The Past, Current and Future Strategic Challenges and Democracy in Russia


Committee for the Future Parliament of Finland Edition. Eds.: Mika Mannermaa, Jim Dator, Paula Tiihonen

Alexander I. Ageev
D.Sc. (Economics), Professor, Director General
Institute for Economic Strategies, Russian Academy of Sciences


Unsatisfactory knowledge of historical trends predetermines confusion of politicians, experts and businessmen in the face of the future. Together with the seriousness of the challenges facing modern Russia and the entire world, all this results in high strategic vulnerability of major decisions being made nowadays in Russia and the world community.

The multifactorial analysis made by us allowed to find out rather distinct rhythms in occurrence, actualization and change of series of development strategic problems of Russia. They are expressed in dynamics of such major society subsystems as its economy, science and culture, positioning in the world, political systems, etc. Reconstruction of picture of the past through the prism of long-term fluctuations of the strategic problems that need solution by means of the internal and foreign strategies, provides us with the very important information about the system’s capabilities, including opportunities to develop democracy. In turn, it also allows to make some assessments about the future scenarios for all components of the social system.

1. Ecclesiast’s Argument

Unsatisfactory knowledge of historical trends predetermines confusion or conceit of politicians, experts and businessmen in the face of the future. Together with the seriousness of the challenges facing modern Russia and the entire world, all this results in high strategic vulnerability of major decisions being made nowadays in Russia and the world community. The explanations of many failures or fluctuations in development of democratic institutes by means of known arguments such as bad historical heritage, lack of political will or propensity to autoritarism, other barriers turned out to be unconvincing. In all these cases deeper reasons took place. Interpretation of these reasons, factors, interrelations led step by step to well-known Ecclesiast’s experience – «everything in its own time».

The theories of “life cycle”, the different long waves are well-known, but in our case it was a question of something more complex than a cycle of major industrial systems or Kondratieff s conjuncture cycles. This “something” is unobviously connected with influence of forces regarding to which the players visible to us and their coalitions look like fragile constructions of Florida State or resorts of Thailand during a typhoon. Whirlwinds of an epoch, a kind of Hollywood “the day after tomorrow”, «fatal minutes» operate more powerfully than conjuncture cycles.

The logic of the scenarios analysis of the future for a whole century forward with its inevitable selection by different bases should make us sooner or later to address to the past, proceeding from necessity to reveal the key parameters of «dependence on the way chosen in the past». Further, it is difficult to stop: first, going back for decades, then for centuries, to reach after all sources of the Russian civilization at least in I century A.D. The result of such observation appeared rather intriguing: during the centuries-old Russian history amazing repeatability of strategic challenges that faced the country and its ruling elites as well the institute of democracy was found out. The knowledge of this repeatability, that is rythmics of occurrence, aggravation and attenuation of the set of strategic problems of the country is regarded crucial for comprehension of the applied questions concerning its technological basis, life style, social control etc.

Russian state and society during all its history finds out cyclic fluctuations of its integral power (see figure 1).


Figure 1. Change of integral factor of power of the Russian State

From beginning of I century A.D. Russia in its specific historical shapes has gone through almost five large extra long strategic cycles, each 400 years. All such periods include 5 long-term cycles with 80 years lengths. The country has been developing through ups and downs. It’s necessary to stress, that in reality the historical dynamics has the very complicated structure and evolution of different components is not synchronized. The country periodically pays the bills of the generations of ruling elites, which fail to manage country effectively, in trend – to nurture the institute of self-organization in society. Periodically the elites become proud by greatness and neglected laborious work on diligent adjustment of the system purposes in conformity with its opportunities and allowing serious deviation from the natural course of events.

2.Strategic matrix of Russian history

Gerodot mentioned that tribes in the territory of modern Russia have the life style specified to them by the nature of the country. Today we can treat “nature conditions” with today’s is natural-scientific completeness, not being limited with just concepts of landscape and climate. The major break in this respect was made by D.I. Mendeleev, A.L. Chizhevsky, N.D. Kondratyev, V.I. Vernadsky, I. Prigozhin, L.N. Gumilev, etc. In all versions of historical events not only the subjective moments appear, but also the circumstances having fundamental influence traced on significant time periods. First of all, they include territory, climate, population, energy consumption, positioning in the world. Many theories take into account (in the explicit or concealed form) only some of the specified factors.

The systemic approach to the history requires to harmonize historical time, space and the strategies of the basic agents in a single whole. Such combination is necessary to be structured not only by events, but also in system of space-temporal coordinates which may also be described in the language of matrix variables.

The matrix must contain both rather steady and more dynamical variables. It is also important that not only changes of quantitative characteristics of the matrix, but also qualitative leaps in its development take place with the certain periodicity. Definition of the most important variables forming the matrix basis has considerable value. In other terminology it is the question of archetypes of historical behavior. An archetype is a structural principle of the collective unconscious, a priori, before-experienced form of behavior. It represents deep characteristics of social matter and is expressed in behavior of people, their thinking, decisions, attitude to reality, etc.

The next logical step in our reasoning is directed to the strategic matrix (matrix of strategic factors). As strategy is tendency to transform a system in qualitatively new condition according to opportunities or purposes of its subjects, primary value for it is received by variables of the second-order infinitesimal that provide conditions of this transition.

In case of successful transition to a new condition of a social and natural system (that is, a successfully realized strategy) we deal with harmonization or expansion of the system, and in case of failure – with chaosization, simplification, falling into archaics and barbarization. Despite the fluctuations in the strength – weakness of self-organizing institutes there is evident correlation between stage of 80-year cycle and trends to democracy.

Cyclicity of occurrence of certain variables allows to consider history as a series of accomplished steady states in which only separate quantitative variables and qualitative characteristics eventually change. Thus, their such particularly physical characteristic as life cycle length is kept.

If to define this value, it would not be difficult to calculate range of changes, of that historical sluggishness, at which the course of events, obeying «Ecclesiast’s imperative)), simply “squeezes out” us towards quite a certain future. Having estimated force of such “squeezing”, it is possible to understand its direction and to move not forcedly any more, but purposefully, influencing this “squeezing out” force.

Social choice of the system evolution vector is the key problem of strategic management as well as democracy. At the level of practical policy the choice is shown either in revolutionary events, or in some reforms of the previous government mode or in effective external influence on internal policy.
The choice of the direction frequently takes place as guessing of the orientation of evolutionary processes, and only later as an attempt of their reasoning and selection. The problem is that in what degree the realized direction choice will correspond to internal tendencies of the system, what efforts will be required for its passing to the target direction and the target condition and whether the rates and rhythm of the environment will coincide with those of the given system. The history knows a number of attempts to direct violently the evolution of society contrary to natural laws, but any deviation from them was punished by cataclysms expressed differently.

Certainly, the success of the strategy depends not only on validity of strategic decisions, but also on managing, intuition, harmony of motivations of process participants and number of other circumstances. Therefore, studying of particular strategy histories is doubtlessly interesting. In fact, the source of strategic routes of countries and nations can be both discoveries that took place or expected, and motives of struggle for power, religious impulses and requirements, changes of technologies, demand or production opportunities, pressure of competitors, natural accidents. Equally, such sources can be Utopias, illusions, fancies, greed, petty tyranny and voluntarism of leaders. In the latter case deviation from natural society evolution corridor, unreasoned waste of resources take place that can lead to ruining of systems themselves.

For more vivid representation of strategies character realized during centuries, we generated the multifactorial model (enniagram) of the most important objects of strategic decisions. From multitude of the circumstances influencing dynamics of historical process, nine the most important have been chosen. As a matter of fact, there is nothing new in such a set, all historians mention these factors anyhow.

We performed the careful analysis of mutual relations and interferences of all mentioned factors, their relevance and completeness. As a result of such research nine most significant factors of dynamics of state development, they are government, territory, natural resources, population, economy, culture and religion, science and education, army (armed forces), foreign policy (geopolitical environment) are chosen as independent ones (see fig. 2).


Figure 1. Change of integral factor of power of the Russian State


Figure 2. Strategic matrix of historical trends

Revelation of specific values of these factors for the period of Russian history was made on the basis of expert evaluation with method of progressive approximation.

In the enniagram, representing graphic expression of potential and kinetic social energy factors providing development potential and realization are distinguished. Respectively, the first group include territory, natural resources, population, culture and religion; the second group consists of economy, science and education, army and foreign policy. Government, covering scales for analysis the democracy development, is considered as a factor synthesizing all these elements.

Increase or decrease of matrix profile amount is a sigh of orientation of combined vector of evolution either to creation or to destruction of the system. For instance, it is obvious looking at initial and final volume of full matrix of the Russian empire for the period of years 1837-1917 (fig. 3) and the first part of the matrix of the Soviet Union for the period of years 1945-1973 (fig. 4).


Figure 3. Strategic matrix of the Russian empire (1837-1917)

Figure 4. Strategic matrix of the Soviet Union for the period from the end of World War II to “stagnation period” 4-V (1945-1973)

3. Expectations for the current cycle up to 2080

Having finished a full 80-years cycle from 1917 to 1998, Russia nowadays got into a definitely new, though not finally determined state. Its main dynamic feature is coexistence of several destinations of possible evolution, one of which is sure become dominant in several years. These destinations differ by their driving social forces, ways of interconnection with the environment, potential, consequences of development. On the surface of events, it is plurality of destinations, though, in the framework of changes range fixed in its major properties, it appears as active searching of «national idea», hesitation of political preferences, competitive struggle of different sectors and ways of economy, regional differences, languor of foreign policy having no strong framework of distinctly interpreted « vitally important interests)), etc.

All the above-listed is the key feature of the all initial phases of long cycles. The time limitation of this phase, some kind of «roaming» in the multitude of evolution models was same typical for the past.

Proceeding from the total length of social and economic cycle of the country development calculated by us (about 80 years) and referring of the beginning of its modern kind to year 1998, we may expect the maximum of development of its social activity approximately in years 2020-2040, and the relaxation phase of this wave of transformation in years 2060-2070. Besides, it is this cycle of the current extra long 400-years wave scaled social, technological, scientific and cultural changes. The historic analogue of the coming rise of social energy is, for instance, period of crisis of Ryurikovichs dynasty and establishment of new dynasty of Romanovs, stabilization of government, strengthening of religious aspect and quite harmonic development of Russia in years 1620-1640.
As a whole, we may expect that by years 2015-20 the internal life in Russia will stabilize, quite stable relations with neighbor countries will be formed. At that, the country will still be weak and its status will vary between «regional» and «great state», according to the typology accepted by us.

In particular, evaluating the prospects of changing of administrative function for the period to year 2080 we proceed from that for Russia, according to the current state, the function of management covering democratic self-organation is positioned at the level of a regional power and, besides, the balance of state power factors is far from ideal.

However, it is significant that for relatively short period the «government» function performed considerable rise, because in 1991-1998 its values were within the range of 1-2. On the surface that time was considered as so called transition to market economy)), but in the essence evolution of democracy turned to be very controversial. Actually the beginning of 90-s of the previous century was characterized by almost full loss of state organization in Russia. As to the level of democracy situation in the postsoviet countries it was rather anarchy than democracy. Only after 2000 year the population started to evaluate politics as growing democratic trends facing corruption as the key barrier.

In these conditions, rise of function of government up to level 4 was the reflection of stabilization of the government in Russia (in other words, gaining of more stability according to the scale accepted by us) at keeping quite a high degree of dependence on foreign influence.

Proceeding from that, for consideration of the further strategic choice of Russia within the limits up to year 2080 on the basis of the broad expert involvement the scenarios of transformation of the “government” factor till 2080 presented on figure 5 were modeled.

The realistic sight at possible dynamics of development of government function proves that change of political administration mode is unlikely both in 2010 and especially by 2010.

As a whole, formation of five variants of incompatible hypotheses of realization of government function allowed to formulate a complete group of possible events, which probability of occurrence is estimated by experts of «Strategic matrix» club of Institute of economic strategies.

The results on the basis of processing of experts’ opinions testify that up to 2020 the most probable outcome will be retention of the existing system of prevailing influence of one political force.


Figure 5. Scenarios of development administration vs self-organization up to year 2080

At the same time, the most social expectation of Russian population are connected, first of all, with the third variant – reintegration of the post-soviet area. The probability of realization of the fourth and fifth variants (slipping down to chaos or authoritarianism) for all the prediction period was determined as extremely low. The more expected trend is associated with converting one-party dominance into the effective democracy in 20-s years the current century.

By year 2030 under the «optimistic scenario)) by academician A. G. Aganbegyan the GDP value of Russia will reach 4.5-5 trillion USD in current prices, that will make half of current value of GDP of the USA. By economic potential, GDP value, volume of industrial production, key assets and investments Russia will rise from the 10th to 4-5* place and outgo Brasilia, Italy, France, Great Britain, Germany and, probably, India, letting only the USA, China and Japan ahead. The structure of economy will change fundamentally, that will obtain post-industrial features. Russia will be able to become one of the world leaders in no less than 8 of 50 macrotechnologies. Service sector will make 75-80% of all GDP, the most effective of them will be educational services (not less than 10% of GDP), scientific (5%), and also in the area of health protection (15%). Conclusions of academician A. G. Aganbegyan also coincide with «optimistic scenario)) by academician L. I. Abalkin, opinion of academician N. P. Fedorenko, that «Russia will be able to return to the maximum level it had in XX century before years 2025-2030». This conclusion is also proved by results of forecast of energetic trends of development of Russia made by academicians N. P. Laverov and A. Y. Kontorovich.

4. Freedom of choice and Immunity of civilization

Any modeling of social dynamic does not exclude the freedom of social and personal choice. The fundamental liberalization may provoke the rise of social irresponsibility. It is, in essence, social and spiritual AIDS of our civilization. There is a need for improving the moral basement of society to get the most positive course of evolution.

Development of civilization is nothing but realization of the confidence capital. The difference of civilization from barbarism is in development of confidence as bases of relations in a society, realizations of rights and personal freedoms, solidarity round common values and ideals. The confidence is an immunity of civilization, basis of personal and social responsibility. We are responsible for confidence given to us by parents and children, friends, colleagues, partners, heroes of the past and ideals of the future. We either justify this confidence, or not. Modern civilizations potential of confidence has historically developed on the basis of cult of faith, represented in world religious system of values being the source of confidence energy for social, business, political, scientific and educational fulfillments. Realizing this confidence independently of accurate historical interpretation of the forms of cult of faith in socialization systems, people were developing their civilizations. This idea has found various theoretical justifications in Plato, Hegel, Kant, Weber, Toynbee, Jung, etc.

The virus of social irresponsibility has many modifications, but its genetic formula is “egoistical success at any means”, without call of duty, responsibility, and public solidarity. If actually all world religions are reduced to the formula “the God is love ” and if it is the source of all variety of displays of the social responsibility, than “at any means” is a formula of supreme, egoism, absolutization of individual state is built, absolute disparage both the superior religious verities, and laws of social life.

The principle “success at any price” has struck the vital structures of modern societies in business and policy. Previous objectives have become targets. And in fact still Hamlet has noticed -«O, ’tis most sweet When in one line two crafts directly meet.))

There are times when the victory, one for all, is necessary and when “we’ll pay the price”. There are situations of compelled and necessary defense and then “everything is permissible in the war, and I can permit myself (Maria Stuart). But there are “mean” times, times of irresponsibility and lawlessness, times of dishonest games.

This is not the issue, that life is similar to game. But the issue is that games without the rules are focused on dramatic outcome for the rival, start to determine the atmosphere of whole our life, plunging it in chronic uncertainty chaotic state, prethunderstorm context, total force major.

The very services of leaders of business and policy are not only decisions and actions for the sake of efficiency, but also actions having ethical sense, that are justice, honesty, reasonable sufficiency, charity. Any vertical of responsible authority and business is constructed on verticals of tall orders, senses, and values. Without them the authority and business degenerate in manipulation for the sake of tactical and narrow group interests.

The problem is not only in increase of quantity and scale of natural and man-caused threats and not only in level our elites comprehends the challenges facing to the country and the world as a whole, that is far from necessary, if saying nothing about abilities and will to action. The problem is that sawing the cracked branch, on which the society somehow keeps, became extremely profitable business of the few against the background of carelessness, indifference, ignorance or depression of the majority. “Even a flood, but after us”, “who is not in time, that is late”, “let the loser to cry” such formulas are many-sided, but their essence id the same, that is success at any means.

Immunity of any society to social illnesses is defined by the degree of social and moral responsibility of its citizens, their confidence to each other and to the state, cleanliness and honesty of game. Nonresistance to principle “success at any price” dramatizes crisis, leading to hardly remediable degeneration of civilization: based on belief and responsibility to the one based on unbelief and irresponsibility, dot and mass terror of the few against all. Carriers of the virus “success at any price” are met today everywhere. Traces of this epidemic are easy for seeing not only in terrorists, but also in respectable leaders of business. Russia and the world are full of such examples. Enron and MMM, Arthur Andersen and the Russian government in the August 1998, that declared the default, MacDonnell Douglas with MD-11 and nuclear tests. Machiavellian type of businessman, represented by D. Trump, I. Boesky or J.R. Ewing on TV, the attempts of executives to maximize their profits at owner’s expense was criticized by many publications of Harvard Business Review, as an example.

Glaring example of undermining the confidence of Russian and world society to Russian authorities and to business is Russia. Fears of investors are determined by absence of confidence to Russian players, confidence in stability of rules, security from tricky improvisations. Still N. Gogol has drawn personage who thought, “To live with subtlety, art to deceive all and not to be done by himself is the real task and the purpose”. But this problem is not only Russian. Deficiency of responsibility is global epidemic of social and spiritual AIDS promising a lot of damages to democracy.

Indifference to methods of success achievement leads to lawlessness, down to “anything goes”. Activity of these virus carriers has led to a present lack of credibility and responsibility.

5. Socially responsible democratic systems or formal prove of ancient commandments

The huge responsibility of today’s leaders in politics, society or business must be focused on non-distribution of pathogenic viruses.

The success of any cooperation on the basis of paideia is defined by ability of all its participants target the efforts to achievement of the common task. It is not success at any means, not the celebration of egoism, but harmony, talented combination of plusses and minuses of all players, voluntary consideration of preferences and interests of other participants, coordinated following of all common strategies bring to victory in result. For understanding of this truth the Nobel Prize on economy has been recently awarded. The winner is John Nash, who has made invention comparable to the contribution of Newton, Copernicus, and Einstein in natural sciences.

John Nash has denied Adam Smith’s classical postulate that “an invisible hand” of the market, inducing individuals to pursue the egoistical purposes, increases well-being of all society. Discrepancies of this thesis with reality found the theoretical sanction or in more and more abstract schedules coming off from the life and basing on set of conditional assumptions (about perfection of the market, rationality of behavior, etc.), or in eclecticism of practicalness. For 250 years after Adam Smith the set of “spillovers” in managing has been revealed, diverse concepts of the social blessings have been developed, more extensive motivations of economic behavior, comprehended transformations of “invisible hand” in “seen and invisible fist”. But the main thing is that the world has not once become the witness of how in enmity and the thirst of business success based on primate of egoistical aspirations, destinies of people, organizations and peoples were crashed, resources were exhausted, the ecology degraded, social systems perished. Happened in 90th years everywhere in the world liberalism splash in such, narrow egoistic understanding has completely distinctly been replaced by other designs and motivations of the social responsibility going back to “social – market economy”.

The essence of John Nash opening consists in the proof by formal and mathematical methods of extremely simple and very ancient moral installation applied to daily practice of business and social life. It is necessary, that each individual, each player aspired to achievement of purposes, but in view Of interaction with other players and requirements of wellbeing of the total system. Authority of the Nobel committee newly confirmed the base requirement to the rules of command game. Only correcting the behavior in view of interests of other players it is possible to achieve optimum distribution of prize among all parties, and not only inside a team, but also among contenders. Competitiveness, thus, can quite effectively mean partnership.

We find the description of consequences of this rule of rales infringement in the Old Testament, in the history with construction of the Babel tower. The plan to construct city and a tower up to heavens in it belonged to Hamites, one of Noah’s sons, whose ark has rescued the mankind from destruction. However this plan was aimed at becoming famous and, what is especially important is at leaving from testate by Noah submission to Sim and Japheth descendants, brothers of Ham. The result of not charitable undertaking is well-known, the builders started speaking in different languages, stopped understanding each other, have thrown construction and have gone in the different parts of the world. People have gradually forgotten the primary relationship. Command game has failed, as observers would say at present.

“Any empire, divided in itself, will become empty; and any city or the house, shared in itself, will not stand” (the Gospel from Matthew).

Each system has own level of social responsibility that is the same, the level of solitariness. It is the attitude of all advantages and good proceeding from business structure, to all harm and evil proceeding from it during its life cycle. Systems at which this level is lower than one unit will be necessary regarded unbeneficial, irresponsible.

Socially responsible systems are characterized by focus on customer, have high level of dependence and durance, simple and not expensive, produce minimal damage to the nature, protected from damaging use, increase the faith, neutralize the energy of evil.


Dynamic structure of all previous cycles of strategic evolution of Russia gives the opportunity to make general assumptions for the future. First of all, Russia in 2020-2040 will pass through technological revolution determined by changes in social life requirements. The development of state and society will be more probably democratic.

List of sources

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