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WHOSE STATE IS IT?

In the states with split societies an additional problem connected with the necessity to reconcile the interests of the two parts of split society turns up for the ruling elites besides the standard set of problems. If the split line divides society into parts unequal in size (“a majority” and “a minority”), then the ruling elites get a natural desire to give up the role of a mediator and lean upon just one part of society (as a rule, upon the “majority”). Interests of the “minority” are, of course, ignored while domestic policy is being formed.
The latest events in Turkey demonstrate what such tendency can lead to. “For prime-minister Erdogan – writes the Turkish analyst Z. Ozdil – an ideal Turkey is a country where all the residents piously pray in ubiquitous mosques, and then go shopping to one of as ubiquitous shopping centers, which emerge in cities at a great rate”. The problem, however, resides in the following: apart from the piously praying “majority” in modern Turkey there is a secularized “minority”, whose interests R. Erdogan’s government ignores on a regular basis.
The Turkish example helps us understand the nature of the conflict between the Belarusian “state for the people” and part of the Belarusian people, by the way their most active part. The conflict was jumpstarted already in the course of the presidential campaign of 1994. Its ideological constituent is secured in the mythologema “We are a single people”. However, this is not the unity of the two parts of society bound by state-the-mediator – one should know the difference between chalk and cheese. The Belarusian state declares national unity at the expense of denying the “minority” the right of existence.
Under the influence of the events of December 19, 2010 A. Lukashenko had to publicly admit the existence of the “minority” two times. The mythologema “We are a single people” withstood nevertheless, and the hardly roughcast policy of recognizing the “minority” was scaled back.
It would be strange if the “minority” were not returning the state like for like. It follows from Table 1 that only every third Belarusian recognizes the Belarusian state as his/her own without any reservations. Among those who do not trust head of state there are only 5.2% of such people!

 

It follows from the socio-demographic structure of supporters and opponents of A. Lukashenko that women (39.5% vs. 25.5% of men), pensioners (60 years of age and older – 57.2%, 18-30 years of age – 22.7%), and people with primary education (68.8% vs. 26.7% for the individuals with higher education) consider the Belarusian state theirs in the first place.
Modern states are called “national” for a reason. The competitive ability of national economies, as well as the competitive ability of the states themselves, depends largely on the nations’ maturity extent. That is why there is nothing unexpected in the fact that A. Lukashenko discusses the topic of constructing the Belarusian nation a lot and with enthusiasm. Let us quote an extract from the speech delivered at the IV All-Belarusian National Assembly: “The future of our country is determined by the spiritual health of the nation, which together with high moral principles, patriotism and an active civic stance makes up the pillar of our society, guarantees its stability and is the main source of its development”.
An active civic stance presupposes establishing of special relations between the individual and the state, when estrangement is removed and citizens participate in managing public affairs regarding them as their own. In other words, the matter concerns conscious readiness of the citizens to assume responsibility for the fortunes of the country, concern about its future, readiness if necessary to subordinate own interests to the public good.
However, can one hope for the citizens perceiving their state as hostile to express a desire to assume responsibility for the country’s fortunes? It should be remembered that assuming such responsibility means going on the political field. Such self-activity, to put it mildly, is not encouraged by the Belarusian state.
Let us remind the readers that ancient Greeks called their fellow-countrymen not interested in public affairs (politics) and not participating in the meetings of the polis citizens “idiots”. Judging by the answers to the question of Table 2, the ancient Greeks would include into this category an absolute majority of Belarusians.

 

Refusing to participate in politics the majority of Belarusians transfer the rights for making state decisions to the “only politician”, i.e. A. Lukashenko. It is clear that he is not able to make all the managerial decisions single-handedly. That is why absence in Belarusian society of the critical mass of people with an active civic stance entails inevitable strengthening of officials (bureaucracy).
Against relatively high trust ratings of head of state and the government only 13.4% of respondents assessed the team of executives-the-politicians positively. Four years before there were more of such assessments – 17.3% (Table 3). The main contribution to the positive assessment was made by respondents trusting A. Lukashenko (which is quite natural) – 26.5%; the contribution of head of state’s political opponents proved to be tokenistic – 0.3%!

 

It should be mentioned that A. Lukashenko himself does not often assess high officials positively. He has lately launched a campaign on fighting against corruption into which, according to him, sank the whole branches of Belarusian economy. It should be reminded here that in 1994 the topic of fighting against corruption was one of the hobbyhorses that pulled the road cart of the “candidate of the people” to the top of power.
Judging by the data of Table 4, Belarusians estimate A. Lukashenko’s prospects to defeat the “corruption hydra” rather skeptically. At that 18.2% of respondents (virtually as many as in Russia) consider that head of state will not seriously fight against corruption as he is interested in it this way or another. In addition the difference in the answers of those who trust and do not trust A. Lukashenko turned out to be tenfold: 3.2% vs. 37.3%.

 

* The data of “Levada-Center” (V. Putin’s last name is given in the variants of answer, of course)
According to the formula of the Frenchman E. Renan, “life of the nation is a daily plebiscite”, and various national projects simultaneously participate in the plebiscite. Let us enumerate the main ones: civic, state, cultural and ethnic. Modern European countries are the countries where civic national projects have won. However, none of the national projects is finished. One should remember about it.
Modern authoritarian regimes, just as democratic ones, need nations for their survival, though not civic ones, but state nations. In other words, they need nations in which individuals subordinate their own interests to the tasks of strengthening potency of the state.
The June opinion poll lets us summarize the almost twenty-year-period of constructing a state nation in Belarus. The “minority”, especially their young part, actively distance themselves from the state. The “majority” support the authoritarian state; however, their main resource is electoral. If required under the conditions of crisis, the “majority” will not be able to support their state by any other actions.