Government Structures in the U.S.A. and the Sovereign States of the Former U.S.S.R: Power Allocation among Central, Regional, and Local Governments

By James E. Hickey Jr.; Alexej Ugrinsky | Go to book overview

8
Reconstruction in the U.S.S.R. and the Experience of the West

Vladimir A. Saveliev

The logic of social reforms in Russia once again revives the age-old debate as to whether Western social reform experience is applicable to our traditions and reality (and if so, in what way and in what forms). As we look at the discussion "Russia and the West" today, can we become a part of Western civilization, or must we seek our own entirely distinct political and economic identity?

Obviously, neither Russia's prerevolutionary past nor the present features of the West should be approached uncritically. There is something to be learned from both but neither by itself can be a model that can be recklessly copied without regard to Russia's concrete historical conditions.

The specific character of Russia today ( April 1992) is probably, above all, the specific character of a political system, of a political regime that was established in the name of "building socialism in one country." It is the fusion of the state with the sole party and hence the statization of the ruling party and the partyization of the state. The totalitarian "party-state" monster, despite the erosion of the political, economic, and ideological monopoly of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), permeates many pores of our social life even today.

The weaknesses of the model of statehood that was adopted after October 1917, in simple terms, is about whether democracy can even be attained through dictatorship. Why was it that not only in our country, in Russia, but in all countries that were formerly called "peoples' democracies" or the "socialist common-wealth," moral monsters or political pygmies with tragic regularity climbed the summit of power? When did the conceptual dictatorship of the proletariat become a dictatorship in Stalin's name, a dictatorship of the bureaucratic apparatus crowned with the virtually unlimited power of one person--a kind of "socialist monarchy"? It is hardly possible to give an unequivocal answer to this question. Naturally, this did not happen in the blink of an eye, in

-90-

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