Saving the balance: why a bipartisan system is enough to control the power
For the normal functioning of the state in its political theater the existence of two equal forces is necessary: one is in the government today, the other is in one degree or another in opposition.
Power must certainly be strong and sufficiently united. However, it must be recognized that a common feature of most disadvantaged countries is the dominance of one political force, party, and ideology in society. On the contrary, a common feature of most prosperous, civilized countries is the presence in a political theater, as a rule, of two sufficiently powerful and independent forces (parties) that can really oppose each other.
Only this enables the people (who are mostly well-intentioned but passive) to actively control power and influence the country's politics and economy, taking the role of arbiter, and only this can ensure the informal functioning of the so-called institutions of democracy. Any society on the path from barbarism to civilization will sooner or later be able to reach a level of maturity sufficient to overcome the totalitarian model of governance. Without this, the transition to the category of civilized and prosperous countries is statistically unlikely.
Is it good if the state, the government is independent of the people it controls, or only takes into account its opinions and wishes when it is interesting to it? Probably not.
Should people strive to actively influence state policy, control power and have a real opportunity to demand responsibility for its specific actions, instead of just passively telling them their opinions and wishes? Maybe yes.
I can’t pretend to say that the people as a whole and especially each individual citizen should be able to directly influence the government, the adoption of important political decisions, etc. (since it’s rare to trust anyone). But, if we do not consider our power to be “power from God”, i.e. responsible only to God, we have no choice but to admit that power should be responsible to its people and therefore controlled by the people (which, incidentally, is consistent with the Constitution).
What in practice? It is no secret that our government at the moment looks like a fully formed unified political force, adorned with several, as it were, opposition parties. It is the unified pyramid of power, which includes the president, government, Federal Assembly, state institutions, regional authorities, the media, law enforcement agencies, etc. - all this is a kind of common, well-functioning organism, which is reflected even in the name of the ruling party - "United Russia". This in itself can only be welcomed, because in order to be strong and effective, power definitely should not be internally fragmented.
But our question is still what the citizen himself can (and can do at all) in those rare cases when he believes that the government in something small or large is not quite right? Is it really just to appeal to the same power, or, at the very least, to pour out your opinion to others or the Internet. In fact, there are no other options, since the natural dislike of our united government for any independent political activity has almost grown into absolute intolerance. How then can the people help the authorities to correct our many troubles that have already become quite familiar, such as corruption in all its manifestations, widespread embezzlement of incomes, extraordinary differentiation of incomes, incompetent and greedy bureaucratic apparatus, incapable of anything other than selling resources, degrading production, science , pressure on justice and the media, on entrepreneurs, etc.?
After all, it turns out that in the "people and power" system, power is strong and united, and the people are motley and divided. Therefore, of course, it’s not at all easy for the people to control power, and our people (as, indeed, many others) have not historically got used to this at all. We can proudly repeat as much as we like that power is just our hired managers, who can be replaced if they can’t cope ... But we admit that even if we are given really free and fair elections today, either today's or the new one will win candidate from the governing corporation. And even if you imagine the unreal, the candidate from a certain non-systemic opposition won, even the most uncompromising and purposeful, could he turn over the ruling pyramid? And is it necessary? Hardly. A simple replacement for one or even many senior officials can sometimes be useful and even necessary, but it is hardly a solution in principle. As the saying goes: "Appreciate the boss, the next one could be worse."
Fortunately, living in the modern world, we have a huge amount of information about everything in the world. In particular, we know that on the globe there are hundreds of countries and peoples, we know how their states, economy are roughly arranged, what is their history, traditions, etc. We know that among them there is a rather large group of quite prosperous, even prosperous countries, and in different parts of the world. We know that in other corners and often even nearby, there are, on the contrary, completely dysfunctional countries where the population lives very poorly, and sometimes monster states, where people simply destroy each other. There are "intermediate" cases that have not yet been fully defined in this regard. Our country also belongs to the latter, which already 25 years after breaking with the era of totalitarian power and an ineffective command economy cannot dock at all on the coveted coast of civilized countries. In many ways, we remain far from where we were, although it seems to be generally clear where to go.
After all, we, like any other interested country, can easily open our eyes and analyze what are the differences between the political and economic structure of prosperous countries and outsiders, what is the fundamental difference? How to get into the circle of the first countries and, God forbid, not to get into the company of the second? But it seems that the rock of events draws us exactly there ... Although, of course, we know the textbook signs of prosperous states, such as a market economy, elective and alternate authorities, freedom of information and political activity, the rule of law, independence of the courts, etc. This is not a secret, but in fact no one is taken to clearly argue with this. But why, realizing all this, for so long have we been unable to get closer to the desired result? Indeed, beyond all doubt, among our people and among those in power, the overwhelming majority, in principle, are in favor.
I want to share here one simple consideration on this subject. The fact is that among the differences between prosperous and dysfunctional states, there is one that seems to be lost among those listed above, but in my opinion, which is a key link in the whole chain.
Let us take a look at all the well-known, to put it mildly, "dysfunctional" countries. There, as a rule, there is one dominant political force, which to a greater or lesser extent suppresses all others, captures almost all levels of power, management, economy, information, permeates "everything and everything." This is what is called a "totalitarian" system of government. The most prominent examples are well known: fascist Germany, the Stalinist USSR, Maoist China, today's North Korea, etc. There are not so outstanding, but also quite totalitarian in the main: not allowing the existence of an independent political opposition, such as the late USSR, some of our eastern neighbors , many countries of the Middle East such as Saudi Arabia, many countries of Africa, etc. The dominance of one political force combined with market freedom is always wild corruption, stratification of society and a dead economy, and in combination with radical left or nationalist ideas - fascism, Stalinism, Maoism Juche ideas, aggressiveness, etc. Plus, in both cases, unpredictability, since a change of leaders is fraught with a change of course, putsch and turmoil.
Now let’s take a look at well-known prosperous countries. Everywhere about the same, but different picture: on the surface we see many political parties, but there are always at least two with real powerful power and authority: Republicans and Democrats in the United States, Conservatives and Labor in England, SPD and CDU / CSU in Germany, etc. These are not only formally multi-party systems, but there really exist two or more not just large parties, but political forces, each of which among its members and supporters has a fairly large number of influential politicians, and large businessmen, companies, banks, and its own information agencies, and the siloviki, military, cultural figures, etc. These forces are in some approximate balance in relation to political instruments and opportunities. At the very least, each of these forces can guarantee its politicians and supporters the right to exist and legal protection, the right to a fair trial, etc., that is, it has enough funds not to be crushed by another force.
The presence of a real opposing force obviously limits uncontrolled behavior and, as it were, disciplines the power (party) in power, makes you think about the consequences of your mistakes and, moreover, crimes. At the sight of a powerful rival party, it’s more difficult to cut another piece of the budget, put illiterate relatives and friends in profitable positions, pay giant “salaries” for the army of outstanding managers of bankrupt state enterprises and banks, pass any desired laws through parliament, etc. Any citizen, dissatisfied with any mistakes or abuses of the current government, in such a situation can not only appeal to the same government, but also turn to the second political force, or even join it. Thus, these two forces (parties) are placed in a situation of struggle, competition and are forced to criticize and control each other. The same mechanism of competition that makes a market economy effective is only capable of making an effective system of power. All that remains for the people is the role of the arbiter, evaluating and supporting or not certain actions of these parties, as well as the role of the voter, who, however, has a real choice. The main thing is that in civilized countries, the opposing forces never bring their confrontation to direct conflicts, all their competition and struggle remains within the law.
It should be noted that the presence of a single political force in a state does not necessarily lead to its disasters. Of course, the “king” can turn out to be either a crazy tyrant and despot, or a kind and wise leader of the people. The totalitarian and even more authoritarian authorities always believe that they express the fundamental interests of the whole people, and in some cases really ensure their completely prosperous existence. But, firstly, no one guarantees that the successor of the good king will not be a bloody tyrant with crazy plans. Secondly, even “good” authoritarianism is prone to the diseases listed above, as evidenced by the endless desperate attempts to self-medicate such regimes, their “implacable” struggle against corruption, luxury of the upper classes and poverty of the rest of the population, with ineffective governance, etc., which in essence, there is a struggle against the inevitable consequences of the system itself. Indeed, if the mayor, governor, judge, prosecutor, etc. - all key officials and deputies are members of the same political structure, then even with the best education they will be prone to mutual support in a variety of aspects, and even more so they will not be able to resist teams from the upper levels of government.
So, in summary: power must certainly be strong and sufficiently united, but at least (but this is probably enough) TWO REAL FORCES are needed in a political theater: one is in power today, the other is in varying degrees of opposition. Only the principle of competition between these forces can provide a real mechanism of control and the influence of the people on power, otherwise the role of the people remains passive. Without this, the transition to the category of civilized and prosperous countries is statistically unlikely. Such a political system of peaceful coexistence of two opposing political forces and people as an arbiter could be called a “duacocracy” [*].
Two problems of duacratia can be foreseen. The first is on the surface: our two leading party forces will simply “conspire” and will rule, say, in turn, covering up each other’s mistakes and abuses. As a result, some “shadow top”, which manipulates both of these parties, can actually rule. This probably happens regularly. But there is a people for that, to distinguish the real opposition from the decorative one and to form, if necessary, the 3rd, 4th party ... In addition, it is also beneficial for the shadowy elite to have two or more really competing structures in their hands. It is likely that in some cases the presence of two forces and the implementation of duacracy is not a merit of the people, but simply a convenience for the elite, as a guarantee from a slide to totalitarianism, which is dangerous for everyone. However, in this situation, these political forces will be forced to compete openly, and not “under the carpet”, as this regularly happens within totalitarian systems, which is already not bad.
The second problem and danger are deeper. We see that fortunately there are countries, peoples where duacracy is actually realized, where two powerful and independent political forces are able to coexist side by side, respecting each other, defending their interests without excesses, without fear of being destroyed by their opponent. But perhaps there are other countries where the presence of two powerful forces automatically leads to irreconcilable clashes, even civil wars, where each of the two forces cannot live until it crushes the other. Indeed, in the past, all peoples lived either without states at all, or under one form or another of totalitarian power: pharaoh, sultan, prince, king, etc., which was already great progress, versions of democracy were a rare exception. As for our huge federal country, the danger is also that two or more too heterogeneous, antagonistic forces can split it, which of course remains the main argument for maintaining a single vertical of power. Nevertheless, we hope that any people, any society can achieve such a level of maturity that it can find its own way to overcome the totalitarian political system, while maintaining the unity of the country. At least this should be sought.
And finally (almost forgot) the main thing: how to implement this? Answer: I don’t know. It doesn’t work out by itself, all the known attempts to build powerful parties from below have not yet succeeded, even in a period of relatively free multi-party system. And if a new force appears from below or from far away, then civilized competition may fail, unfortunately. Unfortunately, the understanding from above is not yet noticeable, but rather, on the contrary, and “do they need it”? Maybe today the time has come to simply comprehend this and either accept it as obviously vital for us, or reject it as something so far too dangerous and incomprehensible ...
[*] the term has been found several times on the Internet in different senses