After 23 years of independence Belarusian society still cannot define its attitude towards two main “-isms” of Soviet ideology, i.e. capitalism and socialism. In March the answers on the question “Which regime is more acceptable for Belarus?” were divided almost equally: capitalism – 38.3%, socialism – 39.9% (21.1% of respondents didn’t know what to answer).
According to a standard course of Marxism-Leninism the difference between two leading socio-political systems of the XX century lies in the first place in the prevailing type of property. That is why there is nothing surprising in the fact that in Belarusian society there is no consent about comparative efficacy of state and private property (Table 1).
* As the list of proposed variants was changed, it wouldn’t be correct to compare the results of 1993-96 yrs to the results of 1997-2014
In December 1993, when the disappointment of perestroika hopes didn’t come yet, private property’s advances were evident for most Belarusians. But two years later state property took the lead. It should be noted that Belarusians, supposedly inclined to collective property, never denoted efficacy of collective property in any of 93-96 yrs’ surveys.
Personal experience, acquired by Belarusians after 23 years of constructing Belarusian economic model, boosted “efficiency rating” of private property. In March it amounted to 51.3%, but the share of supporters of state property remains incredibly high in European terms.
The question on comparative efficacy of different proprietary types had naturally turned out to be politically-charged. Among supporters of A. Lukashenko (those who trust him) 61.2% of respondents consider state propriety to be more efficient, while among A. Lukashenko’s opponents (those who don’t trust him) this share amounts to 16.7%. As for private property, the picture is reverse: 28.3% and 73.6% accordingly.
But to express opinion about “-isms” and basic proprietary types is one thing, and to take into account proprietary type of enterprise while looking for a job is quite another. In 1997 majority of Belarusians preferred state as an employer (Table 2). During economic crises (2009 and 2011), when the feeling of safety disappears, majority of Belarusians look for protection under the wing of state, and it naturally increases the wish to work at state enterprises.
Over the past year the appeal of state and private enterprises almost didn’t change, and this testifies of a relative stability of Belarusian economy from public point of view. But it’s a survey average. Those who desire to work at state enterprises prevail among the supporters of A. Lukashenko – 56.2% vs. 22.2%. The relationship is inverse among his opponents – 24.8% vs. 60.7%.
Young people of age between 18 and 29 years old prefer to work at private enterprises (63.5%), but veteran workers, who are close to retirement age (40-49 years old) prefer state enterprises (23.3%).
Education level doesn’t have a significant influence. In particular, 48.9% of respondents with primary education, 48.4% of respondents with unfinished secondary education, 38.3% of respondents with secondary education, 37.1% of respondents with secondary vocational education and 41.1% of respondents with higher education wish to work at state enterprises.
It should be noted once more, that there is a high share of civil servants among Belarusians with higher education, and this naturally has an influence on their preferences when choosing their place of work.
Answers to the question “Did you have to participate in non-state economic activities?” let us evaluate the dynamics of economic activities of Belarusians over the past 20 years (Table 3).
If we exclude the first variant of answer (“wage labor in non-state sector”) we may conclude that Belarusian society’s development stagnates. This isn’t a wrong conclusion. Belarusian model blocks society’s economic activity, and its’ architects do it on purpose, because they don’t know how to build up relationships with free and independent people.
Everything that is able to “stir” independently, beyond the control of “power vertical” (it doesn’t matter if we talk about political, economic or social activities) is methodically destroyed or, at best, marginalized.
As a result the only subject of economy in Belarus is bureaucracy. Its ability to modernize state enterprises was clearly shown during the “make-or-break” year 2013.
All stated above is confirmed by the answers to the question of Table 4. Due to the efforts of the paternalistic state the share of Belarusians who prefer a low but a guaranteed salary didn’t change in 22 years, but even grew up.
It is only possible to rest upon something that resists. Sure, a passive, dependent person is very handy for the authoritarian power. But Belarusian model, no matter what’s your attitude to it, functions under the conditions of external competition. Russian subsidies soften the acuteness of competition to some extent, but that is all.
That is why A. Lukashenko is obliged to rush about the country in order to sort out the “mess” on state enterprises. But the employees of state enterprises are only worried about possible loss of guarantees for their low salaries. They got used to the “mess”, it doesn’t bother them.