The post-Soviet countries avoid solving many problems related to the ensuring of equality as they do not yet have a clear perception of what appropriate and just mean, Sergey Borisov, director of the Expert Center “Mera” (“Measure”) of Nizhniy Novgorod, Russia, stated in IPN’s public debate “Equality: culture, practice or illusion?”.
The expert noted that one of the topical subjects is whether the state should or should not regulate incomes and should or should not become involved in redistribution. “In the Scandinavian countries, for example, there is a huge mechanism for redistributing national wealth. There, no one will allow you to gain a large amount of gold. They will come and take five/sixth for the benefit of society. However, the state there enjoys trust. The citizens realize that the state will not waste this money, but will socialize it. In the U.S., things stand differently – one can become very rich and the loser can cry,” he stated.
“In post-Soviet countries, they perceive justice as Sharikov (character of a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, e.n.) did: when there is not enough, it’s easier to divide equality to all, regardless of everyone’s contribution.”
According to Sergey Borisov, the perception of justice is an obstacle to economic growth. “When society starts to be wealthy, the access to economic, cultural, social resources and distribution rules appear. It seems that the economy requires the creation of development stimuli and enhancement of welfare not with ill-gotten gains, but with new services and goods. But society could disapprove of the fact that one has large incomes, while another one has small incomes. The interdependence moment is always difficult – a small problem is solved, but a bigger one can appear,” noted the expert.
He also said that participatory democracy can solve the problem of inequality only partially. “Ultimately, leaders who are basically equal with those whom they lead appear. Politics is actually a matter of verticality. As power, it divides the people into those who lead and those who are led. However, democracy is based on the desideratum that all the people are equal before the law, the state administration in general and the own destiny. Real democracy does not aim to equalize everyone in the realization of this right, but offers the people equal possibilities. Some need more possibilities, while others need power. This way, the people in mature democracies form the set themselves” he explained.
The public debate “Equality: culture, practice or illusion?” forms part of the series of debates “Overcoming of European Integration Stereotypes by Communication”. IPN News Agency stages the debates with support from the Hanns Seidel Foundation.