The question seems to be a little shocking at first glance. How one can suggest reforms of such a strongly solidified system, system which secures the base to one of the most powerful group of interest in the world, system which wakes respect and dismay grace of it’s simplicity based on constraint, system which does not allow independent initiatives and social movements, stamping them with an evil practice label?
Now (1985) it is indeed related to sociological research and anthropology rather than an operational step, but anyway worth to discuss for the reason of it’s meaning for the world future and for the matter of peace and war.
2. Historical outline
On the turn of the XX century, the attempts at fragmentary liberalization and tolerance towards independent grassroots movements of social emancipation in an autocratic Russian empire, led, in pair with an authentic strong revolutionary trend, to the revolution, which, beside the initial liberalization, brought an increased wave of compulsion and then also the conviction about the suitability of the strong hand and idealistic governing rules in Russian state.
But now a days this conviction goes hand in hand with some frustration and uncertainty among the Russians concerning development of their own personal perspective without democracy. They doubt what could be real in face of “homo sovieticus” attributes developed by tsarism and then the soviet-ism. Eventually the system has worked, so what are the reasons for taking the risk of weakening it and the state causing possible loss of world hegemony and benefits following that?
3. Conflict of values and mentality between western societies and the soviet one.
What has roused the hatred for soviet system among Western democracies is the fact that the military security was in fact the only value (beside the promise of social care) that soviet system can offer. And it seemed not to be for western societies so the most important. As far as care function of the state seems for them quite attractive, so personal freedom of choice and prosperity seem to be more popular than military security. The later one fades apparently from the field of daily interest of the citizen. He had difficult to give upr his personal freedom for the sake to win collective security.
Such a discrepancy of values systems in two different political realities can lead to confrontation. The matter has come to such a point, that both societies mutually afraid of their different systems of values. Western societies have feared of power of the state authority and Soviets have feared of personal freedom and are ready to scarify their welfare rather then the calmness.
A natural remedy to this state of matters is an active mutual convergence of both systems. Some people propose however ideas which can be in my opinion estimated by soviet experts as a little bit too much naive. I mean the concept of allowing low-scale independent and raising from the ranks social movements and organizations or small capitalistic enterprises. In the USSR and China this can be a miscarrying conception. Such movements come sooner or later to the conflict with governing block employing different system of values and physical supremacy. Such a conflict will rather end with using physical constraint by the authority.
The main problem lies in my opinion in a will of simultaneous questioning the values system, political system and mentality of soviet society. If one starts from persuading Russians to resign of military security and these communistic ideals which in western democracies have been practically realized, ( for example massive access to the education) then one will never come to fin understanding with them.
4. Real problem of soviet system
Saying in short: – the problem of the one party system is not that of ideals or leaders idealism but rather that of nomenclature approach to the governing ( i.e. Bolshevism). It may be after all argued, that a “class fight”, even in initial phase of a “new world building”, is also possible to articulate and proceed in a pluralistic parliamentary system. Instead of that, Bolsheviks broke down the parliamentary system in Russia, simultaneously developing a theory that first they have to have strong total control of power and the whole society and only then they will cure the society. It is the basic, ‘castrating the society fault of Bolsheviks.
Presently in the one-party system the requirements for admission of an individual to the system is his agreement to strengthen the power of existing autocratic governing body and its members, which then grants him privileges and career for the price of devotion. Talent, logic or independence of thinking is not so important nor attractive as the loyalty to the central power. An individual, as well as the whole society, has no possibility to choose or create an alternative maybe better logic or conception of the development. There are no competing parties willing to acquire and propose better development program to win the support of the people and in this way the state governing status.
Authority became entirely out of control, and just _not an idealism_ (that springs up only in the face of rivalry) but lack of ideals, the sense of impunity and cynicism are main problems in a one party state.
5. Welcome direction of changes
Conclusions arise themselves.
It is not so effective to criticize directly others ideals because it rouse understandable irritation. It is better to criticize the false practice. I.e. would not be the “dictatorship of proletariat” better realized in a situation of two party system instead of a one party system?
Would not the proletariat ( read “the society” ) have then better possibility to dictate by voting for this development program which is better for him ? Let’s try to imagine how would the USSR seem i.e. now if socialist revolutionists party or Mensheviks party had not been eliminated in 1918 ? Would not the USSR have been much more strong in the sense of maneuver potential in interior policy and in the sense of economic development chance?
In the context of reasoning presented here, the release of low scale local independence in USSR or China has less sense than an other simple reform : an administrative, although carefully balanced and straightforward analysed division of governing party to two competing reciprocally teams of politicians.
This maneuver is more important and furthermore more simple and more safe than “rising from the ranks interaction”. A clear alternative in political pattern is now more constructive for soviet society than a chaos or “freedom from”.
We should not miss the chance to keep freedom and peace alive.