Libmonster ID: VN-1312

Ed. by A. D. Voskresensky. Moscow: Vostok-Zapad Publ., 2006, 688 p.

I am pleased to present to my readers a new collective monograph on political processes in the Eastern countries. It has been a long time since I have come across optimistic assessments of the current international political situation and its prospects. I suspect that the expert community at all times was not inclined to make favorable assessments and forecasts. At the same time, the last 15 years - judging by real events - really give rise to serious thoughts, first of all, about whether the policy of modern leading states in the international arena is equipped with an adequate conceptual framework. First of all, we are talking about the actions of the "generalized West", based on a neo-evolutionist political concept that goes back to sociological theories of modernization.

Evolutionist accents in international politics have become particularly intense due to the collapse of the bipolar global structure and the devaluation of the alternative (communist) universalist concept. In recent political philosophy, the ideologist of "universal history" was, of course, F. Fukuyama, who in 1992 wrote about "the instability of authoritarian forms of government and the complete absence of consistent theoretical alternatives to liberal democracy" [Fukuyama, 2004, p.123; F. Fukuyama's italics].

But here's what catches your attention. Both Fukuyama and his academic colleagues / rivals have significantly shifted their research focus in the last decade. Now, it seems to me that the focus of interest of Western sociologists / political scientists is on such problems as the reconstruction of Western society proper and the achievement of a certain level of identity by its members (P. Buchanan, S. Huntington, F. Fukuyama), differences and interactions within the "generalized West" (W. Hutton), opposition to inocivilizational challenges (S. Huntington)., effective organization of the world community (A. Etzioni). In the latter direction, the "singer of American imperialism" Z. Brzezinski also contributed. In other words, researchers and theorists of international politics essentially reject universalist approaches (it is symptomatic that after the events of September 11, 2001, Fukuyama admitted that he was too hasty with the idea of the" end of history " (Fukuyama, 2006)).

At the same time, "real politics" is characterized by significant inertia, so currently the export of "democracy and human rights" is unfolding. We are talking about the failed attempts to" liberate "Afghanistan from the Taliban (since 2001), the forceful" democratization " of Iraq (since 2003), and the democratic elections held at the insistence of the West in Egypt (2005) and in the Palestinian National Authority (2006), as a result of which in the first half of the World War II, the United States and the In the first case, the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood movement won 20% of the parliamentary seats (and this in an environment where the democratic nature of the elections was very relative), and in the second case, the victory in the elections generally went to the Hamas extremists who formed the government. The next step is the "democratization" of Iran. Moreover, in 2005, the US President proposed creating an Office for Reconstruction and Development under the State Department (meaning "backward" countries). George W. Bush argued for this idea as a successful example of peaceful revolutions in a number of CIS countries, which demonstrates the desire of peoples for freedom.

In my opinion, this contradictory situation is explained by a number of reasons. One of them is that the forceful methods of "spreading democracy" and other universalist concepts became obsolete in the middle of the last century. Examples of local wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan (in the past and now) and Iraq show that governments and armies can be defeated, Comprador elites can be put in charge of these countries and "democratic institutions" can be imitated, but there will be no victory in achieving the stated goal of" transition to democracy and respect for human rights". And especially when dealing with an international terrorist network.

The international policy of Western countries, and especially the United States, is hostage to the phraseology of their leadership. What is worth only one concept of the "axis of evil", within the framework of which a completely unpromising war in Iraq was unleashed. Special question: is it possible to create an international-

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Why should politicians even consider the fight against abstract "evil"? Messianic ideas of this kind are inherent not only in the leadership of the United States, but also in the leaders of Islamic terrorist organizations. It should be recognized that the analytical apparatus of experts and politicians needs serious improvement. Many concepts that were quite heuristic in the past become broad (for example, "national security", "national interests"), vague (for example, "democracy", "freedom") or purely propagandistic ("human rights").

Finally, it seems that the level of reflection on past political decisions is completely insufficient. For example, as far as we know, the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan was the result of a provocation by the American special services. But the logical conclusion of these events was the rapid development of Islamic extremism, which dealt a sensitive, and most importantly, symbolic blow to the United States on September 11. At the same time, Z. Brzezinski, one of the authors of this provocation, expresses himself as follows:: "The covert operation was an excellent idea. As a result of its implementation, the Russians fell into an Afghan trap... " [Gracheva, 2004, p. 355]. This example shows that modern international policy in most cases works within the framework of short-term projects, with little concern for the medium and long - term prospects. Such an important aphoristic definition of politics as "the art of the possible" is forgotten.

Of course, the "non-West" has more or less successful, but very specific examples of borrowing European political experience (first of all, we can talk about Japan, India, as well as to some extent about South Korea and Taiwan). But these examples do not directly confirm the possibility of direct and rapid borrowing by the Eastern countries of an alien political culture.

Undoubtedly, the modern expert political science community is fully aware of the limits of the evolutionist interpretation of the political process for making adequate decisions. In my opinion, two projects are characteristic of Russia in this sense and are of extreme interest. For me, as a professional ethnologist who stands on the positions of cultural relativism, a peer-reviewed work prepared at the Department of Oriental Studies of MGIMO(U)is of particular importance Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation (more than 20 highly qualified specialists participated in the work on it).

Of course, in Russian and foreign historiography, the question of the specifics of political cultures of different regions and peoples has already been raised. But peer-reviewed fundamental work has at least three important advantages. First, the book systematically presents the theoretical foundations of the problem under study. At the same time, both the methodological structure and the bibliographic apparatus are of independent importance. Secondly, the monograph thoroughly examines the variants of political culture in all countries and regions of the East (the states of Asia and Africa, with the exception of the countries of Transcaucasus1). So the book can also be used as an excellent reference guide. Finally, a peer-reviewed publication is not just a collective monograph. It is also an excellent training manual necessary for the training of the Russian diplomatic corps. You can even say that this is a new type of textbook that combines fundamental and innovative with didacticism.

Let us turn to the theoretical aspects of the study. In the axiomatic part of the paper, the authors postulate a close relationship between the following four variables:: 1) the historical development, cultural identity and civilizational features of society; 2) the specifics of modern political culture; 3) the existing political system and developing political processes; 4) international political relations. This research position would be too abstract if it did not proceed "from the definition of an international political region as tied to a territorial-economic and national-cultural complex... regional totality of life phenomena united by a common structure and logic in such a way that this logic and the historical and geographical coordinates of its existence are mutually conditioned" (p.7).

These assumptions assume that interaction can only take place between units that have a systemic nature. This is a very difficult - and controversial - route that the authors follow along the way of their research. Because, as it seems to me, used-


1 It should be noted that the countries of Africa are given minimal attention, and this can be compensated by the works of domestic Africanists [Kosukhin, 1999; Geweling, 2001].

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The ideas presented in the book by T. Parsons, and especially by his followers-political scientists, do not always correspond to the realities of Eastern societies. Parsons writes: "We define society as a type of social system that has the highest degree of self-sufficiency relative to its environment, which also includes other social systems" [Parsons, 1997, p.20]. The model of T. Parsons, D. Easton, J. Almond and other sociologists / political scientists clearly comes from the samples of the Western national state, which has the necessary system characteristics. In most cases, only a few of the research objects have the necessary systemic character: Israel, Turkey, Japan, China, Mongolia, possibly Egypt, Iran, India, Kazakhstan, and some other countries. Most of the "research units" can be attributed to the so-called "regional states" 2, whose "systemic nature" raises great doubts 3. Typical example: will Iraq break up into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite parts?

However, we can agree with the authors on the following: "The systematic approach has had such a strong impact on political science that in its modern form, the category of political system began to displace the categories of the state, state institution, public administration, etc.that correspond to it" (pp. 13-14). Political analysis and even political forecasting can only be based on data. We are forced to consider international relations as an interaction of system objects, i.e. at the same level of generalization, taking into account that not only different countries and peoples interact, but also political systems. At the same time, we should not forget about the different intensity and nature of connections between the system-society and its elements, for example, between the state and the tribal structure in Afghanistan (p.342-373) or the clan - regional system in Central Asia (p. 384).

If a significant part of the Eastern territory has not yet developed national states, this situation may be ambivalent. Various kinds of political "perestroika and reorganization" are possible, which will correspond not to the current, but to the subsequent type of political organization of humanity. After all, there is an obvious tendency to form larger political units than states. S. Huntington called them "civilizations". Russian expert V. Inozemtsev believes that in the foreseeable future "the most important centers of decision-making will be regional unions of states...; their strength will determine the influence of a particular region in the world" [Inozemtsev, 2007, p. 37]. Perhaps, the current "amorphous nature" of a number of Eastern states will contribute to the accelerated overcoming of sovereignty and the formation of regional alliances.

Several sections of the reviewed monograph are devoted to a theoretical understanding of the political culture of the East. I believe that for a "search" publication, it was simply necessary to give several authoritative authors at once to speak on the main issue. In the book, the concept of "political culture "is defined as follows:" a set of semantic schemes and normative attitudes to politics, the task of which, in essence, boils down to giving (imposing) political roles and orientation to actors according to the subjective ideas that have developed in a given society. In addition to cognitive (rational) and value (moral) components, it also includes affective (instinctive) components that can be combined in various combinations" (p. 93).

This definition describes any local variants of political culture both in the East and in the West. In my opinion, the question is how rigidly defined this model of political culture is, i.e., to what extent it determines the behavior of political actors (which include not only politicians themselves, but also "citizens", "voters", and "the street"). Essentially, finding out the "boundary parameters" 4 of political action,


2 Regional states are usually understood as states that have formal signs of sovereignty (for example, membership in the UN), but do not have actual signs of unity: political identification of citizens, the power of the central government over the entire territory.

3 Specific details are perfectly described in the empirical part of the study. The well-known English sociologist E. Giddens writes that there is a tendency to consider "nation-states" as typical forms of society and that the" consistency " of such societies is determined by: (1) the connection between the social system and a certain locality or territory, (2) the presence of regulatory elements that determine the legality of using locality, (3) the perception of society by members a special identity [Giddens, 2003, pp. 242-243].

4 This general scientific term refers to the characteristics of measures within which a system can function effectively or at least sustainably.

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political culture is the essence of the expert community's work. This work is closer not to political science, but to political art. The entire empirical part of the study is just an attempt to establish the appropriate system of boundary parameters.

Of great interest is the analysis of the differences between the political cultures of the West and the East and the reasons that gave rise to these differences. There is no point in retelling the content of this part of the book. Here, however, we should give a description of the political culture that applies to most of the countries studied in the book (it belongs to the classic of Western political science L. Pai). This is interesting at least from the point of view that it demonstrates the differences in political mentality between the West and the East, which are not directly related to the concepts of "democracy" and "authoritarianism".

So, the political culture of most Eastern countries can be characterized by the following characteristics. Here, the political sphere is vaguely separated from social and personal relationships. Political parties usually do not represent a certain ideology, but a certain way of life. Features of political loyalty allow leaders a greater degree of freedom in choosing political tactics and strategies. The opposition is prone to radical actions. By the way, this explains the increased role of the army in the political process (pp. 320-341). Since there is no unified communication system in Eastern societies, the integration of participants in the political process is also low. This is why the number of organized interest groups is small. Intergenerational differences play a high role in the political preferences of citizens. Politicians in Eastern countries strive to increase their popularity throughout society, without dividing it into groups. The dominant type of leadership is charismatic, and therefore the emotional and expressive aspects are strongly expressed in politics. I would call this a "community-type political culture" or, better yet, "a political culture of a society where there are no professional politicians." In my opinion, the erosion of this type of political culture is inevitable as politics becomes the profession of professionals.

The bulk of the book consists of specific studies and descriptions of the political culture of individual countries and regions. Admittedly, I did not immediately understand how gracefully the team of authors performed this work. The description of the political culture of the Eastern countries is carried out simultaneously according to three principles: problem-based, regional and country-based. And this is done so that all three approaches create a complete picture of the situation. So, there is a section describing the political systems of Arab countries. But it is supplemented with information about the functioning of the monarchies of the Arabian Peninsula, the peculiarities of Muslim law, and the role of the army in the political life of countries. The political evolution of Muslim civilization in the Middle East is considered using three completely different examples: Shiite theocratic Iran, secular Turkey aspiring to join the European Union, and Egypt, where fundamentalist sentiments are very common among the population.

Specific country and regional studies are no less conceptual. Thus, Israel implements a very specific type of political culture, close to European democracies. Afghanistan is the most striking example of tribalism, generally characteristic of Eastern communities. The Central Asian states are a typical example of a political transition situation: from Soviet to unknown what. Will local communities be degraded by tribalism, religious extremism, and authoritarian leadership styles, or will a different path of political development be found (let me remind you that these are OSCE member States)? This question inevitably arises after getting acquainted with the relevant material. Japan and India demonstrate two different variants in the formation and development of Western-style political systems and political cultures in the East. It seems to me that China embodies the ideas of J. K. Galbraith and A. D. Sakharov about the convergence of socialist and capitalist societies. Such conceptualization in the presentation of the material turned out to be more interesting than the usual country descriptions.

It should be noted that the peer-reviewed publication has an important context in the form of other research projects of recent years. First of all, we are talking about the work "Political Atlas of our time", carried out by a group of MGIMO specialists with the assistance of the Institute of Public Design and the Expert Information Group [Melville, 2006; Rogozhnikov, 2006; Bykov, 2006]. This is a more formal study, but it is based on the same principles.

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the same premises as a peer-reviewed monograph: "Modern political development is non-linear, it has different models and multidirectional trajectories... "[Melville, 2006, p. 25]; "Whether anyone likes it or not, all countries are not the same" [Bykov, 2006, p.52]. I needed a link to the project" Political Atlas of Modernity " primarily in order to better characterize the richness of the intellectual atmosphere characteristic of modern Russian political science. Both projects, and especially the peer-reviewed book, provide a good conceptual framework for Russian foreign policy.

list of literature

Africa: Features of political culture / Edited by N. D. Kosukhin, Moscow: Institute of Africa of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 1999. Bykov P. From Empire to Global Condominium // Expert. 2006. 20-26 Nov. Geveling L. V. Kleptocracy, Moscow, 2001.

Giddens, E. Organization of society: Essay on the theory of Structuration, Moscow: Academic Project, 2003. Gracheva T. V. Comprehension of war: mutiny as a state of mind, purpose and method of fighting // Messner E. A. World Mutiny war. Zhukovsky-Moscow: Kuchkovo pole Publ., 2004.

Inozemtsev V. What will be? // The World in 2020 / Edited by M. B. Khodorkovsky, Moscow: Algorithm Publ., 2007.

Melvil ' A. Rossiya v mirovykh ratingah: rebadka [Russia in World Ratings: Reloading]. Expert, November 20-26, 2006.

Parsons T. Sistema sovremennykh obshchestv [The System of Modern Societies]. Moscow: Aspect Press, 1997.

Rogozhnikov M. Instrumentaliza sovremennosti [A tool for analyzing modernity]. Expert, 2006, Nov 20-26.

Fukuyama F. The Strong State. Management and World Order in the XXI century, Moscow: ACT, 2006.


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