Modern societies respond to arising problems with innovations, technological and institutional. It goes without saying that technological innovations can only be introduced if societies are possessed of the scientific and technological elites capable of initiating and promoting such innovations. Less developed societies can borrow technological innovations, but it is generally recognised that even they require engineering and managerial skills to properly accommodate them.
When it comes to institutional innovations, however, it is often assumed that borrowing them requires first and foremost political will. The less obvious consequence of this assumption is the widespread belief that institutional inventions that proved successful in some societies ought to be borrowed by other societies and if they are not, postmodernist prejudice holds, it is because they are rejected as threatening certain vested interests.
It would be, indeed, absurd to deny that resistance to innovations is partly due to considerations of this sort, as it would be naive to expect everyone to benefit from all sorts of change. However, neither vested interests are invariably malicious interests, nor interests are the only factor involved. For borrowing institutional innovations is certainly not an easier task when compared to borrowing technological innovations and requires skills not always available and not easily attainable, if only for want of appropriate experience.
Societies that seek to borrow institutional innovations from other societies may well end in a kind of vicious circle. Alien institutions are unlikely to be enthusiastically welcomed unless they prove an undeniable success (which is often the case with borrowed technological innovations). But they are unlikely to succeed unless they engage skilful personnel. Skills that are not the outgrowth of indigenous development can only be acquired through lasting and presumably successful experience.
This means that societies in need of institutional innovations would certainly fare better if they were capable of initiating innovations of their own. However, many societies discourage innovations as potential threats to social order. And even though social orders tend to benefit some social classes more than other, negative consequences of social chaos are likely to be universally felt. It is for this reason that innovations in traditional societies are often opposed by lower as well as upper classes, indeed often more vehemently by the former than by the latter. More often than not can elites count on the conservatism of the masses as a powerful resource for preservation and perpetuation of their privileges – however otherwise resented.
But this very conservatism often deprives societies of their innovative potential. And in a world in which innovations are key factors of competition and success, they leave the would-be innovators with no other alternative than to borrow innovations elsewhere.
The circumstance and consequences of such innovations are the subject of this study. It will draw on the recent Russian experience of perestroika and postperstroika and focus on representative institutions.
The Russian democratic experiment undertaken since 1988 has had dubious results. On the one hand, the totalitarian regime that had lasted for more than seven decades under the disguise of socialism was gone. On the other hand, the postperestroika regime that superseded the old Communist rule has obviously fallen short of both the standards of contemporary democracy and the expectations of the populace.
A new political regime is not likely to be immediately successful, even if for that simple reason that it is usually an outcome of a grave social conflict and particularly when that conflict, as the Russian case is, is aggravated by the dismal legacy of Communism. However, the sharp contrast between the surprisingly easy victories of Russian democrats in 1989‑91 and the steady decline of their popularity in the subsequent years (including humiliating defeats at national elections of 1993, 1995 and 1999, the resulting loss of legislative and the accompanying loss of executive influence) calls for an explanation. These developments are examined here in the context of the national political culture and the sociopsychological and institutional restraints it imposes on political actors.
Russian democrats owed their impressive, albeit short-lived, success mainly to the wide-spread belief that the Communist regime was no longer capable of coping with the accumulated burden of social, economic and political problems faced by the Soviet society. However, their success was substantially facilitated by the Russian public’s susceptibility to democratic – or, to be more accurate – populist, rhetoric widely used during the 1989‑91 election campaigns. Rhetoric of that kind had long been an important part of the national political tradition.
The idea of the people as the ultimate sociopolitical value (narodnost’) became firmly imbedded in Russian political mentality by the mid-19th century. It was based on the belief, essentially mystical, that the people (invariably, or at least primarily, identified as “the working classes”) was – due to its peculiar social circumstances and way of life – somehow “closer” to the core of being and hence, despite its illiteracy and its downtrodden condition, possessed of some intuitive understanding of its sense and essence, a kind of higher Truth denied the privileged classes. This worship for popular wisdom and popular way of life that found unrivalled artistic expression in Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace (1863‑69) and a kind of theoretical substantiation in his Confession (completed in 1882) was closely linked to what was felt as the “guilty conscience” of an “idle” thinker enjoying life of luxury while others have to “eat their bread in the sweat of their face.”
The idea of narodnost’ was not however in exclusive possession of the liberal opposition to the Tsarist regime. As far back as 1832 the then deputy minister (subsequently minister) of education and president of the Russian Academy of Sciences Count Uvarov (1786‑1855) in his report to Nicholas I suggested the government educational policy be based on the three principles of orthodoxy, autocracy and narodnost’ (usually, but not quite adequately translated as nationality). Uvarov’s “triune formula” was officially endorsed, the respective circular letter sent to principals of educational districts in 1834.
In the second half of the 19th century narodnost’ became the motto of the mass movement among the Russian intelligentsia characteristically named narodnichestvo (“populism”) or khozhdenie v narod (“going to the people”). The narodniks’ political philosophy was a version of socialism. Narodniks held that the Russian peasant commune (the mir) was an ideal social order requiring but liberation from the landowners’ and state oppression. The first stage of narodnichestvo (the 1860s and 1870s) was predominantly revolutionary: the young intellectuals going from village to village would not limit themselves to legal, mainly educational, activities claimed to be their primary mission, but sought to incite a peasant revolution. Having failed in this, the more radical of them turned to terrorism. Their most famous terrorist act was assassination of Tsar Alexander II in March 1881, following which the narodnik underground was practically destroyed by the authorities. From the 1880s on, the movement was taken up by the so called liberal narodniks who set their hopes on exclusively legal, non-violent forms of confronting the regime. The revolutionary potential of narodnichestvo was not however exhausted, and early in the 20th century the new generation of narodniks formed the Socialist Revolutionary Party (abridged SR or esery) that espoused terrorist tactics again. Their appeal being mainly to the peasantry, the Socialist Revolutionaries were among the principal actors on the Russian political scene prior and during the revolution of 1917 and the Bolsheviks’ principal rivals. 
In their controversy with the narodniks that ensued in the 1880s and 1890s the Russian Social Democrats (subsequently to be divided into Bolsheviks and Mensheviks) invariably stressed the superiority of Marxism as a “scientific social theory” to the “utopian” speculations of narodniks. The political doctrine of Bolshevism as expounded by Lenin in What Is To Be Done? (1902) was, indeed, quite sceptical of the revolutionary potential of “spontaneous” mass movements and emphasised the crucial role of revolutionary elite. Bolsheviks propaganda, nevertheless, made ample use of populist rhetoric, even if it substituted the new “proletarian myth ” for the older “populist myth,” as Berdyaev justly pointed out. In the height of the Civil War (1918‑20), the outcome of which depended, as Bolsheviks realised, on the stand of Russian peasantry (that accounted for about four fifths of the Russian population), Bolsheviks found it inexpedient to emphasise class differences within “the working people,” and chose to identify their regime as that “of Workers and Peasants.” Their cabinet members appointed by the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets right after the October revolution were called People’s Commissars. Reinterpreted, albeit not quite consistently, in the spirit of Marxist doctrine of class struggle, narodnost’ became again an important element of the official ideology upheld by all the means available to the totalitarian state (the place of orthodoxy and autocracy taken, respectively, by Marxism-Leninism and the Soviet Power). People’s became an honorary title conferred first on distinguished artists and later on painters, poets, writers, teachers etc. Courts of law were also called People’s, as were the judges and later, during Gorbachev’s perestroika, deputies. Democracy itself became People’s, this tautological neologism applied to the political regimes established after World War II in Communist-dominated states of Eastern and Central Europe. People’s Democracy was officially regarded as a “specific form of dictatorship of the proletariat”.
Like in Uvarov’s time the stake was on secondary education. The tactics were unsophisticated but effective. Manuals of Russian history offered but minimal information about “exploiting classes”, but scrupulously registered all, however insignificant, instances of popular unrest. This “class approach” would sometimes turn into sheer absurdities. It was not, for instance, allowed, even in academic writings, least so in textbooks, to divide history into “reigns”, so that the reign of Vasily III was to be referred to as “the first third of 16th century” (Vasily ruled between 1505 and 1530). What was implied was precisely the time of this monarch, but his name was not to be explicitly mentioned. Royal names would not be allowed in titles of artistic or scholarly works; exceptions were made for Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great, the two Russian tsars favoured by the Communist ideologues, and those classical pieces of the pre-revolutionary epoch, like Pushkin’s Boris Godunov and Mussorgsky’s opera of the same name, that had already been acclaimed as truly “popular” (narodny). History being what it was, the “privileged few” could not be all “dismissed;” the principal heroes of national history would rather be reckoned, regardless of their origin and social status, among “popular leaders.” This bias would become even more pronounced when teaching histories of foreign countries: already epitomised, such histories would often offer nothing but brief accounts of popular revolts. A similar approach dominated the teaching of literature: “common people” would be privileged subjects of discussion and analysis, other characters denounced or ignored.
In literature itself, as in other fields of artistic activities, narodnost’ – defined as “the conditioning of artistic phenomena by life, struggles, ideas, feelings and aspirations of the working people, expression in art of the ideals and interests of popular masses” – was considered normative; and woe to the writer or artist who would, out of ignorance or principle, ignore this imperative demand. However, this attitude would not prevent official critics from declaring all old masterpieces “truly popular” even if their authors had never claimed to be “ideologues of the working people” by simply affirming that “due to the profoundness and truthfulness of their artistic work they managed to express the essential aspects of life and the needs of their people, to feel the greatness of their historic deeds;” this “dialectical” trick was, as we have seen, already tested in historiography.
Narodnost’ was also normative socially and politically. Vertical social mobility was high during the first post-revolutionary decades. Moreover, initially only members of the working classes fully enjoyed civil and political rights (inasmuch as these existed under Soviet rule), whereas members of the “former exploiting classes” were subjects to all sorts of restrictions. The latter did not apply to suffrage alone (which remained pure formality anyway), but extended to university education etc.
It goes without saying that the ideal of narodnost’ did not truly fit totalitarian reality. Imagine Soviet peasants forced to give up their land and other private possessions and join kolkhozes followed the example of the celebrated heroes of old and rebelled! Razin and Pugachev could be champions of the people, Makhno and Antonov would be but bandits. And no matter how many “representatives of the working people” moved up to government posts, the conditions of those who continued as farm or blue-collar workers would not be any better for that. In theory all power belonged to the people; reality was better pictured by the elitist slogan “The People and the Party are one!”
Perestroika and glasnost’ caused the democratic (or rather populist) and elitist elements of the Soviet political culture to diverge. The “anti-apparatus”, i.e. essentially anti-bureaucracy and anti-party, rhetoric of the election campaigns of 1989‑91 appealed to deep-rooted stereotypes of mass consciousness. Ironically, the Soviet elite that became the principal target of populist criticism in the late 1980s had laboured much to promote and perpetuate those stereotypes. The continuous setting off of the “working masses” against the alien and hostile state power backfired, though the Communist ideologues had never meant their own power, of course. However, by the time the Communist project failed, the Russian public was ready and willing to support opponents of the Communist regime and espouse the democratic values they proclaimed.
Democratic institutions fared worse. The enthusiasm with which the Soviet public welcomed the birth of the first Soviet parliament in 1989 faded quickly. The parliament itself (the Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR and the subordinate Supreme Soviet) lasted for slightly more than two years and was dissolved after the revolution of August 1991, having shared the fate of all its predecessors but one. In 1993 the Congress of People’s Deputies and the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Federation followed suit – in a manner even more dramatic. By 1993 the Third State Duma (1907‑12) remained the only representative institution in modern Russian history that had served its full term (the purely decorative bodies of the Soviet era do not count, of course). Parliaments have never been favourites of Russian politics.
Nor was the idea of parliamentarianism popular with Russian political thinkers, even those democratically minded. Different attitudes to the values and operational experience of democracy are conditioned by the national political culture.
The ideology of populism with its worship for the people as a repository of ultimate wisdom is to be distinguished from the notion of popular sovereignty as it had evolved within the European democratic tradition. As far as I know, no one among the founding fathers of democratic theory claimed special knowledge for demos and based his defence of democracy on that claim. The notion of popular sovereignty evolved as a natural substitute for the discredited doctrine of divine right of royal power as the ultimate source of legitimacy required by any theory of delegated authority. What is called “modern democratic theory” originated in the minds of thinkers who were, for the most part, empiricists and/or sceptics. They were not taken in by human wisdom, did not expect the would-be legislators to always arrive at “correct” solutions to their problems; nor asked for them. They rather thought – in the true spirit of nominalism – that the very word “truth” made little sense when applied to parliamentary agenda.
When a person makes a decision that is to shape his life and destiny, he has a perfect right to be “mistaken”. Even if the “fallacy” of this or that of his decisions appears obvious to an outside observer, this is not in itself a reason to deny him his “sovereign” right to dispose of himself and his life (except, perhaps, in a limited number of special cases). For, contrary to what is often claimed, this right is not based on the assumption, whether true or false, that every person is the best judge of his own needs and his own interests. Come to think of it, many people, perhaps, most people, often do not know what they want and have but vague ideas about what they would, least so should, do. Their inalienable and unconditional right to make responsible decisions is based on the principle of freedom, not on the principle of competence. There is no will above the will of a free person in the matters of his personal concern, and there must not be any. Of value here is not so much the substance of his decision, as the autonomy of the will that is behind it.
If this principle is extended to a community of individuals and established as the principle of popular sovereignty, the key question to be asked about political performance is whether decisions taken conform to the sovereign’s actual will. Just as an individual can be deceived or forced to do something against his interests and even against his better judgement, a collective agency, whether the electorate or a representative assembly, can become subject to threats, manipulations and fraud. If practised systematically, such abuse of sovereign will would make genuine social consensus impossible, paralyse political activities within the community and eventually destroy its political and civic culture.
Special rules of procedure have to be introduced to prevent this undesirable outcome. Their primary function is to secure the authenticity of will of both the electors and the elected. This is achieved by means of free elections, parliamentary immunity and parliamentary procedures. The function of the latter is not to secure “correct” decisions. Unlike populism, parliamentary democracy emphasises popular sovereignty not because “the people are always right”. Such a presumption, even if made, could hardly be defended against criticisms offered already by Socrates and Plato. Parliaments are, indeed, expected and obliged to pass best decisions, but “best” here does not mean the decision is “true” in the sense that it is in accord with some transcendent reality; it rather means that the decision should be of a sort that it would not be resented too much and/or by too many and would not require regular, systematic coercion to be implemented. Authenticity of will would secure this, but authenticity itself depends on the adequacy and relevance of the procedures applied to arrive at that decision.
The situation changes completely if the people are taken to be not the source of authority, but the source of truth. In that case the people (limited, as it is, to “common people”) are right by definition, and no procedures are required for this grass-root truth to be established, just as no procedures would help, if they were not possessed of that truth.
Practical implications of this apparently “demophilic” attitude are anything but democratic. To begin with, this does not make the people into decision-makers. For they are not to make decisions, they are to provide solutions elicited from the mysterious depths of their souls. Secondly, mysterious depths are mysterious precisely because one can never be sure as to what is actually hidden there. What if some group discovers in the depths of their souls something different? Since there cannot be two different truths, a decision has to be made as to which one is actually true and which one is wrong. But decision-making is not envisaged by the paradigm, so the practical solution is to reconsolidate “the people” by “expelling” the dissident minority and reaffirm the one and only truth. Dissidents become heretics and are treated as becomes heretics. In this a fundamental principle of democratic community, protection of minority rights, is violated. Finally, majority itself fares no better. If its will is respected, it is not on the Kantian ground of it being the will of a free agent (for it is not, nor is it supposed to be). It is respected for being unable to err. If it happens to err, then it is not the will of the people, etc. Unlike constitutional guarantees of individual freedoms, the populist worship for the people does not protect people, i.e. those who would conventionally be regarded “the people”, from mass repression (to cite but La Vendee of 1793 and Tambov of 1921 as examples).
The practical result of this hypertrophic belief in popular wisdom is therefore a paradoxical assumption that the people en masse is possessed of ultimate truth, whereas those very people divided into constituent groups and individuals is not. This means that the people as a whole enjoys special ontological status denied to individuals, social groups and even to their sum total seen as a concrete sociohistorical entity and must be viewed as some primary, essentially mystic, unity. In Russian political jargon such unity and the respective frame of mind are called sobornost’.
Though this term in its present meaning is an invention of Russian philosophers of the 19th century, they were obviously inspired by the traditions of medieval Eastern Christianity. The word is a derivative of the Russian sobor, which means both “cathedral” and “[ecclesiastical] council”; representative institutions of medieval Muscovy were also called sobory or zemskie sobory (Zemsky Sobors). In Russian philosophy the notion of sobornost’ (in its present abstract form) is used to express a vision of some mystic unity that presumably characterises the Church and, by analogy, the body social and the entire mankind. In this the idea of sobornost’ has had a profound impact on the Russian political mentality. When applied to political life, sobornost’ is basically a demand to make decisions and act “all in common”. The demand implies the community in question is an intrinsically integral entity. It is also a legitimate (perhaps, the only legitimate) political agency. Autonomous actions of any other agency within the community are seen as violation of unity and an outrage against sobornost’. When seen in this perspective, the society does not appear a product of human interaction (whether of individuals or groups) and its internal structure is not a result of their efforts and conventions. The whole is a primary reality and within that primary unity the constituent parts are legitimate only inasmuch as they contribute to the general goal.
There is no reason to believe that societies that adhere to this creed are in themselves any more homogeneous than any other. However, the ontology of sobornost’ implies a tacit restriction on any speculation concerning social structure and social stratification. The priority of whole is so pronounced that all internal distinctions appear irrelevant, which creates a specific “egalitarian” attitude that, after it has been incorporated in the value system, affects both political decision-making and political behaviour.
But this is an “egalitarianism” of a peculiar, totalitarian kind: while presuming that all individuals and groups that constitute a society are equal vis-à-vis the “social whole”, it does not infer that they must therefore enjoy the status of free political agencies. The pluralism implied by that inference would obviously contradict the ideal of sobornost’. It is not surprising under the circumstances that this pseudo-egalitarian system of values proves a weak barrier when it comes to establishing elitist political institutions and promulgating the corresponding operational experience.
Moreover, this model of exaggerated holism depicts society as so amorphous a unity that within it no single structure may legitimately claim an independent status, at least not on a lasting basis. Ideally, even such vital functions as security and governance are presumably spontaneous and require no specific institutions. Naturally enough, reality and ideal are at odds on this, but it is precisely because the social ontology of sobornost’ is anti-institutional in principle, that the institutions created to perform these functions in a society that professes the ideals of sobornost’ have the paradoxical mark of permanent extraordinariness: they are established as if ad hoc and retain this character for decades.
No less paradoxical, though by no means any less unnatural, a consequence of this attitude is the hypertrophy of institutions of power. Their anti-institutionally minded subjects can neither think of a reasonable alternative, nor bring them under effective control. Contrary to the initial anti-institutionalism and egalitarianism of its prevailing ideology, a society of sobornost’ quickly develops oligarchic bureaucratic structures and invests them with extraordinary powers.
Power that is both extraordinary and unrestricted is characteristic of the culture of sobornost’. Russian political thinkers have suggested various explanations (justifications) for this. Explanations varied from the sinful nature of all politics and all power (whence the Slavophiles inferred autocratic monarchy as a means to minimise the number of persons involved in this evil, albeit indispensable job) to Lenin’s doctrine of “the revolutionary vanguard” (meaning the Bolshevik Party) that, having mastered the only true science of social development, is entitled to supervise that development, i.e. to rule.
Acts of government are thus identified with those of the community. Indeed, a community that exalts its own shapelessness as realisation of an ideal is virtually unable to act otherwise than through its one legitimate institution, i.e. the Government. The mythology of sobornost’, it has been argued, knows of only one political agency, “the Community” as a whole. The reality of sobornost’ identifies the former as “the Government”. The apparent inconsistency is overcome by presuming a fundamental innate affinity between the two agencies: remember, “The People and the Party are one!”. (It is essentially the same pattern of thinking that denies possibility of meaningful disagreements within the people, suggesting alienness or heresy of dissenters.) The lack of conflicts this presumed affinity implies, is by no means sheer illusion: a community that lacks capacity to act on its own cannot enter a conflict with power holders, whatever its grievances and discontent.
Representative institutions of sobornost’ are modelled after the same pattern of totalitarian holism that forms the bed-rock of the culture of sobornost’. This culture reduces all functions of political representation to a single one: the representative body is to “represent” the community as a whole in its intercourse with the Government. Naturally, the body must be a replica of the society it “represents” – not of the actual society, but of its ideal model, of what its members believe it to be. In true accord with the prevalent understanding of the community, the representative body is also seen as a kind of unstructured unity that permits no internal divisions. If these appear, they are treated as temporary flaws soon to be removed.
The Russian mind, especially political mind, is essentially realistic – in the scholastic sense of the word, and realism undermines the very idea of representation as an institution of pluralistic society. Realism is a philosophical theory that asserts the reality of universals, i.e. generalised properties of ordinary, observed things. A realist philosopher maintains that objects of true thought are no less real, indeed more real, than objects perceived by senses. The practical attitude that follows from this ontological belief is that all meaningful questions allow of (and hence call for) “objectively true” answers. From this standpoint, working out a compromise solution to suit all (or, at least, as many as possible) participants in the argument is like agreeing to call something “grey” because some insist it is white, whereas others argue it is black. Truth does not depend on human preferences and human choice and cannot be a subject of compromise. It is a matter of expertise, not of negotiating skills. Philosophical realism thus provides theoretical justification for technocratic utopias.
But if a representative assembly is not to represent particular positions and particular interests, why call it “representative”? And why convene it? To answer this question, one has to turn to the East Christian notion of authority. Who is the best expert in and the best judge of dogmatics? The Catholic Church would say “the Pope”, the head of the church hierarchy and the heir to the apostolic seat of St. Peter. The Eastern Church asserts the priority of Church understood as the totality of all true believers.
From the standpoint of values, the conception of Eastern Church appears far more “democratic” than the elitist (“technocratic”) attitude of the West. How come then that the West was the birthplace of democratic institutions, while the East is still regarded as the stronghold of absolutism and totalitarianism? It is because the Church, in its capacity as the repository of ultimate truth, is seen as a kind of mystic unity, which makes it impossible to operationalise the procedures that could be used to arrive at the same end, i.e. the truth it is possessed of as a mystic whole, in an independent, non-mystic way. In other words, however noble and beneficial the relations within the mystic unity, they cannot be institutionalised in principle. The observation holds true, if the “People”, likewise understood as a mystic unity, is substituted for the “Church”. If we agree that stable democracy is an efficient system of problem-solving institutions, the democratic potential of the ontology of sobornost’ remains wholly in the sphere of the transcendent and cannot serve as a conceptual basis for institutional democracy. It is not surprising in this light that the political regime of post-communist Russia showed closer affinity to traditional autocracy than to contemporary democracy (and, frankly speaking, did not seem embarrassed about it).
Strictly speaking, no representative institutions appear necessary, if the idea of intrinsic bond that unites all members within the community and ties the latter with the Government is taken seriously. Under “normal” conditions the administration (the only legitimate decision-making body and the only political agency in real life, if not in theory) has no use for them, and even if they exist, they operate in a “demonstration mode”. Crises of legitimacy alone can make them influential politically, but even at times of crises their sole task is to provide new legitimisation for new (or old) institutions of power. (Was it by chance alone that truly powerful, i.e. responsible, representative bodies only appeared in Russian history at “times of troubles” and revolutions? And need one be surprised under the circumstances that public opinion instinctively associates the idea of political representation with a major crisis, not to say, a national catastrophe?)
One of the most striking features of representative institutions of sobornost’ is their anti-procedural bias. Obligation to abide by “the rules of the game” is invariably renounced in favour of political expediency. This fits the pattern: a mind that believes in intrinsic unity between the rulers and the ruled sees no sense in trying to restrict the former with “rules” (whatever they may be). Such restriction must, moreover, be regarded as an attempt on the government’s raison d’être, potency. In an atmosphere like this, even raising a point of procedure would normally bring one under suspicion as to one’s real (presumably dubious) motives.
Here are a few examples from the verbatim records of the First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR (May-June 1989):
Some deputies’ attempts to lead the Congress astray to discuss procedural questions are very harmful. This will not earn our Congress prestige with the voters, even with those voters who elected Comrades Sakharov, Boldyrev and others. The people are waiting to see how the Congress is going to solve the basic problems of life; one must address the Congress, therefore, whether those who actively contribute to disorganisation of the Congress’s work are to be given the floor for the third or the fourth time.
We advance in a sufficiently democratic manner, though many comrades lead us astray, attempt to put off discussion of major issues by [raising] procedural questions.
An objection that points of procedure were no minor matters when “laying foundations of a new political order” would not avail. The reason was simple: in the eyes of most deputies the Congress was an ad hoc event, convened to suggest solutions to a number of burning problems, not a lasting institution. The sooner it accomplished its mission, the better. Elaborating procedures meant wasting valuable time in present predicament, not securing reliable performance in future. Parliaments, unless wisely prompted by the executive, tend to engage in “idle talk”, “real work” is done elsewhere. And the audience would applaud the proposal (incidentally, made on the fifth day of the Congress!) to hurry along with the agenda and go back to everyday business:
Comrades male deputies [sic!], if we are going to work at this pace... Vacations begin at schools, we, women, must be at our homes; so let us work in a business-like way.
The sobornost’ model’s other idiosyncrasy is intolerance toward factions or, to put it in broader terms, toward any particularistic stand that dares to manifest itself within the representative institution. A motion (at the First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR) to organise a deputy group was immediately condemned as deplorable manifestation of “factionalism”:
I think our Moscow colleagues are somewhat carried away. Carried away are also those who, voluntarily or not, call upon us to enter confrontation. What is the Congress to do to prevent further development of [this] “infantile disorder” of democracy at our Congress? I would like to call on the deputies to ponder over my proposal and renounce the harmful, politically erroneous idea of confronting the Congress and organising a faction put forward by honourable Comrades Popov and Afanasyev. Voters won’t understand a deputy who would desert his deputy post with his delegation now and go over to some faction.
Now we are talking of factionalism. We all want to get rid of the thing, but let us face the truth at last. There are people among us who cannot live without a faction at all. He will be ill tomorrow, if he is denied the possibility. [Applause.] I think this must be denounced. Officers have their courts of honour. I propose to establish a deputies’ court of honour, so that we did not have to do education here, when we engage in conversations, but summon there, and let them educate as needs be. Thank you for your attention. (Applause).
In an institution modelled after the pattern of sobornost’, all internal differences must appear abnormal. Sobor members may belong to some groups (classes, estates, strata, “factions” or “parties”), but the sobor is, by no means, considered an “appropriate” place for voicing and defending their particular interests. In its capacity as the representative of society in general, of the “entire land” the sobor can be an arena of debate, but not of negotiations and voting. What has to be done in that respect, must be done elsewhere, and if not elsewhere, then at least “behind the scene”.
A good recent example of this type of representative institution is provided by the pre-perestroika Supreme Soviet. It seems inconceivable at first glance how it might have earned its reputation of a “rubber stamp” body. Although political publicists, both home and abroad, pictured the Supreme Soviet as an assemblage of helpless puppets, the picture was far from reality. In actual fact the deputy corps consisted almost exclusively of representatives of the national elite (the nomenklatura): high-level party functionaries, cabinet members and other top-ranking officials, including top managers of national economy, generals, well-known and highly esteemed representatives of liberal professions. It would be ridiculous to believe that all these people were always of the same opinion on all matters, without ever having a reason or an occasion or will to disagree. However, if they argued and quarrelled, it was always outside the Supreme Soviet. Within the Soviet itself, full and pathetic accord reigned, as if the deputies had no other wish but to show to the entire world (and perhaps to themselves) that fundamentally they were at one with each other. Even those who were contra would unfailingly vote pro.
This pattern of behaviour was due not to unique servility of the Supreme Soviet deputies (which, given their real political weight in Soviet society, would in turn call for an explanation), but to the character of national political culture within which a representative body could not be conceived to behave in any other manner. Disagreements would not agree with the idea of mystic unity and if such unity is considered a primary political value, it must be shown to exist, whether it does or not.
Rational procedures designed to ensure elaboration of mutually acceptable decisions are of little use within representative institutions of sobornost’. They are not meant to make decisions: if by decision-making we mean the entire process, not the formal act alone, these are worked out and made elsewhere. Proponents of sobornost’, for all their populist rhetoric, are careful to maintain the distinction between the public sphere of representatives’ activities and the actual process of political decision-making in which profane laymen must have no share.
The first corps of latter-day Russian parliamentarians, People’s Deputies of the USSR, displayed patterns of behaviour rooted in the culture of sobornost’. Their successors, People’s Deputies of the RSFSR / Russian Federation, were willing to imitate the classical patterns of Western parliamentarianism. Anti-procedural philippics were no longer heard, nor were anti-factional outbursts. If the election campaign of 1990 did not take place under conditions of genuine multipartyism, it was at least conducted in an atmosphere of unprecedented political freedom. Under the circumstances the existence of factions was taken for granted, and no objections were raised as to their official status at the Congress and in the Supreme Soviet. However, subsequent developments showed that changes did not affect the deeper layers of political culture.
The aspects of political cultures first affected by cultural changes are values. This is because values are salient. As ever-present, indeed focal, elements of political discourse they are more open to reflection and debate and hence more flexible than, say, socio-ontological patterns of pre-understanding. Values are not easily cast aside, of course, they are held too dear for that; socio-ontological beliefs are almost never cast aside because the possibility is not even conceived of. (If I am allowed a military analogy, values are like fortresses that are stubbornly defended; socio-ontological beliefs, like guerrilla units never available for open attack; operational experience, like weapons that would not be discarded unless they can be replaced by something more suitable.)
On the value level, the anti-procedural and anti-factional prejudice that had dominated the work of the last USSR legislature yielded to the demands and aspirations of modernisation. But the actual performance of its successor fell far short of those aspirations, if only because the relevant operational experience was lacking.
To begin with, the now legalised factions were loose formations, with comparatively small “nuclei” of genuine political confreres, which functioned like “deputy clubs” rather than as conventional parliamentary parties. Analysis of their voting behaviour revealed that there was no substantial difference, as far as intragroup voting solidarity was concerned, between registered factions and a random selection of deputies. It was, indeed, customary for members of the same party to belong to different factions, and vice versa.
Political parties that could be thus ignored were naturally weak, too – not unexpectedly, considering the legacy of seven decades of one-party rule, – and unreliable as far as mobilisation of public support was concerned.
Conflict-managing skills of both the executive and the legislative were also borrowed from the repository of traditional culture and the confrontation between the two over their constitutional prerogatives unfolded and was resolved in a manner that belied the mutual pledge to honour the principle of separation of powers. Moreover, the executive, though claiming to play for democracy, did not hesitate to take advantage of the anti-parliamentarian prejudice of the Russian political elite and the bulk of the populace to enhance its chances in the conflict, even at the expense of a venerable democratic institution. This relapse from self-professed democratism into fits of autocratic temper was hardly surprising. New modes of thinking require deliberate effort and are best practised in situations of relative emotional ease. In situations of crisis, when cognitive horizons shrink under the strain of circumstance, tested familiar stereotypes are much more likely to be invoked.
The crisis of 1993 put an end to the political order that emerged out of the havoc of the last months of the Soviet Union and was characterised by unresolved dispute over the balance of power. The triumph of the executive made it into the unrivalled master of the Russian political scene (how reminiscent of the traditional pattern of sobornost’) and, though it did not do away with the legislative, the latter’s prerogatives were severely curbed. Of the three principal functions of modern representative institutions, viz. legislation, control of the executive and budget, the present Russian State Duma may exercise none fully on its own. Its controlling powers are virtually null: cabinet ministers are neither answerable to nor may be dismissed by it, and even a vote of no confidence for the government does not oblige the president to make any personnel changes. Its legislative powers are to be shared with the president who is entitled to issue decrees that enjoy a status only nominally inferior to that of parliamentary laws. And it was humiliated over budgetary matters at least once with the government making it obvious it was prepared to de facto amend budgetary provisions without the Duma consent.
All this is hardly conducive to the parliament’s prestige and can help it better its reputation and command greater respect. Still, the Duma is a functioning body, possessed of independent legitimacy and engaged in a lot of everyday politics. Its deputy corps gradually acquires political skills appropriate to the conditions of modernity. Voting solidarity within factions has been increasing slowly but steadily over the years from 1994 (the first year of the first post-1993 Duma) to 1997 (the second year of the second post-1993 Duma), with factions failing to improve losing re-election, to jump sharply in 1998 to the almost ideal level of up to 99 percent. With democratic operational experience gradually acquired, traditional socio-ontological patterns may begin changing, too. If this optimistic scenario is realised and institutional innovations gain new impetus, Russia may resume its progress on the road to democracy thwarted by authoritarian ambitions and ungainly economic reforms.
1. Agger R., Goldrich D., Swanson B., The Rulers and the Ruled, Belmont: Duxbury Press, 1972.
2. Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Gusev L., Sergeyev V., Gosudarstvennaya Duma v 1994‑1997 gg.: Stanovlenie sistemy parlamentskikh partiy [The State Duma in 1994‑1997: The Development of Parliamentary Party System; in Russian], Moscow: Moscow State Institute for International Relations, Centre for International Studies, 1999.
3. Berdyaev N., Slavery and Freedom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1944.
4. Berdyaev N., Spirit and Reality, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1939.
5. Berdyaev N., The Origin of Russian Communism. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1972.
6. Berdyaev N., The Russian Idea, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1947.
7. Biryukov N., Sergeyev V., Russian Politics in Transition: Institutional Conflict in a Nascent Democracy, Aldershot, Hampshire; Brookfield, Vermont; Singapore; Sidney: Ashgate Publishing, 1997.
8. Cherepnin, L., Zemskie sobory Russkogo gosudarstva v XVI-XVII vv. [The Zemskie Sobors of the Russian State in the 16th‑17th centuries; in Russian], Moscow: Nauka, 1978.
9. Dolgoff S. (ed.), Bakunin on Anarchy, New York: Knopf, 1972.
10. Filosofskaya entsiklopediya [Philosophical Encyclopaedia; in Russian], 5 vol., Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopedia, 1964.
11. Gorbunov V., Ideya sobornosti v russkoy religioznoy filosofii (Pyat’ izbrannykh portretov) [The Idea of Sobornost’ in Russian religious Philosophy (Five Selected Portraits); in Russian], Moscow, 1994.
12. Herzen A., My Past and Thought: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen, New York: Knopf, 1924‑28.
13. Lenin V., What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement, in Collected Works, vol. 5. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961.
14. Pervyy S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 5, Moscow: Respublika, 1993.
15. Pervyy S’ezd narodnykh deputatov SSSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 1, Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, 1989.
16. Sergeyev V., Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Dranyov Ya., Gleisner J., Voting in the Russian Parliament (1990‑93): The Spectrum of Political Forces and the Conflict between the Executive and the Legislative”, Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences, No. 2, pp. 66‑108.
17. Sergeyev V., Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Gusev L., Formation of Parliamentary Parties in Russia (The State Duma in 1994 to 1997) (in Russian), Polis (Politicheskie issledovaniya), 1999, No. 1, pp. 50‑71.
18. Sergeyev V., Biryukov N., Russia’s Road to Democracy: Parliament, Communism and Traditional Culture. Aldershot, Hampshire: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 1993.
19. Shiratori R. (ed.), Institutional Approach to Politics: Parliamentary and Presidential System, Tokyo: Ashi Publishing Co., 1999, pp. 137‑180.
20. Tkachev P., Nabat (The Journal’s Programme), in Sochineniya [Works; in Russian], vol. 2, Moscow: Mysl’, 1976.
21. Tkachev P., The Eve and the Next Day of the Revolution, in Sochineniya [Works; in Russian], vol. 2, Moscow: Mysl’, 1976.
22. Tolstoy L., My Confession in The Complete Works, vol. 13, London: J .M. Dent, 1904.
23. Tolstoy L. War and Peace in The Complete Works, vol. 8, London: J. M. Dent, 1904.
24. Tretiy (vneocherednoy) S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR [The Third (Extraordinary) Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR; in Russian], Bulletin 9, [Moscow:] Izdanie Verkhovnogo Soveta RSFSR, .
25. Tucker, R. (1987), Political Culture and Leadership in Soviet Russia: From Lenin to Gorbachev, New York, London: W.W.Norton & Co.
26. Ustryalov N.,
Political Doctrine of Slavophilism [The Idea of
Autocracy as Stated by Slavophiles) (
27. Vanneman P., Politics and the Legislative Process in the Soviet Political System, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1977.
28. Vtoroy (vneocherednoy) S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The Second (Extraordinary) Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 5, Moscow: Respublika, 1992.
 E.g., Pierre Bezukhov’s account of his relationship with Platon Karatayev in vol. 4, ch. XVII (Tolstoy L. War and Peace in The Complete Works, vol. 8, London: J. M. Dent, 1904, pp. 66ff.).
 Tolstoy L., My Confession in The Complete Works, vol. 13, London: J .M. Dent, 1904.
 Genesis, 3:19.
 On naroodnichestvo, see Berdyaev N., The Origin of Russian Communism. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1972. Nikolai Berdyaev (1874‑1948) was a renown Russian philosopher and historian of the Russian social philosophy.
 The Socialist Revolutionaries got more than 40 percent of the vote (as compared to the Bolsheviks’ 24 percent) in the election to the Constituent Assembly in November 1917 (i.e. already after the Bolsheviks had seized power). The Constituent Assembly was however dissolved by the Bolshevik authorities after its first and only session held on 18‑19 January 1918 and lasting about 13 hours.
 The principal literary monuments of that controversy on the Marxist side were writings by Georgy Plekhanov (1856‑1918), particularly Socialism and Political Struggle (1883) and Our Differences (1885), and by younger Lenin (1970‑1924), viz. Who Are ‘The Friends of the People’ and How They Fight Social Democrats (1894).
 See Lenin V., What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement, in Collected Works, vol. 5. Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961.
 Berdyaev N., The Origin of Russian Communism. Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, 1972, p. 107.
 Among the first to be honoured with the title of People’s Artist (as early as 1918) was Feodor Chaliapin; he was however stripped of the title in 1927 for having made a donation to unemployed Russian émigrés.
 The quotation is from the official Philosophical Encyclopaedia, vol. 3 (Moscow: Sovetskaya Entsiklopedia, 1964, p. 546).
 Stepan Razin (c. 1630‑71) and Emelian Pugachev (1740/42‑75) were leaders of major peasant and Cossack rebellions of 1670‑71 and 1773‑75; N. Makhno (1884‑1934), an Anarchist, and A. Antonov (d. 1922), a Social Revoluitionary, led peasant uprisings in left-bank Ukraine (1918‑21) and in Tambov oblast (1920‑21) suppressed by Bolsheviks.
 Here are some striking examples borrowed from the proceedings of the Congresses of People’s Deputies of Russia. At the First Congress (May-June 1990) while defending his draft decree on power V. Varov (the faction of Radical Democrats) states:
There is much talk here about authorship. A label has been already attached, ‘the draft of Varov’, ‘Varov’s draft’. I would not say, comrades, this a draft of Varov, I would say, this is a draft of the people (Pervyy S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 5, Moscow: Respublika, 1993, p. 166; italics added).
At the Second Congress (November-December 1990) a member of the nationalist Russia faction, speaking on the controversial issue of ownership of land, calls on his colleagues to rise above party and faction interests:
I would ask all deputy groups, regardless of their political views and beliefs, to engage in political manoeuvring elsewhere and not succumb here to departmental political interests, to consider all articles exclusively in the interests of our one highest right, the right of the people (Vtoroy (vneocherednoy) S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The Second (Extraordinary) Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 5, Moscow: Respublika, 1992, p. 111; italics added).
At the Third Congress (March-April 1991), commenting on the recent referendum on the institution of presidency in Russia (then the member republic of the USSR), a fervent supporter of B. Yeltsin, the apparent candidate for the new office, insists:
I propose to discontinue the work of this Congress until we answer the following question: what people do we represent? If we represent the people of Russia, then I do not understand why we do not implement their will (Tretiy (vneocherednoy) S’ezd narodnykh deputatov RSFSR [The Third (Extraordinary) Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR; in Russian], Bulletin 9, [Moscow:] Izdanie Verkhovnogo Soveta RSFSR, [1991,] p. 3; italics added).
 The First (1906) and Second (1907) State Dumas were dissolved after, respectively, two and three months in session. The Fourth State Duma (1912‑17) was formally dissolved in October 1917 in view of the forthcoming election to the Constituent Assembly, but had in fact been out of session since December 1916. On the Constituent Assembly, see Note 5.
 See characteristic statements by Herzen (Herzen A., My Past and Thought: The Memoirs of Alexander Herzen, New York: Knopf, 1924‑28, vol. 3, pp. 143‑44 and 145), Bakunin (Bakunin M., Statism and Anarchy in Dolgoff S. (ed.), Bakunin on Anarchy, New York: Knopf, 1972, p. 329) and Tkachev (Tkachev P., The Eve and the Next Day of the Revolution (in Russian), in Sochineniya (Works), vol. 2, Moscow: Mysl’, 1976, pp. 215‑16; and Nabat (The Journal’s Programme) (in Russian), ibid., p. 96). Alexander Herzen (1912‑79) was a patriarch of Russian revolutionary emigration; Mikhail Bakunin (1814‑76), a leading anarchist thinker of the 19th century; Pyotr Tkachev (1944‑86), an ideologue of revolutionary narodniks.
 Cf. to Kant’s distinction between the autonomy and heteronomy of will.
 The word sobornost’ has no English equivalent. As R. M. French (translator of N. Berdyaev’s Slavery and Freedom) writes (see Berdyaev N., Slavery and Freedom, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1944, p. 4):
Sobornost, is the despair of all translators from Russian. ‘Altogetherness’ would come near to its meaning. It is the dynamic life of the collective body.
 For the most authoritative survey of historical data on Zemsky Sobors, see Cherepnin, L., Zemskie sobory Russkogo gosudarstva v XVI-XVII vv. [The Zemskie Sobors of the Russian State in the 16th‑17th centuries; in Russian], Moscow: Nauka, 1978.
 For a brief summary of the notion’s history and a selection of relevant texts by Russian philosophers of the 19th and 20th centuries, see Gorbunov V., Ideya sobornosti v russkoy religioznoy filosofii (Pyat’ izbrannykh portretov) [The Idea of Sobornost’ in Russian religious Philosophy (Five Selected Portraits); in Russian], Moscow, 1994.
 There is a striking contradiction between the Marxist theory that accentuates social stratification and class differences and the specific Marxist “eschatology” that envisages the birth of a homogeneous, “classless” society. The blend of Western Marxism and the traditional Russian mentality of sobornost’ has produced the grotesque phenomenon of Soviet “social science” with its ridiculous mystification of the social structure of Soviet society. For example, from the standpoint of Marxist definition of social class, “the working class” and “the kolkhoz peasantry” would be absolutely indistinguishable, for the difference between them was not related to the type of ownership for the means of production (the “cooperative” property of kolkhozes being pure fiction). Nevertheless, they were persistently portrayed by the official “social science” as “the basic (though, of course, not “antagonistic”) classes of socialist society”. On the other hand, the really meaningful differences between Party members and non-party citizens were presented as purely ideological, their status implications were never seriously discussed. The so called nomenklatura remained beyond the scope of scholarly analysis, too.
 On the
Slavophiles’ attitude toward tsarist autocracy, see Ustryalov N., Political Doctrine of Slavophilism [The Idea of Autocracy as Stated by Slavophiles) (
 See Lenin V., What Is To Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement. On the cultural impact of this attitude, see Tucker R., Political Culture and Leadership in Soviet Russia: From Lenin to Gorbachev, New York, London: W. W. Norton & Co., 1987, pp. 33‑50; on its institutional consequences, see Sergeyev V. and Biryukov N., Russia’s Road to Democracy: Parliament, Communism and Traditional Culture. Aldershot, Hampshire: Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd., 1993, pp. 57-75.
 Cf. Berdyaev N., Spirit and Reality, London: Geoffrey Bles, 1939, p. 186:
The Pope is infallible when inspired by the Holy Spirit. But there is no criterion to decide when he is so inspired. An even more complicated situation arises when infallible authority is claimed by a council [sobor] or a synod. A council is infallible only when it is inspired by the Holy Spirit and gives utterance to truth. But there is, again, no criterion for judging when a council is so inspired. Nor is there any criterion of the Holy Spirit. And in any case the Holy Spirit is not a criterion, always a rational and legal concept, but is rather grace, freedom and love. It is independent of any kind of determinism. Khomyakov grasped the fact very well in his doctrine of Sobornost which repudiates any external authority . The agency of the Holy Spirit is manifest in Sobornost, in the Church as an integral whole, in the Church community. But there are no criteria to establish the fact. We have on the one hand truth, the utterance of a council, and we have on the other the council in which truth is uttered. The Holy Spirit is not revealed in the council, but the council is implied in the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
 The reference is to Academician Andrey Sakharov (1921‑89) and the future Chief State Inspector (1992‑93) and Deputy Chair of the State Accounting Board (since 1995) Yuri Boldyrev.
 See Pervyy S’ezd narodnykh deputatov SSSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 1, Moscow: Izdatel’stvo Verkhovnogo Soveta SSSR, 1989, p. 27 (italics added). The quote is from the note sent by T. Gorinov and V. Karpochev, deputies from the Mari Republic, to the presidium.
 Ibid., p. 238 (italics added).
 Ibid., p. 261.
 Ibid., p. 378.
 The reference is to Gavriil Popov, future Mayor of Moscow (1991‑92) and Yuri Afanasyev, Rector of the Moscow State University for Humanities.
 Pervyy S’ezd narodnykh deputatov SSSR: Stenograficheskiy Otchyot [The First Congress of People’s Deputies of the USSR: The Verbatim Record; in Russian], vol. 1, , p. 288 (italics added).
 Ibid., pp. 305-306 (italics added).
 “A juridical Potemkin village”, as Peter Vanneman put it, contrasting the prevalent “non-Soviet characterisations” to “Soviet exaltations of the body as the supreme manifestation of democratic-representative government” (see Vanneman P., Politics and the Legislative Process in the Soviet Political System, Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1977, p. 3).
 On the stages of decision-making process, see Agger R., Goldrich D., Swanson B., The Rulers and the Ruled, Belmont: Duxbury Press, 1972, p. 24.
 The institution changed its name following the dissolution of the Soviet Union of which the Russian Soviet Federal Socialist Republic was a member.
 The notorious Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution that guaranteed the Communist Party its monopoly of power was repealed right between the first and second rounds.
 For a detailed analysis of the voting behaviour of People’s deputies of Russia, see Biryukov N., Sergeyev V., Russian Politics in Transition: Institutional Conflict in a Nascent Democracy, Aldershot, Hampshire; Brookfield, Vermont; Singapore; Sidney: Ashgate Publishing, 1997, pp. 219‑43 and 305‑18. The data were also published in Sergeyev V., Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Dranyov Ya., Gleisner J., Voting in the Russian Parliament (1990‑93): The Spectrum of Political Forces and the Conflict between the Executive and the Legislative”, Journal of Behavioral and Social Sciences, No. 2, pp. 66‑108; the Japanese translation, in Shiratori R. (ed.), Institutional Approach to Politics: Parliamentary and Presidential System, Tokyo: Ashi Publishing Co., 1999, pp. 137‑180.
 See Sergeyev V., Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Gusev L., Formation of Parliamentary Parties in Russia (The State Duma in 1994 to 1997) (in Russian), Polis (Politicheskie issledovaniya), 1999, No. 1, pp. 50‑71 and Belyaev A., Biryukov N., Gusev L., Sergeyev V., Gosudarstvennaya Duma v 1994‑1997 gg.: Stanovlenie sistemy parlamentskikh partiy [The State Duma in 1994‑1997: The Development of Parliamentary Party System; in Russian], Moscow: Moscow State Institute for International Relations, Centre for International Studies, 1999.
 Reasons for that abrupt improvement are not wholly clear. As a matter of fact, voting solidarity increased not only within factions, but also between them to encompass the entire deputy corps. Whereas increased intrafaction solidarity can be welcomed as promising near emergence of consolidated parliamentary and, perhaps, national parties (a feature of modern politics Russia has heretofore lacked), solidarity, just slightly short of 100 percent, involving the entire deputy corps of four rival factions is too reminiscent of traditional sobornost’ to be truly encouraging.