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- Commmunism and It's Implosion in Eastern Europe
Serghei Stoilov Gerdzhikov
Sofia University, Bulgaria
Communism and its Implosion in the Eastern Europe
© Gerdzhikov, S. (1999). “Communism and its Implosion in Eastern Europe”. Plamen Makariev, A. Blasko, A. Davidov (eds.) Creating Democratic Societies: Values and Norms. Bulgarian Philosophical Studies, II. Washington D.C.: The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy, 1999, 27–40
A phenomenological study of the communism and it’s explosion is carried out here. The phenomenological method allows an exploration of the life-world of communism to be made. Life-world (Lebenswelt) is a notion in the Phenomenological philosophy, introduced by Edmund Husserl in The Crisis of the European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology. Its creator defines the life-world as a world of everyday life before the scientific knowledge he world of unquestionably clear things or the “pre-predicative evidences” (Husserl). This is a world not immediately recognisable, that has a full anonymous status. We are not aware, that it exists as a particular world that has been defined and explained in a sociocultural context. For us, it is simply the world.
The communism and post-communist situation here is studied the way it was lived by the people in the European countries of the “real socialism” – the Soviet Union, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary. This means not a psychological, economical or politological description and explanation of that life diversity
A Phenomenological Orientation
The life-world is not a hanging net of meanings, it has its own space, time, logic, and basic meanings that are linked through chains and nets, and it is spread through the time – genesis, expansion, and collapse. This is what the spread form of the communist life-world, of the phenomenon of communism brings about.
Communism developed in European and non-European countries and it was “immersed” deep inside the contemporary civilisation context. But it was highly isolated from the rest of the world and that isolation is one of its intrincic characteristics. In any case, the communist attitude, the communist idea, the communist phenomena of conscience and action construct a separate social life-world with specific mentality, space and time. The real socialism is not simply a domination of one party, planned economy and totalitarian system, but first of all an ethos, mentality, phenomenon. It does not disapear, when rejected by its own institutions, but only transforms into something else. Its power, like the power of all the other energy forms, cannot be annuled, but only transformed. Communism is leading together with the slowly advancing changes in the mental forms, the basic meanings and notions that make it alive.
To understand communism – this is a hope of orientation and control in the post communist period. To change the system is painful when it is without understanding of the life-world and on the abstract basis of the “normal societies” and their institutions, when these new institutions are implanted in the still alive communist and socialist mentality, and thus weakened. Without understanding of the roots and the life forces that feed it up, it is not possible to wisely leave the communism. Even if leaving communism is called not a wise, but spontaneous process, the understanding of the phenomenon will surely be useful in a moment when projects attempting an engineering at human life-world are created: cloning, genetically control, “artificial intellect”, biorobotics, trends for “rational organisation” of the whole life on the Planet.
The phenomenology or, more specifically, “phenomenological sociology” of the communism is an “clarification” (Erklärung, Ideation–Husserl) of meanings and it cannot be done from an outsider position. Edmund Husserl treatise phenomenology in “The Crisis…”)as a philosophy that, opposite to the pre-scientific and scientific objectivism, goes back to the knowing subjectivity as the place for all objective meaning formation and meaning validities, and undertakes the task of understanding the world of existence as a mental and validity formation(Husserl, E. 1977). The phenomenological paradigm of the social as a living network of meanings that are intended and discovered by the people, is the most adequate for such an “understanding” theory of communism. This type of knowledge of communism, (and post-communism) is acquired by people who have lived or still live in such a society. The phenomenological social knowledge is not a speculation, but experience, that has been processed with phenomenological notions that are boundary to the great variety of events: life-world, phenomenon, meaning, significance, idea, attitude, vision, mentality, mental form and dynamics.
This is a dynamical clarification of the phenomenon communism in its development as a living entity of meanings and significances. It is expressed in interpretations of texts and teleologlcally explained events and “rational actions” (Max Weber). The study is not strictly based on the phenomenological conspects. It originates from the idea of the phenomenon as a living full possession of the object in the intention (Husserl). Because communism is such an intended living entity and not an “objective fact” (the communism as a non-implemented project remained only a vision in the main meaning). Phenomenological sociology develops this research line through the works of Alfred Schutz (constitutive phenomenology of the natural disposition), as well as through the ethnomethodology of Harold Garfinkle and contemporary phenomenologist Richard Gratchoff. Instead of working with “objective notions”, this sociology uses “types” similar to the “Ideal Types” of Max Weber (Weber, 1960).
People recognize, understand and act towards the things and events in the life-world with ready significance norms, without unique requirements for every fact or event. For the people of the real socialism things like “money”, “power”, “dignity”, and events like “revolution”, “queue”, or “shady deal” mean something familiar and specific, which is unknown to the people outside the system. These names contain codes for understanding and action that are valid only for the real socialist life. This set of meanings exists only in a common inter-subjective (Husserl,1977; Schutz, 1981) life-world.
Nowadays, the phenomenological sociology and, in broader sense, the social knowledge is developed in different research aspects. The phenomenological explanation is legitimated in the scientific community as a scientific explanation. “Sociologic explanation of the standard regulated character of the social action is therefore not a causal explanation, but of the process of subjecting the actions under their social descriptions (social rules) to the commands of the society members… Social actions, therefore, can be looked at like steps in a language game.” (Walsh,1978).
I add the following to the phenomenology of the social world: Life is not only quality, but also a form of the life-world and its phenomena. By its form, life is always a motion towards life, order and escape from the non-life, from the chaos. Only a certain form makes possible the life as a reproduction and expansion of the order in the chaos – organic unity of components and processes that fulfils reproduction in conditions of spontaneous disintegration and chaos. The alive is born, then it grows against the entropy and finally dies, disintegrating into the chaos. And what is more, every form of live, every biological specie or social formation has its own unique identity and projects it in a unique form (order) of its life-world. Humans’ space, time, logic are exactly human, different from the space, time and logic of the other forms of live.
Communism is a human social form, i.e. it is a concretisation of human form in its sociality. Humans’ world in this Social form is a characteristic human inter-subjective world.
Project of Life and World
What meaning do I put in the “communism phenomenon “? It is the utmost broad set of mental forms that have given life to the texts, actions and events on the argumentation, planning and realisation of communism. This set is varied and homogenous like a multitude of “family resemblance” forms (Wittgenstein). I endeavour to cover those of them which are most strongly represented and can be idealised as “pure types”.
Communism is understandable as a phenomenon of the Western civilisation It is alien to the mentality and practices of the Middle and Far East. We may be tempted to describe communism as being a Russian phenomenon, for instance (bolshevism), and this is done mainly by Russian historians an philosophers, like Geller-Nekritch or Nikolai Berdiaev. Bolshevism is a historic fact, though it does not carry an understanding of the mental form of communism as a project. No mixing of the rationalistic western engineering phenomena with the eastern traditional societies should appear (Weber).
My explanation begins with a genetic statement. Communism is rooted in the logos as an archetype. The vision of the world as a logos – objective order that can be presented in words and figures, contains also the vision of the world as a technology, i.e. the demiurgical vision of a “world” or a “better world”, completely different from ours, that can be created by Man, by use of world’s laws - its logos.
Communism reached a dead lock and collapsed before it was implemented according to its design. Something more – the communist project realisation brought about a huge destruction. Why didn’t communism success? Is it possible for another such a project to survive? The major supportive thesis statement of the study is that such a project is inconsistent because the demiurgical vision of “world creation” is false. The world (the man’s life-world) is not inexhaustible in logos and is not object to technology. The realities compatible with it, like “freedom”, “man”, justice” are not technological ones. Life is not an artefact.
The Plato’s state is wholesome, perfect, ideal and represents a sensible projection of the justice idea that lives in a better world, the world of ideas (Plato, Republic). Society is organised in a holon where each person and action finds its functional place. Charles Fourier proclaims the “human breeding” in harmony, thanks to the radical acquirement of human reason, the discovery of the “four phases of history” (Fourier, The New World). For Karl Marx the world must not be simply explained, but changed (Marx, Theses about Feuerbach). Communism is a “real human history” that replaces the current “pre-history” (Marx, Manuscripts from 1844). People create their history in compliance with its laws. They make the “jump from the kingdom of necessity to the kingdom of freedom” (Marx, German Ideology).
Communist ideology, expressed rather radically in “Manifest of the Communist Party”, envisions a total revolution in which basic values of Western civilisation are rejected as “class determined” and new ones, including a new “person” status – the “bourgeois person” eliminated – are approved. A project of a communist revolution implemented by means of expropriation and replacement of the parliamentary order with dictatorship, is in the “Manifesto”. The revolutionaries in the Lenin party an the communists in the rest of the world apply exactly that project when they implement the “new world”, “new life” and “new man” design (Lenin. The State and the Revolution).
Communism is a giant experiment of the Western reason, born from a very old set of mind and understanding of – the world – the ancient “logos” and “idea”. The world is ordered in a certain manner (logos) and is pierced with laws. These laws are knowledgeable and expressible in words and figures (logos). Reality can be changed on the basis of this notion (technè). Consequently, the world is not a boundless and undefined reality, transparent and technological sphere. In the West only reality is taken for initially logic and profoundly transparent. To this the belief of the western man is added, inherited from the Renaissance and weakened today, that Reason is able to build our world.
The difference between living creation and non-living artefact is erased, and the human form standing at the basis of creation and the artefacts is invisible, thus seeming to be the limit of technology as well. The “logos” does not recognize the boundary between over the world and the man without limits. The logos becomes a universal principle of order, thus eliminating all differences and oppositions between knowledge and secret, knowledgeable and unknowledgeable, achievable and unachievable. If the Universe is ordered by means of logos, then it is entirely achievable in and through logos – speech, science, action. Consequently, the world can be designed or at least reconstructed and changed. Such is the general mental form of “demiurgical intention”.
The world escapes the explanation and control and thus provokes the demiurgical adjustment to a world project design. Life is not just. People are not equal. This causes an extreme effort on the part of the Western man to take control over the life and the world, in concordance with the logos archetype and demiurgical adjustment.. Such is the general mental form of the utopian project in the Western civilisation The term “rationalistic Utopia” is widely spread, and where else, if not in the West, rationalism is a quality of a whole civilisation? Max Weber differentiates between the Western rationalistic society and “rationalistic control” , and the Eastern and pre-modern “traditional” and “charismatic” society and control (Weber, Sociology of Control). This type of project is impossible for the East where the world, definable in words, is empty and merges into instability, and the unborn and the undisappearing absolute is out of the logic and language access, out of the “logos” (Suzuki). Such a beginning naturally cannot be subjected to technology, at least not in the Western sense.
The Ancient and especially the Modem West, develops by means contemporary liberal democracy are not demiurgical. They are not the fruits of global plans for world restructure; on the contrary, they are based on the recognition of “irreversible” human rights: life, freedom, dignity, property, in an unquestionable world (Locke, Second Treatise on Government). Parliaments, separation of powers, private property and its legal guarantees, ship transport and the science itself – all these have emerged through accumulation of the human ideas results and practices in the context of acknowledgement of human reality as being self-value in the Christian spirit. All these acquirements appeared without a general scheme, like an unfocused net of local projects and spontaneous creative acts (Hayek,1952).
In contrast to this spontaneous order, called by August Hayek “extended order”, communism, in all the countries where it won place, with no exclusion has followed the transparent, planned and controlled order on compliance with the all covering theory and scenario of the epoch’s scale. Such a type of vision is outlined by Marx in “Theses about Feuerbach”, “German Ideology”, “The Manifest”, “Critics on the Gots Program”, and by Engels in “Development of Socialism from Utopia to Science”, “Feuerbach and the End of the German Classic Philosophy”, “Anti-During”. With no exception, the Lenin Doctrine about the revolution and proletariat dictatorship has been followed in “The State and the Revolution”, again supporting Marx, the Communist party and the power monopoly project. The results achieved have also been similar.
But what shall we say about “capitalism”? Is it not a logos project? Does it not design a world? The Western capitalism is rational as a state and as economic processes (Max Weber). But rationality concerns only the institutions and not the social life control (August Hayek). Capitalism or liberal democracy are not technologies over life, but over non-living structures - the state institutions, laws, market rules. Till now, no one in the liberal democracy intends to build an envisioned social system of life, using the forces of the whole society. What is done is to establish legal order, that rests upon the idea for human rights. This important distinction is made ( but not very clear!) by the Western scholars of totalitarianism. For them, totalitarianism is Utopian engineering (Popper, 1962) that differs from the gradual one by its scale and lack of criticism, and not by its attitude to life (Popper, 1962). Francis Fukuyama, for instance, regards the valid for the totalitarianism as well (Fukuyama, F., 1992).
The communist project can be regarded entirely rationally and critically, like the other human projects. It is (though borderline) a mental and active experiment aiming at a radical change of the world, and if it creates the new world, the new human life and new human form, and at a higher level of life -”happiness, welfare, freedom” – then the understanding about the unachievable world and human form that correlates to it will be false. And if it leads to destruction of a human or a world form, then it is false, weak and lifeless. In such a case chaos will conquer a new space of peoples’ life. The rational project locks the spontaneous motions of life towards wholeness and expansion.
If it is possible to create cities and states, cannons and machines, theories and poems, philosophy and religion, then why should it be impossible to create a whole world for the human being? What is impermissible here?
It is one thing to build cities, to write poems and create is entirely different thing to breath, laugh, pain, enjoy, i.e. to live spontaneously. Can we design our life the way we design the artefacts? Because each creation is a definition in itself and thus - a distinction in a living context that remains undefined. When we define the “world as a whole”, do we mean that we rationally envelop and control it?
Such an intention and practice is inconsistent because of the life form itself When people intend to create a new lift, new society and new man, they set a task which fulfilment cannot be achieved, that goes beyond the limits of human form, “transcends” and falls into absolute impossibility. Life is wrongfully rendered as an object of technology, of design. It is identified as an artefact.
Naturally enough, such a mistake is hard to see. When I describe it here, I feel the insecurity of making a distinction between “world’s design ” and the ordinary and epochal human deeds. Is it true that a new theory design or a social revolution will not create a world? Still, the answer is no. The linguistic structure “world design” is ontologically inconsistent in my explanation.
Life is a forward motion of the living form against the chaos and to the re-synthesis. It “emerges” from the ocean of chaos using its own activity, and exactly that is the world and nothing more. (In physics this is the structure against entropy of open Systems). Life is a motion of preservation and expansion of life. It possesses a teleological form, the form of “entelechia”. Life is vigorous as far as it succeeds to compensate its spontaneous disintegration. This life has a redefined form and that is the living form, like man for instance.
Man does not chose the human form and does not design it. The life-world of the man is not designed the way the human beings design their machines, i.e. it is not subject to ethnology. It is discovered by the born man, shaped to human and cultural form. This world is preserved, expanded and lost in the death. Human consciousness is a moment of human life and it lives in the same direction, re-synthesising itself against its own loss. Man cannot subject its human form to a distant realisation and objectivation. In order to do this, he must somehow step out of it, get to know it and exercise his influence upon it. But this means to go out of the world, the only world that belongs to him as a man – the human life-world. Thus, human life-world allows all human actions, but all of them, as far as they possess a human form, do not refer to a “transcendent” intention and practice of a alteration of this for. When the man designs machines, writes poems and creates science and religion, he does not simply change his form, but only projects it an expands the horizons of his life-world.
Explosion and Storm
Building a World is a project, which is ontologically problematic. My treatment shows, that it is a nonsense. This nonsense is similar to nonsense of building a perpetuum mobile. World has a human form. It is a projection of this form. This transcendental position shows us, that every attempt to create a Life-world is actually reduced to creation of something in this world, which doesn’t change it’s form. But it really should be destructive, because it touches and dis-integrate some basic structures of our (social) living body. We never could make the world,as we never create the human form. Every act of making is a dynamics of this form.
The Explosion of Communism in Eastern Europe and its deep crisis out of Europe (except of China, where the communism in the Economy doesn’t exist any more), is such an explosion of build up world. There is hardly a more drastic change in Western history than post-communism. Even today it is still unknown how it will end up. None of the post-communist countries has reached equilibrium that could compare with the equilibrium of Western democracies. It is not clear whether the future equilibrium will correspond to the criteria of modern society. It might turn out that post-communism is sort of a chronic disease and it will never lead to equilibrium. In the best case a future equilibrium will bear deep traces of communism.
The post-communist blizzard is created by the huge imbalance gradients of communism. What tensions does the communist catastrophe and subsequent stabilisation remove and create? What does the catastrophe set free and what kinds of spirits does it let out of the bottle? Time will give an answer to these question. A forecast needs a deep insight of communism. An unsound system is destroyed owing to its destructive tensions. Economic, political and cultural meanings and texts change fast. Stability which is forcibly maintained explodes and the waves, winds, flows and the storm of post-communism are unleashed. This dynamic state is so shaky that it be defined as shock.
What are the consequences of this shock? Will there be a normal market economy, normal democracy and a sound mind in the foreseeable future? And if the cost of the future equilibrium is deformations into which the communist forms have been transformed, what could they be? And if the equilibrium is packed with anomalies and sources of new waves that are not in equilibrium, what will they be?
The “ship of democracy” is sailing in the storm of postcommunism. The Reform is being carried out as a series of actions by the power to create a system of market economy and democracy. What chances does the ship stand? How do the “unhealthy flows” effect the attainment of the goals of the reform? Perhaps the waves displace the forces and meanings in a way which is essentially independent of the goals of government and essentially anomalous for the “normal state”. The anomalies may be chronic in the absence of forces to neutralise them in the foreseeable future.
So post-communism appears to be a period of intensive recovery with vestiges of anomalies and strong “side effects” and complications. The effects are unique and unprecedented in history.
Post-communism is unique. There is not till today such a phenomena and there is not any theory of it. Nobody knows where leads some of post-communistic transitions lead, as nobody knows what the effects of a series of earthquakes will be. So our understanding of the post-communism is in phase with its flow.
The post-communism is essentially chaotic, undefined. It is in analogy with the “dissipative” structures and processes, which leads to the “metastable states” (in the sense of Prigogine). This dissipative process is an effect of an explosion – explosion of the high tensioned communist totalitarian society. The result is some future meta- stable state – close or fare from the thermodynamics equilibrium, from the absolute chaos. There are forces and flows in this dynamics – forces of wealth, power and mentality, and flows of money, political actions and social thinking. In this non-equilibrium the positive forces of the reform – the acts of the government, are in contraphase with the negative forces of free fall and illegal money-making, unhealthy and inadequate policy, and conservative mentality of the closed society. In this period arises some new forms of mentality, power and wealth. They can be understood only as a network of rational actions (Veber).
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