Part 1. Is it possible to answer the question «Are reforms possible in Belarus?»
Whether there will be reforms in the country in the near future, I do not know. I only know that they are necessary, and without quick and successful reforms, our country will only degrade. Let us ask ourselves a question: how long can regimes like the Belarusian, Cuban, Korean or Turkmen exist? How viable are they in principle? Historical experience suggests that such regimes exist for quite a long time, if a human life or generation is used as a unit of measurement.
The illusion of objectivity of revolutions and changes induces people to passively expect these changes, and they do nothing to change the society in which they live, because they know that changes will come by themselves. The illusion of eternity and immutability of the socio-economic structure also makes people passive, because they are convinced that any of their actions and deeds will never be successful.
Why do Belarusians do nothing to change their country? Because one part of society is sure (it has such an illusion) that it cannot go on for so long, and democratic and market changes are objectively inevitable, so they just need to wait for them. Another part of society is convinced that the existing state of affairs is the only possible one, there cannot be anything else, therefore all attempts to change something are known to be futile and doomed to failure.
Any division of society into parts is conditional. It is possible that besides these two passive parts, there is someone else in Belarusian society who is ready to do something to change society, who is ready to take part in reforms or organize a revolution. It is possible but not for sure. You also need to know how to make these changes. And not just know how to implement them, but be able to move in conditions of high uncertainty, from success to success, to correct mistakes which nobody can fully avoid, not to be afraid of making mistakes on the way. If there are such people in Belarus, then there is also hope for changes, there is potential for reforms.
To start answering the question about the possibility of changes in Belarus, you need to seriously deal with presuppositions and assumptions. General presuppositions:
1. The world and humanity on the planet are changing. Belarus is a part of the world and humanity, therefore it cannot be outside the world, outside of humanity, therefore it changes, whether it wants it or not.
2. The world is changing very rapidly, change is happening at an accelerated pace, so you need to adapt to this acceleration of change and innovation.
3. The world is changing unevenly: some parts of the world change faster, others slower, some become leaders of change and win, some fall behind, become outsiders and lose.
4. Leaders of change get all the benefits and advantages of change and innovation, outsiders are exposed to change, tolerate it and suffer from it.
5. It is not enough to change together with the rest of the world, we need to get out of the category of lagging outsiders, to synchronize with the global processes of change, and ideally, to be among the leaders of innovations and to make changes ourselves.
Something new in the world can appear in any part of it. But three groups of countries/nations/states can be conventionally distinguished by the rate of change and the number of innovations produced:
1. Leading countries, or countries of the «first world». They are characterized not only and not so much by the fact that most of the innovations are produced in them, but also by the fact that they easily accept changes, test them, keep the useful ones and abandon the harmful and useless ones. They are sensitive and receptive to changes from any part of the world.
2. The modernizing countries of the «second world», which are adopting the changes that have already taken place in the «first world», and are in a constant race for the leaders.
3. “Third World» countries, to which changes are brought in from outside by actors from the «first» and «second» worlds.
This division into three groups is similar to the Cold War era worldview, but it is a superficial similarity.
Presuppositions of self-determination or which of the three groups does Belarus belong to?
1. Having gained independence as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, Belarus was part of the “second world”, a country in the process of permanent modernization.
2. Belarus as an independent state was formed on the basis of one of the most developed regions of the former USSR, therefore, it had a high potential for transition from the “second world” category to the “first world” category.
3. The public consciousness and ideology of the regime, which was established in the country, did not correspond to the status of the “second world” countries in terms of their attitudes and preferences. The political regime and part of society self-determined to belong to the “third world”.
4. Due to the specific conditions of development and geographic location, changes in Belarus are occurring faster and more efficiently than in most of the third world countries. Therefore, Belarus still has some potential for development and can aim to join the group of the «first world» countries.
It is on these initial assumptions that I can begin to discuss and analyze possible reforms in Belarus.
Part 2. A few theses to the analysis of the current situation in the world and the region.
Globalization has not yet finished, but it has not started today either. We are already at a certain intermediate stage of globalization, when some effects have accumulated, which in the past were only in the outlines, and now have already changed the world to a sufficient extent. The globalizing world is sometimes called the postmodern era, while the two centuries preceding it are called the modern era. The era of modernity is characterized, among other things, by nationalism and the creation of nation-states, which were thought to be the main actors of world politics and socio-economic changes.
In the process of globalization, the role and place of nation-states have to be redefined. Accordingly, all categories related to the state: «citizen», «person», «law and order», «human rights», «state sovereignty» and «individual sovereignty» and many others are also subject to rethinking.
The first circumstance we need to keep in mind in this context is that in today’s world, states are defined locally and individuals self-determine globally.
In the process of globalization, the sovereignty of nation-states is more and more limited, while the sovereignty and freedoms of individuals are increased. The person of the globalization era loses interest in the state of which he is a citizen by the fact of birth or naturalization. He determines himself in the globalized world and links the improvement of his quality of life to place rather than to political institutions. If he can realize his abilities and desires in any field of activity, he must find a place in the world where his abilities can be in demand and his needs can be met.
This leads to the fact that an active person pays less and less attention to politics within the national state, less and less depends on it, does not seek to influence it, but looks for opportunities of self-realization in the open world. The main conditions of his self-actualization are not political or any other conditions of his home country, but solely his education, competence, activity and mobility.
The second most important circumstance for our analysis is the loss by the nation-state not only of sovereignty and, therefore, subjectivity in the world processes of change, but also the fact that states and nations cease to be the unit of analysis in understanding world processes. Let us consider in this perspective the above-mentioned three-part division of the world into «first», «second» and «third» worlds.
During the Cold War, it was easy to identify any country’s place in one of three worlds: «first world» — developed countries; «second world» — communist bloc countries; «third world» — «developing» countries. Most of the world’s states were part of the United Nations. But conflicts of interest and political conflicts in the United Nations were determined by the membership of different nation-states in two opposing blocs: the NATO bloc and the Warsaw Treaty Organization bloc. The countries belonging to these military, or defense, blocs were the backbone of the «first» and «second» worlds.
With the fall of the Berlin Wall, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the collapse of the USSR, the Cold War ended and the division into these three worlds lost significance, and the borders between the three worlds now do not run along the borders of nation states, they run within countries and nations.
The Three Worlds of the Cold War is an analytical principle that allows us to draw boundaries between countries belonging to different socio-political systems. Whereas the three worlds we can talk about nowadays are ideal types, i.e. a synthetic procedure that allows us to understand the actions, behavior, life events and destinies of some large communities.
Conditionally to some extent the whole states and nations can be included in the groups of countries of ideal-typical «first» and «third» worlds. For example, Estonia, Finland and Switzerland can be completely included in the «first world». Some African and Asian countries fall into the group of the third world. In most cases, the three worlds get along together as one nation. And to classify any country in the group of developed countries or leaders of innovation is possible only on the basis of the policy pursued by its government/state, and not on the level of development of the whole country.
The division of the nation and society in relation to development and innovation is especially painful for the «second world» countries, i.e. those who are in a state of endless modernization, participating in the race for the leaders with no hope of ever catching up with them. Belarus, Ukraine and Russia may also be included in this group
How does it manifest itself in Belarus?
A part of Belarusians practically withdrew from participation in political, economic, and public processes in the country, arguing that they already «live in Europe». The level, quality and way of life of these Belarusians practically do not differ from the way people live in Poland, Lithuania and more distant countries. There is another part of Belarusians who have never left the country, who do not know foreign languages, who are so limited in their competences that they turn out to be functionally illiterate outside the environment of their permanent residence.
These two groups of Belarusians can live in the same cities, even in the neighboring streets. But some of them live in the «first world» and others — in the «third world». And there is a gap between them. A gap in consciousness. It is more difficult for Belarusians from the «second world». They know about the advantages of globalization, democracy, human rights and freedoms, mobility, both geographic and social, but they do not have access to all these. And the access to the advantages of globalization is blocked for them by the state structure and the established regime, its policies and the country’s economy.
The «first» and «third» worlds do not need change and reform, although for different reasons. Only the «second world» needs changes. In Belarusian society, these three groups are represented in far from equal proportions, and they do not equally possess the resources to make changes.
Today, the ruling class in Belarus is formed from that part of society which lives in the «third world». These people are frightened by globalization, they do not know how to adapt to it, they are not able to be initiators of innovations and leaders of changes.
The geographical location of any country determines to some extent the historical destiny of that country. Geography determines the historical beginning, but it does not predetermine the historical end. It determines where we start our journey, but it is up to people and human communities to choose their destination and aim. A country’s geographical position is merely a condition of the self-determination of its ruling class. It must be taken into account in choosing the direction of development and in analyzing the resources required to ensure that development.
The self-determination of Belarus’ ruling elite is built on both the consideration of Belarus’ geostrategic position and high geopolitical ambitions. The Belarusian regime claims, first, leadership in the geographical region of Eurasia, and second, the use of its proximity to Europe as a resource to ensure this leadership. Belarus is becoming the westernmost member of the global community of world development leaders, the westernmost country of the «first world», or that group of countries which will become the «first world» in the near future.
How fair is this picture of the world and this version of history?
The supporters of the choice of the European vector of development do not consider this picture fair. The supporters of the choice of the European vector of development do not dominate in Belarus, but find themselves in the minority.
After the collapse of the USSR, the ruling groups of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia faced similar problems but different challenges. The resolution of the systemic crisis inherited from the degraded USSR in each country occurred according to which ideology the ruling elites adopted for themselves, which aspects of power (money, power structures or balance of interests) they chose to retain control over the economy and society, which mechanisms of state administration they used, which economic model they implemented, and how they guided the population to normalize the changed way of life. The Moscow-Kyiv-Minsk triangle, which existed in the USSR and forms the backbone of the CIS, is neither equilateral nor even isosceles. The influence of Moscow on Kiev and Minsk is enormous and not comparable to the influence of Kiev and Minsk on each other. On the Moscow side it can be seen as influence, while on the Kiev and Minsk side it can be seen as dependence. Kyiv and Minsk are dependent on Moscow in three main areas or factors, plus — one more general and universal factor can be identified.
* Military-strategic dependence and power pressure;
* Financial and economic dependence;
* Intellectual addiction.
The general factor is information dependence. Kiev and Minsk have no secrets from Moscow. Since Soviet times, all statistics, plans, maps, forecasts — any and all information — have been concentrated and accumulated in Moscow.
Part 3. Situation in Belarus
Today, there are no agents of change and no realistic proposals of reforms or transformation in Belarus. This thesis can seem too categorical. The naïve belief in the objective inevitability of reforms and no less naïve conviction in eternity and invariability of the established order of things are inherent in representatives of all three worlds. Combining them together, we get six typological clusters in Belarusan society, none of which is capable of conceiving and implementing changes.
|Illusion of objectivity of changes and their compliance with the laws of the development of society
|«Opportunists»: scanning temporal states (stagnation — development) of places of possible stay
|«Protest electorate»: passive expectation of change, scanning for troubles and signs of crisis, participation in protest movements
|«Aggressive majority / minority «: hostile attitude to any changes, patient adaptation to changes that cannot be avoided
|The illusion of invariability and eternity of the existing order of things
|“Emigrants” (actual and potential): search for a place on the planet where it is “better”; drift and migration; scanning «consumer qualities» of places of possible stay
|«Vyshyvankas” i.e. ethnic nationalists and soviet nostalgists («Litvins», «Communists», etc.): living in the past, fascination with symbols, displaying symbols of the past, adaptation to conditions, passive acceptance of fate
|«Ordinary people»: satisfaction with stability, routine activities
But there are (can or should be) people, knowledge and resources for changes and reforms in the country, they are just not manifested and therefore are not visible to anyone: neither those who are interested in reforms, nor those who are afraid of them and do not want them. However, it is necessary to deal with a set of illusions which prevent one from seriously considering transformation and changes in Belarus.
One of the Marxist-Leninist principles regarding change, reforms, and revolutions is the formula «the top cannot, the bottom will not». Sooner or later, this formula is remembered by everyone who starts discussing reforms and changes in the country: intellectuals, peasants, leftists, rightists, revolutionaries, and conservatives alike. At the same time, no one specifies what the top cannot do, what the bottom does not want.
Lenin’s formula is absolutely manipulative, it allows everyone to want, whatever he/she wants, and to be incapable of anything. The class division of society in relation to the ownership of the means of production is preserved in the «second» and «third» worlds, and it still matters in Belarus. In countries of the «first,» «second,» and «third» worlds, property, wealth, and power are distributed differently in society; in the «first world,» knowledge and competence are the most important in this distribution; in the «third world,» knowledge and competence are still of minimal importance.
|Priorities and values
|1) Knowledge and competences
|1) Power and violence
|1) Property and wealth
|2) Property and wealth
|2) Knowledge and competences
|2) Power and violence
|3) Power and violence
|3) Property and wealth
|3) Knowledge and competences
|Desire for change in the country
|Availability of resources and finances
|Dispersed and uncontrolled
|Controlled by the regime
|No (a few individuals in public administration service)
|No (imitation of opposition parties and movements, NGOs)
|Yes (established political regime)
To make the smallest changes on any scale (family, firm, local community, city, country, etc.) requires a concentration of power, finance or a variety of resources, ownership of the object to be changed, knowledge and competencies and, of course, the will to change something. If all these are distributed among different parts of society, it is necessary to agree on their concentration in one place, at one time and in the hands of one collective actor.
Representatives of the «first» and «second» worlds have no political representation; they are alienated from state administration and from property. But the worst thing is that they are not formalized politically in any way. The regime established in the country declares the social principle of the organization of the state. In the language of the Belarusian regime, it means that power represents all social strata and does not distinguish between them. In a certain sense, it is really so: the Belarusian regime does not allow self-organization in any segment or layer of society and tries to interact with each citizen individually; the regime regards citizens themselves as subjects.
There is a distributive system in Belarus, under which the state can monopolistically redistribute any resources, endowing some subjects with power, property, and money and depriving others of all this. In Belarus from 80 to 90% of citizens of the country are involved in this redistributive system and are dependent on it. It is impossible to define more precisely how many citizens are involved in this system, as the accounting and control system of money and material resources movement is very specific. And difference between public and private property is very contingent. Nevertheless, there is a sector of economy that is independent of the state. These are the enterprises with share of foreign capital, business working through offshore or being the resident of other states, all kinds of freelancers, small businessmen, shadow capital. But even this «independence» is illusory, as it is possible only as long as the activities of organizations, groups or individuals do not attract the attention of fiscal or law enforcement agencies. Some part of NGOs included in the activities of European funds and assistance programs, a small part of small businesses existing on the loans of the IFC or other international programs are involved in the international redistributive system. And only a few NGOs are able to find a niche for independent existence.
Before looking for and estimating the potential of changes in Belarus, it is necessary to trace those changes of the redistributive system of social and economic relations which have taken place recently — during the transition from the industrial epoch to the post-industrial one, during the formation of a new economic order and knowledge economy.
It is commonly believed that the redistributive system in Belarus is a legacy of the USSR. It is true, but it was also formed under the influence of globalization. One of the aspects of globalization is compulsory distribution which appeared in the last 20-30 years. Computer programs, mobile applications, as well as many modern products are distributed by force, when the desire of the consumer is practically not taken into account. In the 1990s, computer programs were changing so rapidly that if they had been distributed like the goods of the industrial era, the World Wide Web and the entire infrastructure built upon it would only be in its infancy. Software and applications were practically imposed on the consumer without his or her consent.
Forced distribution did not emerge today. With the advent of radio began the forced distribution of music products, television forcibly distributes news, visual content. Fashion is also a forced distribution, when people are forced to buy not what they like or need, but what is imposed by public opinion and the trendsetters, haute couture and prêt-à-porter. Actually, fashion shapes what people like, imposes tastes, shapes consciousness. In the twentieth century fashion has become an industry and has covered almost the entire spectrum of goods and services: from food and basic necessities to luxury goods and excessive services.
Belarus is also involved in this process of global forced distribution and has to be constantly renewed. However, no country, no community can be outside this process today.
The difference between the «first», «second» and «third» worlds is that:
- The «first world» invests in this forced distribution (and in the production of what is forcedly distributed), consumes it all in the first place, dictating fashion, and profits from the rapid spread of new goods and services to the «second» and «third» worlds;
- The «second world» simply consumes, following fashion and necessity;
- The «third world» resists the consumption of innovations for some time, and they penetrate into it not just forcibly, but by smuggling and gray schemes, so the «third world» cannot even generate income from taxes on sales of forcibly distributed goods and services.
The socio-economic model of Belarus is a hybrid of state socialism of the last century with the system of modern compulsory consumption. Only if we try to look at Belarus holistically and in dynamics, it is possible to find a systematic lag of all processes. All processes in Belarus occur as an echo, as a refrain, as a belated repetition of what happens in other parts of the world. But such a situation and state of affairs is only a consequence of the specific relation of processes of production and consumption in their socio-economic and political and ideological sense.
On the whole, Belarusian society is a consumer society stuck in the industrial epoch. What should be understood about this system? It is that it was created according to plans from outside, investments (kapvlozheniya — capital inputs, as it was called in the USSR) came from outside, products were exported and consumed outside. Therefore Belarus’ industry was designated by the metaphor «an assembly shop of the Soviet Union». It means that in the whole industry of Belarus there were no entrepreneurs and owners, there were no financiers and financial services of a high level, but only financial support, there was no marketing. In other words, there was no one of the main social groups providing development. The whole staff of the huge industry consisted of implementers with different qualifications. The same state of affairs was in the system of public administration as a whole.
After the collapse of the USSR, the owner of all industry enterprises changed, but the type of owner remained the same: one state replaced another. Moreover, the new owner was much weaker than the previous one due to the lack of personnel able to set goals and solve problems.
An understated level of needs is still characteristic of the population of Belarus living in the «third world». Besides, this part of the population is characterized by low purchasing power. Low purchasing power does not cause discontent or protest precisely because of low demands. Most of the needs of these people are satisfied through the distribution system designed for passive consumption.
Part 4. Ontology and Humanitarian Technologies
The framework of the problem we need to solve is set by the reforms and changes in the country. In the simplest way it can be formulated as follows: «We need reforms in Belarus!
Who are «we»? We are those who need reforms in the country, and since we need them, we are the ones who talk about them. Those who say it, read it and discuss it are «we».
The next question is: «If we are the ones who need reforms, do we know what kind of reforms we would like, what kind of reforms we want, and who we are? What do we know about ourselves and others?
To what is formulated above in Table 2, it is worth adding the difference in the scale of the lifeworld of representatives of the three worlds (see Table 3).
The living space — the space to which the interests of the representatives of the «first world» apply — is global, it is the whole planet and all mankind. The representatives of the «second world» live in the country scale, and the representatives of the «third world» live in the local one. The difference in scale determines a different attitude to events, phenomena, actions and deeds. Similarly, the representatives of the three worlds perceive each other differently.
The people of the «second world» reproach the people of the «first world» with their lack of patriotism, their lack of interest in their country and in politics. And the people of the «first world» note the excessive dependence of the people of the «second world» on politics, power, and public institutions. They do not understand why, instead of solving their own problems and building their lives on their own principles and by their own efforts, people of the «second world» put the responsibility on social institutions, on the state and expect them to solve their own problems.
People of the «second world» attach too much importance to power and violence, hence their increased interest in the electoral majority, which consists of people of the «third world». In the struggle for the sympathies of the electoral majority, the representatives of the «second world» are very concerned about the interests of the «third world», too concerned about local problems, about satisfying the understated needs of the «third world» people and ignoring the needs of the «first world» people.
|Priorities and values
|1) Knowledge and competences
|1) Power and violence
|1) Property and wealth
|2) Property and wealth
|2) Knowledge and competences
|2) Power and violence
|3) Power and violence
|3) Property and wealth
|3) Knowledge and competences
|Desire for change in the country
|Availability of resources and finances
|The scale of the life world
|Servile, by order and invitation
|Attitude towards ideology
|Cognitive and non-serious
|Overly serious and uncritical
However, it would be a mistake to limit the search for the potential for reform and change to a single entity — the person, or people.
We can highlight the second object of our interest in seeking the potential for reform and change — the communication of worlds and their interaction with each other.
And the main problem in this communication is that the attention of the representatives of the «second world» is directed in the opposite direction from those with whom they need to communicate.
At the level of philistine ideology, this problem is often formulated as a confrontation between globalism and antiglobalism. The «second world», being in a catching-up position, is not only late in consumption and adoption of innovations, but also sees the representatives of the «first world» as its competitors, opponents and even enemies. But the representatives of the «second world» can synchronize with the process of accelerated development only in interaction with the representatives of the «first world» by combining human resources, knowledge and competencies of the «first» and «second» worlds.
However, this unification of efforts and resources, this interaction of worlds does not exist. That is, it exists in those countries and regions, which live by the principles and guidelines of the «first world», and does not exist where the rules of the game, the principles of politics are determined by the inconsistent ideology of representatives of the «second» or (and especially) «third» worlds.
The problem of Belarus is that, desiring changes and reforms, representatives of the «second world» are looking for support in the «third world» without building relations with the «first world» and ignoring representatives of the «first world» who live in our country but have global interests.
Thus, we come to the third field to which increased attention must be paid if we are to detect the potential for reform and change in the country — global processes, problems and challenges.
So, we can, as a first approximation, fix three objects, or three ontological realities. Without sorting them out, we cannot find the potential for reforms in our country and, all the more so, we cannot launch and carry out the necessary reforms:
1) Anthropological reality: people, human consciousness, attitudes, ideology and worldview;
2) Communication and interaction between representatives of different worlds, or bearers of different worldviews;
3) The picture of the global world itself and the global problems of our time.
It is necessary to analyze objects in these realities not in a neutral cognitive setting (figuring out «how it really is,» irrespective of our goals and intentions), but in an activistic framework. That is, if we want reforms and changes, we are not indifferent at all about:
- What kind of an individual person, what kind of people in the country are we dealing with? Do people in Belarus change, and if they do, in what direction? Is it possible to influence the speed and direction of these changes?
- How is public, political, and personal communication in Belarus arranged between the various participants of the socio-political process? What factors influence or can influence the character and structure of this communication?
- What picture of the world should a modern person have to ensure his/her full participation in global processes? What kind of worldview allows planning, designing and programming individual and social activities in order to keep up in an era of accelerated development and innovation?
For the purposes of this text, we will focus only on the problems of communication between the «first» and the «second» worlds and on the organization of constructive interaction between them.
Part 5. Meeting of the worlds
We should outline how we will use the categories of world and space. So:
- The area of definition of the three worlds in question here is the conscientious or mental space;
- Information space is an area of interaction and communication (or, on the contrary, isolation) of worlds;
- Geographical space, or the territory of common life and activity, can be both a place of encounter and peaceful coexistence (multiculturalism) and a theatre of war.
It is possible to analyze which of the worlds controls each of the named spaces (territory, information, consciousness), or it is possible to put a simpler question: which of the worlds can and should determine life in Belarus as a part of Eastern Europe?
It could be said that the fates of the countries of Eastern Europe are determined by how the elites and the ruling class in each country respond to the following question. Those countries in which the history of the twentieth century is viewed as colonization and occupation by the Soviet Union are more successful than those countries which interpret history differently. That is, the national version of history determines the trajectory of a country’s development. History is objectively related to geography and determined by territorial space. But the version of history is located in the conscientious space. Thus, spatial thinking becomes a battlefield, in which the future of the country is determined through the version of its past and current history.
I am in no way inclined to exaggerate the importance of consciousness in the transformation of space. The influence of consciousness on the territory is mediated by economic activity, and economic activity depends on the economy, and the economy has been globalizing for half a millennium. Therefore, not everything and not always depends on the consciousness of those who manage the territory. Fernand Braudel shows quite convincingly in his «world-economies» how territories depend on the processes unfolding in these worlds and why the economy of Belarus was shaped by the processes taking place in Western Europe and the Mediterranean.
We cannot move Belarus to the sea, but we can pursue “an Intermarium policy”. We can consider our natural conditions as obstacles, and we can consider them as opportunities. It depends on which world representatives — «first», «second» or «third» — determine the social consciousness of the nation.
If the “first” and “second” worlds are together, if they strive towards each other, then such a meeting is a prerequisite for the development of the territory. The people of the «first world» do not care where to develop, innovate and use innovations, while the people of the «second world» care that development takes place here and now. People of the «first world» are defined globally, i.e. «their territory» is the whole planet, their reference community is all mankind, they are nomads of our times. Mobility of modern nomads is not just ease of mobility, not just a way of life, it is a directed search for space where development is possible, where changes are more likely to occur, where they are easier to implement and disseminate. People of the «first world» test territories for their attitude to innovation and development, and if the territory is controlled by the «third world», it will be alien to them. If the territory is controlled by the people of the «second world», then everything is determined by where the aspirations of these people are directed: to the goals, values and ideals of the «first world» or to the values and ideals of the «third world». Depending on this, the territory will develop. Or it will not. And not only territory, i.e. geographical space, but also conscientious space. However territorial space can be controlled in different forms (sovereignty, property, violence, reasonable planning), while conscientious space is much more difficult to control.
The control of consciousness has always been a matter of religion and church. And in the 20th century — in totalitarian regimes it was achieved by means of ideology. It was only at the end of the Cold War that conscientious space became a subject of attention of political and humanitarian technologists. The Cold War was perceived not just as a temporary peaceful coexistence of two systems (the absence of a hot war), but as a war for consciousness, or a war, the theater of operations of which is the space of consciousness.
When the Cold War ended, or rather lost relevance, global development appeared on the agenda.
Development can be understood and considered as immanent, i.e. occurring due to internal causes of the developing object itself, or it can be considered as systemic, when development is a consequence of connections and relations of the object with other objects, with the metasystem in which the development object finds its existence. Since the world has become global, only the development of humanity on a planetary scale can be recognized as immanent. The development of individual objects within human civilization, on the other hand, are system-dependent and interdependent processes and phenomena. The development of the parts can be understood and explained only as part of the whole, in complex with the whole.
Belarus is a part of humanity connected by numerous relations with all other parts, therefore, there is no and cannot be any immanent development of Belarus.
The development process is characterized by:
- Heterochronicity, when parts of the whole do not change simultaneously: some earlier, others later — later and forced, adjusting to changes of other parts;
- Heteronomy, when changes in geographical space and material environment are according to objective development laws, while changes in conscientious space are arbitrary — i.e. dependent on the will, understanding, reason of people;
- Heterogeneity, where the causes and drivers of development come from different sources, both internal and external, and are linked to people’s goals and values.
Our worlds of interest are first and foremost communities, not individuals or a mere mechanical aggregate of people. Like any large human community, they are imaginary, to use Benedict Anderson’s term.
But if nations were formed as imagined communities on dynamic representations of the following nature: from a common history and origin to a common future of the community defined by the same origin, the worlds described here are formed on somewhat different dynamic representations: from an imagined future to the formulation and planning of actual actions and deeds. A common future for the people of the «first world» does not imply a common past, a common origin, unless one is referring to the whole of humanity. For the people of the «third world» the common past and origin still play a primary role. People of the «second world» thrash about between these two vectors of imagination.
Part 6. Anthropological reality
Human rights and freedom in the twentieth century have come to be taken for granted. Equality of rights as a principle is accepted by all, although the rights themselves are interpreted and understood in different ways. Equality of human rights ensures a person’s freedom. Freedom ensures a variety of individual differences among people. Equalization of people’s rights leads to an increase in individual differences, to the emergence of individuality.
The emancipation of the individual, as expressed in the struggle for rights and freedoms, leads to two main effects:
1) The emergence and accumulation of individuality. People become less and less alike to each other, and this dissimilarity to others becomes a value. It is it that characterizes a person, not his place and status in the community of people;
2) The meaning and character of a person’s connection with society/community are changing. An individual’s dependence on society is weakening, and an individual’s connections and relations with society are becoming more diverse and complex. The qualitative and quantitative change of social ties leads to systemic changes in society itself. Communities, in which individuality is suppressed and leveled, are fundamentally different from communities, in which individuality is valued and encouraged.
Applied to the concept of three worlds, these effects can be radicalized, presented in a categorical form:
- First-world people are individualized, individuality and particularity in the «first world» is encouraged, valued and ensures success in complex and diverse systems of life and activity;
- A person’s individuality in the «third world» disturbs the established order of things, so it is suspicious and is suppressed and leveled when possible;
- People of the «second world» are individualized almost as much as people of the «first world», but on the value level they adhere to the ideology of the «third world», i.e. they tend to suppress both their individuality and the individuality of other community members.
Given these accumulated changes in social systems, it should be noted in an applied sense that we will not be able to find agents of change in any social groups, strata or classes.
Up to World War I, class, race, and national theories dominated in social studies, and social practices were based on them. Then, it became clear that such a scale, such calibration in the consideration of social phenomena, was too rough and did not allow seeing the real state of affairs. The search for smaller units for society’s subdivision and deeper analysis began. Pitirim Sorokin suggested the category of «strata», which had no dimensions or scales and allowed typologizing social groups according to any, often random parameters. The «target groups» category, which can be distinguished according to an arbitrary set of parameters and characteristics, has emerged and is still popular in marketing. Target groups that it is expedient to deal with in practice are either narrowed and specified to very small, with detailing on many parameters, or blurred to large and amorphous. The possibility of computer processing of big data allows us to move to targeting in marketing, when the individual consumer becomes the target. Even industrial production, previously thought to be able to produce only mass standardized products in large batches, is adapting to the individualized consumer. Nowadays, many product variations, designed for different tastes and preferences, are produced on the basis of basic models.
In today’s world, each person is self-determined in relation to all existing, conceivable and imaginary communities, decides for himself/herself which community to belong to, and may decide not to belong to any of them. The boundaries of estates, classes, ethnicities, confessions, and gender identities began to blur after World War I, and after World War II, this process was so accelerated that it created the impression of revolutions in all spheres of life: the social revolution, the managers’ revolution, the cultural revolution, the sexual revolution, etc.
Of course, demographic characteristics in most cases influence an individual’s opinion and position, just as gender identification, place of residence, profession, etc. But this influence is limited to the content of the objects that are in the field of attention of an individual, rather than to the way of thinking and ideology.
Today’s person is an individual, he cannot be understood or explained by belonging to any social type.
Individualization is more peculiar to the representatives of the «first world». And, on the contrary, in the «third world» it is not appreciated and even suppressed. There it is still required not to have own opinion, own way of thought, but to follow the generally accepted opinions.
However, the ideology of human rights, the declaration of freedoms, and the attitude to independent thinking are uncritically consumed in the «third world» as well. In opinion polls, conversations and discussions, representatives of the «third world» proclaim their opinions and views as their own. They may assert uncritically assimilated platitudes which have been pronounced for centuries, have long since been disproved and have fallen out of fashion as a thought which they have arrived at as a result of their own reflections. The opinions of people in the «third world» are shaped (implicitly) by their environment, their reference group and local authorities. But local communities, even numerous ones, do not form the whole spectrum of opinions that might be required in episodic communication or in political life. Then another source of opinion formation in the «third world» comes into play — the media. This source is abused in today’s world by many of those who claim to shape public opinion.
Thus, resources of changes and innovations, agents of reforming in Belarus should be looked for not in social groups, classes, clusters, but in individuals.
Part 7. Change the world ourselves or wait to be changed?
Even without any reforms in the country, living standards will rise, quality of life will improve, infrastructure will improve, new technologies will be introduced in industry, robots will free up workers’ total free time, blockchain will gain ground in the financial system, etc., etc. Everything will improve.
Everything will improve, and the country will lag further behind. The gap between Belarus and the developed regions of the planet will increase.
Changes are taking place in Belarus according to the infrastructural laws of the expansion of the «first world» across the planet, according to the rules of development of new territories. «Green economy», ecological agriculture, high-speed Internet, comfortable hotels and habitual quality of life are needed for the «first world» not in Belarus, but all over the planet, and only for that reason — in Belarus.
Whoever is the owner or sovereign of this territory, it must be developed by civilization, because this civilization considers the whole planet as its oecumene. Belarus is being developed, mastered as a result of the processes of redistributive economy of global scale and forced consumption.
Belarus is changing as a result of its development, mastering by the «first world», changing against the wishes and actions of the «third world», changing without us. «Without us» is the title of the most profound and consequential essay by Valentin Akudovich, the most sensible, honest, and reflexive philosopher of the «second world» in Belarus. Without us, it is without an active attitude of the «third world» which resists any changes and innovations but tolerates them forcedly. But the pathos of Akudovich’s essay is addressed not to the «third», but to the «second world» of Belarusians. Without us, roads, houses, power plants are built, plays are staged, films are made, «Brazil Street» and Zybitskaya Street are settled,» Akudovich says to those who care with their souls for Belarus, for the nation, fighting the established regime, which relies on the «third world» majority.
The main, central, system-forming and triggering goal of the reform process can be only one — to bring Belarus into the number of territories and communities of the «first world».
Reforms in the country are needed only for this purpose — to bring Belarus into the «first world». And it requires a serious conscientious turnaround, or a turn of consciousness. A turn from the goals and values of the «third world» to the goals and values of the «first world». Only with such a conscientious turn can the communication between the «second» and the «first» worlds, the mutual understanding between them, the addition of forces, resources and energy of these two worlds with a synergetic effect be possible. So far, energy and resources cancel each other out rather than add up.
In many cases, the «second world» adopts an anti-globalization attitude and ideology. This attitude and ideology turn the «second world» into the main obstacle to the solution of global problems, and the «second world» itself becomes a global problem. The fact is that the anti-globalization attitude emerges as a response to consumerism and mass consumer attitudes. Of course, this is not the only response to consumerism; environmentalism is a somewhat different response. However, in its most radical manifestations, environmentalism and anti-globalism merge and begin to see the cause of global problems in expanded consumption, which stimulates production, while MNCs and the entire global economy are declared responsible for stimulating consumption and consumerism.
Representatives of the «first world» consume more than representatives of the «second» and «third» worlds, and they consume first. Innovations are what is consumed in the «first world». And the material embodiment of what is consumed first in the «first world» as innovation, comes to the «second» and «third» worlds already in the form of a mass product. Innovations (as well as inventions, discoveries, masterpieces of art, etc.) can arise in any of the worlds, in any place of the globe, but they are consumed in the «first world».
But this is not what distinguishes the «first world». The «first world» is the first to consume knowledge and ideas, no matter what part of the planet they come from. And in the age of information and knowledge economy, this is what gives undeniable advantages.
Human qualities (curiosity, interest, research attitudes, flexibility, alertness), tools of search for new knowledge and ideas (language/social/information literacy, erudition) are instilled by upbringing and education, while the ability to assess the merit and value of new knowledge and ideas is acquired only with experience. Accordingly, education, upbringing and experience can be regulated. The system of education and upbringing can be reformed, organized so that students, the new generation already in childhood and youth develop human qualities necessary for life in the «first world».
Only the people of the «first world» have the knowledge of how to organize the training, education and experience necessary for the people of the «first world». And they do not intend to hide this knowledge. On the contrary, they are ready to share this knowledge, mastering and colonizing the territory and the information space on the entire planet including Belarus. Only the attitudes and stubbornness of the «second» and «third» worlds can be an obstacle. This obstacle is also removable if the «second world» turns towards the «first world».
Active cooperation is possible between the people of the «second world», who are interested in the development of their territory, their space and their national community, and the people of the «first world», who do not care in what space, territory, by what energy and resources of what community to solve world and global problems.
In Belarus, this will be possible only if the «second world» can find a position and a role for the country in the structure of the world division of labor. And the place in the world division of labor has to be sought in the changed structure of the global economy. It is necessary not to catch up and overtake, but to look for one’s place among equals, to look for one’s place among those who are busy solving the world’s problems.
Summarizing the numerous formulations of global threats and challenges, three broad groups can be identified:
1. Climate, global warming, changing landscapes, changing type of human economic activity;
2. «The Great Migration of Peoples» as an aggravation of the first problem;
3. Ideological and educational incompatibility and European civilization’s lack of ideological and worldview offer for the assimilation of different peoples and cultures. Or to put it another way: Europe has no answer to the questions: «Why do we need each other?» and «How can we live together?», which Europe could offer to representatives of other civilizations, with which we have to live on the same planet.
These are the three main generalized problems, that are also global threats, but they can also be presented as challenges — global challenges to which the «first world» must respond. Representatives of the «second world» can treat it only as threats. The meeting of the worlds can take place very simply: the «second world» can share the «first world’s» view of them as problems to be solved and as challenges that concern all people on the planet.
The idea of exhaustibility of natural resources in the early 1970s seemed to many as fantastic, beyond their lives time, far from their immediate interests. The initiator of the Club of Rome, Aurelio Peccei, understood that the solution to the problem rests with human qualities, the selfishness of human nature. The problems of nature on the planet are solved through a change in human nature. Egoism is most characteristic of the representatives of the «third» and «first» worlds. A typical phrase said by representatives of these worlds in response to altruistic or solidaristic proposals of the «second world» is: «What do I get out of it?» or «Why do I need it?
But in the mouths of representatives of the «third» and «first» worlds this phrase has a very different meaning. A man of the «third world» is guided by consumer motives, and the meaning of the phrase «to get out of» coincides with the verb «to consume» for him. Representatives of the «first world» care about something else: what they will get for the solution of the tasks they are busy with, how it will help them to solve their tasks. When representatives of the «second world» in Belarus raise the questions of preservation of the national heritage, return of national symbols, regime change, they hear from representatives of the «third» and the «first» worlds the same question: «What will we get out of it?».
It would be naïve to think that every representative of the «first world» thinks only about global problems day and night. Each of these problems is broken down into a multitude of specific tasks, and each person is concerned precisely with solving his private and local task, from the aggregate solution of which the solution of general problems is formed.
The solution to global warming is known: humanity needs to learn how to regulate the composition of the planet’s atmosphere. Roughly the same way we can regulate room temperature or lighting, increasing or decreasing the supply of heat and light as needed. The invention of artificial photosynthesis suitable for technological use requires complex research programs, fundamental break-throughs in physics, chemistry, biology, even more applied research and development. The creation of such technology will require the involvement of masses of engineers, technologists, programmers, economists. This involves such a scale of scientific and technical programs, in comparison to which CERN with its hadron collider will seem a task for diploma or master’s thesis. Such a work program does not yet exist, but its relevance is more and more recognized in the «first world». And those who are concerned about the fate of their nation and territory in the «second world» can become the first, if they offer their resources and opportunities to roll out such a program. And through this, they will be able to find and take their own place in the world division of labour.
A solution to the problem of global warming could avert the threat of the «great migration of peoples». To avert the threat, not the great or intensive migration itself. The threat disappears if the resettlement of peoples and migration processes can be controlled, regulated and regularized. It is possible to control, regulate and regularize migration processes by developing a global social research and development program. The scale of such a program is no less than in the creation of artificial photosynthesis technologies, but other sciences and disciplines take up the load: sociology, ethnology, urban studies, demography, other social disciplines and interdisciplinary research. Reforms in Belarus make sense and become necessary for Belarus to join solving these problems together with the «first world», to join actively and consciously, taking in the structure of the world order the place which it will choose and arrange for itself, instead of the place which will be given to it in the processes of colonization and mastering, redistribution and comp