Soviet Society under Perestroika

By David Lane | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

PLYURALIZM

Toward Civil Society?

Western societies are often defined as democratic not only in terms of the elective process and the competition of political parties, but also because there is a division between state and society that allows for the association of individuals independent of the state. Such groupings may be spontaneous and occasional—joining a chess club or a mothers’ association—or may take a political form—a campaign for the rights of veterans of Vietnam. The essence of a civil society is the right to free association of individuals; and the acid test of the vitality of civil society is the toleration of dissent and the creation of independent political parties that may compete for power.

In Western societies for hundreds of years human rights in politics have enabled people to have freedom of thought and expression. Such freedoms have been linked to the freedom to express religious views, a right that has been won after long struggles against religious persecution. Americans are particularly concerned with the right to express individual views: an important element in the founding of the North American colonies was the desire by many of the early settlers to escape from religious persecution in Europe.

By the twentieth century in Western industrial countries free association and dissent had been institutionalized: individuals, groups, and political parties were able to coexist and articulate their own interests within the law. A democratic infrastructure had been created in which individuals were able to associate independently of the state and had the right to campaign to change laws enacted by the government. The rights of association, the right to campaign on the one hand, and the responsiveness of the government to the needs of the people on the other are important ingredients of a democratic society. This process of

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Soviet Society under Perestroika
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Tables ix
  • List of Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Chapter 1 - Changing Conceptions of Soviet Society 1
  • Part One - The Political and Economic Framework 21
  • Chapter 2 - Khozraschet 23
  • Chapter 3 - Demokratizatsiya 57
  • Chapter 4 - Plyuralizm 107
  • Part Two - Social Classes and Groups 145
  • Chapter 5 - The Changing Social Structure 147
  • Chapter 6 - Nationalities and Ethnic Relations 185
  • Chapter 7 - Reproducing Society 251
  • Part Three - Social Control 287
  • Chapter 8 - Forming the Soviet Person 289
  • Chapter 9 - Glasnost’ 315
  • Chapter 10 - The State of Welfare 335
  • Part Four - Conclusions 373
  • Chapter 11 - Perestroika 375
  • Appendix - The Constitution (Fundamental Law) of the USSR, 1977. (As Amended to December 1990) 393
  • About the Author 433
  • Index 434
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