Self-government as a part of civil society: actual questions

Analysis of the problem of the formation of civil society and the institution of self-government in this process. Study of the problem of the formation of self-government in pre-revolutionary, Soviet and modern Russia as an element of civil society.

Рубрика Государство и право
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Self-government as a part of civil society: actual questions

Victoria Valentinovna Kim- Candidate of Philosophy, associate professor of the Philosophy and Social-Politic Sciences Subdepartment, assistant Dean of The Faculty of History and Law «Amursk Humanity Pedagogical State University» ( Komsomolsk-on-Amur).


Natalia Vladimirovna Shelkovnikova- Candidate of History, associate professor of The History and Law Subdepartment, Head of The History and Law Subdepartment «Amursk Humanity Pedagogical State University»( Komsomolsk-on-Amur).


The problems of forming civil society in modern Russia and a role of institute of self-government in this process are analyzed in the article. Also Russian experience and problems of forming organs of self-government in pre-revolution, Soviet and modern Russia as element of civil society are observed here. The role of political parties in forming of organs of self-government is critically evaluated too.

Key words: self-government, civil society, state, political party, democracy, person, electorate, municipal formation, deputy, legal sense.

civil society government revolutionary

The questions of the self-government reforming are closely connected with the civil society, exactly, with the level of its development, and jural state. However the most important is the relation of the self-government with democracy as a type of society as well as with the state as management organ. What is the role of self-government in modern Russia? What is the principle of its forming and interaction with the state power? The article deals with these and some other questions. The authors do not pretend to make a recipe of solving the problem concerning the effectiveness of self-government in the system of the government.

In Russia, no matter what period to study, to speak of the self-government is possible only provisionally as Russian society as well as the local self-government were group ones. The all-estate self-government independent from administration appeared only in 1864 and in 1870 (in cities and towns). However both all-estate and independence were reduced to nothing in 90-s of XIX. In soviet Russia self-government was rejected because of the principle of the Soviets unity as a state power body controlled by the party and the state. So in the course of Russian history the state power not only dominated the society but defined its life. As a result the society lost its power, ability for self-defending, expressing its interests. It means that Russian political tradition did not suppose the forming and developing of the civil society institutions.

The formation of the civil society is connected with the phenomenon of democracy which is the result of the western culture development. Under the word democracy is first of all understood the type of the political regime that allows the society and the state to function on conditions of the democratic freedom and the primary role of the law. That is, democracy is directly connected with freedom and political culture. The freedom is treated as the right of a citizen for self-expression. In the western society a man felt as a personality, as a citizen, responsible for himself and the society. That is why there were formed conditions for civil society existence - strong and state independent. It was provided by “… not only economic development but by the processes taking place in European culture, thanks to the appearing of the political parties, civil society, as well as the high social mobility of population” [4, 81]. Such a combination of political, cultural, economic and social conditions unfortunately did not take place in Russia.

One of the main problems in Russia society was the absence of conditions for forming of the social and political identity of a citizen and personality, whose main quality is the feeling of self-respect, “… the absence of which cannot provide neither the struggle for right, nor political self-government and national independence” [2, 120]. It is this feeling that allows distinguishing a person from a crowd. On the other hand this feeling provides the necessity of independent actions the responsibility for which is laid on a person. So, the dignity of a person cannot be separated from responsibility. The combination of these two qualities requires spiritual, social and physical intensity. It is much harder to overcome the latter.

Nowadays in Russia some old patterns are actively used. For example, it is said to be useless to discuss and take any decisions on the level of the society because the state decides as it needs. In this case the state of Russia has the role of a guardian acting in the name of the society and creating for this reason the whole row of public civil bodies that “act formally on the principle of guardianship” [2, 49]. We still follow the traditional way in organizing the power on all the levels according to the idea of the state. One of them is the idea about the structure of the local power organization. The result of which is the recurrent reforming of the local self-government.

At the present moment the necessity of the reforming of the self-government in Russian is caused by several official reasons:

1. The strengthening of the role of the civil society in Russia.

2. The increasing of the role of political parties in the state and political structure of the society in particular.

3. The active involving of the population in the political life of the society.

On condition of the successive reforming the state power is planning to create active population for effective management and organizing economic and social changes. The state is trying to form the civil society not as an opposition to itself as it was in Western Europe, but as an organization in which the main question is its management, but not questions of freedom, self respect and responsibility of a citizen. The modern idea of the self-government the state has looks as follows.

In modern Russia all the guarantees of self-governing and principles of its organization are defined by the state. First there appeared the laws denying the system of Soviets. The refusal from such local power organization was based on the initiative of the public power, not population. The Constitution of 1993 guaranteed the local government independent within its rights in Russian Federation, moreover, independent from the state power system. Guaranteeing local government the state fixes its bases in law, supplies it financially by setting in the municipal disposal land and budget, supports it both organizationally and ideologically, working out the points of the state policy in the sphere of the local self-government development.

The state guarantees the independence of the local self-government, whose main task is the solving the problems of the local importance, to define the structure of its organs and their work organization in particular. The structure of the local self-government is based on the principle of the power division, as all the power system in Russia. This principle is realized in the division of functions and power between the executive power presented by the head of a municipal, and the representative one presented by deputies of local Dumas, councils, etc. the work of these bodies is based on the principle of the supremacy of the executive power. The representative body fulfils the functions of forming and controlling the budget, making laws according to the legality.

In practice elections to local self-government administration are not popular among the population. Moreover the rate goes down to 10 - 11%. This fact reveals not only the passive nature of population but its refusal to take responsibility for solving important questions of living. In such a situation the state is searching for the way to increase the activity of population, attract it to questions concerning organization and effective functioning of a local self-government. One of these ways is to attract political parties and communities to take part in elections. We conceder the inclusion of political parties into the election process on the local level as well as to the following activity of administration excessive and its result - dubious and unpredictable. The reason of it is in the nature of a party itself.

A party is a political organization uniting people of the same political views, propagating its views and fighting for interests of the classes it represents. One of the most important mechanisms party's activity is its ideology, as it allows influencing the society, forming support. N. Lumann treats ideology as a functional category, whose aim is not achieving the truth but orienting people to certain social activity and behavior only. Orienting on behavior and constructing of a person's way of life are the most important functions of any ideology. They allow manipulating masses in any necessary political direction. So, attracting parties to the activity in the local self-governing bodies will not organize effective work for general purpose. Parties, in their turn, will use self-government bodies for manipulating and creating the bases for the increasing their influence in the countries. So, parties solve the main question for them: they fight for power, more and more votes.

It is important to take into consideration the fact that political parties do not represent interests of the whole population. Less then half population of the country belong to a certain party. It is still less out of cities. It is urgent as there are not many large municipal formations (Moscow, St. Petersburg, Rostov-na-Donu, etc). In Russia there are mostly municipal formations with population about half a million. Here the political activity of the population reduces, whereas the number of politically indifferent people increases. Finally, political minority will decide for the majority of population. This idea contradicts the principle of the self-government fixed in the Constitution of Russian Federation, the principle of democracy as well as common sense.

In fact the majority lacks choice as the number of deputies will reduce, and deputies - representatives from parties will appear independent on territories and the opinion of people living there. Voting for party lists does not guarantee that a person elected will work in a representative body. Committees of parties are able to change the lists on the spot. Moreover, the forming of party lists itself is an inner case of the party, and it does not inform population of it.

Unfortunately, the problems will be developed after elections in the activity of local authorities. After a party wins the elections it will continue to fight for votes, for increasing its influence in society. The activity of a representative of a party - decisions, accepting or rejecting initiatives of political opponents will in most cases be dictated by party discipline. It can lead to the “split” of the representative municipal body, when deputies make decisions according to their own interests, but not “by the interests of the population in consideration to historical or local traditions”. But it contradicts the Constitution of Russian Federation, the Federal Law №131-FL dated 06.10.03 “About general principles of local self-government organization”. Besides conflicts between deputies - party representatives other contradictions are possible. For example, contradictions between deputies from single member constituency and deputies from parties are possible caused by the reduction of number of deputies elected from areas that increases the amount of their work. Such a contradiction has already been pointed by a deputy from single member constituency during the public discussion of the question concerning the changes in the Charter of the municipal body of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. So, attracting parties to municipal elections will not decide the problem of increasing personal political activity. A person should realize the necessity to take independent and responsible decisions concerning the life of a municipal area.

To avoid such a situation deputies must be directed by interests of their business, but not by political struggle and the following intrusion into the higher levels of power system. But such a power organization in local conditions of the low level of political mind is impossible. The purpose of the state is to activate the population to take part in local problem solving. But it cannot be achieved by the artificial inclusion of parties into the self-government activity.

In conclusion it is possible to speak about the necessity of the self-governing as a civil society institution in modern Russia. However, the possibilities for it creation should be concerned not in the realization of one of its images the state possesses, but in the necessity of developing self-respect and personal responsibility among the population as well as every person.

Literature and the sources

1. N. V. Blinov, Russian statehood: invitation to thought. Political and history-theoretical problems / N. V. Blinov // Russian revolution in the historical context: Materials of the region science conference (Tomsk, November, 6 - 8, 2007).

2. V. M. Gessen, Questions of self-government / V. M. Gessen. - St.Peterburg : The edition of law-book depot «Law».

3. V. M. Gribovskii, Russian Empire' state structure and ruling (from State Law and Administrative Law lectures) / V. M. Gribovskii. - Odessa : «Technik», 1912.

a. Ilin, The theory of State and Law / I. A. Ilin. - Moscow : «Zercalo», 2003.

4. Constitution of the Russian Federation. - Moscow, 2008.

5. M. A.Nagornaya, Civil society in Russia : definition, features, ways of formation / M. A. Nagornaya //

a. Sevastyanova, Genesis of definition of the «civil cooperation» in Russia (XVIII - XIX centuries) / A. Sevastyanova //

6. U. Senokosov, Power as a problem / U. Senokosov. - Moscow : Moscow School of Political Researching, 2005.

7. The Federal Law 06.10.03 № 131-FZ «About Common Principles of Organization of Self-Government in the Russian Federation» // The Compilation of Legislation 6.10.03 № 40, № 3822.

8. B. N. Chicherin, The course of the state law. Vol. 1 - 3 / B. N. Chicherin. - Moscow, 1894.

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