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[The Political Analysis of Postcommunism. Kyiv: Political Thought, 1995, pp. 143-161.]

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Political Power and the Political Elite

1 Andriy FEDOROV, 2 Viktor MALAKHOV, 3 Oleh BILYI, 4 Mykola RYABCHUK, 5 Volodymyr POLOKHALO.




1. The Narcissism of the Postcommunist Elite


In the postcommunist period the word "elite" can hardly be regarded as a neutral descriptive term of the social sciences. Its meaning is, undoubtedly, related to normative notions and is, to a great extent, narcissistic. The word is also a sort of social myth and, therefore, it must be approached with caution, if we do not wish to fall into a less than critical attitude toward reality. This danger can be very real. Today the postcommunist world witnesses much talk about the political elite and the intelligentsia quite in the spirit of Ortega-y-Gasset. De facto, all top state officials, members of parliament, and political leaders are assigned to the elite. It is referred to as a milieu that relegates leaders to the theater of social life. The elite is spoken of as a collective interpreter of the national interests and a center of competence for all spheres of human activities, etc. But, at the same time, few scholars have paid attention to the fact that "elitism" is not so much a quality as an ideological entourage, a desirable setting for the group of people in power who under postcommunist conditions pass for an elite.

Habitually, the elite is considered to be the chosen, the best (incidentally, its political sense is inherent in the Latin verb eligare, from which the French elite originated). What is more, this chosen nature is understood as self-evident in the context of the word "elite." It is no wonder that in the /144/ West from the 1920s on, the concept of "elites" was put forward to counter Leftist rhetoric about the "ruling clique," "200 families," etc. The introduction of the catchword "elite" into mass consciousness (within the context of an ideology of life) can be considered a very successful ideological trick. The elite itself is the source of propaganda about its elitism: be it a political or intellectual establishment, acknowledged celebrities in the creative arts and mass media, the problem of elitism remains, nevertheless, narcissistic, i.e., a problem of high self-esteem and positive self-identification of a group of people living in immediate contact in the immediate vicinity of power and taking (or wanting to take) part in the leadership of society and formulation of its ideological and political strategies.

All this is not to say that the word "elite" has no meaning. On the contrary, the problem of elite formation and renewal is a top priority task for a state especially a postcommunist state, when the building of social edifice is just beginning and where much depends on how the top echelons of comport themselves.

But it is precisely in this respect that the situation in most postcommunist states is rather lamentable. In Ukraine under conditions of the primitive accumulation of capital by a narrow circle of people, often closely connected with the old communist nomenklatura, popular opinion associated the idea of power less with the word "elite" than with the word "mafia." The Ukrainian population's turnout (so strikingly high against the background of the depressing political passivity of the past few years) during the parliamentary elections held in March-April 1994 and the ensuing victory of the Left can be explained prima.ily by popular hopes pinned on those political groups whose political image does not correlate in the mass consciousness with an obviously non-elitarian image of today's nouveaux riches.






2. The Political Elite and the Intellectuals


At first sight, the intellellectuals seem to be merely a part of the nation's elite or, say, its spiritual elite. /145/ However, the words "elite" and "intelligentsia" have essentially different meanings, particularly, in their relation to the state. The difference can even be seen in their closely elated etymologies: elite from the Latin eligo, meaning "I pick up, pluck, select, etc.," while intelligentsia is also of Latin origin from lego, "I pick up, gather, choose," with the prefix intel, "among, between," implying spiritual affinity. If, from the very beginning, the elite presupposes those who select it, the intelligentsia is such a "reasoning substance," which, so to speak, slips through the fingers of those who would create forms for it and seeks to autonomously regulate its being.

As a protest against the involvement of intellectuals in totalitarian political movements during the interwar period, Julien Benda in his book, The Treason of the Intellectuals, traced the intellectuial's calling to the medieval clerc (whence the word cleric also derives), who was concerned with the search for eternal spiritual truth and thus could not become involved in secular political affairs without betraying his calling as an intellectual. This distinction also makes sense in the postcommunist context. Under any circumstances, the elite is something that is selected or formed for some purpose. Its very existence is linked to the presence of a certain recognized establishment, a stable system of values, in accordance with which individuals are "enrolled" in the elite, and its possible evaluation is accomplished. For example, the activities of our current political elite might be assessed on the basis of the extent it works to affirm and develop Ukrainian statehood. Obviously, any elite needs a specific, carefully designed system of education and socialization again, with some particular strategic objectives in view. Because the elite is composed of selected individuals, it is viewed less as an independent subject of power than an attribute of a larger entity. The intelligentsia is quite another matter. Embodying the very spirit of creativity, it cannot, in principle, be formed according to a set pattern or in accordance with some predetermined criteria. As a natural outgrowth of some corresponding community, it reflects all the idiosyncrasies of its specific historical manifestations and /146/ self-realization.

The elite as such seeks and is supposed to seek leadership and power; but this very craving would be impossible without recognition of super-power over it, one which grants power prerogatives and delineates the course which the leader has to follow, that is, the basic direction of contests among power-seekers. Intellectuals remain aloof from such contests and emerge, in their turn, as an agent which formulates responsible decisions relating to the spiritual destiny of the nation and its absolute values, not to the material acquisitions of political and state institutions, tactical and strategic decisions, and such. From this flows its inherent moral value. The basic attitude of the intellectuals toward power is not one of submission to or identification with it (which is typical of the elite) but a dialog (which is also crucial to those in power if they do not want to lose valuable insight about the situation in society) about the deep tendencies of the entity they represent. The unfortunate thing about intellectuals in a number of postcommunist states is not that they have abandoned all ambitions for power, but the opposite: it is the penchant of many intellectuals for superficial "elitarization," for being transformed into a quasi-elite that, without becoming a real elite, loses its sense of mission as intelligentsia. Suffice it to dangle before such an intellectual the external attributes and privileges today associated with the power elite, and he finds its easy to join, despite his lack of requisite qualifications and aptitudes. Perhaps not least because the very principles of forming the intelligentsia were until recently based on the specific Communist Party elitism embodied in the old "nomenklatura selection and placement of cadres" and such.

Postcommunist society is equally in need of both a qualified elite, which can feed the power structures and find appropriate solutions to strategic tasks of national development, and a true, spiritually mature intelligentsia. A crisis situation regarding the latter's formation and preparation is one of the most painful problems of postcommunist culture. /147/






3. The Dualistic Nature of the Cultural and Political Elite


There is sufficient reason to regard a political elite primarily as a political grouping or stratum of leaders; for the semantic core of the notion of an "elite" is power as such. Also of no exception is any extended interpretation of this notion as concretized against various spheres of human activities. For does not the very pretension to the status of being a spiritual elite imply some lost, unattained, unattainable power? And here belles lettres plays an exceptional role.

Rulers and poets seem to compete for the role of educator. Aristotle saw to Alexander the Great's intellectual health, while Louis XIV supervised the creative efforts of Moliere. Nicholas I corrected Pushkin's and Shevchenko's poetry, while Pushkin dreamt of Nicholas I's tyranny following but one step after the "majestic tyranny" of Peter I. Stalin kept an eye on the musing of Bulgakov and Rylsky, and Voltaire assumed the role of a lay confessor to Friedrich II. Still more examples can be cited from the postcommunist states, including Ukraine.

The very nature of verbal activity presupposes a certain coercion, volition, and will to power, but the former's specific coloring is almost always determined by the will for national self-determination and the etatist project as a guarantor of this self-determination in conjunction with a personal destiny. Moreover, the absence of a genuine Ukrainian state as a certain line-up of power relations, compels one to orient oneself towards destructive, anarchic types of power discourse, and towards compensating for the lack of legal and economic levers of influencing life by a literary and artistic syncretism. This situation actually describes the physiognomy of postcommunist cultural elite, especially in Ukraine. This may be defined as a catacomb type of elite. Its attitude to power (namely, an alien, hostile statehood) also shapes the type of discourse. It is, above all, prophetic speech raised on the background of Christian culture.

Paradoxically, it is the universal state with its func-/148/tional idiocy and belief in the power of brute force that guarantees the emergence and strengthening of a catacomb elite as well as improvement of its subculture.

The catacomb elite is of a dualistic nature. On the one hand, it clashes with the authorities as a marginal intellectual, an outcast, and even as fool. On the other, it cherishes the ideal of statehood. Protesting against hierarchy, this elite is forced to address in itself what Nietzsche called ressentiment (the spirit of frantic competition, envy, and bitterness) and at the same time to play the role of "spiritual leader." This results in a certain diminishing and, eventually, loss of the symbolic force of this elite. Democratism gradually becomes its inevitable enemy. The catacomb elite is mainly oriented toward the cult of feeling and intuition. Like Jesus, it chooses God's fools, those bearers of the divine Logos, as its interlocutors, rather than the wise (remember "The Ex-Convict" and "The Idiot" by Shevchenko). "The Ex-Convict" is also the founder of mystic historiography expressed in "The Muscovite Soldier's Well." The representatives of this elite belong to charismatic leaders and divines who oppose themselves to bureaucratic structures and the system of rational repressive rules. Such a leader gains authority by relying on symbolic codes: these may be ruins, as in the case of Shevchenko, or, as in the case with Lesya Ukrainka, an authoritative cultural and historical analogy ("Orgy"). Such a symbolic code encourages the spirit of vengeance. Words arouse the energy of condemnation and program the ballistics of feelings.

The contradiction between, so to speak, the social disintegration of the catacomb elite and an inevitable struggle with the inner forms of power, immanent in the knowledge created by the intellectual, leads to its duality. It is the conflict between one's social role and culturo-historically articulated idea of his destiny in the world. In the final analysis, this process culminates in the emergence of a pseudo-elite, customary for totalitarian and neo-totalitarian political systems, including those in the postcommunist states. For servility and conformism becomes the main criterion for recruitment into the ruling stratum. Obsequious self-humiliation /149/and obedience, a surrogate for Christian behavior, become the highest virtues in society. This relates, first of all, to cultural elites.

An essential moment in establishing an elite is legitimization. This presupposes popular recognition of a power hierarchy along with further mythologizing of the leaders' persons. Irrespective of value factors intellect, brute force, or moral standards its social basis remains the will to power.

In communist totalitarian conditions, legitimization was based on the so-called "Führer principle," i.e., an essentially hierarchic fragmentation of the highest authority. This principle was reproduced in all fields of public life, above all in the ideological-spiritual industry. National artistic elites were legitimized in a dualistic system of loyalty: loyalty to the national idea and to the universal state with its communist totems. This very duality called forth a specific schizophrenic discourse with a depersonalized recipient-censor. This kind of schizophrenia is unnatural, for it causes an identity crisis in the individual. Hence the individual's desire to rid himself, at the first opportunity, of the burden of Other-directed discourse. And for this reason it is no accident that writers have found themselves among the staunchest supporters of the parties of power in many postcommunist states. They seemed to receive the simplest way of overcoming this crisis of identity and self-assertion: they merely have to step up to the podium. Still, however, the schizophrenia of the statesmen/poets persists. For the democratic jargon used during the transition from a brief period of ideological "opposition" to that of defending the government was of a hypercritical nature. Integration into governmental structures has destroyed the old basis of legitimacy foundation grounded in this jargon, for the sake of defending those structures. Thus, any catacomb elite is the pluperfect of an elite which may be defined as a servile or conformist.

This is also witnessed by the process of changing the heroes of the power discourse. For example, in the days of the "communist archaics" the ideal hero was the communist /150/ fighter, who in the "totalitarian classical" period gave way to the communist secretary. Communal leader-worship transforms itself into the Führerprincip.

In the postcommunist period this kind of figure becomes the militant knight of national revival with some features of the bureaucratic hierarch, an angel with the bureaucrat's wings of paper. Noteworthy is a change of genre matrixes within which the power discourse is established. The languid lyricism of servile ritual hands over torch to a spokesman/preacher. A new type of parliamentary "homiletic" is born.

The catacomb and servile spiritual elites are different stages in the historical course of the will to power. The difference is that the catacomb elite creates its own subculture, a unique self-valued semiotic space. Orientation toward prophetic speech enables it to avoid the boring rituals of a lesson or service.

Clearly, typologies of national elites (especially in the postcommunist states) has, like all classifications, its flaws. First, it does not reflect the whole variety of leading social strata (groups) which may be called elitarian. Second, it fails to adequately embrace twentieth century sociopolitical experience. However, in contrast with Dmytro Dontsov, who considered self-sacrifice in the name of an idea and specific spiritual energy as the main feature of a leading stratum, one might well point to its will to power and the ambivalent nature of spiritual power. This will is materialized through a discourse which entails certain cultural and historical conventions. Nietzsche provided the most exact characterization of the rudimentary adherence to such conventions: "Trying to get power, the weak struggle for personal freedom, the strong for social restructuring, the strongest for happiness of all humankind."






4. The Party of Power Between "Communism" and "Nationalism"


One of the most widespread images of Ukraine, now current in the West, has assumed a rather unattractive shape /151/ in the last few years since the West first took note of Ukraine's existence. Ukraine is thought to be ruled by a "crypto-communist" regime which has shown its total inefficiency and corruptness, bringing about political and economic collapse in a country hastily made independent.

However, there are significant essential and objective reasons for such an inadequate, primitive image of Ukraine. They follow from a specific, if not unique, situation in Ukraine which cannot be studied by mechanistically applying existing concepts because it differs essentially from those in East Central Europe, the Third World, and, in the long run, in Russia though it does have certain (sometimes rather deceptive) similarities with each of them.

To understand the true nature of the ruling regime in Ukraine, one should consider, above all, the phenomenon of the so-called "party of power," i.e., an informal, non-institutionalized, but quite influential social force with certain political and economic interests as well as powerful means of defending the latter. At the very outset of Ukrainian independence, political scientists gave quite an accurate definition of the "party of power" as a political bloc composed of the pragmatically-oriented and deideologized upper strata of the old communist nomenklatura, representatives of the state apparatus, mass media, and managers in the traditional sectors of industry and agriculture.10

Since September 1991 when Ukraine proclaimed independence, its representatives continued to occupy key positions in the Cabinet of Ministers; dominate the local bodies in most regions; virtually monopolize the radio and television, control a considerable part of the national Ukrainian newspapers and an absolute majority of local newspapers; hold in their hands (as before) the courts, procuracy and police; form electoral commissions to their liking; and influence fundamentally the interpretation and application of national referendums, as well as others laws in this country.

This is, in fact, the party of the old communist establishment, i.e., an "inner party" as it was aptly called by George Orwell in his novel 1984. After the abortive coup of August 1991 this "inner party" accepted quite easily the dis-/152/solution of the "outer" one, i.e., the multimillion-strong and largely show-piece party of the "workers, peasants, and the whole Soviet people." This occurred primarily because the years of so-called perestroika culminated the long process of deideologizing the "inner party," and its stratification into orthodox and pragmatic members. The latter ceased to regard the mass Communist Party as necessary and functional, and got rid of it at the first opportunity, and did likewise with the already ineffective (in terms of preserving its power) Marxist-Leninist ideology. Having discarded all things unnecessary, the "inner party" essentially increased its social maneuverability and adaptibility to new political conditions.

This "party" can truly be considered "crypto-communist," to a large extent, for its members habitually display political and economic conservatism, a penchant for authoritarianism and command-administrative methods of activity, along with a high degree of mutual protection and clannish association.11 The nomenklatura is, in fact, the ruling oligarchy which used to be called the communist nomenklatura before 1991, and received the rather apt title, "party of power," thereafter, in spite of its social mimicry, change of slogans, and attempts to rule anonymously. Clearly, it was not a party in the true sense of the word, either before or after the coup. It was the state, i.e., the state apparatus, the collective holder of political power and property; and it is this situation that it tries to freeze with its ostentatious "non-party status."

Even if we consider the activities of the "party of power" without any coordination, the very fact of its representatives' concerted actions testifies to their belonging to a certain community whose members have common ("correct" in Orwell's terms) instincts. These instincts help them survive in the postcommunist social environment. The only principle this "party" will never betray is preservation of its own power and property (in any ideological wrapping or under any political slogan), while all other "principles" are secondary, rudimentary, and dispensable.

The "party of power" seems to have formally "opted" for true political independence and democracy, a multi-party /153/ system and market economy, but only to the extent that it does not violate its main principle. This principle means, as stated above, preservation of power and property. This is why it "builds" a "market economy" in a rather specific way, peculiar to the mafia and oligarchy. This is why it holds in check and restricts in every way possible the evolution of real democracy and a multi-party system (and civil society in general) from delaying the adoption of a new ("non-Soviet") constitution to the holding of real parliamentary elections.

Yet, the most complicated question is the "choice" of political independence by the nomenklatura. It is from this that most illusions about the "patriotism" of the "party of power" and, at the same time, most speculations about its alleged "nationalism" seem to have emerged. Not ruling out certain "patriotic" or even "nationalistic" intentions by some representatives of the old nomenklatura, one may still say that its "independence-seeking" is primarily of a clanish and corporativist, rather than ethnic or even state-building, nature. Any oligarchy "seeks independence" only insofar as independence from a "superior" sovereign expands its access to power and property without jeopardizing too much its previous privileged position. This "immanent" independence-seeking, given a certain weakening of the "suzerain" ("Godfather" or "General Secretary"), tends to manifest itself at all levels from Union or autonomous republic through the region or district down to the individual collective farm.

The old Ukrainian communist nomenklatura "chose" democracy and the multi-party system only as a kind of counterweight to its own sovereignty. For it first had to overcome the resistance of more conservative, pro-imperial forces within its own ranks to achieve sovereign status; and to do so, required the bearers of the national idea as an ally. Second, still moving towards sovereign status, it also had to enlist the support or at least the sympathetic understanding of the liberal democratic West and, hence, accept ("choose"), if only in words, the current democratic rules of the game. And this is precisely what the "party of power" /154/ did: it borrowed almost allthe national democratic slogans from the autumn of 1991, while preserving its old corporativist nature.

While fulfilling the national democratic program in a way corresponding to its own interests (independence, state building), the "party of power" also sought to fulfill the communist program: protecting "Soviet power," supporting the feudal collective-farm system, and preserving the socalled "property of the entire people" (i.e., collective oligarchic property). In so doing, it consciously or unconsciously fulfills (at the level of "social instinct") its main function, namely, its own program aimed at the anonymous exercise of power and shadow privatization of property in the interests of the ruling elite.

Guided by "correct intuition" (Orwell) rather than "correct views," the "party of power" adjusts its slogans and ideology to the requirements of the moment, becoming a kind of mirror of social sentiments, their populist mediator and mouthpiece. This ideological eclecticism, in fact, reflects the ambivalent state of awareness. Orientation toward this awareness and exploitation of its inferiority can undoubtedly produce a short-term political effect. The "protean nature" and "ambivalence" of the "party of power" enables it to exert far-reaching influence on various social strata, gives it considerable room for maneuvering, and can really make it, for some time, a consolidating force in society. However, this strategy fixes, in the final analysis, an orientation to mutually exclusive values (a little capitalism, a little socialism; a little democracy, a little "strong hand"; a bit of the free market, a bit of administrative leveling, etc.) and thus deepens the social-psychological disorientation and social neurasthenia, leading to "inconsistent development of democratic processes" and objectively retarding the creation of a full-fledged civil society or even preventing it.12

Mixed attitudes to the "party of power" became, in fact, the problem which caused a fundamental split among the national democrats. This split actually began immediately after Ukraine gained independence, when a large number of national democrats decided that the main objective of the /155/their movement had been achieved, and agreed unconditionally to cooperate with the "party of power," occupying important (though by no means pivotal) posts in the ministries, embassies, and the presidential apparat.






5. Neototalitarian Transformations of Postcommunist Power in Ukraine


In any democratic state there is always a political elite (which consists of the ruling stratum or active and established political minority plus an opposed counter-elite consisting of another organized minority seeking power) and the majority of people. One of the main problems of democratic society is how to safeguard the majority's effective control of the elite in a way that most benefits the people. This is achieved by seeking and then establishing democratic institutions which provide for the large scale representation of society in the ruling stratum, ensure its qualitative renewal, and prevent it from transforming itself into an oligarchy, that is, a closed, ruling caste alienated from the people.

In Ukraine, which proclaimed national independence a few days after the abortive army/Communist Party Putsch in the former USSR in August 1991, political conditions remain almost the way they were when the monocratic power of the Communist Party still existed. Because these conditions remain basically unchanged, it is only natural that today Ukraine witnesses a plundering unprecedented in scope and violence of the majority by this organized minority. This is violence in the most literal sense, which inflicts colossal material losses on the majority, damaging their physical and emotional health. However, while the Stalin-Brezhnev variant of the political system legitimized violence by the elite with the aid of an ideological myth about the "radiant communist future," after 1991 leaders have actively used (and thereby discredited) the ideal of "building an independent democratic state."

In other words, in terms of its prospects of democratic transformations and the formation of civil society, Ukraine is today undoubtedly among the outsiders of the postcommu-/156/nist world. The historical distance between Ukraine and Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, or certain other postcommunist states is rapidly increasing and may already be decades apart. One of the main reasons determining the direction of the transformation of political power in Ukraine, which can be described as postcommunist, nomenklaturadominated, and simultaneously neo-totalitarian, lies in its extreme uncertainty (when compared to the above-mentioned countries) as to where its interests lie and the weak political will of its socially active individuals.

It is also clear that societies are capable of assuring the large-scale representation of various social strata in the ruling political elite and the counter-elite interests and aspirations only under conditions of well-developed socially stratification. Ideally, such a society should be dominated by a large middle class (or "middle income group") which, in democratically developed nations, is the main element necessary for the socioeconomic development of a society as well as political stability in a nation. How, then, does Ukrainian society compare in this light?

Its social structure is a sort of amorphous mass, lacking any clear-cut social strata and social self-identification. This means that most of the population have not yet formed (nor become aware of) their real, concrete, well-defined social interests and social status. Under conditions of a drastic decline in living standards, the lumpenized stratum is growing rapidly, while the middle class remains numerically small.

Simultaneously, an increasing marginalization of a sizable portion of the population, particularly the young, is taking place. Uncertainty of social interests, along with the absence of civic values and civil consciousness have led to unprecedented aberrations in ethical behavior, especially among those who have been marginalized. These attitudes are characterized by vagueness and mobility of the distinctions between truth and lie, law and crime, etc. A widespread marginal self-awareness is oriented and conducive to social and political instability of society along with extremist actions in everyday sociopolitical life. /157/

Ukrainian society as a whole is characterized above all by deep social disintegration. This is explained by the weakness of the interests and thus of social will on the part of the small strata of society which support economic and political modernization. The uncertainty of social interests and undefined quality of social self-identification in today's Ukrainian society prevents the formation of even the prerequisites for a transition to civil society and hence establishment of a democratic system for recruiting the ruling elite.

The majority of the population is unable to overcome in a relatively short time the stereotypes of authoritarian consciousness and communitarian way of life. In other words, Ukraine is not prepared to accept alternative values, in particular, those of civil society.

All this is connected with the socio-genetic legacy and genetic reserve, which Ukraine inherited after the collapse of the communist regime in the former USSR and disintegration of the latter. The politocide and sociocide (not only the 1933 famine, which wiped out almost all the peasantry, the backbone of the Ukrainian nation, but the complete elimination of its historically-developed natural social strata), countless victims of World War II, physical liquidation of the best representatives of the Ukrainian nation by the Stalinist regime, and Chernobyl casualties all this has no analogy in world history (except perhaps for Cambodia under Pol Pot) and has produced catastrophic consequences for Ukrainian society, including its social, cultural, and political degeneration and disintegration, along with its still-prevailing paralysis of political will.

It should be borne in mind that the political independence gained by Ukraine depended on a lucky chance fortuitous opportunity related to the abortive August 1991 Putsch of the orthodox part of the old nomenklatura, and was not a result of such internal political processes as the national liberation struggle or democratic demands of the Ukrainian political counter-elite which began to form from 1988 to 1991. And this is only natural, for of all Soviet republics Ukraine was the most "law abiding," and the nomenklatura took root most deeply and retained the most /158/ favorable conditions for holding on to power in Ukraine. Thus, it was primarily the nomenklatura, and not the numerous social subjects of political life against which the nomenklatura discriminated, that received independence, along with social and political carte blanche.

Independent Ukraine also inherited the former communist totalitarian nomenklatura, which managed to preserve real power and property quite easily after August 1991 by means of a unique exercise in political horse-trading: recruiting to its ranks the most conformist leaders of the former counter-elite and by a timely change in its slogans for the sake of a new "legitimacy."

An analysis of the political behavior of the current ruling stratum in Ukraine gives ample grounds to conclude that during the period of decline and transformation from a Communist totalitarian regime, a considerable part of the ruling nomenklatura bureaucracy was able to change its political mentality and follow the path of social and political compromise, as long as they preserve their power and privileges. This elite often succeeds in winning the support of numerous other social groups, which lack both consciousness of their own real interests and political experience. Such a "consolidation" is maintained by a minimal level of cooperation between the ruling bureaucracy and its rivals from the opposition counter-elite camp.

The current postcommunist "market of power" in Ukraine began to take shape immediately after the abortive August Putsch. Its particular feature was that the former communist ruling elite, pressed by its most reactionary and most odious representatives, consciously opened the door of the power market to those democrats and leaders of new political parties most willing to conform. For with the collapse of the CPSU the Ukrainian nomenklatura faced a dilemma: self-renewal or death.

The strength of the ruling stratum, and the weakness of other social strata were shown when for several months in late 1991 and early 1992, the "party of power" managed to engulf most of the former opposition groups to the Communist Party, allowing them limited access to the mar-/159/ket of power. This produced one main accomplishment: it drew a clear line of demarcation between the majority, who passively awaited change for the better, and the counterelite which had only recently pretended to stand up for that majority.

This is witnessed by the spiritual and political metamorphosis of many opposition leaders, who had been in opposition to the CPU and had been cast by chance into the political arena in 1988-1991. By disarming and splitting the opposition, the nomenklatura strengthened itself greatly, because it was able to exchange a few small symbolic concessions and posts for the cloak of "national-democratic" legitimacy. In other words, there was a unique diffusion of power between the parasitic former communist elite and the conformist counter-elite, which rendered real political and market reforms impossible in 1992-1995. And the place which the former opposition counter-elite occupied in the political process before August 1991 has been left practically vacant.

Beginning in August 1991, the ruling elite was able to swallow up the former opposition by co-opting most of its leaders. It also gained the cooperation of those democratically-inclined intellectuals, who had not actively participated in the political developments of 1988-1991. It is for this reason that, for example, the state Duma of Ukraine and its collegia were established.

In this way the "party of power" gained in three ways. First, it gained legitimacy in the eyes of the segment of the Ukrainian intelligentsia which had avoided cooperation with the CPU during the last two or three years before its self-dissolution and ban. Second, it weakened the intellectual potential of its scarce political opponents. Third, the State Duma and other similar institutions created after the ban on the Communist Party of Ukraine, became a kind of "cadre reserve" for various political posts. This has resulted in the establishment of the intellectuals and intelligentsia's dependence on those who wield power. The elite is now in desperate need of intellectual, "ideologists" and intellectual clercs capable of formulating and disseminating effective ideological and political myths to /160/ camouflage the real state of things and find new forms to legitimize its power.

Understandably, the old "new" postcommunist nomenklatura has not and cannot be objectively interested in the emergence of truly democratic institutions, which would ensure society's democratic progress, arouse and stimulate its political will, and assure substantive public control and influence over the political decision-making process. This would endanger the nomenklatura's dominant status, its ability to distribute and redistribute property. However, the low intellectual and cultural level of the current Ukrainian postcommunist nomenklatura (at all levels) along with its lack of professionalism and competence rapidly diminish its capability of social and political maneuvering, as well as its legitimacy. At the same time, it deepens the alienation of the current political power from the majority of the population. The latter's social discontent is gradually increasing and may in time develop into large-scale social unrest. This would make it all the more difficult for Ukraine's postcommunist nomenklatura to maintain the status quo by customary "peaceful" methods, tried and tested in the postcommunist period. It would also create objective prerequisites for using, in the long run, violence against the majority of the population, and enhances the probability of a permanent and long-term sociopolitical instability peculiar to the modern neo-totalitarian postcommunist regimes.

It is now obvious, not only to analysts but even the general public, that the changes now under way in the former communist states are of qualitatively different nature, different social content, and operate from a different system of social and political coordinates. From this we may find that unity and similarity among these countries which we have sought in their recent historical past, and perhaps we may also find it in the values and general slogans they declare, rather than in their reality of today and, even less so, in the reality of their near future.

As for Ukraine, as the preceding analysis bears witness, the essence of the transformation of political power after the collapse of the former USSR can be understood only /161/ within the context of a shadow political process of the ruling elite's painless, even organic transition from communist nomenklatura totalitarianism to postcommunist nomenklatura neo-totalitarianism.




10. Andrew Wilson, Valentyn Yakushyk, "Political Organizations in Ukraine," Suchasnist', No. 5, 1992, p.165 (in Ukrainian).

11. George Orwell, 1984 and Essays of Various Years, (Moscow, 1989), pp. 142-146 (in Russian).

12. Yevhen Holovakha, "The Peculiarities of Political Awareness: the Ambivalence of Society and Personality," Politolohichni chytannia, 1992, No. 1, p. 28 (in Ukrainian).





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