Democracy from Scratch: Opposition and Regime in the New Russian Revolution

By M. Steven Fish | Go to book overview

IV
Building Independent Political Society

THIS chapter examines the questions posed in the previous one by investigating six democratic movement organizations: the Social Democratic Party of Russia (SDPR), the Democratic Platform/Republican Party of Russia (RPR), the Democratic Party of Russia (DPR), the Russian Christian Democratic Movement (RKhDD), Democratic Russia, and the Democratic Union (DU). These groups were chosen for three interrelated reasons. First, they span a wide spectrum of organizational forms. Second, each was a “serious” major organization. Each enjoyed at least several thousand members and was organized on the national level. All possessed concrete organizational structures, purposive goals, and programs. Third, these groups represented the leading tendencies of the democratic movement. They accounted for only a small fraction of the thousands of autonomous political associations that emerged in Russia during the last several years of the Soviet period, yet they were, arguably, the strongest and most important of the new groups. Taken together, they constituted the core of the organized democratic movement.

This chapter is based largely, though not exclusively, on evidence gathered on groups' Moscow-based organizations. All groups made their headquarters in the capital, and most of their leaders resided there. The greater part of their publications were edited and issued in Moscow as well.

In the voluminous literatures on political organizations, conceptual distinctions among parties, unions, interest groups, fronts, and movements have received considerable attention. No consensus exists on precise definitions. Some analysts of social movements, particularly observers of “new” or “postindustrial” movements, define their subjects in ethereal, even metapolitical terms, while other authors stress more concrete organizational aspects. Even the seemingly “hardest,” most readily identifiable entities—political parties—have been conceptualized in a plethora of ways. Some analysts have defined parties as any organizations that pursue the goal of placing representatives in government positions 1, or as any groups that nominate candidates for election to a legislature. 2 Some conceive of parties as those groups that translate mass preferences into public policy. 3 Still others emphasize

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