SECOND WORLD AND NECESSARY SHIFTS
IN RESEARCH APPROACHES TO MACROSOCIAL DYNAMICS
First, the following fundamental questions will be considered:
∙ As far as post-1989 transformations made the old concept of the Second World (including countries with socialist or communist regimes) obsolete, what is the most adequate and heuristic structure for contemporary global political system (“clash of civilisations”, “the West and the rest”, “Eurabia”, etc.)?
∙ Is it now really useful to divide the whole human globe into two, three or many worlds?
It will be argued that the scheme of three worlds if modified is still useful. There are also strong arguments for perspectives of many worlds and of one world. Within this complicate view the main prejudices and common myths in studies of post-socialist societies will be criticized, and new conceptual approaches in social ontology, political sociology, political anthropology, socio-political dynamics, and social evolution will be presented.
The (old socialist) Second World had died.
The New Large Second World has appeared
The collapse of the socialist camp (1989) and the USSR (1991) meant also the end of a coherent old concept of three “worlds”. Subsequent attempts of structuring usually fit to the modernization approach (by degree of closeness to “a modern society”) or to geographical and civilization approach (by location, major religious traditions, cultural identity, etc.).
The first approach is justified only within transitological, or developmental, paradigm which was most clearly represented in the " Fukuyama’s idea of "the end of history”. Over the past 20 years there was no amicable movement of societies to "modernity" (in usual Western understanding), the dynamics was much more complicated and diverse. The underlying idea of uni-linear evolution from traditional stage to modernity occurred to be fully discredited.
The second approach is not much better. Geographical location and cultural identity, albeit setting some limitations and possibilities, are unsuitable predictors for direction and trajectory of historical development. Comparison of the Southern Korea versus Northern Korea, Kuwait versus Lebanon, Egypt versus Bolivia, Mexico and Argentina versus Colombia and Venezuela show an evident inability of linguistic, religious, ethnic and cultural factors to explain the divergent dynamics.
Ideological division as a boundary between “worlds” has gone away. A level of modernization and cultural identity seem to be inadequate parameters. The alternative approach is to put into basis of division not any alleged "underlying" factors but social phenomenology: rude facts concerning internal stability and consolidation, as well as the sustained success and dominance in three external fields: geoeconomics, geopolitics, and geoculture.
Within such a perspective the most stable and successful First World (the Global Core) is still here. Now Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Estonia have almost entered this club. Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria are at the closest approach to it. By contrast, Greece and Portugal despite their EU membership may become long-term problem areas and have risk to fall out of the First World.
At the other extreme, there is the global periphery, i.e. the contemporary Third World (the Global Periphery) as a zone quintessence of trouble, hopeless backwardness, tagnation at the lower levels of social development and welfare, area of criminalization or endless social and ethnic violent conflicts. Many countries of sub-Saharan Africa, also Palestine, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan, North Korea, Haiti and some of the most backward South American countries, the most isolated and stagnant Arab countries such as Bolivia and Libya are here.
All other countries may be called semi-periphery in the broadest sense. This is the Large Second World (the Global Semi-Periphery): China and Venezuela, Russia and South Africa, Armenia and Turkey, Moldova and Algeria. Some countries are close to a breakthrough into the First World (Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Latvia, Lithuania, maybe Georgia in case of success of its reforms). Some other societies are weakened by squabbles and are now at risk of falling into the Third World: Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Pakistan.
In addition, other ways of structuring the sprawling Second World may be useful: the size of the territory, the size of population, wealth, ethnic consolidation / conflict, more centralized / decentralized, obtaining more or less military power, orientation to these or that power centers of the First World, etc.
Of course, the very First World is also not uniform. It is possible to distinguish quite clearly the North American block, united Europe, the Advanced East, which, in turn, is divided into Israel, a few modernized Arab countries (United Emirates and Kuwait), Japan, and the most advanced countries in South-East Asia (Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea).
The Third World societies can also be subdivided by geographical, religious and cultural grounds, on political and cultural history (whose colonies they were, under whose influence they are now).
In spite of all this diversity, there are three arguments in favor of the unity of the modern world.
First, despite the profound differences between the three worlds, there is the unity of the basic principles of historical dynamics explanation, i.e. the universal laws in the field of demography, economy, geopolitics, cultural diffusion, technology development, etc. Differences in the nature of historical processes between societies of the three major worlds and their more fractional divisions are determined not by different laws in each group of countries but by the difference between their institutions, internal and external environment that give each group a particular constellation of laws, respectively , a special type of pattern, therefore, a specific historical trajectory.
Second, despite all these differences, there are general secular trends and cyclical fluctuations that unite societies from different worlds. In the economic sphere, such cross-cutting cycles (Kondratieffs, Kuznets cycles, Juglar cycles, and others) are investigated by world-system analysts (I. Wallerstein, A.G. Frank, J.Arrighi, K.Chase-Dunn, T. Hall et al.). Patterns of cultural development are in focus of civilization approach (the tradition of A.Toynbee, A.Kroeber, F.Bagby, K.Quigley, R.Koulborn, among modern authors: M.Melko, Sh.Ito, S.Huntington). In geopolitics scholars study long cycles of hegemony (G.Modelski , W.Thompson, P.Talor, V. Tsymbursky). There is also a synthetic approach with accent to general social evolutionary patterns (S.Rokkan, Ch.Tilly, M.Mann, R.Collins, F.Spier, S.Sanderson, G.Snooks, P.Turchin, et al.).
Finally, the unity of the global world is set by a sealing web of connections, relationships, mutual influences among societies. Almost unrelated or very weakly related world regions have been merged in fairly short historical period (roughly 1500-1900). Powerful processes of integration and interaction occurred in the latest wave of globalization (roughly since the beginning of 1990-s.). That is why the traditional in social and political sciences the intra-societal approach (explanation of what is happening in society only by its internal mechanisms) becomes less an less adequate. More and more attention must be given the surroundings of a society and not only the immediate neighbors but processes in distant states as well.
Taking in account the argumentation given above, one can ask: if so, what are required shifts in macrosociological understanding of historical dynamics of the Large Second World, taking into account 20-year-old experience after Soviet collapse?
To Prevail Economic Centrism
Critics of the Soviet system during Perestroika branded planning system of socialist economy(rather fairly in many respects), and extolled "market". Young reformers (Egor Gaidar and Co) have been assured that privatization of state enterprises and resources, radical restructuring of social and economic system and creation of a social layer of private proprietors will become «a non-return point», that it will create a reliable barrier to any forces of reaction, and a favorable basis to development of political democracy — “a transit" to further prosperity according to Western samples.
Besides Belarus and Turkmenistan, rather radical privatization has been carried out in all post-Soviet countries. However it is possible to speak with a certain confidence about normally and effectively operating democracy only for cases of Lithuania and Estonia. In Russia and in other post-Soviet countries authoritarianism has obviously won (including creation of hereditary dynasties and various forms of ‘succesorship’). Here sometimes (Russia, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Latvia), or regularly (Kirghizia, Georgia, Ukraine) political crises have place. Even the deepest crises — «color revolutions» which replacing ruling cliques, — lead only to power and property redistribution, but do not produce neither steady democracy, nor prosperity.
It seems that in these new states fast refusal of the Soviet "Marxist-Leninist" ideology hasn't liberate leaders of Perestroika from limits of quite Marxist economic centrism. Thus, real crucial changes in social and economic "basis" hasn't led automatically to desirable shifts in political "superstructure". Later cultural centrism became popular along with the economic centrism, usually with appeal to ideas of early M.Weber’s work about «spirit of capitalism». New cultural and political centrism emerged with deduction of macrosocial dynamics of post-Soviet societies from such categories as «Russian power», «Eastern despotism» or «Caucasian tribalism».
What can replace economic centrism which obviously appeared inadequate? The most solid and heuristic alternative to Marxism in historical macrosociology is Weberianism, but real one, not reduced only to the “role of the Protestant ethics”. Max Weber opposed to economic centrism an autonomy and interrelation of three spheres: economics, politics (together with administration, bureaucracy) and religion (Weber 1978). He also highlighted the immutable importance relations between states concerning control over territories (in fact, it was a question of geopolitics). Later the sphere of religion has been expanded by secularized dogmas, i.e. ideologies, systems of cultural symbols, and values. As a result, four spheres have been crystallized in works of eminent Weberianists (R.Collins, M.Mann, Th.Skocpol, Ch.Tilly et al.):
· the economics (property relations, redistribution and the markets, where the main actors are economic classes),
· the politics (power, struggle for power, management and administration, where the main actors are political parties and bureaucracy),
· culture/religion/ideology (symbols and values, status and prestige, legitimacy and popularity, where the main actors are status groups, or estates in broad sense);
· coercion and violence, also interstate relations (coalitions, conflicts, wars), relations within a state between center and provinces in aspect of control over territories (military sphere, police and the other structures, capable to use weapons and organized physical violence + geopolitics, here there was no a settled term for main actors in M.Weber’s writings, but it is quite possible by analogy to name them enforcing, or coercing, groups).
Let us notice that such approach does not refer neither to any epoch, nor to any mode of production, to any concrete culture or civilization. Frequently some of these spheres and groups intersect and even merge, but it is possible to reveal these universal four spheres of the interaction, four types of resources in any society at any stage of development.
At the same time, this conceptual approach is much more rich than, for example, the Marxist one, or civilization view, or modernization perspective (which are still the most popular among post-Soviet intellectuals). Within such Weberian paradigm it is not necessary to look everywhere for capitalist or feudal relations, to reduce everything to cultural archetypes or to interpret various complicate processes as ‘modernization’ or ‘counter-modernization’.
Is it possible on this platform to explain striking differences in post-Soviet and post-socialist dynamics, for example, between Russia, Ukraine and Belarus? Between Latvia and Estonia? Between Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan? Between Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan? Between Yugoslavia and Hungary?
It is necessary to consider various resources and their distribution among main actors in each sphere, to analyze institutes, strategies, practices, also genesis, destruction and transformation of social networks, power centers and hierarchies, etc. If necessary, it is possible to add the Weberian four spheres by sources of group resources, intentions and restrictions, i.e. by demography (together with allocation and ethnic structure), social and cultural anthropology (political culture of the main groups, interethnic and inter-generational relations etc.), geography (landscapes, transport networks and ports), and international relations (geopolitics, geoeconomy and geoculture, see further about these aspects).
Overcoming of Institutional Fetishism
In times of Perestroika common criticisms of one-party membership, command nomenclature system, political censorship , etc. were accompanied by dreams about political democracy which would be embodied in ‘glasnost’ and private, independent mass-media, multi-party system, presidential and parliamentary elections. Now all these institutes in this or that kind exist in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, the states of Central Asia, but «there is no happiness yet». In fact, there is no real (not "sovereign") democracy in majority of post-socialist and in almost all post-Soviet countries. Democratic institutes became a false screen, or ‘simulacrum’, which covers absolutely different political essence, new or traditional, but always rather unattractive forms of authoritarianism.
It does not matter of course that political institutes are not significant. But formally similar institutes can realize opposite political essences. How to reveal the last ones? what should be posed in place of institutional fetishism? This is a difficult theoretical question of modern political sociology.
Let us consider the following ontological scheme as an initial heuristics. Political institutions (parliaments, the ministries, administrations, courts and so forth) include a layer of more or less phenomena: the indexes of written rules, various practices and regulations of elections, appointments, and interactions. Two types of social essences exist behind these phenomena. In sociology of organizations, they are named formal and informal structures.
Formal structures include official hierarchies and positions registered in rules, ways of filling positions through elections or appointments, order of reporting and responsibilities that is fixed in charters, office powers, administrative instructions, etc.
Informal structures include, first of all, groups (clans, cliques) and networks of relations which are characterized by various access to resources and permanent competition, struggle for resources. The last ones can be classified according to the same Weberian scheme:
· political resources (power as real ability to impose will, to carry out own strategies),
· economic resources (finances, movable and real estate, any actives),
· coercive resources (control over organized groups than are capable to apply violence; along with army, police, intelligent service, militarized bands, here it is necessary to include indignant groups, crowds of civilians, etc.);
· symbolical resources (means for achievement of legitimacy, popularity, prestige, support, and so forth).
Formal structures (essences of the first type) limit and direct political practices, but only partly. Absolutization of this possibilities conducts to institutional fetishism. Informal structures (groups and networks with resources, i.e. essences of the second type) transform these practices and they are also capable to adapt formal structures (say, elective laws, rules for judges appointments, etc.) in order to fit their needs and interests.
Overcoming of institutional fetishism consists in focused attention and systematic comparative study of groups and networks with changing distribution of resources — the groups which use these resources in a constant competition and struggle for exclusive positions and access to new resources. This struggle is mostly hidden, but sometimes it breaks out in public sphere in the form of resignations, arrests, scandals, up to political crises.
According to such representation, it is necessary to explain a well-known divergence of post-socialist countries by revealing various intergroup configurations in this conflictual-resource space. The institutional design itself plays here a role partly of a terminator (never absolute), partly of an arsenal of powers and resources with unequal access for different groups.
Political Anthropology: bridging the
"Social Lamarckism" and "Social-Preformism"
Rapid changes in human consciousness and behavior as a result of changes in external conditions may well be described as social-anthropological Lamarckism. Rather obviously, this concept has failed. Thus, in Russia sociologists show rather clearly that in spite of radical social changes a "Soviet man" is still here, he has been only partially adapted to the new post-Soviet reality.
An other extreme is equally popular. Both "patriots" and extreme "liberals" close up in this point. It is the idea of immutable traits of Russian people such as paternalism, neglecting civil rights and freedoms, law nihilism, etc. Similar or different myths exist about all other peoples of post-Soviet and post-socialist countries. Such ‘root qualities’ can be presented apologetically as a mighty traditionalism, commitment to own Fatherland, customs, and loyalty to state leaders. Critics treat the same features as an inescapable slavery, inertia, lack of self-organization, inability to defend own interests, and to real renewal. Such a social-anthropological Preformism also is not true.
Evidently, all nations change along with changing circumstances, but in different ways, at different speeds, in different directions. They do not transform fully, so easily and quickly, as it seems to social Lamarckism. Mechanisms and patterns of these changes still are not studied well, especially in comparative perspective and in long term, but some initial macrosociological ideas can be presented.
Our initial ontological hypothesis is this: political culture of a social group (or its members) always acts as a mediator between the following components:
· the economic status as a position in some system of ownership, production, exchange, distribution of wealth and resources (mode of proprietary, sources of income and its size in relation to income of other important groups, prospects for new revenue, and the threat of losing the former ones);
∙ the political, coercive and prestigious position in structures and practices of power, violence, worship and loyalty (a level and nature of protection from subordination, violence and humiliation, own rights to subordinate others, to cause violence, a role in key rituals related to coercive and power structures, lawful or unlawful possession of weapons, etc.);
· the ethical code as adopted moral/religious/ideological symbols and values (symbols of honor and dignity, ideas and behavior regulators for salvation, principles of social justice, freedom, equality, privilege, etc.).
The main principle of mediation can be formulated as such. Political culture, which includes self-identification, attitudes and everyday practices, is stable if and only if the following conditions are present:
· identity (answers to the question "Who am I?") fully justifies the occupied position in economic system and structures of power, worship and violence, also justifies strategies implemented for its improvement in terms of symbols and values of accepted ethical code;
· attitudes (frames and stereotypes of consciousness and behavior) allow to respond to variety of political situations in such a mode that own economic and power status does not deteriorate (at least, drastically and dramatically), and commitment to symbols is not violated;
· strategies of social action and everyday practices in its political aspect maintain or strengthen own economic position and position in power structures, and do not contradict neither to identity, nor to symbols and values of accepted ethical code.
The same points indicate the conditions of strong perturbations and changes in political culture of social groups:
· when revenues fall or, alternatively, dramatically grow, when previous economic policies and practices become ineffective, and new ones appear;
· when threats of violence and humiliation from the outside grow, when possibilities to inflict violence and humiliation, to obtain and to use weapons contract or expand dramatically;
· when, due to effective symbolic campaigns, i.e. preaching, propaganda, public debates, old symbols and values become discredited (religious, class, racist, sexist ones) and new symbols and values are adopted (moral, soul-saving, civil, democratic, related to ethnic and gender equality, social justice, etc.) because they occur to fit accepted identities, positions in economic and power structures.
If this principle is true, the political culture of each social group (political party, economic class, status group in post-socialist countries) will drift towards maximum coherence and sustainability between economic and power, coercive, prestigious status, code of ethics which justifies them, on the one hand, and self-identity, attitudes, policies and practices, on the other hand.
Prevailing Both Intra-social Approach and Hopes for Foreign 'Aid'
The intra-social approach means that the major changes in a society are dependent almost entirely on the structures, components and processes within this society, whereas the external processes and relationships can bring just some random disturbances. Typically, socio-economic and political projects of Perestroika and Post-Perestroika in post-Soviet countries were based on this approach (with the exception of obvious import-export, transit and geopolitical orientations). Today no one can ignore factors of participation in global and regional markets neither for Russia nor, especially, for her former satellites. Factors of emerging geopolitical alliances, of smoldering or festering conflicts, power relations, as well as factors of geocultural attraction and repulsion also give significant regular impact in dynamics and development of each country.
No less naive were common hopes for a quick and beneficial foreign aid (for example, from the U.S. - to Russia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine, from Scandinavian countries and the EU to the Baltic states and Moldova, from Russia to Belarus and Tajikistan, etc.). It is impossible to deny neither factors of outside assistance, nor hidden effects of external interference in internal affairs ("conspiracies", by the way, usually it is possible to distinguish ”aid” from "conspiracy" only taking one or another position in political and ideological conflict).
All these one-off external influences must be considered in the context of an overall structure of external relations and general internal social, political, economic, cultural and ideological environment. Special, also macrosociological, conceptual design is necessary for this analysis. Three following areas of international interactions are the most important: geopolitics (both external and internal), geoeconomics and geoculture.
External geopolitics involves conflict and allied relations, which are often unbalanced ties between a patron and a client. Attraction and repulsion here are defined by past history of successes and failures of such relationships, by "the logic of domino” (the enemy of my enemy is my friend), by proximity/otherness in ethno-cultural, confessional and ideological aspects, by the ratio between expected threats (such as annexation and assimilation) and benefits (access to technology and markets, entering prestigious "clubs", etc.). Power and prestige are still the main factors of attraction of a great power for its potential allies and clients.
Internal geopolitics of a country involves relationships and interactions between its center and provinces, also between neighboring provinces for the control over disputed territory. Both separatist movements and attempts to suppress them get usually some support or experience strong opposition from neighboring countries and distant great powers. Thus, the internal geopolitics is always included in external geopolitical context. At the same time, the latter may sometimes vary considerably because of dynamics of internal strife (successes, failures, extent of victims in attempts to suppress separatism, etc.). Structure and dynamics of internal and external geopolitics form together the best predictor for power configurations within a country, and hence for a system of power statuses mentioned above.
The economy of each country is always involved, in one way or another, into the regional economy, but now often in the world economy also, respectively, in existing geoeconomic structures. The most developed approach in this area is world-system analysis. Accordingly, the main characteristics include a position of a country in the world-system hierarchy (core, semi-periphery or periphery), a nature of relationships and interactions with leaders and competitors in their world-system, the dynamics of boom and bust. In today's globalized world economy with weakened national barriers namely the geoeconomic position and context are the best predictor for explaining domestic economic structures, respectively explaining economic niches and statuses of social groups.
Geoculture includes centers of cultural production, networks and channels of cultural spread that cross political boundaries, corresponding to zones of prestige. Geopolitical and geoeconomic prestige, patronage by some great power contribute to growth of its geocultural prestige. Moreover, the latter, in turn, increases attractiveness of this power for geopolitical alliances and economic interactions. Among cultural products, which come from zones of prestige, there are often some new religious, moral, ideological symbols and values. They are added to a "mental (ideological) menus" that get especial significance in times of crises, changes in political and social system.
Taking external influences in account usefully complements the analysis of conflict-cooperative interaction between economic classes, political parties, status and power groups (see above). Geopolitics, geoeconomics and geoculture not only set the context of interaction and niches for formation and existence of these groups, but often serve as a source of basic resources, as well as guidelines and limiters for group strategies.
Unequal access of different groups to income from foreign trade (especially in countries with active export of raw materials) is obvious, but by no means the only factor. Thus, the separation of the external orientations of post-Soviet countries (to Russia or to the West, to Russia or to Turkey, to Russia or Iran, etc.) may coincide with internal political schisms. That is why successes and failures of such reference countries, conflicts between them become also an important factor in internal political struggle between groups for power and prestige.
overcoming of modernization theory and transitology
As it was mentioned above, the rapid liberation of Russia from communism, the liberation of its former satellites of the "hand of Moscow" has not provided any of post-socialist and especially post-Soviet countries with fast and reliable prosperity. Soon enough the venerable theory of modernization was restored in an updated form of "transitology" - a concept of more or less long transition from communist regimes (analogues of outdated and authoritarian "traditional society") to a fully fledged democracy ("modern society", represented in North American and Western European samples).
This transitological paradigm proceeded to wither, until complete extinction along with the strengthening of Putin's authoritarianism in Russia and wide awareness of excessive reliance on "color revolutions". Obvious success in economy, technology and social arrangement in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, China, i.e. countries not particularly burdened by democracy, shows that samples of Western democracy are not so immutable in development of modern societies.
However, some evolutionary movements of societies clearly happen, together with all crises, periods of stagnation and collapse. If the Marxist scheme (slavery-feudalism-capitalism-communism) is not true, if the modernization theory (with its many avatars of post-industrialism, information society, "the sixth wave", etc.) is discredited, what ideas remain for understanding various trajectories of social evolution? The world-system analysis with its idea of world hegemony shifts seems to be not sufficient. Civilization approach and cultural studies are even more irrelevant to address social evolution.
What is needed is some combination of ongoing social development schemes with multi-linearity and alternativeness of countries’ trajectories with regard to their involvement in embracing and changing geoeconomic world-systems, geopolitical ecumenas, and geocultural areas (Rozov 2002). Instead of ‘moral and social progress’ or vague ‘modernization’ we suggest to put into the basis such value-neutral criteria as efficiency of regimes and levels of dominance. Societies can vastly diverge in political, social and economic structures but they can still be compared: who wins in wars, who organizes more strong and steady alliances, who invents more advanced technologies and products, who wins in world markets, who attracts more scientist and artists, whose books and films are spread abroad wider, etc. Thus, uni-linearity combines with divergence and multi-linearity, social-evolutionary approach (wit stages and phases) combines with approach of local civilizations.
Ten factors of dominance can be identified (Rozov 2002, ch.5) on the base of conceptual and empirical achievements by R.Carneiro, W.McNeill, I.Diakonoff, K.Chase-Dunn and T.Hall, S.Sanderson, G.Snooks, G.Modelski, M.Mann.
1. The level of political evolution. Development of structures and institutions that prvides rules and possibilities for all other factors of dominance (2-10). Note here a fundamental lack of any samples of "democracy" or "modernity." In fact, some authoritarian, traditional, even renewed archaic structures of interaction can provide for a period other factors of domination more effectively than democratic and ‘modern’ institutions. As example, it suffices to remember quasi-kinship paternalistic structures in Japanese politics and business, the Chinese clans with high mutual responsibility and upward mobility.
Factors of geopolitical dominance:
2. The organization and scale of military force, the level of communication channels and networks.
3. The level of indigenous military production.
4. Ability to establish and maintain alliances (level of diplomacy), to ensure internal and external legitimacy (this is political aspect of religions and ideologies).
Factors of geocultural dominance:
5. The level of accumulation and development of knowledge, including borrowing and creative development of various kinds of knowledge and practices (worldview, philosophy, science, the cognitive aspect of the technologies).
6. The level of development of means for meeting spiritual, emotional and aesthetic needs (religions, moral doctrines, literature and art).
7. Development of acculturation methods (education, training, social information and propaganda).
Geoeconomic factors of dominance
8. The development of reproduction modes (provision of new production cycles and stages).
9. The development of redistribution and exchange modes (various forms of mutual kinship and group support, or state support in diverse economic and geographical conditions, also tribute, taxation, markets, monetary system, finances, etc.).
10. The level of engineering and technology (in civil area).
Advantage, parity, or loss of a country in comparison with its neighbors are crucial for its further dynamics and future destiny. A country that managed to achieve dominance in a certain area (some factors of the ten given above) rises to a higher and better position in international hierarchy, finds new opportunities and resources for further development. On the contrary, a country over which its competitors came to dominate, lowers its status (in world-economy, in geopolitical alliances, in geocultural prestige), loses its previous resources and opportunities, and risks slipping to a crisis dynamics.
What does this approach give for understanding social evolution of post-socialist societies? Each country had different initial conditions (constellations of main social groups and allocation of resources, see above) and divergent trajectories during last 20 years. However, these trajectories have an evolutionary component, but not as a vector of "transit" or "modernization". Instead, there occurred various advances and/or losses in 10 factors of dominance for each country. The most advanced (leading) society becomes themselves a reference point for neighboring societies, but at the same time, it frequently occupies a niche in economic, political, cultural space that prevents their further advances.
Thus we obtain rather rich and flexible, value-neutral conceptual apparatus for further studies of post-Soviet and post-socialist historical dynamics and divergent evolution.
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 We appeal here to the brave methodological manifesto by Carl Hempel (1942). In spite of storms of criticisms of 1950-60-s, multiple achievements of ‘the Golden Age of Historical Macrosociology’ (R.Collins), theoretical and empirical results of B.Moore, R.Carneiro, A.Stinchcombe, T.Tilly, Th.Skocpol, R.Collins, J.Goldstone, M.Mann, J.Turner, G.Snooks, P.Turchin, A.Korotayev, et.al. strongly support the Hempelian approach of universal (“covering”) laws.
 Gudkov 2004; Levada 2006.