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[The Political Analysis of Postcommunism. Kyiv: Political Thought, 1995, pp. 119-130.]

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Alternative Models of Social Development in Ukraine

1 Oleksandr DERGACHOV, 2 Mykola RYABCHUK, 3 Yevhen BYSTRYTSKY.

The years of Ukrainian independence have produced a great quantity of political analyses and programs. Ukrainian specialists in all branches of the social sciences, starting with philosophers and ending with political scientists, publicists, political leaders, state functionaries, and leading state officeholders have offered their analyses of the socioeconomic and political situation along with models of development. Various philosophies of transformation have been put forth as have a number of foreign strategies. The basic course of domestic policy has altered repeatedly, and a certain measure of practical experience has already been gained in decision-making, ideological waffling, and nomenklatura maneuvering. But in all this, attention has been concentrated, as would be expected, on the role and capabilities of the top echelons, the state, i.e., this present state with all its weaknesses, while the society for which transformations have to be carried out, continues to be treated, as in the times of "real socialism," like a passive object.

1. State Policy and Social Development

Under conditions of normal societal development, with mechanisms of self-regulation in operation, even the most difficult periods cannot be called a setback or running in place. Crises are accompanied by adaptation to new conditions; and even minor political decisions serve to normalize /120/ economic processes. Ukraine, however, is now in a specific and especially difficult situation. First, we face a profound and all-encompassing economic crisis is compounded and exacerbated by the political ineptitude of the ruling elite, which is incapable of formulating a logical course of action. In other words, there is no self-regulation. Second, the economic crisis in many respects predates our independence, and the problems we face, which are by no means exclusively economic, significantly outruns the state's abilities to address them.

A certain spontaneity in the process of the USSR's collapse led Ukraine to be catapulted into independence. Along with this, in the economic sphere we inherited, along with crisis phenomena the economic system as such, and in the political sphere, a self-assured, self-serving, and semi-competent bureaucracy which only compounded the problem. Thus, the political sphere in Ukraine is far less developed than the economic.

A sufficient amount of evidence has been accumulated to state that our society, its socioeconomic sphere, and our very existence are generally out of control. They are so distorted, unstructured, and disorganized that they do not lend themselves to regulation. And here no program can do anything about it.

At the moment, Ukraine does not exist as a single organism. This implies not only problems of the relations among the various regions, but also an antagonistic relationship between society and the state. Our newly independent state treats society differently but in no way better than did the old Soviet empire. Society still exists under extremely adverse conditions created by the state. The constructive potential of the latter (if we do not take into consideration its self-construction) was and has been minimal. The main threat to independent Ukraine is the excessive dependence of society upon the state, that is, on an inefficient, irresponsible power structure, which continues to exploit society both economically and spiritually. It should be noted as just another example of this fleecing that the legislative and executive branches of power interact in complete agreement, /121/ while the judiciary branch fails to act consistently at all. instead of a qualitative improvement of the state mechanism, we continue to observe its quantitative malignant growth.

The strategy of economic reforms offered by President Leonid Kuchma is the best of which the party of power is capable. Economically, this strategy is aimed in the right direction, a direction which has been long anticipated. The nearly unanimous conclusion is that the President displayed a tour de force and has demonstrated his political will to bring about change. But apart from this will and a classic and quite understandable intention to consolidate his power hierarchy, there is nothing political in his program. That is, the program is based on an activist role for the state, specifically, for the executive branch, because the present government has not as yet demonstrated its support of the ideas which make up the bulk of the Presidential program, and the executive branch officials will find it difficult to subject their own interests, for them the sacred thing, to the Chief Executive's new course.

How, then, do the political forces line up on economic issues after four years of independence and, specifically, on the President's strategy? The Parliamentary majority cannot really favor it while at the same time it does not want to risk unmasking itself by openly voting against the program, and for this reason it has to resort to sophisticated maneuvering in order to delay the adoption of crucial proposals. The managerial elite, including that in the regions and in some industries, will traditionally adapt any innovations to suit their own interests and thus will try to carry out their own program of transformations. To combat all this, guided only by the principle of an exceptional role for the state, will be very difficult. Support for the President's policy from below will not be sufficiently organized; the possibilities of gaining such support are, for the time being, rather limited, except perhaps for moral and psychological support from reform-oriented political parties. The President's team will have to make major efforts (if this happens to be part of their plan) to have the program agree with the immediate /122/ interests of the economically active segment of the population and draw into it the latter's energy. Otherwise, everything will again be decided within the power structure due to a lack of constructive participation by society at large. Thus, the most valuable thing in the program is its promise to decrease the dependence of society on the state rather than specific programs.

The present actions of those in power are impelled by various factors; they are not the result of either inner convictions or any profound understanding of mechanisms of social development. For some members of the ruling elite one more change of political course is a means of self-preservation, for others it is just another experiment, another option, the differences among which are not always sufficiently understood, and only for a few does it coincide with real convictions which do not rely on the vicissitudes of momentary economic or political advantage.

The etatists hold that, given the current socioeconomic situation, state bodies have to be entrusted with the most urgent and responsible tasks: handling the energy crisis, inflation, mass pauperization, combating rising crime, etc. But in fact, these and the other crises we face are caused by the state itself. Moreover, it causes them continuously and on an ever-widening scale while mitigating them only from time to time. Excuses and explanations offered by top leaders that the state is not in a position to do better and more for the people have become commonplace. As far as the state and power structure are concerned, this might well be true. But this simply dooms the people and the society to wait and see.

It is very symptomatic that all comprehensive programs of aid to the postcommunist countries presuppose precisely the opposite, i.e., restricting the role of the state in society. This is seen as an essentially important prerequisite for efficiently utilizing the aid and acquiring self-sustaining viability.

The peculiarities of Ukraine's position in the world community and on the plane of historical development also stimulate the rapid as possible supplementing of state efforts /123/ by nongovernmental action. Geopolitical considerations cause Russia and our closest western neighbors to get priority attention from the developed countries. This is the reality of international politics. Much can be changed, if a "second front" of transformation is opened and Ukrainian society as a whole begins to assert itself internationally. Then the nation's entire potential, thus far little known, would be put to work.

In assessing possible alternatives and developmental models for Ukraine, the key notion is the purpose and goal of reform. Means must conform to ends. If we are to orient ourselves toward the experience of Western countries (which, in general, is coming to be ever more widely recognized), then it is important to realize that the corresponding model should be based on society's assuming the role of active subject. The state as such a mechanism is unable, in principle, to build a developed democratic society from the top down. Society as such must be capable of self-development and evolution, while the state must safeguard and foster the process.

Until the ruling elite is renewed in a real sense, so long as the system of management by an army of state officials (which is formed by the system itself as an anti-social force) is not displaced, the relationship between society and the state cannot be brought into harmony. To be carried away by and to limit oneself to "state-building" as the basis for a strategy of reform means to commit a tragic blunder.

Understandably, an amorphous society will not be able to find a proper strategy. The only thing we have had to rely on thus far was trial and error. Ukraine has been marking time in this way, without making any visible progress, for the past four years. This has been a period of procrastination, palliative measures, and political stagnation. Real problems have been ignored and put off rather than solved. And, most importantly, the constructive potential and the efficacy of our society as well as of the state itself have not been practically developed.

Today this process, if only in a semi-spontaneous version, can and must be accelerated. And what is important is /124/ that the outcomes of trial and error made should be politically recorded and made available to the public at large. A clear division of political responsibility among individual state officials and specific political forces for their political actions must become axiomatic. Only then can politics eventually perform a service to the economy, can the society become structured, and thus able to actively and purposefully transform itself.

2. From State-Building to Building Civil Society

Ukraine's complex social problems can be solved only by building a civil society, not by state-building. Only in this way can two opposed energies be reconciled and harmonized: a destructive one aimed at destroying the old elitist set-up and a constructive one aimed at creating a new democratic order. However, it is essential to understand that the democratic nature of a new state (as well as its true internal and external stability) can only be achieved by forming a developed civil society, rather than forming it through any manipulations with the old elitist (oligarchic) state.

The main reason for the immaturity of civil society in the postcommunist (and particularly post-Soviet) world is the prolonged absence of political and economic freedoms. The formation of civil society in Ukraine is essentially complicated by its multiethnic or, actually, bi-ethnic character. Since democratic processes evolved here in close contact with those of national liberation (i.e., the emancipation of civil society from the totalitarian state was largely identified in the popular mind with the emancipation of Ukrainian society from the empire) a large portion of the population, which is Russian or Russian-speaking, displayed a cautious wait-and-see attitude to these processes. And although this segment of the population did not support the imperial nomenklatura or the formation of pro-Moscow "interfronts," it also did not support the national democrats, keeping a kind of "neutrality" and displaying an unfortunate passivity toward the republic's political life.

The worst thing is that this part of the population, /125/ while disliking the nomenklatura and mistrusting the national democrats, did not put up their own leaders and never constituted itself as an independent political force. Facing a choice between the "communists" and "national democrats," it naturally opted for a known evil over an unknown (hence suspicious) good.

This segment of the population was "lost," to some extent, by the advocates of an independent Ukrainian state who, as has already been noted, resorted to a fatal collaboration with the former communist nomenklatura. However, that same part of the population was "won," by the nomenklatura, which managed (using various propaganda ploys) to identify in mass awareness the notion of "democracy" with something purely "Ukrainian," hence "nationalistic," and thus "extremist," that is, "Banderite" (after Stepan Bandera, leader of the more radical splinter of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in the 1940s and 1950s) or "Galician" ("West Ukrainian"). This same nomenklatura in Ukraine actually used against its rivals the same method as chauvinists use in Russia, the difference being that in Russia "democracy" was identified in the eyes of the ordinary man in the street with "Judeo-Masonic" plots, while Ukraine's Russified nomenklatura identifies democracy with a "Galician" or "West Ukrainian" conspiracy. In both cases, however, an "internal" enemy has been made an "external" one, and a large portion of the population has been persuaded that "democracy" is something "hostile," dropped on them from outside, the result of some scheme, plot, intrigue, a sinister import.

As a matter of fact, civil society in today's Ukraine mainly embraces Ukrainians not in an ethnic sense but in a political one (the nucleus of the still unformed civil society practically coincides with that of a still unformed political nation). Thus the problem becomes how to enlarge civil society so as to encompass the nationally indifferent segment of the population. And this applies not only to the Russianspeaking cities, but to the Ukrainian countryside, which still largely remains at a feudal, pre-national level of ethnic selfawareness. /126/

It is clear that the structures of civil society in these two gigantic segments of the population have to be formed primarily from within. It is equally clear that this process can be catalyzed, speeded up, or retarded, and the latter is now being done quite successfully by the postcommunist nomenklatura. On the one hand, it restricts economic freedom in every way possible way, undermines the legal safeguards of that freedom, sabotages privatization, and prevents the appearance of a citizen, economically independent from it, that is, from this same nomenklatura.

3. Cultural-Political Models of Social Development

Sociopolitical prognostication in present-day Ukraine is usually based on forecasts and considerations of an essentially economic or political nature. Economism in modeling possible paths of development naturally makes sense in the context of the practically hopeless economic collapse of the country. At the same time, the political struggle of small but numerous parties is marked today with juridical-legal accents. Therefore, the previous inter-party contests the romanticism of the first years of national independence and cultural sovereignty drifted to the juridical-legal side: a case in point is, first of all, the necessity of making and passing new rules of the political game under new circumstances (namely, adopting a new Constitution or the law on power proposed by President Kuchma, etc.). In other words, in the political projections of both the present establishment and leaders of new political formations primary attention is attached to matters of national, and particularly economic survival, and hence, to the preservation of their political status and the consolidation of their political influence. All this is in sharp contrast to the first years of independence, when the slogans chanted were of a primarily cultural and ideological nature.

However, a certain neglect of the cultural policy aspect in charting the future of Ukraine is far from an indicator of its unimportance for prognostication. Here one should not confuse a true cultural policy (we use the term to denote a /127/ true political analysis and understanding of the practical significance of national-cultural, ethno-cultural and civilization-related {general cultural} factors for a state's political guidance) given the previous period's slogans of national liberation, slogans which were easily transformed into authoritarian nationalistic dogmas. Such an assessment makes it possible to grasp the whole importance of culture-political thinking and practices in the postcommunist period. It is difficult to overestimate the field of cultural-political ideas, orientations, political motives, and actions for understanding the social basis of postcommunist transformations. This field is sometimes spoken of in everyday conversation as a common striving, and social upsurge (of will, volition) which is projected into the future for the purpose of creating the new and modernizing transformation of the presently available. Something similar to this can be seen from examples of the ambivalent period of Ukrainization in the 1920s, which was carried out parallel (and not by accident) to the violent process of industrialization and mass collectivization of farmers in Ukraine.

Recognition of the fundamental significance of the Protestant ethic for civilized forms of capitalist relations is now a commonplace in modern sociology and culture studies.8 So what else can we hope for in Ukraine?

Modeling Ukraine's possible paths of development is directly dependent on answering the question of the preconditions of the all-Ukrainian cultural-political unification and the corresponding real culture policy of present or future authorities. At the same time, a choice between various political versions of such unification is also a selection of one or another model of economic modernization. Cultural choice and political and economic transformations are inseparable.

Based on the cultural-political attitude which is present in the political consciousness one can to simplify greatly, of course find such basic models of, if not development, then at least regular progress into the future.

The situation is quite likely to be recognized when a model of ethno-cultural political collectivity comes forward as a result of a socio-political choice, i.e., a cultural-politi-/128/cal model of state- and nation-building based on a radical nationalist understanding of the people's existential unity in Ukraine. If such a cultural-political orientation is chosen, its inadvertent result might well be a cultural, and hence, political distrust among various regions of Ukraine, its federalization, either official or unofficial but de facto; political conflicts, aggravation of political tensions, and confrontation. For there are essential differences in how Ukrainians from various regions of Ukraine experience their Ukrainian identity. If this does not result in civil conflict, then in a somewhat less grave version it will have to be dealt with as an unproductive situation which may persist for years. In this model, everything in Ukraine could wind up in a dead


In addition, this model of ethno-cultural political unity, consciously or unconsciously for its supporters, is genetically related to the traditionalist world view, i.e., conservatism in respect to cultural-value orientations and political conservatism. That is why the disposition of mind toward modernization loses for this model any specific meaning along with all other urgent issues of possible economic modernization.

If in the situation of the rapid aggravation of the socioeconomic crisis and utter impoverishment of the population people happen to incline toward the social model of political unity (and it is couched in "socialist-communist terms" of economic equality, as a matter of secondary importance of national-cultural ways of life), chances that the striving for independent state existence, Ukraine's own system of economic management, and national activism could fade away


The future of the "social" model is quite obvious. It is the establishment of a new form of Ukraine's dependence, primarily on Russia, of stagnation and cultural-political marginalization. In such a case modernization is possible only as a replication of what is produced by others. Starting with the formation of economic relationships based on Ukraine's own cultural specifics and ending with inventions of up-to-date industrial, social and commercial technolo-/129/gies in all these extremely important domains of human activity the self-regulation of people's lives vanishes.

The contradictory cultural-political experience of the past four years makes it essential to prefer a model of state and societal organization which presupposes a socially and politically stratified society with developed democratic institutions. This, however, does not imply a dominant role for national-cultural cosmopolitanism.

Thus, the important point is to create on the basis of the proto-democratic core of ethno-national cultural networks a common way of life, language, customs, and traditions a modern state-organized civil community a political nation. Only proceeding from such a cultural-political model is it possible to mold a maximally formalized, i.e., a non-violent national political community in the judiciary openness of which all creative novelties, including economic modernization will find social legitimization.

* * *

Ukraine's path to the development of democracy and national culture can lie only in the state and politicians trying to do everything possible in order to construct a modern foundation for national political consensus. This foundation is civil society, the relations among people in which differ from the "national-ethnic, cultural" sphere proper by developed private interests, their rational grounding, and independence of people from political structures. This is a matter for the future organization of the institutions of future democracy and the uniting of the political nation around the national nucleus of our protodemocratic community.

Ukrainian society needs a powerful wave of radical change which would bring about its liberation not only from foreign domination but also from its internal fetters of statebureaucracy-corruption and thereby trigger its internal mechanisms of self-development and self-regulation. Regrettably, such a prospect is, in its turn, limited to a great extent by the feebleness of and lack of unity among the democratic forces, by their involvement in the power structures and their lack of readiness to implement their /130/own strategy of reforms.

Progress toward solving societal problems in Ukraine should be measured first of all by the extent of the state's retreat on the domestic front, by how purposefully its functions in the economy, politics, and its presence in everyday life are reduced. Building civil society must be our top priority. To these ends the activities of all truly patriotic forces should be reoriented. For, without a civilized society, a Ukrainian state simply cannot be built.

8. We refer the reader to the classic work, Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.

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