Ye. Bystrytsky. The political philosophy of postcommunism: methodological horizons // Political Thought. 1995. N. 1. P. 113-122.

        .         .





Yevhen BYSTRYTSKY

THE POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF POSTCOMMUNISM: METHODOLOGICAL HORIZONS



Periods of considerable social and political changes are always accompanied (preceded or crowned) by transformations in the political philosophy of society. By the latter one should understand not only such by-products of rationalization in the guise of numerous social theories and scholarly constructs but also those forms of mass experience and popular self-understanding on which are based the legitimacy of the whole bulk of their collective existence, the recognition of social institutions, and expectations of certain social and political reforms and events. It is at first obvious that in the everyday practice of relations and attitudes toward oneself, truly tectonic latent, invisible changes in the course of history are stored up and at certain historical junctures suddenly surface and erupt onto the political landscape as cataclysms revolutionary transformations of society, which then have to be recorded, theoretically understood, and explained.

Initial steps toward attaining of mass understanding and public discussion attempts to create the social conditions for awakening the individual (Gorbachev-era glasnost against the background of the so-called Brezhnevian "period of stagnation") was doubtless an indicator of the social and economic crisis of the "communist project," which were only the first signs of the coming profound and radical changes. The demolition of the Berlin wall and the "wall of silence" around the little man of the "great" Soviet people resulted in the public articulation of all the latent individual and collective moods, desires, wills, and expectations which constitute the basis of the social legitimation of the previous political system, political order, and political institutions. This is why the changes that have occurred in this period in the language, public discourse, and mass media have the character of a watershed and are the institutional consolidation of essential transformations in society's political sphere as a whole.

People's awareness of their national/ethnic and cultural identity has assumed great significance in altering the system of political legitimation in the postcommunist period. Political philosophy and the practice of legitimizing postcommunist authority are indissol-ubiy linked with unflagging attention to problems of ethnic identification, national culture, and nationalism.

Social "idiosyncrasy" to Soviet Bolshevik ideology and, at the same time, to the political theory of classical Marxism freed up the intellectual sphere, which was then flooded either by hasty and foolish revisions of the old political textbooks on scientific communism and historical materialism, by "theoretical" quests for a "particuliar" ethnospecific "third road" to the future, or else by the unsystematic and superficial borrowing terms from the vocabulary of Western political philosophy like "democracy", "parliamentary system", "rule of law", "law-governed state", "civil society", etc.). All this points to the need for a radically different approach to and understanding of the postcommunist experience.




The Political Project of the Modern


Beginning with the Modern period and that of the so-called bourgeois revolutions, the awareness of historically decisive discrepancies between the conscious, e.g., rationally goal-oriented socially significant acts and actions of individuals (as "rational beings") and the unforeseen consequences of their common collective life (as "political animals") in time led to the formulation of the classical or the Modern type of socio-political theory and political philosophy in general. Its distinctive peculiarity (already laid down by the Modern period in the socio-political genesis of political science) lay in the fact that political theory, from its very inception, was designed to accomplish a dual task: first, to lay bare the rational structure, an essence or general law, of the motive forces of society and of its cataclysms and, secondly, to construct such a system of political knowledge and ideas (ideology), on the basis of which the collective forms of human life could acquire purposefulness and rational predictability. It is precisely in the political theory of the philosophers of that era that the motto, knowledge is power, which dates from that time, reveals its true meaning as a total will to power in the form of a projected domination over reality based on rational control over the latter.

A system of universal, world-view certainties, of general assumptions, "foremeanings" or "prejudices" (H.-G.Gadamer) arose, on the basis of which all further empirical judgements about the structure of the world as a whole and especially on the law-governed nature of social life, the factors affecting its development, and the possibility of comprehending it scientifically. We call such a system of assumptions (interpretative framework) the project of the Modern, which characterizes the possibilities of historical development in a dialectical spirit. The issue is primarily one of understanding history as progress in human self-understanding, of the idea of emancipation through progress of the Mind, science (or social action led by scientific knowledge as in Marxism), and also of the attainment by such means of maximal material and spiritual wel-fare.(l) This ideological foundation (beginning with Spinoza, Hobbs, the Enlightenment philosophers up to and including Hegel, Marx, Cornte, Spencer, and so forth) makes up the basis of political thought, the pohtical ontology of the project of the Modern. The collapse of it is experienced by the postcommunist political being as the destruction, first of all, of the ideology and theory of a rationally understandable (scientifically-planned) organization of "politics" in the broadest sense.




The Subject Matter of the Political Analysis of Postcommunism


Today, it is common knowledge among political theorists that, along with the epoch-making changes of 1989 and 1991, an urgent need has arisen to examine anew the fundamental premises, notions, and theories of modern political science as well as the latters attempts to define the nature and proper forms of political life.(2) Moreover, there is every reason to argue that the problem lies not only in changing a professionally delineated social idea, political science, but also in a universal substituting of the ideational reference points and methods of organizing present-day (philosophical) thought in general, which not by accident coincide in time with the "postcommunist revolutions" in Central and Eastern Europe. Politics, law, the state, and ethics comprise the institutions of the shared life of people who at present have found themselves under philosophical scrutiny.

These discernible shifts in defining the central subject-matter of philosophical thought are of the same fundamental importance as the orientation of philosophy, beginning with the Modern period, toward the norms and ideals of rigorous cognitive style, canons, and rules in the explanation of Nature, elaborated in mathematical experimental study of natural history as well as in the field of social sciences (Francis Bacon, Descartes, Hobbs). Recall that Marx and Engels undertook to develop "scientific communism" and "the materialistic (scientific) understanding of history" precisely because in their typically TVIodem approach accounts of social phenomena had to have objective certainty equal to that of the explanations of Nature provided by the natural sciences. Based on quite different premises, this century's logical positivism cultivated this same approach in the scientific explanation of social phenomena.

The current attention to politics in the widest sense of the term (as a universal mode of organizing social life, which dates as far back as the ancient polls) holds fundamental significance for philosophical thought. The transfer of politics to the center of attention in the social sciences is equal to the discovery of the volitional basis of various forms of human self-identification in the world, made by Schopenhauer and Nietsche on the basis of the nineteenth century Romantic revolution in culture (the arts, music, and world view in general) and in direct relation to the national-liberation movements of the 1848 Springtime of Peoples in Europe and national awakenings. The turning of contemporary thought to political life is no less important than Husserl's discovery of the crucial significance of everyday experience, the world of life (Le-benswelt), for the human understanding of all notably social phenomena, which produced offshoots in phenomenological sociology (A. Schutz, and, in the 1960s and 1970s also D. Silvemian, M. Philipson, and others). The current "discovery" of politics is metho-dologically no less important than the formulation of the principles of the hermeneutic understanding of cultural phenomena (Dil-they, Heidegger, Gadamer) that proceeded from the recognition of a peculiar humanitarian method of cognition in the field of historical and philological sciences or the so-called Geisteswissenschaften or moral sciences. The postcommunist transformations of society and natural process of a broad complex of political issues coming to the first plane of intellectual life vividly demonstrate that political philosophy assumes the significance of a fundamental paradigm for defining the ideational reference points for theoretical thinking in general and of social cognition, in particular.(3) However, the postcommunist thematization of political life (and possibly today's focusing of philosophical thought on political matters in general) cannot be accounted for by a simple borrowing or application of explanatory patterns elaborated by the previously mentioned precursors, to say nothing of the inertia of old habits of the simplistic interpreting of political problems in terms of the old so-called "class analysis. "

The very situation of postcommunism is a visible result of those invisible socio-cultural changes in society which are difficult or practically impossible to describe using the formulae of classical socio-political theories.

For all the complexity of these problems, one thing remains rather obvious and beyond doubt. Postcommunist transformations point, first and foremost, to changes in the very foundation of identity and social coherence (4) of political agglomerations, communities and the nature of political interconnection of people. The place of the monistic system of identification, universal in its criteria of affiliation (with "a single socio-economic formation" "socialism, real socialism, the communist camp," "fraternal multinational family of the peoples," "socialist camp," etc.) of the system of identification and the political regime, totally leveling and egalitarian in its socio-economic and legal aspects ("socialist equahty of people," so-called "free" medical care, education, housing, etc., "socialist legality") has been taken by a new social aggregate. It can be adequately accounted for in terms of the non-Modern world view.

On the one hand, this was a collapse, the disintegration of a laige system of political identification and cohesiveness (the Soviet Union, the socialist camp, the communist world view and ideology) or, in the words of J.-F. Lyotard, with the delegitimization of "great narratives of speculation and emancipation. "(5) This ruining takes place side by side with the destruction of reality and, at the same time, the illusion of existence of a simple homogeneous social whole based on liberty, equality, and fraternity, interpreted simplistically in the practices of Bolshevism. On the other hand, this was a manifestation of new political communities, which emerged on the territory of the former USSR, the newly-independent postcommunist states, whose integrity, cohesiveness, and identity, along with problems of self-identification and self-determination also require essentially nonclassical, i.e., non-Modern methods of description and cognition as also do the definitions of their political geopolitical and world economic relations in the changing interaction of present-day nations, cultures, and civilizations.




The Inadequacy of Classical Philosophico- Methodological Approaches


The non-Modern character of the political analysis of postcommunism does not imply only some self-sufficient terminological revolution, radical change in the traditional logic of theoretical description, or turning to some hitherto unknown methods of political studies. The postcommunist situation indicates a single but dramatic alteration in the world political map and that only a new constellation of already extant philosophico-methodological approaches can adequately describe postcommunist political experience. Due to the very manner of its "pluralistic" accumulation and existence, it cannot be reduced to a monistic universal explanation pattern.

But such a constant gravitation toward the peculiar "methodological solipsism" of a single approach can be frequently found in current political science literature in both the East and West. Thus, often the term postcommunism is used as a simple designation of the transition period from the previous Soviet Communist society (political regime) to what is assumed to be the normal democratic way of organizing society. Therefore, this concept is denied independent, positive meaning. Postcommunism becomes, so to speak, only a transitional amorphous designation of the road from one definite social system (Communism) to some other definite social system of contemporary developed societies.

Or, on the other hand, it is thought that postcommunism is simply an accidental mutation of communist society, an unsuccessful, subjective, and thus accidental experience of the ruin of an in principle viable, if somewhat incomplete, socio-economic system (Alexander Zinoviev). Such views are justifiable insofar as they make it possible to critically examine the postcommunist world as a whole, i.e., to comprehend that, first, "communism" may lay claim to undoubted historical achievements and merits, second, that an ultraradical critique of its social heritage is, in many cases, of a pathological and self-destructive nature, and, third, that modern forms of the liberal-democratic social system in the so-called developed Western countries have their own rather fundamental social shortcomings, which render the uncritical idealization of that system dangerous both from both a political and political science perspective.

In the final analysis, such an approach is not justified. The situation and understanding of postcommunism has to be accepted not only as a designation of the transition period of post-Soviet societies. Postcommunism is the general situation (and understanding) of transition from one epoch of political organization of social life to another, post-Modern Time in the understanding of society and its political practices. Postcommunism can be understood only in the context of universal changes in political world-view, which are accompanied by the delegitimization of classical political ideals and possibilities on the one hand and by the search for non-Modern explanations and cognitive methods on the other. Those, who see in the notion of postcommunism only an apt term to describe social deformations, merely attempt to critically assess the present transformations from the perspective of traditional ideas of a perfect be it communist or (Western) democratic society. They are guided by a characteristic Enlightenment bias: if reality fails to conform to the ideal, so much the worse for reality itself. Continuing this classical perspective of thinking in one form or another serves only to spiritually nourish resuscitated communists and a certain segment of the socialists in the postcommunist states.

The inertia of what might be called "the Modern project" is also seen in those newly minted upstart postcommunist politicians who orient themselves to the postcommunist political constellation (koniunktura) and try to find an instant, ready-made substitute for a discredited and thus noncompetetive Marxism in some other political theory/ideology which may differ in its content but remains typically totalitarian. Such a re-ideologization is already taking place in many postcommunist states, most notably exemplified by radical nationalist movements and parties.

The attraction of classical explanatory models has real basis. A major factor here, in addition to simple habit, is the retention of the old forms of political and economic life within the process of postcommunist social transformation. So long as whole complex of ways of viewing economics, morality, law, and the world which characterized the old social forms of identification and popular self-understanding is preserved within society, a postcommunist self-determination of the new reality will continue to exist mainly because the manner in which "communism" is criticized is one which can be described as postcommunist nihilism.

Postcommunist freedom is freedom in the specific sense of a freedom of being emancipated from the old in the absence of adequately defined new social ideals and regulative ideas. This is why attempts to maintain stability realized in the postcommunist period rely mainly on the stability of intermediary, transitory, and in general situationally accidental forms and norms of social life along with their characteristic complement of situ-ational leaders, instant politicians, and self-consecrated political scientists as well as numerous myths, social simulacra and stereotypes, criminal business, and adventurist capital. The so-called postcommunist revolution is essentially different from its precursors, the revolution of 1917 or the bourgeois revolutions of the more remote past. Its basically aimless drifting is usually hidden under scathing assessments of the communist past, served up by the political discourse, mass media, language, and literature of the glasnost period. But this postcommunist nihilism cannot in any sense be called radical. Meanwhile, behind the radical facade of words and slogans which constitute the backdrop of public political postures and struggle, leaders well versed in the habits and devices of the old communist nomenklatura suddenly pop up. The taste of this postcommunist "old-new" nomenklatura for administrative and command methods of governance and management is merely augmented by the concentration of power and property in its hands, thus generating what could be called a "local quasi-totalitarian-ism," based on decrees and orders, the manipulation of huge amounts of state money, and on spontaneous political and economic reflexes domestically and in international affairs. All this creates the preconditions for the reproduction under postcommunism of tirrie-wom political, now at a theoretical level understanding.

One such echo of the past has its origins in the classical voluntarism of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Under postcommunist ambivalence, changes in the basis of social identity result in quests for an ultimate grounding (Letztbegriindung), the function of which is assumed by "ethno-national identity." To a greater or lesser extent, orientations toward various forms of ethnic or national unity can be observed in the postcommunist period throughout East Central Europe and the former Soviet Union, the symbol of which might be the figure of Yeltsyn on a tank under the Russian tricolor. In Ukraine, quests for a new national identity and social cohesiveness largely reproduce the ideology of the classical Ukrainian integral nationalism created by Mykola Mikhnovsky and Dmytro Dontsov which affirm its traditional ideas of power as the will of the whole nation for the clan (eth-noculturally) based self-realization of the state. A rather archaic portrait of postcommunist society is thus cast in the traditional notions of the integrity of the will of the nation, its clan (ethnic) identity, and the unity of its political action under the slogan of a single "national idea."




The Postcommunist Experience: In Search of a Methodology


The current almost universal political use of the ideological store of classical voluntarism masks an extremely important transformation of nationalism under postcommunism. The self-evident peculiarity of postcommunist nationalism is that here nationalism, which has come to serve as a basis for the postcommunist identity of large human communities and a prime factor of their legitimation as independent nations on the territory of the former USSR, turned out to be "non-classical." From the start, today's nationalism has failed to conform to its Modern philosophical origins and to the way radical nationalist movements and parties would like to interpret and have it. In the first place, national identity was perceived not from the perspective of total force on the part of the general clan will but as the free and common expression of will for selfaffirmation by communities different in their ethnic or national aspirations.

The main trend of the postcommunist transformation of society, cast primarily in the idea of emancipation from totalitarianism, gave rise to a regional cultural pluralization of society. Postcommunist nationalism offered an ideological basis for the recognition of a plurality of communities identified on a cultural-regional and ethnocultural basis within the borders of one postcommunist country (in Ukraine, it is the West, the East, the South, and the Crimea), i.e., offered ideological weapons for the confrontation of many political wills (identities) for self-affirmation.

Traditional interaction of various sociocul-tural worlds "forms of life" (sometimes meaning different civilizations) was accounted for by means of a methodology which was elaborated within the framework of the cognitive and ideological quests of philosophical hermeneutics (Dilthey, Heidegger, Gada-mer, Ricoer, etc.). In the final analysis, theoretically the problem of interpersonal unity and collective identity, or in specific philosophical terms, reaching intersubjective understanding, according to the hermeneutic approach, has a solution, though not an "absolute" one. Confrontations of language, symbolic means, and various systems of values and norms are in principle resolved by this approach even if only by means of, say, mental conflicts but in the process of interpretation of "alien" values from other cultures. A basis for their possible merger may lie in the field of the senses, a peculiar international conference in an ideal palace built up of various moral meanings, theoretical methods (translation and Verstehen, understanding), and intuitive-emotive methods (empathy) of mutual confrontation, and the dialectical reconciliation of various interpretations. However, postcommunist experiences of murderous interethnic and international wars and terrible ethnic massacres (suffice it to recall ex-Yugoslavia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Chechnia) make it evident that it is no longer so much the matter of collision, "conflict of interpretations" (P. Ricoer). Hidden behind the political decisions and military actions of the postcommunist period is, in the words of H. G. Wells, a real "war of the worlds" or a conflict of political ontologies. What methodological premises can be used to account for this theoretically? In what direction should one look for possible political solutions to these murderous confrontations, which find their blind inspiration in definitely non-classical nationalist concepts? They are non-classical and non-Mod-erm because the question is one of "local narratives," local ethnic and national systems of identification and coherence, though even in this version, confined by the borders of own "historical territory," totalitarian patterns of political thought action are constantly reproduced.

Under the circumstances, rationally ai-gu-mented communication and the elaboration of traditions of open political discourse become essential to the positive evolution of the political process.

Alongside a massive socio-psychological motive for postcommunist transformations, the desire to create a life patterned on that of the developed nations of Western Europe, there is also an important motive for quests in our own Ukrainian juridical, political, ethical, and nation-making traditions. Importantly, the search is now underway for possible models, offshoots, or correlates of West European democracy (civil society and law-governed state) and norms of civilized and well-regulated social existence. That is why the tradition of West European social philosophy (from Hobbs, Burke, Rousseau, Kant, and Hegel to Appel, Habermas, Rawls, and others) is one of significant ideological sources in the situation of postcommunist ambivalence. Moreover, this tradition makes it possible to define more clearly the requisite regulative ideas of social transformations desired perspectives of a possible way of development, and already at present to critically analyze the emergence of a postcommunist political discourse and a new communicative community with their specific features. Along with assimilation of this philosophical and ideological tradition (which formed during the historical practice of establishing the modern types of developed Western democratic societies), the political analysis of postcommunism acquires conceptual tools to research a wide range of juridical and ethical problems, such as (communicative) ethics of international and interethnic relations, interrelations of law, politics and moral, ethics of responsibility, new global ecological order, etc.

Even the first contrast of philosophico-so-ciological images produced by the current communicative philosophy reveals, so to speak, an incomplete conformity between the political ontology it delineates (i.e., the ultimate basis of people's political interaction -the universal rules, norms, and values on which political discourse rests) and the political reality of postcommunism. Postcommunist political discourse cannot be reduced, without seriously damaging a theory, only to the surface layer of people's political interaction, i.e., to their political relations, with their rather definite features of regularity, standardization and communicative rationality, in general. The experience of the political game which has accompanied the process of gaining independence by East European countries during the past several years and the struggle of various political parties for their place in society all these and other postcommunist political realities point to this tentative conclusion.

The point is that it is quite insufficient to understand by political relations only those communicative acts which are subject to legal and ethical norms, the norms and values of so-called political culture. Incidentally, the topic of "political culture" has become rather pathologically popular with postcommunist political scientists as the least dangerous range of sentimental considerations about how "authentically" ideal politicians and statesmen should act and what they should know. But they have remained the same as ever. It is precisely their political behavior, acts, and actions, as well as their mass recognition as the powers that be by voters, that point to the existence of extrarational cultural-historical feelings, existential attitudes, collective "silent" political wills and resolve of rallying mobs, which are not argued for in political discourse but have only the quality of presuppositions.

Postcommunist literature abounds in leitmotifs of quests for cultural-historical "archetypes" of political organization of this or that nationality, people, or community, when, for example, direct historical parallels are drawn between "Tsar Boris" Godunov and "incumbent Tsar Boris" Yeltsin. Or when the "principles of democracy always inherent" in Ukrainians are sought in the heroic myth of the Zaporizhian Cossacks. These perhaps naive examples (simplified by the mass media) of perception of a certain extrarationality of political life testify to the urgency of taking into account and analyzing theoretically the existential-volitional aspects of political discourse and human communication in general. In this sense, it is not only the matter of rational "a priori of communication" (K.-O.Apel) or formation of norms of discursive practice but also a peculiar "a priori of will" which can be discerned, for example, in the nationalist movements in the postcommunist states. Therefore, combining the experience of theoretical political science and philosophical analyses of the rational organization of present-day polls with the post-Modern experience of the existential-volitional making of a pluralistic society and its most up-to-date "assembly" on new principles, thus far very little known, is a promising line of research in the political analysis of postcommunism.

The prospects for institutionalizing argumentative discourse in the postcommunist world are dependent on the level of social rationality. First of all, the issue is one of the rationality of political action in all the major directions of the postcommunist transformation of society. This is why it is very important for the scholarly political analysis of the postcommunist period to maximally lay bare the "secondary" ideological accretions, neo-Romantic reproductions of old socio-political myths, numerous new illusions, political day-dreaming, primitive slogans, and ideas which just do not make sense. But it is precisely these that largely serve the postcommunist individual as substitutes for stable forms of life and world view in the critical conditions of social (and ideational) ambiguity. And precisely this is the reason that they are transformed into countless simulacra.

Postcommunist simulacra, i.e., the artificial reality generated by a mass media emancipated from state censorship, have been widely circulated by television, the press, and literary publications since the time of per-estroika and glasnost. This is the ideational and existential reality people actually live in and are nourished by. It is practically inaccessible because there are no objective criteria for discerning truth from falsehood in it and actual reality from its interpretations imposed by television, radio, and the press. Simulacra are even more actively structuring today's political discourse. These are charismas of apparently not the best (in both the political and human sense) first Presidents of newly independent states. Among them one can also mention images of "democracy", "entrepreneurship", "privatization", "talented young economists" and "old experienced managers", "honest parliamentarians" (the list reaches practically to infinity), which create a new postcommunist political and semantic reality. The rate of their efficiency is directly dependent on the level of population's political naivete (a legacy from the time of Communist Partys diktat), and simultaneously on the degree of people's alienation from the ruling elites. Their fancifulness, fantastic nature, and falsehood is demonstrated by time and the natural historical course of events. Given this, the political thought of postcommunism may be positively productive, provided that political science research embraces critical analysis and is based on the recognized methodology of analytical philosophy, methods of clarification, and explication of the language and discourse of postcommunism and studies of the new mythological constructs which are concocted by postcommunist mass media and the mass consciousness molded by them.

The political developments in postcommunist countries and political experiences of postcommunist reforms cannot be adequately understood unless they are considered in a world context, from the broad perspective of radical socio-cultural changes, which is reflected in the combination of the notions of postcommunism and the postmodern. Moreover, any other approach will inevitably result in reproducing outdated theoretical concepts in a new socio-political situation, thereby giving rise to dogmatism and phantoms.




How Can We Construct a Political Theory of Postcommunism?


Rejecting classical explanatory principles and schemata raises the question of the feasibility of constructing a system of political knowledge and elaborating a coherent political theory capable of generalizing upon the "self-nondetermined" experience of postcommunist life. From the standpoint of understanding post-classicism and the postmodern generally is called into question by considerations of systematicity, integrity, and homogeneity, and renders dubious any attempt to resort to available methods of socio-political research and the very notion of method as a familiar way of acquiring certain knowledge as a fundamental principle of Modern thought,

The principal conclusion regarding the situation under postcommunism is that current political thought is intertwined with everyday social practice. And the issue here is not only one of the extremely politicized character of mass consciousness. The point is that a theory of postcommunism can no longer, as classical socio-political thought attempted, remain separate from politics, from the practices of the struggle for and exercise of power, i.e., as a discrete, ideal system of thoughts and political abstractions. Along with postcommunist ambivalence, we face a situation where political thought works to define possible norms and establish rules of what is still to be created but only as something already established, to use the words of J.-F.Lyotard. Viewed in this way, the postcommunist practice of political theory is absolutely performa-tive, i.e., it is a practice of the political discourse of instituting. Using all available methods, political thought analyzes possible models of social development under the conditions of what we called postcommunist ambivalence and by so doing it becomes enmeshed in the texture of political events.

In modern social science, the notions of performative sentence and performative act are widely used for analyzing situations when speech acts perform certain social acts and institute certain social facts. To take an example, an utterance of a political leader about the indispensability of some social change may very often institute this change, which was observed in the Gorbachev period: his affirmation of "glasnost" was at the same time a sort of institutionalization of the freedom of speech and, hence, institutionalization of a different type of discourse. The idea of a performative as an act of legal and political institutionalization was developed by J. Derridas in his analysis of the American Declaration of Independence. By the very fact of its adoption by "representatives of the United States of America who convened at the General Congress," the Declaration "contains two discursive modalities at the same time description and injunction (to be guided by this document author's note), fact and law." (6) Note that postcommunism, unlike the lasting institutionalized tradition of American democracy, is nothing other then a period of various types and forms of the institutionalization of social institutions and structures different in their forms and functions. But no one can be sure of these future durability.

We use the notion of institutionalization, not coining into being. Its traditional understanding as "emergence" or "coming into being" is fraught with the danger of interpreting it as the classical (Hegelian-Marxist) sense of a linear interconnected succession of events or as the idea of steady historical progress in the political situation of postcommunism.

Just as a form and context, objective description and intention, positive information, and the act of institutionalization are merged in performative sentences, so too does the political theory of postcommunism coincide with institutionalization (4) but with an institutionalization of civilized forms of socio-political life, rather than an institutionalization of "novelty" in the Modern sense, leaving a gray area for some freedom of the individual who has left behind the world of absolute political nonambiguity in the communist past.

The fact that discourse of institutionalization is gaining wide currency among present-day politicians determines by itself the intellectual attitude, the logic of direction or non-traditional methodology of postcommunist political thought. The latter is beginning to formulate and become aware of its specific problems proceeding from contradictions observed between what is proclaimed by postcommunist politicians, the "new" authorities, on the one hand, and their political practice and the actual outcome of postcommunist social transformation, on the other, and between the meaning of slogans, declarations, speeches, programs, and normative documents, on the one hand, and their actual (conscious or unconscious) intentions, their political will and their orientations (which are derived from the character of political actions), on the other.

From the total lack of understanding and failure to grasp this fact of the lack of correspondence between the laying of political plans and the real outcome of political events, the failure to accomplish seemingly the best of ideas, flows the real hallmark of the postcommunist period as such. Thus, the involved political projects to reform the USSR (the "New Union Treaty") constituted the axis of Gorbachev's final actions But beyond the tragedy of the King Lear of communism and those around him, one ought to see the birth of a new era in the mirror of which moral recriminations and value judgments in the place of real understanding bespeak, at best, political naivete. (7)

Characteristically, the postcommunist epoch manifests not only a striking gap between ideology and reality, social theory and practice, which can be observed in all totalitarian educational political programs of the past, especially under "communism." The political discourse of institutionalization is essentially different in that it is characteristic of this kind of discourse to display a constant practical gap between ideal political intentions and the forms (plus results) of their realization. "They wanted to do it in the best possible way but it turned out the way it used to be!" this maxim, uttered by a well-known Russian politician, can be used as an epigraph to the postcommunist discourse of institutionalization. Its Ukrainian version, presented to the world by the former President, "We have what we have," reads like a direct statement of independence (even from those who act) of the political "logic of intentions" concealed or unconscious political volitional motives and, respectively, outcomes of their realization unexpected by the political game players themselves from "the logic of knowledge," allegedly well-thought out political programs, substantiated methods of Parliamentary discussions and decisions made as a result of heated debates, etc.

In all these cases of the realization of the postcommunist discourse of institutionalization, we are dealing with a permanent perfor-mative contradiction of failing to realize what is instituted by the political discourse itself in a political action. This everlasting political ambivalence and ambiguity at all levels of social life is indeed the most significant impetus to postcommunist political thought.

This is where the peculiar nature of the theoretical thrust of the political study of postcommunism takes its origin. First and foremost, it is the question of the need for continuous explanation and clarification of the political practices of postcommunist transformation.




* * *


In the transition period of postcommunist ambivalence, there are quite logical and natural ideological, philosophical, political science, sociological, socio-humanitarian quests in the social sciences for purpose and knowledge, quite like Shevehenko's expectation of "an apostle of truth and science" to arise. If the task of political thought today is not understood as meeting the nomenklatura's or neo-nomenklatura's need for a "scientific" explanation to impose a new ideology of total control over society, then quite reasonable is the well-known conclusion that there is nothing better than a good theory. Theoretical studies in the field of political sciences should be conducted from the perspective of understanding postcommunist experience as part of a greater whole, of world socio-political and cultural transformation. The political independence of postcommunist nations is not merely a tardy response or a delayed reflex of history, a sort of redemption for past injustices by way of creating independent nation-states. Their independence is a logical outcome of the most recent changes in the political philosophy of society and the world as a whole. This means that the postcommunist period should be viewed not only as a period of critical uncertainty but also as a time of instituting socio-cultural forms of life. History knows similar big precedents: the idea of popular sovereignty ("social contract"), division of powers, individual freedom ("natural rights"), "civil society" and others acquired earlier directly or indirectly, their institution-alization in political practice (constitutions, etc.) of today's most developed nations. This is why political philosophy and other aspects of the political analysis of postcommunism make sense only as an independent hie and nunc, as the comprehension of lessons of world socio-political thought on the basis of a nation's proper experience of its own national-cultural identity. He who does not demand more loses all.








Notes


1. "I will use the term modern to designate any science that legitimizes itself with reference to a metadiscourse of this kind making an explicit appeal to some grand narrative, such as the dialectics of spirit, the hermaneutics of meaning, the emancipation of the rational or working subject, or the creation of wealth." Jean-Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: a Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis, 1991), p. xxiii.

2. See: David Held, Editor's Introduction. In: Political Theory Today, Ed. David Held (Stanford, 1991), pp. 1-2.

3. See: Ottfried Höffe, Politische Gerechtigkeit: Grundlegung einer kritischen Philosophie von Recht and Staat (Frankftirt am Main, 1987), (1.4).

4. We use the term coherence instead of such traditional ones as unity, integrity, or commonality in order to, first of all, avoid the possible connotations and assumptions connected with their traditional usage in contexts which express a uniquely Modern approach to solving problems that are included in the terms themselves (the possibility of obtaining a "complete," "total," "full," or "final" social quality). And secondly, because as a concept coherence expresses only a certain set of elements of society in their mutual relationships and designates the main undecided problem of the postcommunist transformation of society, the problem of sociopolitical organization.

5. J.-F. Lyotard, op. cit., pp.37-39.

6. See: J. Derridas, Otobiographies (Paris, 1984), p. 29.

7. See: The Union Could Have Been Saved: A White Book of Documents and Facts on M. S. Gorbachev's Policy to Reform and Preserve the Multinational State, Moscow, 1995, pp.94-256, published by the Gorbachev Fund in Russian.