• "Social Sciences"
  • Date:07-01-99(SSC-No.003)
  • Size:28,899 Kb.
  • Words: 4521

"Freedom from the State" and "Freedom Through the State"

Boris KAPUSTIN

I think that a discussion of the state of freedom in Russia today acquires meaning when the following questions are answered: what is the meaning of a "state ruled by the law" in the conditions when only a third of Russians are prepared to pursue their case in court (according to public opinion polls) and when 54 percent do not believe that the court can deliver justice? What are the human rights about if pensions and salaries are not paid on time and the basic of the liberal rights-the right to life-is violated? What are the social results of the liberal reforms that created a corporate oligarchic society instead of a "society of property owners" and the free market (some researchers call it with reason "commercial feudalism")?1

The above is not intended to cast doubt on the real scale of the post-1991 changes. We are living in a different society-it is different even from the perestroika period. Radical conclusions like "the old regime has not been toppled down after all,"2 offered by A. Dallin, an American post-Sovietologist, are born by the collapse of hopes (or apprehensions) that the downfall of communism was opening sluices for the "flow of history" to go "in a natural way" to reach the aim of Western liberal democracy and the free market. This did not happen. The disappointment was great: the flow of the Russian events that took a different direction was erroneously taken for a stagnant pool.

Could the events take a different direction after 1991? I don't know. I believe that today it is of a historic rather than of political interest. It is more important to answer another question: What should the Russian liberals do in the real society of the late nineties?

The question is about loyalty to the ideals and responsibility for the past.

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