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Article by Vladislav Shinkunas


Vladislav Shinkunas

Cross-border Network Community as an element of maintenance of regional security and means of humanitarian influence on Russian bureaucracy

Текст доклада на 16th Nordic and 4th Baltic Peace Research Conference

St.Petersburg, Russia, September 11 – 13, 2003



Abstract:    Democracy does not cope with the challenges of the Information Society. Moreover, the Information Society coming by wide front does not cancel democracy, does not replace traditional state with the network structures. Nevertheless, information technologies have managed to turn over the pyramid of authority. Interactions between people in various fields of knowledge and in practical activities occur without intermediaries, without bureaucracy. In horizontal Cross-border Network Communities hierarchical structures have faced not only serious opponents. These communities rise upwards and appear above borders of the states. They become the basis of Virtual Revolution that should put an end to people’s fear of the future, dictatorships and empires.

From the very beginning, it is necessary to stop on the key term used in the name of the report. Cross-border Network Community (CNС) is international, stand-alone, target association of experts connected by personal contacts, Internet and E-mail, which participants are interested in sustainable development and security in spatial structure on the border of the European Union with Northwest Federal District of Russia. Cross-border Network Community assumes personal participation of experts and is an element of the Network Civil Society (NCS) for which there are no frontiers. The term cross-border network community is not used in accessible to us works of researchers. Many reasons can exist for that but the basic one – in these research studies attention of scientists is concentrated on interstate relations. The network community connected with a spatial, regional structure is the phenomenon that has not scrutinized yet. Nevertheless today it is possible to speak about existence of certain practical experience in creation and functioning of the first projects in this kind of region. Meanwhile these projects have no obvious political results in their activity but during the last eight months of the project "Megaregion - Network Confederation" counters of the site show growing interest of visitors from regions of Russia and other countries to such form of public activity.

It is necessary to note that the term trans-border civil society that one can find in analytical literature differs essentially from the NCS mentioned above.

Regional security mentioned in the title of the report represents security in the widest sense of the word. We think that it can be neither "hard", nor "soft". For security of spatial community existing beyond the borders and sovereignties such definitions hardly approach.

Information technologies have radically changed relations between state and person. Instead of hierarchical structures created on the basis of plebiscitary democracy have come horizontal structures based on competence and trust between participants of interaction. The authority of plebs in the state based on principles of Westphalia Treaty, has appeared under intellectual, organizational and technological press of authority of knowledge and humanism.

According to their priorities and the purposes arising network communities are creating new political geography of the world. The first aspect is that they are spatial formations of various structures with various technological resources working beyond frontiers, above system of existing intergovernmental relations. Besides, for minimization of transaction costs in their influence on political processes they use the most simple and not expensive technologically way of interactions - Internet and E-mail.

Distinctions between the contemporary Western countries and the countries which are now at the stage of transition from totalitarianism to some new society, the EU and Russia, are based on high degree control of state bureaucratic structures by citizens, on real opportunities of society to influence the process of working out of some political decisions. Control of public over officials’ and authorities’ actions at our European neighbors is much better than in contemporary Russia.

But if social movements in contemporary Western society are formed around cultural values and the future threats - then in transitive society of Russia - around the questions of property and freedom.

Institutional development of states including Russia has led to formation of democratic hierarchies and corresponding procedures that exist for their self-preservation. However, dialogue with Russia at intergovernmental level goes the way, as if the precipice of institutional asymmetry does not exist. The Russian society does not realize the danger of this situation and our Western neighbors don’t understand definitely by what this institutional asymmetry threatens them.

In traditional state, and it is especially typical for Russia, the personal opinion of the competent and responsible citizen on many questions of public life is dissolved in wide spectrum of opinions of fellow citizens and practically does not find reflection in activity of the government bodies. Changes begin only in the case when understanding of approaching catastrophe grasps the basic part of society. It is obvious, that information technologies change the situation.

Anarchism ideologists’ dream has got technological support. Today people in their interactions are able to act without state. Network anarchy transfers dialogue between person and state to some qualitatively new level. Network communities, agreeing with existence of the state as necessary institute, appear above it and follow the way of transnational corporations for which the states are only means for achievement of their purposes. As a matter of fact trans-national network economy receives in Cross-border Network Community competent opponent.

Democratic and simultaneously bureaucratic structures of modern Russia in aspiration to save this transitional condition of the state as longer as possible are based in their activity on archaic institutional structure of society, incompetence of citizens, absence of real owners, raw monopolies and tacit consent of their Western colleagues with such development of the situation. Powerful transnational corporations and short-sighted investors lost greatly on investments into Russia are vitally interested in developing Bureaucratic International. As a result of all that the citizens of doomed for full decomposition Russia are neglected.

Transaction costs arising at transition of the country on qualitatively new level are so great that only very short-sighted analyst can speak about any positive outcome of transit for Russia. The country needs qualitatively new approaches for efficient development.

In our opinion nowadays security issue is priority in spatial region of Baltic Sea and Northwest Federal District. Spatial network political communities based on professionalism, competence, humanism and persistence of participants, can essentially influence minds and political positions of the fellow citizens in maintenance security in this region.

First of all we should say that danger for citizens of Russia and adjacent states proceeds from Russia itself. The country decays from within. Imperial ambitions of modern post-Soviet bureaucracy, representatives of military and industrial circles, of former and current special services complicate and deform the situation even more. Any attempts of leaders to reanimate communications between former Soviet Republics, CIS countries, suffer a failure. Methods of solving existing economic and political problems turn Russian society to the epoch of stalinizm. As never in its history democracy in modern Russia is based on poverty and incompetence of citizens. In our opinion the country goes to national-socialism according to trajectory still latent for the wide public.

There is a question of legitimacy of historically formed in Russia state power based on illegitimate transitional procedures from the totalitarian society in sense of freedom to the totalitarian society in economic sense when the great number of finally confused citizens have lost chance for prosperous future and the state power and ownership have moved in the hands of the same party and economic nomenclature of the USSR. It was legalization of stable, stand-alone economic groups. Contemporary Russia reaps fruits of its institutional ignorance.

In the situation of development of the Global Information Society seven Federal Districts created in Russia are of great importance. They lead us to constructive decision of Russian problems. But, being once created, these districts can once escape from the map of Russia because simultaneously with their creation had been actually started transformation of the country into confederation on the basis of these districts that naturally contradicts the imperial aims of the Kremlin.

Nevertheless, even at such return to the past it is already impossible to stop the process of network disintegration of Russia that started after creation of these spatial structures. The process of rising in Russia network political communities depends only on time. The question of their quantitative and qualitative growth is the agenda of the day. But these formations are no more traditional public organizations and political parties. They are to be virtual structures with the distributed status of participants. These are structures that cannot be destroyed or deformed from within.

Cross-border Network Community on the frontier of Russia with the EU creates new political atmosphere in this spatial area.

Interstate relations between Russia and its neighbors receive instead of loyal bureaucracy scientifically fair, open for society assistants and competent opponents.

The hope arises that the Western participants of such virtual community will make their contributions in the process of influence on working out some political and economic decisions concerning Russia by the state bodies of their countries.

It is necessary to take into account that transnational bureaucratic institutes are interested in preservation of their privileges on economic and political decision-making. Their leaders are so-called statesmen by the definition. We can say the same thing about the functionaries of numerous non-commercial and non-governmental organizations (NCOs, NGOs), funds and charitable organizations that institutionally integrated in the state structures as well actually being explorers of bureaucracy policy of their countries.

It is the reason that such terms as "trans-national civil society", "trans-border civil society" should not mislead advocates of network, virtual, electronic civil society. As these terms are used for non-commercial organizations already built-in in the state bureaucracy, both in advanced Western countries and in Russia.

In Russia activists of the network civil society, participants of Cross-border Network Community oppose with the clans which have saved authority and resources. Only force can stop former and present communists and members of the Komsomol, generals and admirals, figures of special services, so-called "oligarches" and just gangsters grabbed power in Russia. These are such forces as technological force, intellectual force, military force. Sooner or later these supporters of new totalitarianism should stop to speak on behalf of others and represent in politics and economy only themselves. Otherwise the society will be compelled to force them behave adequately historical situation. The Network Revolution is approaching on change of evolution on Gaidar, Yeltsin, Putin and other supporters of institutional stagnation. The state bureaucracy should turn to be real executor instead of remaining incorporated dictator.

The humanitarian aspect of the Cross-border Network Community activity is creation of powerful economic and political press upon Russian bureaucracy and economic structures closely connected with it. The only purpose of CNC is constructive institutional changes directed finally on gradual integration of the country in world economic system without tragic consequences for Russian citizens.

New directions of civil activity of the best forces of society inevitably appear on the basis of Cross-border Network Community. We can speak about network interpersonal diplomacy, politics and regionalism.

Besides created according the initiative from below independent of the state and functioning without any financial support epistemic, on-line and off-line communities, combined communities, such as projects "West - West" and "Megaregion - Network Confederation", could be the basis for emerging of some kind of spatial network analogue of the United Nations in the region above the borders of the states. In this spatial construction each participant gets the statehood and operates as the state without function of compulsion.

It is necessary to note that personal contacts between professionals can not be replaced by on-line interactions because on-line contacts are only the first steps providing mutual trust between participants and effective teamwork in the future.

Besides great importance of transnational and regional network structures in society development we should note that they do not cancel and replace existing hierarchical state structures. Cross-border Network Community first of all should supplement and supervise their activity in citizens’ interest.

For one and a half decades the civilized world of Europe and the USA stage by stage successfully without use of force and with the consent of citizens has swallowed up the great number of the Soviet block countries. There is a question of inevitable consequences of development of the situation in the same way for Russia, as well about sequence of stages of this absorption and time necessary for this process.

However the basic question of regional security maintenance on the strip of direct neighbourhood with the EU and of neutralization of destructive forces in Russia still exists.

During the work the reporter basically used the materials available in the Internet. Unfortunately there was no access to numerous printed research papers on this subject.


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©Vladislav Shinkunas 2003

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