Autocracy and Democracy
In one of my last works ("Who Prepares Revolution in Russia?") I causally expressed an idea that today Russia finally started turning from autocracy to democracy in the wake of Western Europe. However, all this considering, it was mentioned that the process of democratization of Russian society is accompanied by the recurrences of return to the authoritarianism which is the results of reluctance of the ruling regime to restrain oneself on one's own will with the laws of the democratic existence on one side, and unreadiness and immaturity of the overwhelming majority of population to acquire the rights of free citizens on the other side. Too uncommon is this situation for Russia that lived in the conditions of the severe authoritarianism up to the end of the 20th century. You see, the democracy assumes the corresponding self-consciousness and cultural level of the society that stands on a higher step of development of public consciousness than the authoritarian society. In Russia, however, as it was already mentioned in that work the population is not homogeneous on its cultural level: the capital and multimillion cities in their development left Russian province behind for tens years. That is why the transition to the democracy slips in Russia making attempts to return to the usual autocracy.
So, what is the autocracy and what is the difference between autocracy and democracy? This question bothers many people not only in Russia, but in the whole post Soviet territory. It's no wonder for the countries trying to go from the authoritarian state to the democratic one. The Philosophical Encyclopedia published as far back as in 1983, in other words when the democracy was only declared, but in reality there was predominance of severe totalitarianism (the extreme form of the autocracy) determined in those times by the communists of the USSR as the highest form of the democracy, we read as follows: "Authoritarianism (lat. Auctoritas - the full power, order, in other words the blind obeying to the authority), antidemocratic and anti-legal conception and practice of governance… Authoritarianism is the regime of illegalities that does not constraint by the right of the authority of a single governor (tyrant, despot, Fuhrer, leader, etc.) or ruling clique. There is no legal order in the conditions of the authoritarianism, the rights and freedoms of citizens, public organizations and people in the whole are ignored. The democratic decision making in the conditions of the authoritarianism either doesn't exist or has the fake, showing nature; people do not form and control their Government, the personality is lacked any guaranties of its safety in its interrelations with the authority, the population of the country is reduced to the level of a subject of the political manipulations. In the conditions of the authoritarianism the power is based on an open violence and constant possibility of its direct allocation against all who is considered to be disagreeable. The court lacks independence and is the subsidiary instrument of the official authorities. The distinctive feature of the authoritarianism is the excessive centralism in governance, monopolization of power in the hands of slender caste, direct support of police and military punitive troops, wide use of hard measures of compulsion and punishment, terrorist methods of massacre with the opposition, aggressive positions in the external policy. The authoritarianism widely uses the demagogy, racial, ethnic and other prejudices. The authoritarianism is characterized by the cultivation of fanaticism in masses, fear and slavery attitude towards authority…"
Reading these lines one get astounded by how we Russian familiar with all this. We are not only familiar with it. We used to it long ago and that is why we do not notice that system of power we live under. The thing is that we have nothing to compare it with. You see, everything is understood in comparison. In fact, not every person has the possibility to compare, living, at least for a short time, in the western democratic countries. Only those who learned the alternative to such usual (not to say native) regime are critical and indignant at the real state of things. The alternative is the democracy. However, it confesses absolutely other ethical and moral values.
Literally democracy is the power of people (demos in Greek stands for people, kratos - power). However, the thing, as it is known, isn't in the title. For 70 years the communists of the USSR in every mass propaganda were also talking that we live in the country where reins not the autocracy, but so called the highest democracy. Frankly speaking, only fools believed in this rubbish. However, the misfortune was that Russia was always famous for its abundance of fools. They not only represent the majority of the population, they are an overwhelming majority. It was always so, particularly after the revolution of 1917. That is why the communists managed to hold the power for so long. It seems like everything returns, in other words, it was the end of the democratic changes started in the 90th. Why? Because, this very overwhelming majority ("aggressively - obedient" as Yury Afanaciev neatly noticed) not only quietly observes the restoration of the autoeroticism, but cringingly connives at returning of the usual way of life.
This overwhelming majority of population needs no democratic changes, because they (the changes) require, except for all, also the civilian responsibility for all these actions taken by the common citizens of the country. However, our people used to irresponsibility, because they never had rights (you see, the lords always made decisions for them). In other words, our people didn't use to be the citizens of their country. They always were just the population of the territory. This differs them qualitatively from the citizens of the country who solve themselves their every day and other problems without asking lord's help who has complete control over his subject people. Thus, the population is people lacked of rights and will. That is why they are lazy and irresponsible. The citizens know their rights and obey their duties thoroughly.
Our people never knew the last one, because they always lived under the autocracy, where there was no law common to all, but there was one person who governed the people and set the rules according to his own point of view. Another person brings his own orders, because this person stands higher than any law and above it.
This very understanding of this way of living is usual and understandable to our man. Our man didn't get used to live without the leader (governor, master, etc.) All kinds of constitutions and other laws are just mere empty words for him. They are lifeless. One could neither love, not hate them. However, one must know well the particular master, or tsar, or the president (no matter how he is called, the thing is that he is your master and your life depends on him) in order to make up to him. Such is the Russian mind of that very overwhelming majority of Russia's population (former and hereditary slaves according to the country's history of the last millennium). One couldn't detect this national (to be more precise ethnic) nature, because it was formed over the centuries and by many generations.
Thus, the authoritarianism is the form of our existence "Russian", native. Until the population of Russia wouldn't adopt the new way of life where every citizen of the country would finally have his human rights (he would get used to it for a long time, because he wouldn't believe that it is for ever), at this certainly observing his duties (he didn't get used to it because of his atrophied responsibility and laziness that already acquired the genetic nature). Only then his mind set will change. Only in this case as a consequence the democracy would take roots in our country.
For now, in order to shift ourselves to the democratic way of life one should change the mentality of our people. That is, as I already have mentioned one should start from the everyday life, to provide every citizen of our country the basic human rights he hadn't ever any idea of. You know, it was grandpa Marks who used to say that only life determines the consciousness". We never had the democratic life. Where from could we have the democratic consciousness?
However, the transition to democracy, nevertheless, is an unavoidable process conditioned by the natural historical course of evolution of human society. Whatever you may say, but the nature doesn't stand still. The evolution never stops. This natural law related to the human nature as well. However, the evolution of the modern mankind lays basically not in the physical, but spiritual sphere. However, this very public formation of life of "homo sapiens" is that very field of human existence that evolves today as a result of its unceasing mental development and perfection.
There is no need in proving the fact that the democracy is the higher stage of existence of human society. However, I'll try to prove this as well.
The history of the development of human society testifies to the fact that the democratic form of existence of human unions appears only when the human society stops being a crowd. At this, I'd like to mention from the very beginning, that there is no democratic form of relations in wild nature, where many animals get united into the herds and flocks in order to preserve themselves. In herd and flock prevails only the authoritative system. This is the main distinctive feature of a herd.
Nevertheless, yet the authoritative system is very widespread in human society. The human society, as we have already mentioned above qualitatively differs from the rest animal kingdom where the herd animals live according to the authoritative laws. The human society is not already a herd. Nevertheless, the human society embodies both authoritative and democratic systems of government.
What is the difference between a herd and society? The main difference is that the last lives not only according to the instincts. This is the first difference. Second, as far back as millions years ago the hominids living in a herd started practicing the socially useful work. It means a person does and works not only in search of food for his own sake, but for the sake of his brethren. Evidently, it was because of the surplus of creative energy.
Maybe, it was how the first wizards and different kinds of craftsmen who produced labor tools appeared. In fact, when the creative work started satisfying a man, every possible craftsmen gradually ridded oneself of the need to busy themselves with a routine work of finding food leaving it to the lesser gifted individuals, who shared their prey with a man who provided them with an unexpected service. Thus, these very individuals who received these services and could evaluate their benefit for themselves and the rest started distinguishing the craftsmen from the crowd.
This way the productive relations were established. At this not only the leader of the tribe who had power, but the one who being not the strangest nevertheless was necessary to the herd. The more such extraordinary individuals appeared in a particular herd the more this herd differed from the classical herd turning into the social organization with more and more complex productive and social relations. At a background of these relations the role of a leader was becoming not so indisputable. As a consequence the authoritarian system in such community started changing towards democracy, in other words there was limitation of the absolute power and acquisition of influence of the rest of the demos on this authority.
At the peak of such development of events the authoritarianism with its blind implicit obedience to the will of one person (or powerful group) could turn into democracy, when any responsible decision that affected the interests of the whole society was adopted with the participation of every member of this community. However, such qualitative transition from autocracy to democracy is possible only in condition of achievement of the general consciousness of this community of people. In other words, the more outstanding persons with the independent and sound thinking has one particular community the quicker and inevitable will be the transition from the authoritarian system of interrelations within this community to the democracy.
Such is in brief the mechanism of turning of herd into the society. In this respect I would like to recall Winston Churchill's words which he said more than half century ago. He said a prophetic thought that the Soviet Union would fall apart after the majority of its population would have the higher education. It seems like saying this Churchill meant almost the same thing I am talking about right now. In other words Churchill was talking about the Soviet authoritarianism which, as he thought would become obsolete as soon as the people of the Soviet Union become intellectually richer and thus would make the system of power to change itself from autocracy to democracy.
The USSR really collapsed, however, not only because the authoritarian system already couldn't cope with its tusks, remaining too primitive in the conditions of the developing intellectual society. There were many reasons, but it was the main and the key one.
The fact that in today's historical time there are simultaneously autocracy and democracy is nothing but the establishment of the transition period characterized by the gradual transition from the more primitive form of existence to the other one standing one step higher in the evolutional development. That is why today's existence of two forms of public association of people could be explained very simply, namely by the inequality of the rate of development of different people's communities, united by the states.
In fact, there is nothing surprising in the fact that every governor of the country tries to gain an absolute power. This instinctive desire of every leader is quite natural. However, only an organized community that opposes the autocrat could restrain this instinct. This community establishes the parliament independent from the governor - president that passes the laws that limit the absolute power of the governor of the country. This is the democratic way. However, if the society is not mature or lacks the intellectual elite, the people's representatives of the alternative power come to depend from the governor and start passing the laws the authoritative power requires.
In Russia it always was like this starting from the establishment of the first parliament (Duma). Even after the revolution of 1991 when the new Constitution of Russian Federation was written it didn't announced the democratic power of the parliament, but the authoritative power of the President. However, Yeltsin whose authority at that time was very high, it makes him credit, didn't use all the given unlimited rights. However, his successor did not fail to seize the opportunity to use them and quickly restored the authoritative pyramid of power.
What did the society in respond? Nothing at all. First, because it didn't see anything dangerous in it. It just mechanically trusted in new governor bearing in mind the democracy of the former one. Second, it just was taken aback, because it didn't expect such demarche from the new president whom it loved passionately (on some incomprehensible reason). However, it wasn't the whole society that loved him, but that very majority mentioned above. The intellectual minority found itself unable to oppose the perfidious restoration of the former orders of the authoritative regime.
So, today there is neither free television, nor free press in Russia. Mafia consisting of former KGB officials who seized power terrorizing everybody who tries to open the people's eyes on out-of-control both in violation of the rights of free will, and plundering of the country's natural resources, when only the scoundrels and rascals make a great fortune, and the rest of the population live misery. So, "we wanted to make it better, but it happened as usually" (Mr. Chernomyrdin). Such is the consequence of the return of the authoritative system.
This consequence is quite natural, because one of the conditions of existence of the autocracy is an indispensable poverty of the overwhelming majority of the population. Poor people are easier to govern throwing them the tiny little tips from master's table from time to time. A poor person is already happy with this and that is why he lives with the hope that these tips would always rise. However, it is self-deception of course. But this machine of governance by the poor population was tested by the thousand years of experience. That is why it is effective and quite safe.
In this respect it is worth to mention the very recent history of the country which followed right after the revolution of 1991.
Right after the revolution the Supreme Council adopted the Law according to which every citizen of the country was allotted a certain part of state's wealth. Everybody had an equal part irrespective of the social position and age. One should say that it was an action uncommon for Russia, because it symbolized the transition from autocracy to democracy, when the people of the country could finally obtain an independence and stop being always poor. However, the following rough events resulted in that the democratic law was vetoed by the president in 1993. In spite of this there was so called impersonal voucherization. In the result only a group of scoundrels became rich, and the overwhelming majority of the population were made fools and kept on living in misery. In other words, the pro-president autocracy made their all efforts that the people remained poor and this way kept on strengthening its authoritarian regime.
The second feature which differs the authoritarian regime from the democratic one is that in democracy almost all bodies of power are elected by people through the local or general elections (governor, parliament). However, under the autocracy the pyramid of power is built and every official is appointed by the president. In this case the main principle of appointment is not the official's competence, but his personal devotion to the president. As a rule the elected official appears to be much more competent than the appointed one. If so, then under the democracy the offocoals who govern the country work more productively, more competently and more effectively than those who were appointed by the president watching over rather the interests of the main autocrat and the maker of these very offocoals' destinies, than the people's interests.
In post-Yeltsin Russia the restoration of authoritarian regime goes in high pace. It's no wonder because the new president is the product of the communist education. From his very childhood he dreamed of being a KGB official. After he became one he served devotedly to this regime. Then why should we wait the democracy from him? It would be unnatural. Democracy should be introduced by the democrat, at no means the true servant of a diehard totalitarianism.
As far as the democrats concerns they, as strange it might seem, exist in Russia. They are few, one could say even too little. In the middle of so called "discordants" they scarcely made up fifty percents. Nevertheless this is our future. Far it or near, but it is the future, because the evolution of the human consciousness is inexorable.
However, yet… Getting back to the present days I have to give two quotations said by two great persons who lived in the Western Europe when there was also the change from the authoritarian regime to the democratic one.
The first aphorism belongs to Luis the 14th - the educated monarch and at the same time the autocrat. "The state is me" he said expressing thus the credo of the autocracy. So, when the leader of our country says that he is the guarantee of the Constitution, it means that we deal with the authoritarian state, because the president could guarantee only those laws that were created for him. In real democratic states the not the president, but the court is the guarantee of the Constitution, because the president obeys the law as any other citizen of the country.
The second aphorism belongs to Otto Bismarck and is something about (I could guarantee only the general sense). "The revolution is prepared by the philosophers and romantics, it is performed by the fanatics, and the scoundrels and bastards use its fruit". Guess at what stage we are living now.