring us closer to a true picture of current political changes and transformations.

Thus, secondly, the concept of a postcommunist era does not reflect some "new" state of the "old" society, "modernized" or "renovated" according to various previously known types of scientific and political prescriptions. It reflects and this is especially noteworthy our time as a still obscure, theoretically unexplained epoch in world development as a whole and not just of "postcommunist" civilization. This means, for example, that the classical linear scheme of explaining the contemporary stage in postcommunist society in customary terms of historical "succession," "progress," or "regression," indicating forward or backward motion, is, to say the least, insufficient. Attempts to explain postcommunism through comparison to either the so-called period of primary capital accumulation, or to modernization similar to post-war reconstruction in Western states, always miss the target in real life. The postcommunist era requires new explanations, methodological approaches, and analytical tools. Here post-modern philosophy and post-classical social thought can be of great help. Today's political and geopolitical map of the world seems closer to a pluralistic discourse, an interaction between different cultures and civilizations with equally worthy historical gains, which is relied upon by present-day research in the humanities, than to the classical idea of rationally realized advance by all nations toward a single perfect society.

Likewise, it is hardly possible to account for the current upsurge of nationalism, and the formation of new nation-states by mere reference to Romanticism as the classical ideology of the nineteenth century national movements. In all these instances we have to deal not merely with novelty nor with what could be called "the everyday modern," but with historically unprecedented sociopolitical phenomena.

Hence, thirdly, the concept of postcommunism implies the accumulation of special political experience, whose historical analogues if any are hard to find. And the experience we are going through here, in the focus of postcom-/21/ munist life, is the most vital and the most indicative for contemporary political thought. Four or five years of postcommunism have vividly demonstrated that there are certain trends and certain political practice inherent in it, which, in fact, cannot yet be scientifically and theoretically interpreted because of a lack of relevant forms and standards. The first step in this direction is understanding the basic methods for analyzing the postcommunist experience.





2. The Starting Point for a Political Philosophy of Postcommunism


Today, it is common knowledge among political theorists that, along with the epoch-making changes of 1989 and 1991, an urgent need has arisen to examine anew the fundamental premises, notions, and theories of modern political science as well as the latter's attempts to define the nature and proper forms of political life.2 Moreover, there is every reason to argue that the problem lies not only in changing a professionally delineated social idea, political science, but also in a global change in the ideational reference points and methods of organizing present-day philosophical thought in general, which, not by accident, coincide in time with the "postcommunist revolutions" in Central and Eastern Europe. Politics, law, the state, and ethics comprise the institutions of the shared life of those we now place under philosophical scrutiny.

These discernible shifts in defining the central subject-matter of philosophical thought are of the same fundamental importance as the orientation of philosophy, beginning with the Modern period, toward the norms and ideals of rigorous cognitive style, canons, and rules in the explanation of Nature, elaborated in mathematical experimental study of natural history as well as in the field of the social sciences (Francis Bacon, Descartes, Hobbs). Recall that Marx and Engels undertook to develop "scientific communism" and "the materialistic (scientific) understanding of history" precisely because, in their typically Modern approach, accounts of social phenomena had to have objective certainty equal to that of the explanations of Nature provided by the natural /22/ sciences. Based on quite different premises, this century's logical positivism cultivated this same approach in the scientific explanation of social phenomena.

The current attention to politics in the widest sense of the term (as a universal mode of organizing social life, dating as far back as the ancient polis) holds fundamental significance for philosophical thought. The transfer of politics to the center of attention in the social sciences is equal to the discovery of the volitional basis of various forms of human self-identification in the world, made by Schopenhauer and Nietzsche on the basis of the nineteenth century Romantic revolution in culture (the arts, music, and world view in general) and in direct relation to the national-liberation movements of the 1848 Springtime of Peoples in Europe and national awakenings. The turning of contemporary thought to political life is no less important than Husserl's discovery of the crucial significance of everyday experience, the world of life (Lebenswelt), for the human understanding of all notably social phenomena, which produced offshoots in phenomenological sociology (A. Schiitz, and in the 1960s and 1970s also M. Silverman, D. Phillipson, and others). The current "discovery" of politics is methodologically no less important than the formulation of the principles of the hermeneutic understanding of cultural phenomena (Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer) that proceeded from the recognition of a peculiar humanitarian method of cognition in the field of historical and philological sciences or the so-called Geisteswissenschaften or moral sciences. The postcommunist transformations of society and natural process of a broad complex of political issues coming to the forefront of intellectual life vividly demonstrate that political philosophy assumes the role of a fundamental paradigm for defining the ideational reference points for theoretical thinking in general and of social cognition, in particular.3 However, the postcommunist thematization of political life (and possibly today's focusing of philosophical thought on political matters in general) cannot be accounted for by a simple borrowing or application of explanatory patterns elaborated by the previously mentioned precursors, to say nothing of the inertia /23/ of old habits of the simplistic interpreting of political problems in terms of the old "class analysis." The very situation of postcommunism is a visible result of those invisible sociocultural changes in society which are difficult or practically impossible to describe using the formulae of classical sociopolitical theories.

For all the complexity of these problems, one thing remains rather obvious and beyond doubt. Postcommunist transformations point, first and foremost, to changes in the very foundation of identity and social coherence4 of political agglomerations, communities, and the nature of the political interconnection of people. The place of the monistic system of identification, universal in its criteria of affiliation (with "a single socioeconomic formation" "socialism, real socialism, the communist camp," "fraternal multinational family of the peoples," "socialist camp," etc.) of the system of identification and the political regime, totally leveling and egalitarian in its socio-economic and legal aspects ("socialist equality of people," so-called "free" medical care, education, housing, etc., "socialist legality") has been appropriated by a new social aggregate. This can be adequately accounted for in terms of the non-Modern world view.

On the one hand, this was a collapse, the disintegration of a large system of political identification and cohesiveness (the Soviet Union, the socialist camp, the communist world view and ideology) or, in the words of Jean-François Lyotard, with the delegitimation of "great narratives of speculation and emancipation."5 This ruining takes place side by side with the destruction of reality and, at the same time, the illusion of existence of a simple homogeneous social whole based on liberty, equality and fraternity, simplistically interpreted in Bolshevik practice. On the other hand, this was a manifestation of new political communities, which emerged on the territory of the former USSR; the newly-independent postcommunist states, whose integrity, cohesiveness, and identity, along with problems of self-identification and self-determination, also require essentially non-classical (i.e., non-Modern) methods of description and cognition, as do the definitions of their political, geopolitical and world /24/ economic relations in the changing interaction of present-day nations, cultures, and civilizations.





3. The Inadequacy of Traditional Philosophical and Methodological Approaches


The non-Modern character of the political analysis of postcommunism does not imply only some self-sufficient terminological revolution, radical change in the traditional logic of theoretical description, or turning to some hitherto unknown methods of political studies. The postcommunist situation indicates a single but dramatic alteration in the world political map and that only a new constellation of already extant philosophico-methodological approaches can adequately describe postcommunist political experience. Due to the very manner of its "pluralistic" accumulation and existence, it cannot be reduced to a monistic universal pattern of explanation.

But such a constant gravitation toward the peculiar "methodological solipsism" of a single approach can be frequently found in current political science literature in both the East and West. Thus, the term postcommunism is often used as a simple designation of the transition period from the previous Soviet communist society (political regime) to what is assumed to be the normal democratic way of organizing society. The concept is thereby denied independent, positive meaning. Postcommunism becomes, so to speak, only a transitional amorphous designation of the road from one definite social system (communism) to some other definite social system of contemporary developed societies.

On the other hand, it is thought that postcommunism is simply an accidental mutation of communist society, an unsuccessful, subjective, and thus accidental experience of the ruin of an in principle viable, if somewhat incomplete, socioeconomic system (Alexander Zinoviev). Such views are justifiable insofar as they make it possible to critically examine the postcommunist world as a whole, i.e., to comprehend that, first, "communism" may lay claim to undoubted historical achievements and merits; second, that an ultrarad-/25/ical critique of its social heritage is, in many cases, of a pathological and self-destructive nature; and, third, that modern forms of the liberal-democratic social system in the so-called developed Western countries have their own rather basic social shortcomings, which render the uncritical idealization of that system dangerous both from a political and political science perspective.

In the final analysis, such an approach is not justified. The situation and understanding of postcommunism has to be accepted not simply as a designation of the transition period of post-Soviet societies. Postcommunism is the general situation (and understanding) of the transition from one epoch of political organization of social life to another, post-Modern time in the understanding of society and its political practice. Postcommunism can be understood only within the context of universal changes in political world view, which are accompanied by the delegitimation of classical political ideals and possibilities on the one hand and by the search for nonModern explanations and cognitive methods on the other. Those, who see in the notion of postcommunism only an apt term to describe social deformations, merely attempt to critically assess the present transformations from the perspective of traditional ideas of a perfect be it communist or (Western) democratic society. They are guided by a characteristic Enlightenment bias: if reality fails to conform to the ideal, so much the worse for reality itself. Continuing this classical perspective of thinking in one form or another serves only to spiritually nourish resuscitated communists and a certain segment of the socialists in the postcommunist states.

The inertia of what might be called "the Modern project" is also seen in those newly minted upstart postcommunist politicians who orient themselves to the postcommunist political expediency and try to find an instant, ready-made substitute for a discredited and thus uncompetitive Marxism in some other political theory/ideology, which may differ in its content but remains typically totalitarian. Such a re-ideologization is already taking place in many postcommunist states, most notably exemplified by radical nationalist movements and parties. /26/

The attraction of classical explanatory models has real basis. A major factor here, in addition to simple habit, is the retention of the old forms of political and economic life within the process of postcommunist social transformation. So long as whole series of ways of viewing economics, morality, law, and the world which characterized the old social forms of identification and popular self-understanding is preserved within society, a postcommunist self-determination of the new reality will continue to exist mainly because the manner in which "communism" is criticized is one which can be described as postcommunist nihilism.

Postcommunist freedom is freedom in the specific sense of being emancipated from the old in the absence of adequately defined new social ideals and regulative ideas. This is why attempts to maintain stability in the postcommunist period rely mainly on the stability of intermediary, transitory, and in general situationally accidental forms and norms of social life along with their characteristic complement of situational leaders, instant politicians, and self-consecrated political scientists as well as numerous myths, social simulacra and stereotypes, criminal business, and adventurist capital.

The so-called postcommunist revolution is essentially different from its precursors, the revolution of 1917 or the bourgeois revolutions of the more remote past. Its basic aimless drifting is usually hidden under scathing assessments of the communist past, served up by the political discourse, mass media, language, and literature of the glasnost period. But this postcommunist nihilism cannot in any sense be called radical. Meanwhile, behind the radical facade of words and slogans which constitute the backdrop of public political posturing and struggle, leaders well versed in the habits and devices of the old communist nomenklatura suddenly pop up. The taste of this postcommunist "old-new" nomenklatura for administrative and command methods of governance and management is merely augmented by the concentration of power and property in its hands, thus generating what could be called a "local quasi-totalitarianism," based on decrees and orders, the manipulation of huge amounts of state money, and on spontaneous political and /27/ economic reflexes, both domestically and in international affairs. All this creates preconditions for the reproduction under postcommunism of what seem to be time-worn methodological patterns, now at a theoretical level of understanding. One such echo of the past has its origins in the classical voluntarism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Under postcommunist ambivalence, changes in the basis of social identity result in quests for an ultimate grounding (Letztbegründung), the function of which is assumed by "ethnonational identity." To a greater or lesser extent, orientations toward various forms of ethnic or national unity can be observed in the postcommunist period throughout East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, the symbol of which might be the figure of Yeltsin on a tank under the Russian tricolor. In Ukraine, quests for a new national identity and social cohesiveness sometimes reproduce the ideology of the classical Ukrainian integral nationalism created by Mykola Mikhnovsky and Dmytro Dontsov, which affirm its traditional ideas of power as the will of the whole nation for the clan (ethnoculturally) based self-realization of the state. A rather archaic portrait of postcommunist society is thus cast in the traditional notions of the integrity of the will of the nation, its clan (ethnic) identity, and the unity of its political action under the slogan of a single "national idea."






4. The Postcommunist Experience: In Search of a Methodology


The current almost universal political use of the ideological store of classical voluntarism masks an extremely important transformation of nationalism under postcommunism. The self-evident peculiarity of postcommunist nationalism is that here nationalism, which has come to serve as a basis for the postcommunist identity of large human communities and a prime factor of their legitimation as independent nations on the territory of the former USSR, turned out to be "nonclassical." From the start, today's nationalism has failed to conform to its Modern philosophical origins and to the way radical nationalist movements and parties would like to in-/28/terpret and have it.'In the first place, national identity was perceived not from the perspective of total force on the part of the general clan will but as the free and common expression of will for self-affirmation by communities different in their ethnic or national aspirations.

The main trend of the postcommunist transformation of society, cast primarily in the idea of emancipation from totalitarianism, gave rise to a regional cultural pluralization of society. Postcommunist nationalism offered an ideological basis for the recognition of a plurality of communities identified on a cultural-regional and ethnocultural basis within the borders of one postcommunist country (in Ukraine, it is the West, the East, the South, and the Crimea), i.e., offered ideological weapons for the confrontation of many political wills (identities) for self-affirmation.

Traditional interaction of various sociocultural worlds "forms of life" (sometimes meaning different civilizations) was accounted for by means of a methodology which was elaborated within the framework of the cognitive and ideological quests of philosophical hermeneutics (Dilthey, Heidegger, Gadamer, Ricoeur, etc.). In the final analysis, the theoretical problem of interpersonal unity and collective identity, or in specific philosophical terms, reaching intersubjective understanding, according to the hermeneutic approach, has a solution, though not an "absolute" one. Confrontations of language, symbols, and various systems of values and norms are in principle resolved by this approach even if only by means of, say, mental conflicts but in the process of interpretation of "alien" values from other cultures. A basis for their possible merger may lie in the field of the senses: a peculiar international conference in an ideal palace built up of various moral meanings, theoretical methods (translation and Verstehen, understanding), intuitiveemotive methods (empathy) of mutual confrontation, and the dialectical reconciliation of various interpretations.

However, postcommunist experiences of murderous interethnic and international wars and terrible ethnic massacres (suffice it to recall ex-Yugoslavia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Chechnia) make it evident that it is no longer so much the /29/ matter of collision, or a "conflict of interpretations" (P. Ricoeur). Hidden behind the political decisions and military actions of the postcommunist period is, in the words of H.G. Wells, a real "war of the worlds" or a conflict of political ontologies. What methodological premises can be used to account for this theoretically? In what direction should one look for possible political solutions to these murderous confrontations, which find their blind inspiration in definitely non-classical nationalist concepts? They are non-classical and non-Modern because the question is one of "local narratives," local ethnic and national systems of identification and coherence, though even in this version, confined by the borders of one's own "historical territory," totalitarian patterns of political thought and action are constantly reproduced. Under the circumstances, rationally argumented communication and the elaboration of traditions of open political discourse become essential to the positive evolution of the political process.

Alongside a massive socio-psychological motive for postcommunist transformations, the desire to create a life patterned on that of the developed nations of Western Europe, there is also an important motive for quests in our own Ukrainian juridical, political, ethical, and nation-making traditions. Importantly, the search is now underway for possible models, offshoots, or correlates of West European democracy (civil society and law-governed state) and norms of civilized and well-regulated social existence. That is why the tradition of West European social philosophy (from Hobbs, Burke, Rousseau, Kant and Hegel to Apel, Habermas, Rawles, and others) is one significant ideological source in the situation of postcommunist ambivalence. Moreover, this tradition makes it possible to define more clearly the requisite regulative ideas of social transformations desired perspectives of a possible way of development, and already at present to critically analyze the emergence of a postcommunist political discourse and a new communicative community with their specific features. Along with assimilation of this philosophical and ideological tradition (which formed during the historical practice of establishing the modern types of de-/30/veloped Western democratic societies), the political analysis of postcommunism acquires conceptual tools to research a wide range of juridical and ethical problems, such as (communicative) ethics of international and interethnic relations, interrelations of law, politics and morals, ethics of responsibility, new global ecological order, etc.

Even the first contrast of philosophico-sociological images produced by current communicative philosophy reveals, so to speak, an incomplete conformity between the political ontology it delineates (i.e., the ultimate basis of people's political interaction the universal rules, norms, and values on which political discourse rests) and the political reality of postcommunism. Postcommunist political discourse cannot be reduced, without seriously damaging theory, only to the surface layer of people's political interaction, i.e., to their political relations, with their rather definite features of regularity, standardization, and communicative rationality, in general. The experience of the political game which has accompanied the process of the East European countries' gaining independence over the past several years and the struggle of various political parties for their place in society all these and other postcommunist political realities point to this tentative conclusion.

The point is that it is quite insufficient to understand by political relations only those communicative acts which are subject to legal and ethical norms, the norms and values of so-called "political culture." Incidentally, the topic of political culture has become rather pathologically popular with postcommunist political scientists as the least dangerous range of sentimental considerations about how "authentically" ideal politicians and statesmen should act and what they should know. But they have remained the same as ever. It is precisely their political behavior, acts, and actions, as well as their mass recognition as the powers that be by voters, that point to the existence of extrarational cultural-historical feelings, existential attitudes, collective "silent" political wills and resolve of rallying mobs, which are not argued for in political discourse but have only the quality of presuppositions. /31/Postcommunist literature abounds in leitmotifs of quests for cultural-historical "archetypes" of political organization of this or that nationality, people, or community, when, for example, direct historical parallels are drawn between "Tsar Boris" Godunov and "incumbent Tsar Boris" Yeltsin, or when the "principles of democracy always inherent" in Ukrainians are sought in the heroic myth of the Zaporizhian Cossacks. These perhaps naive examples (simplified by the mass media) of perception of a certain extrarationality of political life testify to the urgency of taking into account and analyzing theoretically the existential-volitional aspects of political discourse and human communication in general. In this sense, it is not only the matter of rational "a priori of communication" (K.-O. Apel) or formation of norms of discursive practice but also a peculiar "a priori of will" which can be discerned, for example, in the nationalist movements in the postcommunist states. Therefore, combining the experience of theoretical political science and philosophical analyses of the rational organization of the presentday polis with the post-Modern experience of the existentialvolitional making of a pluralistic society and its most up-todate "assembly" on new principles, thus far very little known, is a promising line of research in the political analysis of postcommunism.

The prospects for institutionalizing argumentative discourse in the postcommunist world are dependent on the level of social rationality. First of all, the issue is one of rationality of political action in all the major directions of the postcommunist transformation of society. This is why it is very important for the scholarly political analysis of the postcommunist period to maximally lay bare the "secondary" ideological accretions, neo-Romantic reproductions of old socio-political myths, numerous new illusions, political daydreaming, primitive slogans, and ideas which just do not make sense. But it is precisely these that largely serve the postcommunist individual as substitutes for stable forms of life and world view in the critical conditions of social (and ideational) ambiguity. And this is precisely the reason that they are transformed into countless simulacra. /32/Postcommunist simulacra, i.e., the artificial reality generated by a mass media emancipated from state censorship, have been widely circulated by television, the press, and literary publications since the time of perestroika and glasnost. This is the ideational and existential reality people live in and are nourished by. It is practically inaccessible because there are no objective criteria for discerning truth from falsehood in it and actual reality from its interpretations imposed by television, radio, and the press. Simulacra are even more actively structuring today's political discourse. These are charismas of apparently not the best (in both the political and human sense) first presidents of newly independent states. Among them one can also mention images of "democracy," "entrepreneurship," "privatization," "talented young economists" and "old experienced managers," "honest parliamentarians" (the list reaches practically to infinity), which create a new postcommunist political and semantic reality. The rate of their efficiency is directly dependent on the level of population's political nai'vet6 (a legacy from the time of the Communist Party's Diktat), and simultaneously on the degree of popular alienation from the ruling elites. Their fanciful, fantastic nature and falsehood is demonstrated by time and the natural historical course of events. Given this, the political thought of postcommunism may be fruitful in a positive sense, provided it embraces critical analysis, is based on the recognized methodology of analytical philosophy (with its methods of clarification and explication of the language and discourse of postcommunism), and studies the new logic of myth concocted by postcommunist mass media and the mass consciousness molded by them.

Political developments in the postcommunist states and political experiences of postcommunist reforms cannot be adequately understood unless they are considered in a world context, from the broad perspective of radical socio-cultural changes, reflected in the combination of the notions of postcommunism and the postmodern. Moreover, any other approach will inevitably result in reproducing outdated theoretical concepts in a new socio-political situation, thereby giving rise to dogmatism and phantoms. /33/






5. How Can We Construct a Political Theory of Postcommunism?


Rejecting classical explanatory principles and schemata raises the question of the feasibility of constructing a system of political knowledge and elaborating a coherent political theory capable of generalizing the experience of postcommunist life. From this standpoint the concepts of post-classicism and the postmodern in general are called into question by considerations of systemicity, integrity, and homogeneity, and this renders dubious any attempt to resort to available methods of socio-political research and the very notion of method as a familiar way of acquiring certain knowledge, which is a fundamental principle of Modern thought.

The principal conclusion regarding the situation under postcommunism is that current political thought is intertwined with everyday social practice. And the issue here is not merely one of the extremely politicized character of mass consciousness. The point is that a theory of postcommunism can no longer, as classical socio-political thought attempted, remain separate from politics, from the practices of the struggle for and exercise of power, i.e., as a discrete, ideal system of thoughts and political abstractions. Along with postcommunist ambivalence, we face a situation where political thought works to define possible norms and establish rules of what is still to be created but only as something already established, to use the words of Lyotard. Viewed in this way, the postcommunist practice of political theory is absolutely performative, i.e., it is an exercise in the political discourse of instituting. Using all available methods, political thought analyzes possible models of social development under the conditions of what we called postcommunist ambivalence and by so doing it becomes enmeshed in the texture of political events.

In modern social science, the notions of performative sentence and performative act are widely used to analyze situations when speech acts perform social acts and institute certain social facts. To take an example, an utterance of a /34/ political leader about the indispensability of some social change may very often institute this change, which was observed in the Gorbachev period: his affirmation of "glasnost" was, at the same time, a sort of institutionalization of the freedom of speech and, hence, institutionalization of a different type of discourse. The idea of a performative as an act of legal and political institutionalization was developed by Derridas in his analysis of the American Declaration of Independence. By the very fact of its adoption by "representatives of the United States of America who convened at the General Congress," the Declaration "contains two simultaneous discursive modalities description and injunction (to be guided by this document author's note), fact and law."6 Note that postcommunism, unlike the lasting institutionalized tradition of American democracy, is nothing other than a period of various types and forms of the institutionalization of social institutions and structures which differ in their forms and functions. But no one can be certain of their future durability.

Just as form and context, objective description and intention, positive information and the act of institutionalization are merged in performative sentences, so too does the political theory of postcommunism coincide with institutionalization but with an institutionalization of civilized forms of socio-political life, rather than an institutionalization of "novelty" in the Modern sense, leaving a gray area for some freedom of the individual who has left behind the world of absolute political nonambiguity in the communist past.

We use the notion of institutionalization, not coming into being. Its traditional understanding as "emergence" or "coming into being" is fraught with the danger of interpreting it in the classical Hegelian-Marxist sense of a linear interconnected succession of events or as the idea of steady historical progress in the political situation of postcommunism.

The fact that discourse of institutionalization is gaining wide currency among present-day politicians determines by itself the intellectual attitude, the logic of direction or nontraditional methodology of postcommunist political thought. The latter is beginning to formulate and become aware of /35/ the specific problems stemming from the contradictions observed between what is proclaimed by postcommunist politicians (the new regime) on the one hand, and their political action and the actual results of postcommunist social transformation, on the other; between the meaning of slogans, declarations, speeches, programs, and normative documents, on the one hand, and their actual (conscious or unconscious) intent, their political will and their orientations (derived from the character of political actions), on the other.

From the total lack of understanding and failure to grasp this fact of a lack of correspondence between the laying of political plans and the real outcome of political events, and the failure to accomplish seemingly the best of ideas, flows the real hallmark of the postcommunist period as such. Thus, the involved political project to reform the USSR (the "New Union Treaty") constituted the axis of Gorbachev's final actions.7 But beyond the tragedy of this King Lear of communism and those around him, one ought to see the birth of a new era in the mirror of which moral recriminations and value judgments in the place of real understanding bespeak, at best, political naivete.

Characteristically, the postcommunist epoch manifests not only a striking gap between ideology and reality, social theory and practice, which can be observed in all totalitarian educational political programs of the past, especially under "communism." The political discourse of institutionalization is essentially different in that it is characteristic for this kind of discourse to display a constant practical gap between ideal political intentions and the forms (plus results) of their realization. "They wanted to the best thing possible, but it turned out just like always!" this maxim, uttered by a well-known Russian politician, can be used as an epigraph to the postcommunist discourse of institutionalization. Its Ukrainian version, presented to the world by our former President, "We have what we have," reads like a direct statement of independence (even from those who act) from the political "logic of intentions" concealed or unconscious political volitional motives and, respectively, outcomes of their realization unexpected by the political game /36/ players themselves from "the logic of knowledge," allegedly well-thought out political programs, substantiated methods of Parliamentary discussions and decisions made as a result of heated debates, etc.

In all these cases of the realization of the postcommunist discourse of institutionalization, we are dealing with a permanent performative contradiction of failing to realize what is instituted by the political discourse itself in a political action. This everlasting political ambivalence and ambiguity at all levels of social life is indeed the most significant impetus to postcommunist political thought.

This is where the peculiar nature of the theoretical thrust of the political study of postcommunism takes its origin. First and foremost, it is the question of the need for continuous explanation and clarification of the political practice of postcommunist transformation.





* * *


In the transition period of postcommunist ambivalence, there are quite logical and natural ideological, philosophical, political science, sociological, socio-humanitarian quests in the social sciences for purpose and knowledge, quite like Taras Shevchenko's expectation of "an apostle of truth and science" to arise. If the task of political thought today is not understood as pandering to the nomenklatura's or neonomenklatura's need for a "scientific" explanation to impose a new ideology of total control over society, then quite reasonable is the intellectual cliche that there is nothing better than a good theory. Theoretical studies in the field of political science should be conducted from the perspective of understanding postcommunist experience as part of a greater whole, of world sociopolitical and cultural transformations. The political independence of postcommunist nations is not merely a tardy response or a delayed reflex of history, a sort of redemption for past injustices by way of creating independent nation-states. Their independence is a logical outcome of the most recent changes in the political philosophy of society and the world as a whole. This means that the postcommunist period should be viewed not only as a period of criti-/37/cal uncertainty but also as a time of instituting socio-cultural forms of life. History knows similar big precedents: the idea of popular sovereignty ("social contract"), division of powers, individual freedom ("natural rights"), "civil society," and others acquired earlier (directly or indirectly), their institutionalization in political practice (constitutions, etc.) of today's most developed nations. This is why political philosophy and other aspects of the political analysis of postcommunism make sense only as independent hic et nunc, as the comprehension of lessons of world sociopolitical thought on the basis of a nation's proper experience of its own nationalcultural identity. He who does not demand more loses all.

And in this sense we may pretend to have a certain coherent theory and simultaneously do not at all pretend to have created a final theoretical schemata or project for building postcommunist society. The main thrust of the work we submit to the reader's attention is to theoretically examine our own experience, to build a model from it, at best to prognosticate, and in no sense to have constructed a universal theory, which always and with devilish speed (especially in the political sphere) transforms itself into a new totalitarian ideology.






6. Special Features of the Postcommunist Period


It is claimed that the disintegration of the Soviet bloc and the Soviet Union, and the collapse of communist regimes in these countries has ushered in a new, postcommunist epoch in human history. Such a view appears somewhat comical in the sense that in the West there never was a communist epoch. However, one may regard the era as communist when the West trembled with fear over the spread of world communism. So being relieved from this fear may well be proclaimed the postcommunist epoch.

Well, let the epoch that has set in be called the "postcommunist era." The name is not what matters here. What is important are the traits that characterize this period. Thus it becomes necessary to focus on some of its features which are generally ignored or interpreted in a certain ideological /38/ way (namely, in the spirit of anticommunism) that is as tar from the truth as the old communist propaganda.

One should differentiate between communism as a particular ideology (ideological communism) and communism as a certain way of organizing society ("real" communism). In dealing first with communist theory we must discern the way it was shaped and influenced by Marxism, and the way it was molded irrespective of Marxism.

Communist theory emerged long before Marxism. Its originators were Thomas More (1478-1535) and Tommaso Campanella (1568-1639). We can ascertain the downfall and even the bankruptcy of Marxism. But this does not mean the complete failure of communist theory in general.

Portions of communist ideas have been adopted by all kinds of political parties including labor, popular, socialist, and the other parties, by mass movements (like the Greens and the Alternatives), by trade unions, and even by religious groups and sects (like those in the USA). Communist ideas have "dissolved" in the ideological swamp of the present. But they have not disappeared forever nor will they disappear so long as what gave them birth, that is, the negative aspects of capitalism, continue to exist. They are, in fact, anticapitalist ideas.

The collapse of communist ideology in its Marxist variant was brought about by a set of causes of great historical scale. Most prominent among them was the transformation of Marxism into the state ideology of the Soviet Union and other communist countries. This resulted in the decline of its intellectual level, making it an object of mockery, led to its getting out of touch with reality, and led to it turning into a coercively imposed apology for real communism.

The negative practice of real communism in the Soviet Union and other countries, became an object of negative attention by Western anticommunist propaganda. It also enabled the West to succeed in repelling many people from communism all over the world. Capitalism has not vanished from the world arena, as was foretold by Marx. Instead, it has consolidated its positions, and at this stage of history it might appear to have won the competition with communism. /39/ As for the proletarians who were viewed by Marxists as the gravediggers of capitalism, they, have decreased in number (relative to other social strata) and come to play a secondary role, degenerating and ceasing to be a reliable mainstay and bearer of communist ideas.

The defeat of the communist world in the Cold War has, for a very long time (if not forever), buried the possibility and even the idea of socialist revolution in the Marxist sense (that is, a proletarian revolution resulting in the total elimination of capitalism, private property, and the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat). One cannot categorically exclude the possibility of a non-capitalist ("socialist") social system in Western countries being established sometime in the future. Should this occur, it would most likely be the result of the West's defeat by external forces or decisions of dictators. Thus far, the probability of such a development seems very low. In this respect one might agree with those political theorists who suggest that we are witnessing the onset of the "post-revolutionary" period.

In sermons about the postcommunist period two arguments usually figure prominently: the negative results of real communism and the lack in Western countries of a sufficiently powerful social stratum that has an interest in changing of the Western socioeconomic system. To this three more could be added. First, the West has learned to avert the danger of mass revolutionary movements as well as to manipulate them in such a way that any attempt to recreate the communist movements of the recent past is a priori doomed to failure. Second, to organize a stable mass movement requires money, quite a bit at that. Thus, someone must subsidize them. But who? In the past, communist states could financially subsidize communist parties in the West and other countries. But now there are neither communist countries capable of such expenditures nor communist parties ready to fight for the overthrow of capitalism. Third, the West has stolen the initiative from communists with respect to social transformations. The idea of a convergence of social systems (communism and capitalism) was put forward by Western ideologists rather than by communists. In devel-/40/oping the idea they relied on the clear evolution of the West towards "Eastern" socioeconomic policies.

Under such conditions, communist ideology in its Marxist-Leninist form has no chance of mass success and becoming an effective force in "Western" former socialist states. But, whether a communist ideology could arise on the scale of the Marxism, corresponding to the needs of the moment and interests of a powerful social strata, is a question which one cannot answer with confidence.

The whole history of real communism has hitherto been presented in the form of ideological falsification (in one way or another) and a system of prejudices. There is no need to say what shape the teaching of the communist social system had in Soviet ideology. It was detested and with reason.

Critical and muckraking sociopolitical literature and publicistics claimed to provide the only true understanding. But even they did not overstep the limits of ideological thinking. Critical attitude posed as truth. The harsher the criticism of anything Soviet, the truer it seemed or was intentionally treated.

In the West, the situation was no better. While formally the work of Western authors appeared more scientific than those of Soviet authors, they were nonetheless no closer to the truth. While Soviet ideology feared indicating the inherence of the shortcomings of real communism, Western ideology was afraid to recognize its merits. An apologetically false image of communism was built on one side, while on the other was a hypercritical false image. For example, Soviet ideology claimed that Soviet society was built according to the grand designs of "scientific communism" composed by Marx, Engels, and Lenin. Western ideology claimed that the nonsensical Utopian ideal of foolish Marx and bloodthirsty Lenin underlay Soviet societal organization. Soviet ideology held that communist social relations began to be formed only after the socialist revolution, while Western ideology held that those relations were imposed on the Soviet population by force and by fraud after the revolution. This parallelism could be seen in virtually all the most important issues concerning the understanding of Soviet so-/41/ciety and the real communism in general.

Communist society is the social organization of a great number of people into a unified whole, not an artificially invented political regime. In the former Soviet Union, it was formed as a result of effective and objective social laws rather than according to Marxist design or by the will of Marxist ideologists. The people who built it either did not have a clue about Marxism or knew its doctrines rather vaguely and interpreted it in their own peculiar way. What finally resulted hardly looked like the Marxist blueprint, only in some aspects and in a rather strained interpretation. In reality, true communism is no less a natural social organization than any other social system, including that of the West.

It is customary to assume that everything that happened over the past decade to the Soviet Union and to the countries of the Soviet bloc prove the bankruptcy of the communist social system (real communism) and the advantages of the capitalist system. This is subject to dispute. The defeat of the socialist states was determined by a complex interplay of causes, including a role played by the deficiencies of the communist system as well. But this does not prove the nonviability and bankruptcy of communism. Likewise, the victory of the capitalist West also has its own effective causes among which a certain role was played by the merits of capitalism. But this does not prove the latter's superiority.

The victory of the West over the Soviet Union and its allies was not a victory of capitalism over communism. The Cold War was a war of specific nations and states rather than of abstract social systems. Any number of examples can be supplied which, if one wants, can be interpreted as a proof of the superiority of communism over capitalism, for example: the super-rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union in the 1930s, the restructuring of the industry during the war with Germany and the victory over it, unprecedented advances in culture and education, guarantees of basic vital needs (employment, education, health care, etc.) and so on. In fact, it was the merits of the Soviet social system that engendered anxiety in the West, since they provided an at-/42/tractive example for many people of the world.

From a historical perspective, real communist society existed too briefly to draw categorical conclusions about its bankruptcy. It also existed in extremely inauspicious conditions. To draw a conclusion about who beat whom capitalism or communism it is necessary that the adversaries be at least roughly equal in everything except the social system. In reality nothing of the kind existed. The West excelled the Soviet Union in all respects, including historical experience, accumulated wealth, human abilities and human resources in general, economic strength, level of technology, etc. What is surprising is not the fact that the Soviet Union was eventually defeated by the West in the Cold War but that it managed to survive World War II and hold out so long in a cold war which was beyond the strength of its people. And it could have stood firm for some time if the leadership of its country had not committed treason on a scale unprecedented in human history.

Developments in the years after the end of the Cold War showed that understanding the essence of the previous period's historical process as a struggle between two social systems capitalism and communism was superficial and in the final analysis erroneous. Here a historical form was mistaken for the essence of the process. In fact, it was the struggle of the West for the world domination against an adversary that blocked its way and laid its own claims to world leadership. The communist system in the Soviet Union and other countries was not the source of global confrontation; it was only a means of self-defense from Western global ambitions. The socialist states themselves launched offensives too, and these countries were perceived by the West not only as a military threat but also as a competitor in organizing all basic aspects of social life and for influence over the rest of mankind. Communism became the major object for attacks by the West because the world resisting and even attacking it had assumed a communist form. This world could resist and even from time to time win only in such a form. In those years the West's struggle against communism enabled it to justify anything it did anywhere on earth. The /43/ defeat of the communist states in the Cold War, their disintegration and downfall, and the bankruptcy of the communist systems in them unmasked the West's true intentions and its ideological and psychological stimuli.

The communist world, represented by the Soviet Union and its satellites, suffered a severe historical defeat. But this does not mean that communism has been done away with forever. Communist China is still around. The West would have to make a titanic effort to do to it something similar to what has been done to Yugoslavia, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union; and in the former communist states history has neither stopped nor rendered its final verdict.

The postcommunist epoch began with a euphoria occasioned by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Soviet bloc, and the communist regimes in these countries. It began everywhere, not just in the West, where this moment had been prepared and longed for nearly half a century, but also in the communist states themselves, where people had long envied the West's propagandized seeming abundance of material and cultural wealth and were ecstatic at the sight of their countries being turned into flea-markets of Western junk and Western-encouraged scenes of license. Now the euphoria is over. The former communist states have witnessed not concord and confidence in a better future, as was expected, but quite the opposite despondency, confusion, fear of an even worse future. And in the West the situation is no better in this respect. There, too, troubled anxiety is still felt that something unplanned and undesirable has happened. Gone or at least reduced to wretchedness is something Western people considered the source of all the world's ills and which gave them grounds to think that they were living in something approaching paradise. A general decline in business activity, the growth of unemployment, higher cost of living and taxes, and other unpleasant things automatically give rise to the suspicion whether or not this is the cost of the victory over communism; and if this be so, whether it was it worth it.

Although communism, which had once longed for its imposition upon all mankind, has suffered a severe defeat, /44/ the verdict of history is still out. However much anticommunists attempted to identify communism with the national-socialism of Hitler's Germany, the world community has accepted the comparison rather unenthusiastically. Too brutal was the falsification of real history. Indicative in this respect is the situation in Germany, where anticommunist hysteria still persists. For it is zealously being reinforced by the punishment of not only odious figures but of ordinary citizens somehow connected with the old regime. This farce could not hide the hard consequences of the process of introducing East Germany to the blessings of Western civilization, hard not only for East Germans but also for their western compatriots.

The most important results of the communist world's defeat is the idea of a "new world order" after Western patterns and under the West's aegis. This quite openly ignores the fact that the Western social, economic, and political system is not a universal blessing for all mankind. The capitalist system has produced positive results for only a small segment of mankind namely for the peoples of Western countries. For the overwhelming majority of nations in the world it was and is alien. The people of Russia are no exception to this. When the Gorbachev (and later Yeltsin) reforms were enacted, the prerequisites were lacking for the economic, social, and political transformation of society along the Western lines, i.e., the premises of capitalism and democracy. A need for such transformation had not evolved in a broad strata of the population, nor were these strata prepared to adopt these changes as the way to achieve a normal mode of life. The ideas of such reforms originated with the top leadership, that is, in the top echelons of the Communist party apparatus ana ideological elite. They also originated under the influence and even pressure from the West. In other words, the ideas of change came from above and outside rather than from below and within the society, as a reflection of the inner evolution of Soviet society. Furthermore, they began to be implemented as violent reforms from above, by orders of superiors which was alien to the nature and capabilities of Soviet society. /45/

In Russia a situation arose which was directly opposite to the one which had arisen during the formation of the Western social and political system. Western bourgeois revolutions resulted in the creation of political institutions and in legislative codification of already existing social and economic relations. However, the Soviet revolution of 1985-1991 began on the initiative of the top few in the communist leadership, who used all the might of the state, communist administrative methods, and the modern media of ideological mass indoctrination to impose their will on the usually obedient society.

The results of this revolution were not long in coming. Russia's ruling circles witnessed the bankruptcy of everything they tried to create in this new social order. They succeeded only in demolishing everything that had been created through the efforts of many generations of Russian people under extremely difficult historical conditions.

Ordinary Russians felt that in rejecting communism they lost many of the good things in life; while on the way to Westernization they have found only the evils of capitalism and democracy. They are still not aware of their having run into a historical trap, voluntarily. But sooner or later they will be forced to realize it.

After the utter rout of the Soviet Union in the Cold War, the world witnessed a situation similar to that which had occurred in Europe after the defeat of Napoleonic France, namely, a state of world reaction. In the current case it has assumed the form of a malicious and vengeful anticommunist theme. So, then, the epoch that has been ushered in may well be called an "anticommunist" one.

The whole Cold War was fought under slogans of "struggle for human rights" and "democratic freedom." One of the most crucial results of the fall of the communist "regimes" was that these rights and freedoms lost their earlier significance. What is the point? That the former communist countries enjoyed relatively high living standards. People were not hungry; they had jobs. Their basic vital needs were met, with guarantees at that. It was thought that they did not enjoy human rights and democratic free-/46/doms, which Western propaganda portrayed as the highest values of human existence. Initially, it seemed to the citizens of communist countries that they might keep all the benefits they had, while adding to them the benefits of Western democracy like human rights and democratic freedoms. But with the collapse of the communist system they have lost everything they had earlier. They experienced economic dislocation, inflation, the falling apart of the educational and cultural system, ideological chaos, moral degradation, and rising crime. Major problems have become how to survive under human rights and democratic freedom. Under such conditions, these values of democracy have simply lost any practical sense.

In the West the idea of human rights and democratic freedoms have been pushed into the background as well. As instruments of ideology and propaganda they have become worthless. They have been replaced by economic deterioration, rising cost of living, rising unemployment, rising taxes, and so on. The mass media have tried to hush up everything related to violations of human rights and democratic freedoms. The demand for such an ideological commodity has

declined sharply.

The epoch that has set in is postcommunist. But the main feature of a historical era is not what it has done away with, but what it has brought. From this standpoint, the present epoch might just as well be called "post-democratic."






7. Nihilism as a Foundation of the Postcommunist Type of Social Experience


It is difficult to understand the intricate plots of postcommunism without understanding one very important circumstance: we live in a realm of radical nihilism. Even seventy years' rule of the Bolshevik religion could not annihilate the main historical sense of the October coup-d'etat of 1917, which first of all manifested itself in the fact that the reappraisal of values proclaimed by Nietzsche at the end of the nineteenth century passed from the sphere of academic discussion into political practice, incarnated in the flesh and /47/ blood of the state called the USSR. It is sufficient here to remember the rhythmically recited rewritings of the history and the kaleidoscopic change of banners under which the political purges and mass repression were carried out. In the womb of social consciousness (at least beginning from the French Revolution) the ancient sense of what is criminal gradually became insipid. It was lost in the mass crimes which, to a great extent, characterized mass movements. Law was supplanted by mystically understood historical expediency. Anything that contradicted the historical progression personified by the mass movements was considered a crime. Anything that promoted mass movements was considered to be the highest political truth. Thus the notion of expediency was transformed into a notion of truth.

In a paradoxical way the fusion of the prophetism and positivist religion, which became the vulgarized theoretical base of the Marxist coup-d'etat in the Russian Empire, made absurd even the very will to construct political life on the basis of truth.

Strictly speaking, expediency itself laid the foundation of the new radical nihilism. That is why we cannot but agree with Gianni Vattimo who says that nihilism today is the final transformation of the value paradigm of usage into the value paradigm of change. The paradigm of usage presupposes first of all defining a measure of value by way of correlating an ideal and real object with the "true" nature of things. This frame of reference can be traced back to the Platonic concept of primordial ideas or eidos. The value of usage is conditioned by one or another technology (either the technology of transforming stone into a statue or the social technology of cultivating a loyal citizen). In its turn, the technology gives birth to the habit and makes things necessary. The technology supplants eidos, assumes its own sacral force and thus sanctifies itself. But Plato's dialog as genre personification of his theory of primordial ideas had already contained in itself the destroying germ for whole metaphysical basis of truth and thus also for value relativism as well as the groundless rationality which were the foundation of the so-called paradigm of "change." /48/

This paradigm meant that value is created only in the process, in the very act of communication. The communication leans upon what Nietzsche called resentment, i.e., the spirit of furious competition and revenge and thus constitutes the metaphysical background of the authentic world. In this respect, if we recall Plato's dialog, the procedure of obtaining knowledge is at the same time a procedure of power realization.

Among other things, the Platonic tradition of dialog creates the culturo-historical premises for the specific phenomena of social life. J. Baudrillard calls them simulacra or generalized prostitution. For example, "Ukraine is a founder of the UN" and so-called detente. The first simulacrum served for the military and political compromise between Stalin and his allies on the basis of the game-rules elaborated within the confines of international law. The second was aimed at access to Western technology in exchange for promises to liberalize Soviet regime.

The very tradition that came out of Plato's dialog and flourished in Hegel's dialectical scholasticism found its most vivid reflection in the ideological practice of the Bolshevik regime. To a great extent this may provide a key to understanding the nature of the social chimeras which were inherited by postcommunist structures from the old regime.

In Plato's Republic there is a wish to build an ideal model of social structure that could transform some of its activities or some types of human being into a stepping stone to absolute social expediency.

In Plato's imagination the types of human beings that dominate during the various periods of political development (the oligarchic, democratic, or tyrannical person) are only steps of social imperfection and incompleteness. The philosopher, described first and foremost as ruler is presented by Plato as a universal alternative to these types of human beings. He acts not only rationally but also on the basis of teleological projection.

Who is this Philosopher? Who is this Ruler? Any definition of modern philosophy would be sufficient to describe his essential characteristics. He is neither analyst, modest /49/ therapist of language in the positivistic sense, nor an authoritarian prophet of Being. He is rather a priest of the Idea, the central protagonist of the totalitarian regimes in the twentieth century.

Thus, one can conclude that rationality of the social order, with Plato's Philosopher as guarantor, has a genuinely repressive character. Its peculiarity is that, namely, the ideal objects, i.e., the projected human figures and strata of the perfect state, appear to be among the first to become the objects of rational-repressive influence. Fear and force expose the incompleteness of the eidetic model of state structure, the necessity to technologically process, i.e., to install it in order to support the artificial idea in the state of real existence. The social technology that engenders habit or "usage," plays the role of a nonfundamental, rootless rationality and lays the foundation for nihilism. Thus one can say that the "value" of "usage" contains in its germ the value of "change."

This, in particular, is also witnessed by Plato's dialog. The issue here is the introduction into the dialog's structure of a conditional interlocutor, who only plays coryphaeus in the development of Plato's thought. The conditional interlocutor also symbolizes one of the major features of social communication at large, the presence of a will to power in any communicative act and thus the will to raise an objection to another person, to level him and to make the "exchange" inequivalent.

The imitation of a partner in a Plato's dialog also creates a prototype of what can be called "the institutionalization of truth." The very notion of the truth is supposed to create certain ideation of reality and then to carry out Weltanschaung-based judgment.

The priestly state, the contours of which Plato outlined, required parajuridical procedures, which regulate such a ruling, leadership role of the idea. Simultaneously different social institutions arise to support the truth. Finally, the institutional ization of truth at its core is a method of transforming a human being into a genuine object of manipulation or, as Plato would have it, of preparation for war. /50/ With the spread of the reign of priestly truth and the consolidation of the totalitarian state structure, the prototype of which is given in Plato's dialog, the zone of the sanctioned contradictions (which always govern everyday human life) is narrowed.

The institutionalization of truth in the PlatonicMarxist tradition embodies a distinct externally-directed nihilism which fosters the creation of a totalitarian-type social structure and simultaneously negates it while transforming it into simulacrum. It may be said that the whole state becomes a simulacrum, and backstage from it there is a strange society, a society of chimeras, inexpressive, viscous, ironic,

and agnostic.

Thus it happened that precisely this externally directed nihilism destroyed the very possibility of a rational grounding of power, the type of legitimation that was connected with the institutionalization of truth. This also conditioned the crisis of paternalism as the only possible "model" which totalitarian states retain from the past and which it could not annihilate totally because of its own incompleteness and imperfection. This is precisely why the coryphaeus still remains in the driver's seat in social activity today. The pseudo-revolution of 1991 was marked by this label and created two simulacra, Yeltsin on the tank and Gorbachev "imprisoned" in front of the TV-camera.

The possibility for radical liberalization and for the introduction of full-value democratic institutions after the sudden crash of the communist system in August 1991 failed to materialize is because the paradigm "usage" still remained dominant in all spheres of social life. Democracy, which in its core presupposes a permanent reevaluation of values and is based on what must be called the rationality of ungroundedness was presented as a "glimpsed" ideal. Instead of destroying the cult of history, a new struggle for history resulted in a new restoration of the ghosts of the recent past and their heroization. The paradigm of "usage" in the process of strengthening the new post-Soviet states acquires the forms of the nationalist world-view and the ideology of nationalism.





1. "I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimizes itself with reference to a metadiscourse of this kind making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of spirit, the hermeneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth." Jean-François Lyotard, The Post-Modern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis, 1991), p. xxiii.

2. See: David Held, "Editor's Introduction," Political Theory Today, ed. D. Held (Stanford, 1991), pp. 1-2.

3. See: Ottfried Hoffe, Politische Gerechtigkeit: Grundlegung einer kritischen Philosophie von Recht und Staat (Frankfurt am Main, 1987), (1.4).

4. We use the term "coherence" instead of such traditional ones as unity, integrity, or commonality in order to, first of all, avoid the possible connotations and assumptions connected with their traditional usage in contexts which express a uniquely Modern approach to solving problems that are included in the terms themselves (the possibility of obtaining a "complete," "total," "full," or "final" social quality). Secondly, because as a concept, "coherence" expresses only a certain set of elements of society in their mutual relationships, and designates the main undecided problem of the postcommunist transformation of society, the problem of sociopolitical organization.

5. J.-F. Lyotard, op. cit., pp. 37-39.

6. See: Jacques Derridas, Otobiographies (Paris, 1984), p. 29.

7. See: The Union Could Have Been Saved: A White Book of Documents and Facts on M. S. Gorbachev's Policy to Reform and Preserve the Multinational State (Moscow, 1995), pp. 94-256, published by the Gorbachev Fund in Russian.







See also:
Yevhen Bystrytsky. The Selected Bibliography








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i ii, ii Ctrl+Enter.

I.   IX-XVIII .