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

PART I HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVES

Part I provides an historical context for the examination of government structures in the United States and in the states of the former U.S.S.R. that follows in the rest of the book. Any legal, political, cultural, or economic analyses of government in the U.S.A. and the sovereign states of the former U.S.S.R. need to take account of both historical similarities and differences in which federalism arises in each society. The historical notions of John Locke's popular sovereignty, which in many ways lies at the root of U.S. federalism concepts, are absent in the former U.S.S.R. By the same token, the propensity in the former U.S.S.R. for authoritarian systems of governments, first by the Russian tsars and later by the Communist Party, are unknown in U.S. experience.

The four chapters that comprise Part I understandably are oriented toward the governmental relationships among states of the former U.S.S.R. However, their content reveals much that is directly relevant to federalism issues pending in the U.S.A. as well.

John N. Hazard's chapter compares the constitutional processes in play in Philadelphia at the beginning of the U.S. republic with the problems of constitutional processes that are posed in the early 1990s in the former U.S.S.R. He recognizes that the political history of the former Soviet Union traditionally has preferred a central monopoly-of-power system over a pluralism-of-separate- authority approach. The chapter accurately questions whether the commitment of the Founders in Philadelphia to a federal system not bound by one ideology, a single property concept, or a one political party system is a useful model for the former U.S.S.R. in the 1990s, as some continue to assert.

Gordon Wood addresses the historical origins of American federalism. The absence of English or Crown authority and the dispersion of settlers geographically influenced greatly the emergence of strong local governments (towns and counties). Central government (state and federal) in the U.S.A. thus grew at the behest of local government units. Professor Wood points out that the present day sense of Americans of the intense localism and its importance in government is rooted in the historical experience surrounding the local authority embedded in the Articles of Confederation. With the end of the U.S.S.R. an analogous sort of sense of local autonomy that Professor Wood

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