V. Ņ. Tretyakov. The End of the Partyness and Class Democracy
The idea to look at the principles of political government from a new angle came in 1989 when I observed the Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR. In Russia at the time these were the first alternative and sufficiently free elections of the highest authorities being held
Just like the majority of critically thinking people, I at that time believed that the Soviet Party System did not simply grow old, but in general was not suitable for political life as long as there was a monopoly of power in the hands of one authority. But this leads to the irreplaceability of power and the disappearance of political competition, whereas in neighboring countries, like in Europe and USA, existed – and we very well knew this – an effectively working multi-party democracy. Political matters are dealt with normally there. Interests of various social groups are presented and regarded in the "corridors of power," as Mikhail Gorbachev loved to say.
This was a theory. Then a time came of practical experience of the multi-party system, which coincided with my personal experience – as a citizen and voter – and professionally – as a political analyst.
To witness what was happening from year to year was more interesting. There were times when parties formed easily and times when to do this became harder because of arising administrative barriers. In this way, the quality of "the parties" became one and the same – lower.
After some time passed it was possible to do the first takeaways. They were disappointing
Gradually it became clear that the foreign multi-party democracies were not actually what they appeared to be, while in Russia the multi-party system just is not shape. Observe the electoral cycles now and a thought arises (at the time we still weren’t accustomed), that the conception of a multi-party system is either unusable in this era of European civilization, or particularly ineffective in Russia.
Consider the first thesis. We already saw in the end of the 1980’s and we see now, that in the West the multi-party system is degenerating or is being simplified to a two-party system. In the United States, the two-party system is officially recognized, although in principle any number of parties can be created. Republicans and Democrats – this is in essence, the representatives of two factions within the single ruling American class. And the entire electorate is mobilized on subsequent elections under that or another faction. The feeling arises, that factions themselves decide who will win elections.
In Great Britain, the two-party system generally is blessed as a tradition: this is an eternal fight of Conservatives and Laborists, although again parties can form as they wish, and recently a ‘third power’ of sorts has even risen that would share the type of power of the former Tory or Whig classes. A certain metamorphosis is also observed in France, Germany, Italy, countries with an obviously developed multi-party system. In these countries, a drastic simplification of the multi-party formula is occuring through creations of new parties based on old ones (as often happens in Italy) or the creation of blocks and coalitions (West Germany). If there several parties active, they are blocked: a good example is the famous German CDU/CSU blocks. No matter what, two political parties will nevertheless be fighting for power in Parliament. In other words, as the West’s experience has showed, the politics de jure is still declared multi-partied, but forms as de-facto two-party system.
We will now look at Russia from this point of view. What did I see as a voter after all of the elections I participated in? The first and most important takeaway: there was not one party during these elections that really reflected my interests. Despite the fact that these interests were not connected with some kind of small matters: I rather broadly looked at the state of the nation. I have usually found a party that relates to my values. But there was not one.
Thus, how could I vote in such circumstances? It is possible to approach this problem many different ways. Personally, I vote at Duma elections according to a simple principle: for the opposition party (that is, not for the party in power), which is, in my opinion, the most constructive method. The reason for this is that the party in power can easily pull enough votes, it will win without me. Also I have never been in agreement with their positions. It is important that alternative forces are presented at the highest levels.
At the same time, I understand only ones with a chance to win are those with appropriate resources administrative, financial and media. Most parties do not have them, no matter what ideas they may have put forth. So I saw the elections as a dispute between the ruling party and its most serious competitor.
What is the result? It turned out my participation in elections still led to a two-party system.
Another question arises: which members of our parliamentary races can honestly be called a "party" in the truest sense of the word? Apparently, we only have one: the Communist Party. Whether this is good or bad is a different subject. But I see a party’s ideology attached to history. I see a party leader who clearly expresses his views. I know very well what the party wants, it does not matter whether I like it or not. I cannot say the same about other parties. Somewhere there is a leader, but there is no coherent program, somewhere there is a great program, but the party has no chance to win, because it is not for anyone except for the authors who wrote such a wonderful text.
However much the Kremlin tried to create a force opposed to the Communist Party, was not enough. Anatoly Chubais has repeatedly declared that the final nail in the coffin of communism has already been driven. But the Communist Party still lives, because despite the close attempts to topple it, they have all come up short, whereas any other party can be destroyed in a matter of minutes, including the ruling party.
Imagine that tomorrow Vladimir Putin says on the air: "I'm leaving Edinaya Rossiya (United Russia), because it is not a party and has an incomprehensible structure that is meaningless and useless." This would take up every single inch of the news. A day after this presidential statement, try to hold the elections and see how many votes Edinaya Rossiya receives with all the resources they have. But if one person can say a few words and an entire party disappears from the political scene I'm sorry, what kind of party system can that be?
In other words, we had and have one opposition party the Communist Party. And one ruling quasi-party, Edinaya Rossiya, which has switched its name many times, although the best of these is the "party of power" because it accurately reflects its essence. Its ideology remains the same: for a certain group to stay in power who are uncertain as to what should happen to Russia’s future (if you don’t consider the all-too common words: "great", "flourishing", and so on.).
One would think why don’t I take a man from the street in the street if I do not prefer all this structural diversity, i.e. a multiparty system? But again, this in theory. In practice, traumatic memories reside in the minds of the average citizen of how the multi-party system emerged under Gorbachev, but the country was destroyed. Hence a natural question: why do we need a system that is destroying the country? It is better to let it be a one-party system so that the country will continue. So says the common man. That is why he does not think about party programs, and support those who advocate for maximum stability, thinking "hey, at least it’s not worse than it is."
The difference between the two electorates is that one sees stability in the past and the other sees stability in the present. But those and others do not have time to analyze the behavior of party programs and leaders in televised debates. How will they vote? Of course, for one of the "stable" parties, which is the ruling party, and for the opposition, i.e. the Communist party.
Theoretically, there could be a situation when voters find a party that reflects their interests like a representative of a social group or stratum. For instance, at one time the "Agricultural Party" existed and was even in attendance in the State Duma, who then merged with the Communists and later broke apart from them. In the end, the party disappeared into obscurity.
This of course is an absurd situation. In our country we have a giant agricultural population, around 30 or 40 million farmers. It would seem, agriculturalists should constantly attend the Duma, but for some reason this does not happen. Rural voters vote either for communists or for the ruling party.
It is doubtful that such a system differs from a particular democracy, and it is difficult to call it truly representative. But we have one of two outcomes: our party system is the kind where the agricultural party does not reflect the class interests or voters saw no points in its existence and do now want to support their membership fees.
Another example. Who still represents the interests of orphans? They are alone and for them it is important not to choose a party program, but having grown up, start a family, in order to escape the status of orphan, which can remain strong until the end of their life. Which party represents the interests of orphans today? CPRF, LDPR, Edinaya Rossiya? None of them. This is not surprising. I had, for example, parents, a complete family, and I also cannot be in their shoes. But Curia wards supervised and will represent their interests.
If you look at the question with an open mind, it is hard to believe that a party leader out of one or two or three parties can simultaneously look out for the interests of orphans, farmers, and oligarchs. This simply cannot happen. This leader will at some point bring experts into their party representing all of the segments of the population, representing all of the segments of the population. These experts are hired in fact, the same social and professional groups, but with one important clarification: they are hired by those groups who have more money, property and power. These biased experts make up programs for orphans. But these orphans themselves are never in the position to find experts that will influence the program of our assumed leader.
We have to ask: Where is there democracy here, and what does a multi-party system give us in this case?
The doubtful principle of the representative not only led to the separation of party conventions, but to the complete virtualization of the political process. Remember how party figures jump from one party to another, enter into opportunistic blocks for reasons suitable only for them. People, who just yesterday were communists, today became anti-communists. A logical question: Just who and what are you supporting? The problem is that there can never be an answer to this question.
And in order for such a question to not come up once again, it is better to use the special term which supposedly explains everything, and talk about the party "rebranding".
This very notion is absurd. A good example of this absurdity is the history of politicians like Vladimir Ryzhkov. At one time he was Deputy Director of the party "Our Home – Russia," that is, the ruling party. And now he is a defiant oppositionist. These views of Ryzhkov, which he has set out in lectures and speeches, have not changed. And the power has not changed: a country run by the same political force, but under a new name – not ‘Our Home – Russia," but "Edinaya Rossiya." What sets Edinaya Rossiya ideology apart from Our Home – Russia’s? Nothing. Thus it’s not clear why before Vladimir Ryzkov did not have a problem with power until he goes to the opposition’s meetings. This all possibly deals with status: when you are the director of a party, you are a loyalist, only when you leave it are you the opposition. And if to look at how these parties vote, how they are being manipulated by the owners of power resources, the picture becomes even more interesting.
We see similar occurrences in Parliament all the time. Publicists in the present cases use the expression "political speculation," but in fact this is not a metaphor. This expression can be taken quite literally. The shift of political brands and the speculation of political ideas is reminiscent of financial speculation in economics. In economics financial bubbles are inflated, are not secured by market mass, and in the end they burst, bringing down the market and hitting the real economy. The economy stagnates, but at this time the government diligently "saves" banks by boosting their money, actually seizing money from the population with the help of inflation.
This is how economies are virtualized. It is similar in the ways of political virtualization.
Political programs play the role of financial bubbles and "empty" securities. The so-called re-branding of the party resembles the issuance of shares and derivatives. Sooner or later will come the inevitable political collapse and slide into chaos or a strict dictatorship
These days we are witnessing the deep crisis of the representing parties. Multi-party democracy is not in effect. New ideological platforms will not arise. No theoretical construction of a multi-party system will be carried out. And all this despite the presence of networking opportunities that were not available in the late 1980s early 1990s.
The platform is there, the freedom is there, but nothing more. The reason is obvious: the system is depleted.
The system was outdated in the West before it even got to work in Russia. But as much as a stable economic plan is implemented in the last years of Europe and America, they find it difficult to give up the external manifestations of the party struggle so quickly. It seems very inconvenient and politically quite decent.
Russia finds itself in a few different positions. Our traditions of the party of democracy are not outdated – they were simply not given time to form. And it seems like the biggest problems arose with its rising. We all know the dispersal of the first pre-revolutionary Duma, and the 1993 shooting at the Parliament ...
A question comes to me: Why impose a system onto Russia that has already ceased working in Western Europe and will soon become a historic artifact all together? Simply from respect to tradition? But we are not dealing with museums here, just a set of problems which are waiting for solutions. And we probably want to keep up with the story and not trail behind in world events. Nevertheless the political life cannot cease. And since the principle of a multi-party system has clearly entered a period of decline, it is necessary to create something in return. But what exactly?
We return to the most simple axiom: Parliament – this is a place for discussions and arguments of opinions. Therefore in Parliament should be the presenting of alternative points of views, different platforms. If different points of view are not thrown around, it would just be a club or Hyde Park. The Parliament’s job is to represent the interests of different groups of citizens and not just exercise its rhetoric.
There is a need for real (i.e. not just verbal) competition of political ideas and leaders. And this competition is quite possible to provide on a non-partisan basis. But how exactly should a non-partisan Parliament be built?
In order to answer this question, we have to look back at the historical conditions under which the multi-party system emerged. Only then can we understand why we refuse this method.
No matter how much I wanted to believe in altruism, it is not driven by history. And the multi-party system voting systems arose not because the aristocracy one day decided to refuse power for the people. No, voter rights conquered and spread gradually from top to bottom, from a narrow circle of people to beyond. The party systems developed when the right to vote was at its most distinguished and secured. Then, the aristocracy became the ruling class and included someone else, but not everyone. And here the original principles of the party organization almost did not change and were automatically superimposed on all voters of the country
It is completely obvious that parties formed on the basis of a narrow ideological division of the former elites cannot take into consideration the interests of all citizens. They cannot precisely because they were created as a reflection of the interests of the secured strata. The crisis of the multi-party system is connected precisely with this gap between the requirements of the majority and the aging of the party (in general the aristocratic) division of political positions.
If we want to ensure real representation of the people and participation in political life, the system must be changed. The modern government needs to lean on the real political interests of the main strengths of society. What is the main strength? These are the most numerous social strata that make up society, like oranges slices. And they should have real representatives instead of placing pointless bets on political "players" with whom they have no links.
Real democracy is not a political game of roulette.
Let us consider the simplest model: In society we have man and women – therefore, theoretically there could exist a male party and a female party. Men vote for men, women for women, which add up to the parliament fractions...But this is too primitive and poor of a scheme. We nevertheless do not live in a primitive communal system, when the ones supporting the combustion chamber, while others go to extract the meat. Our society is more complex.
But another not so radical simplification of the representation of the people is that it is ultimately still inevitable. Therefore our task is to divide the social representatives into a few numbers. We are not talking 100 or 200 – we need smaller. Thus it is necessary not to lose all the important social layers or strata.
On what grounds should this be done? I believe that there are several.
First, the ownership of property as a source of income: either you’re an owner or an employee. This principle is a sign of the Soviet school of thought, but it is not the only one. There is still other criteria tied with that, whether you are doing physical or intellectual labor. For example, there is the media state, which since its inception has manufactured information and sent it to different points. People depend a lot on this. If they disappear, the world will not know what needs to be done: the flow of information stops. Another example. If farmers stop plowing the earth – it is not important, whether his own hands or with the latest combines, the world will die of hunger. And so on.
In other words, there exist big professional groups, or estates, engaged in one way or another that is important for all other activity.
Everyone worries about his or her own health, but who better knows the needs of the organism? The medical professionals. No less important are the educational and science communities, after all, science is a productive power, if said using the language of Marx.
Finally, there exists the spiritual class, which defines, maintains and supports moral norms. Who other than them can represent the interest of people concerned with morality? Five writers, moral in their books but not always moral in their lives? Doubtful. The spiritual class can do just that, the class that exists for thousands of years and repeatedly accomplished this task. Whether someone likes it or not, but this function was performed and continue to perform traditional religions. Doctors treat physical health, teachers care about the mental and intellectual, priests treat the moral and ethical and spiritual.
The war class, of course, is also very important for Russia. The administrative class...on one hand, is selfish and immersed in corruption. On the other hand, this is a class that knows how to manage society. A good manager can be a complete amoral scoundrel. But he knows how to bring 100 good people towards desired goal so that they do not quarrel along the way.
Mentally dividing society into professional classes, we inevitably come to the conclusion that their ideal number is somewhere between 12 and 15. The representatives of these classes and parties should instead create a parliamentary Curia chosen by profession.
Obviously my interests will reflect just one of these certain curias, from which connected the professional and lifestyle.
But we all studied in Soviet school, therefore there is the temptation to apply this to professional class divisions. Not to say that this cannot be done. It is possible, but the results we get are very, very rough in approximation.
Karl Marx chose the criteria, which in his time seemed principal – the relationship to
Property. Either you yourself own something or you are an employee and you sell your work. These days it is a lot more complex. What if the employee owns stock of Gazprom? Or take students for example: one has rich parents, another has poor parents, both study and do not work, are in the same high school, and have similar career prospects after graduation. Do these students have similar class and professional interests? The class model is just one of the variations of the professional model, and this relationship of the similar and personal needs to be considered.
It is possible even now to forecast the range of questions which will inevitably rise regarding this matter. For example: how to vote? If you are a peasant, that means you should vote only for a peasant and don’t have the right to vote for a good scientist?
The next principle. The voting class or professional groups are not obligated to vote for people only of their class. If it seems to a farmer that the oligarchs or the programmer who invented Facebook are closer to their farming interests, this is their right. They form a list of their curia and can even include an astronaut or psychic in it. In the end the important thing is that they do it on their own, and just as easily be able to switch up the resulting alignment.
Where will the alternative and political competition end up in this case? They will not disappear off anywhere. But political battles will happen not between curia (those, that enter in exchange of parties) but inside each of them. So to say, this is similar to primaries for the Democrats and the Republicans the choice "among friends".
Or how will it be for voters who work in mass media, but live in the village, till the ground during the day and developing computer technology at night. Such a person must voluntarily choose their own occupational category and select one of several possibilities.
Finally, how should the election be organized? In order to ensure (provide) elections with new rules, a giant reform is needed, that will override the familiar principles of the lists of items and visiting the voting.
The core difference between the new system and the past one is that the number of representatives of a group will be strictly defined rather than floating. Disengagement, mergers and acquisitions will be excluded, as well as rebrandings and miscellaneous antics. A straight-forward social-professional representation will become the true representation of the people, and not a voluntary-compulsory "delegation of authority" by unknown persons. In this way, literally every relevant sector of society, all the way up to the orphans, will be considered and submitted to the highest political level.
We cannot forget about the two-party and single-party systems. Now it is possible to complete the main but completely obvious conclusion. The professional caste principle contributes to parliament’s direct purpose to represent the interests of real groups.
The term ‘caste’ can come off a little archaic, but this is a false impression. The word ‘democracy’ is known generally known since ancient times, but no one considers it a disadvantage. But in the last 20-30 years, democracy is the fault that "multi-party" has become a dirty word. It is a pity since democracy deserves a much better fate, both in politics and in the use of speech.
Moving forward is most difficult. It is necessary to convert the professional caste to an appropriate model. But this development requires a number of special studies, and their results, of course, will be the subject of more than one article.