Thursday, November 24, 2022

Widespread Apathy among Russians Keeps Country from Becoming Democratic or Totalitarian, Khristenzen Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 22 – “As long as the majority of citizens do not participate actively in political life,” Yury Khristenzen says, Russia will not become democratic or totalitarian. And at present, he continues, most Russians are either “parishioners” who aren’t interested in politics or “subjects” who are interested but don’t take part in it.

            Drawing on theories developed by American political scientists several decades ago, the Russian analyst argues that “the type of political system in a country depends on the relationship of these civic cultures” (

            When participants outnumber the other two combined, one has a democratic system, Khristenzen says; when subjects outnumber the other two combined, an authoritarian one; and when the share of participants and parishioners are reduced to almost zero, then one has a totalitarian one.

            In democratic systems, the government is compelled to arrange things so that people can express their views; in totalitarian systems, the government compels people to participate but does not allow them a voice; but in authoritarian ones, the government is not forced to do the first and does not do what the last kind of regime does.

            Russian political culture, like that of many other former Soviet republics, is clearly authoritarian, the analyst says. That means that “a transition to democracy is impossible without the growth in the number of participants;” but it also means that “a transition to totalitarianism is improbable.”

No comments:

Post a Comment