Modernization. Сan russia benefit from its delayed development?

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A man wakes up in the morning and the inner world of his house wakes up with him. Everything is automated, everything will happen in the way likes this man . And every citizen of Russia meets the morning in the same way. No traffic jams on the roads , the streets are filled with children's laughter , the kids are happy that they are going to school or kindergarten for new knowledge.

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A man wakes up in the morning and the inner world of his house wakes up with him. Everything is automated, everything will happen in the way likes this man . And every citizen of Russia meets the morning in the same way. No traffic jams on the roads , the streets are filled with children's laughter , the kids are happy that they are going to school or kindergarten for new knowledge.


Adults happy to live in this country, they are confident in the future, the state supports the family, the education system let spend on the development of skills considerably less time than ever before, health care at a high level, and crime is low. And there is respect, good neighborliness and mutual support in the society.

Something like this might look like modernized Russia, if the government together with society are able to embody the idea of Modernization put forward by President Medvedev in 2008, the four "I" - infrastructure, innovation, investment, institutions.


For today, when the political power has stabilized in Russian Federation the idea of ​​updating gets the name and becomes the solution of "unsolvable" problems - corruption, the problems of dependence on natural resources and low institutional development. But in my view, modernization - it is not a goal but an agent of social growth. This means that, in principle, any country can be modernized by its own formula.


When it was twenty years of restructuring, conducted many conferences on the achievements of this period. Most of them were pessimistic as expectations of democracy, market and economic growth have not been realized. At the same time, Alexander Auzan made positive suggestion in his report that the revolution in the late 80s - early 90s still happened, but not democratic, or liberal, it was the consumer revolution.


As a result, attempts to reformation of the economy have created a powerful consumer demand for change, the destruction of deficient economy. Won the consumer society.

New consumer behavior style creates a new member of society - the rational man, striving for self-expression and personalization. There is a socio-cultural shift that can be taken as one of the starting points of the Russian modernization.


But what's next? Formulate a new society, their relation to the state? What is it - the leader of all the decisions, or a factor that could be improved?


There is some skepticism in society, since there is no real process, there are only suggestions and ideas. Modernization in Russia has become as familiar slogan, as once the restructuring («Perestroika»).

According to a survey conducted in 2010 by the Center for Political Technologies among economists, political scientists and representatives of major Russian and international companies, it was found that the is no single view of the modernization strategy, however there are two main points of view on this issue.  

Supporters of complex modernization are confident that this process should involve not only the economy but also society and the political system, need a complete revision of the development paradigm. The main conditions are the modernization of Russian democratic reforms: the independence of the branches of power, multi-party system, de-monopolization of the scope of decision-making. Only then can we implement the reform of the administrative system, law enforcement and various projects. This view is shared mainly political scientists and economists.

Businessmen more likely to believe that it is possible to limit the project modernization. It means that projects are initiated at the same time in various sectors of the economy, society and state - with the participation of the bureaucracy, political, government, business and the general expert support. Transformations of this type are successfully carried out in Asia, so this upgrade is also known as asian. For its implementation requires strong political power (political source), expert resource, professional management and use of modern tracking systems over spending the money.


In Russia since the late 90's to early 2000's modernization was complex. Along with the change of the political system created many innovative events and the economy: retail and banking, mobile communications, etc. However, since about 2003, all of the innovative projects relate only to the state, and they almost always present some form of carve-up(“raspil” of budget). Modernization in the form in which it really now being conducted is project-style, the asian: creation of a project or corporation and as the head is placed a person close to the government. On the complex modernization, when reforms are parallel and in the economic sphere and in the political, speech does not go.


The project type of modernization carried out in Russia, due to the current authoritarian system in the country. Meanwhile, authoritarian system, generally speaking, not very able to innovate, from the point of view of an advisor to the Institute of Contemporary Development Nikita Maslennikov. There are several reasons. First, it is absolutely contraindicated in the competition, because sooner or later it leads to political competition and regime change. Second, authoritarian regimes tend to gigantism. Innovation is related largely to the different structure of business: small and medium-sized businesses. Giant projects, especially in today's very labile and unstable global economic environment, are not always as efficient as possible, even in terms of price.


What prevents modernization in Russia?


Despite the differences in approaches to modernization, they have a common core - the state plays a major role in the initiation, prioritization and implementation process at all stages. Of course, the government plays a very active role in the process of modernization in any society, as its conductor and the original guarantor. However, the Russian government, and above all the supreme power, as a rule, so firmly controls the process of modernization, and he appears as a chain of original "revolution from above", which are often carried out by force and contrary to the aspirations of the wider community.


On the one hand, the modernization of the state by the "revolution from above" does not consider the socio-cultural characteristics of the country, considering it to be abolished as an anachronism, and being introduced by force elements of the "Western" institutions and norms are destroying the integrity of the existing system of civilization, strain it.


Next, related to the previous feature of the modernization process in Russia is a multi-directional periodically realized process is upgrading and modernization of the state and modernization of the society.Due to the weakness of civil society and the unique role played by the government in Russia, the modernization of society is constantly replaced by the modernization of the state - its military and industrial power, bureaucratic, repressive bodies, the public sector of the economy, etc. As a result, the problem of forced military-industrial modernization of the state, strengthening its role as a global power are often solved by the anti-modernization, partial degradation and archaic society. Perhaps only in Russia is a discrepancy between the modernization of the state and society is so radical that even the introduction of modern and high-tech industries in the state of military industries of the economy may be due to reduction of total collectivism, de-individualization, the abolition of private property, resort to primitive forms of community-communism transition from intensive to extensive development, etc. Ignoring this multi-directional, ambivalence of Russia's modernization process, it makes it difficult to understand and comprehend.


"... authorities, and not only they, know little about the country and its diversity are literally afraid at the genetic level, constantly striving for unification of all and sundry. At the same time the power of the vast expanses of the country is an important component of self-identity, not only those in power, but also of all Russians. The combination of two contrasting feelings – fear and pride – is kind of schizophrenic. This significant mental barrier to the adoption of adequate management solutions should be taken into account in assessment of possible modernization.

Only by better understanding of the common trends of spatial development the first mental barrier can be reduced. Second step - the selection of objective and subjective restrictions and "path dependence" modernization Russian space, including institutional barriers. Third one is assessment of the experience of other countries, and its applicability to Russia. Finally, the forth is an understanding of what to do in the current circumstances, to speed up the modernization of the territorial angle. And what if this is not done ... "

N.V. Zubarevich, "Regions of Russia: inequality, crisis, modernization"


Extended in time and incomplete process of modernization in Russia are directly related to the incomplete formation of the value system of the Russian super-ethnos, as this determines the underdevelopment of the inconsistencies and contradictions of all attempts at modernization both in the camp of the modernizers, and among the general population. In this regard, China and South-East Asia are in a much better position. Despite the fact that the upgrade is started much later than in Russia, the presence of common to the vast majority of the population of values ​​(usually based on Confucianism) simplifies the definition of the specific tasks of modernization, and their decision involving almost the entire population. As a rule, there are no unresolved disputes that need upgrading or not, what should be its main focus, what means to implement it, and what is characteristic of Russian society, which from the beginning and still not even a consensus has emerged regarding the modernization of Peter the Great, not to mention the later stages of the modernization process. In a situation where society can not form a mass middle classes because of its contradictions rending, divergent values ​​and orientation, which would become a full-fledged subject of modernization, the state takes over the function of the subject, do not settle readily society to data transformations, or with its cultural traditions.

But this kind of modernization can not be deep and consistent, since it is not based on a sufficiently broad and active population. Modernizing elite inevitably split after split of society, the rebirth of the anti-modernizing attitudes starts again. And in the end at great cost to Russia after a "jump" quickly lags behind other states in developing a more coherent and based in the modernization process on a more solid foundation than the desires of the reformers and the patience of the population with which the state is often treated worse than conquerors from the conquered population of the country in pursuit of its goals of modernization.

External shocks that force the Russian government to modernize, is not so much direct technological, economic, political and cultural cooperation between Russia and other countries and civilizations as a threat to the weakening of Russia's position in the world as a power (an extreme case of this threat - the military defeat of the other states).

It is not difficult to trace the steps that have been initiated by modernizing political and military failures of the Russian state. Thus, the reforms of Alexander I in the beginning of the XIX century was stimulated setbacks in the struggle against Napoleonic France, the great reforms of Alexander II - the defeat of Russia in the Crimean War, the manifesto of Nicholas II to grant political freedoms and reform Stolypin - defeat in the Russian-Japanese War of 1904. However, the fact that the modernization starts and defines its target every time it is the state that inevitably affects the whole originating in Russia modernization process, indicating the unwillingness of society to change and simmering delayed its response to start of shifting.

Modernization in Russia, at each turn of the spiral of history, develops a general scheme that includes the opposition, "the reform - the counter-reform", "liberalism - enslavement", "cooperation with the West - the confrontation with the West", etc. As a result, it possible to talk about cycles and waves of modernization in Russia, including the alternation of reforms and counter-reforms, which, with all its uniqueness, have something in common, reproducing and repeating.

Whether this is the whole Russian culture and development? Culture One ("spreading") and Culture Two ("freezing"), as described in his book "Culture Two" Vladimir Paperny. Only the pendulum from one extreme to another?

In conclusion I would like to bring the idea of possible directions of development from the NV Zubarevich book that allow to use barriers to modernization as benefits:

  • Faster diffusion of innovation
    1. Investments into infrastructure help "to sew" a huge area of the country and reduce the economic distance forto the business and movement of residents
    1. Provide cities financial independence
    2. Creating of the local self-government - real elected and responsible to the public
  • The stimulation of competition between regions and cities for public investment and human capital
    1. Improving the business climate and the modernization of institutions
    2. Regulation of inter-budgetary relations, since today's the presence highly subsidized regions reduces the need for competition and improvement of institutions
    3. Decentralization of management and change in the proportions of distribution of tax revenues to the regions

As a citizen of this country, almost never delve into such matters - ashamed unconsciously selected position "on the edge" of indifference to what is going on and, as a consequence of inaction.

Yes, if desired, the society can change a new round of history, and squeeze this spiral as a public benefits. Use tremendous experience of errors as a spring for this breakthrough.

I do not want to use the word "if", but when society is ready to take on the responsibility for their life - the pendulum will stop. I want to believe. 


  1. Auzan A., «Modernization as a problem in search of a national formula», Journal of the New Economic Association, number 7, 2010
  2. Talks with Auzan A. -
  3. Auzan A., Kelimbetov K. «Sociocultural formula for economic modernization». Article. Problems of Economics, 2012, № 5. Moscow: Publishing House of NP "Editorial Board of the journal" Economic Issues, 2012 - p.38-44.
  4. Zubarevich N.V. «Regions of Russia: inequality crisis, modernization». - M.: Independent Institute for Social Policy, 2010. - 160.
  5. N. Maslennikov, interview December 7, 2010 at RIA "Novosti"

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