Materials of an International Seminar
Civil society and social development


The issue is, of course, a very difficult one. We have already heard a lot today and I will skip some definitions. At the same time, we have not got answers to a range of questions. Is there anything else in a country but the state and civil society? I believe the two things have the same social basis. The state is made up of citizens. Civil society is formed by the people living on the territory. The point is if it is right or wrong to oppose the two systems? Can civil society exist as a separate entity? I mean this includes different organisations with different aims. But generally they reflect interests of the whole society. We are talking about civil society as an entity opposing the state. At the same time, we do not notice that civil society proper incorporates interacting, alternative and even opposing systems. Can we identify any of them as good or bad? I doubt it. I believe both the state and civil society have great and sad features.
Are they antagonistic opponents? I ask this question because I have heard a lot here about the aim of civil society - to protect a person against the state. Although if we think a little about it, it will become evident that it is impossible to ensure the human rights without the state. If the systems are antagonistic, which one an individual should favour?
I think it is still not clear what came first both chronologically and essentially. What appears first - concerned citizens aware of their interests and forming organisations or civil society that forms the concerned citizens?
It is also very odd to me to hear that civil society is above politics.
I am convinced that it is difficult to define the relation machinery as regards civil society without a clear understanding of the above issues. A man is a social person. That is my vision. That means that he cannot exist without interacting with other people. Cooperation between people is a historic necessity and for each generation it is an entity. Any type of synergy is a kind of organisation. There are two types of organisations: the state and civil society. They appeared earlier than their definitions. Even a most reclusive 'totalitarian' state cannot break family ties, neighbourhood solidarity, religious associations, etc. At the same time, the most 'democratic' state fails to effectively curb the state absolute power.
There is always some solidarity and consensus in society. For some people it is not enough. They either begin fighting or emigrate. Other people eventually take their place. It is clear that the state and civil society are different in nature. The state is substantive. Civil society is a wildcat process. The state has the clear law grounds rather than biological ones, which is the case with civil society. The two systems have been going this way since the earliest times. However, their role and rate of importance alter from time to time.
As I see it, the most graphic example here is relations between the state and civil society in the military field. The military aspect has always been crucial. I would not dare state that large-scale hostilities are not possible now. I do not understand a call made by one of the speakers to reduce Russian military spending with civil society as one of the main assets to that. At the same time, the speaker has very calmly mentioned the growth in military spending in the Western countries. The point is whether we should react to the NATO expansion even if the increased military spending is not viewed as a threat to Russia.
We are talking here today about global civil society. And the seminar should add to the seriousness of the problem. I think that we might find some ways out. For example, must the state be engaged in both military and political activities? If so, to what extent then? I am convinced that the issue can be addressed only by the state while the views of civil society must not be set aside. They even should be, say, forced upon the state.
The next issue to tackle is how to determine that humanitarian intervention is appropriate and really needed? As we saw it in Yugoslavia, it is hard to get a straightforward answer to this.
It is common knowledge that the state enjoys the military monopoly and holds it dear. The citizens' attitude to this fact differs. On the one hand - massive defection and efforts to evade the military service, on the other - voluntary military programmes and the citizens-in-arms. Both approaches are attitudes of civil society to the defence policy. Our aim is to determine the limits for use of military power appropriate for the state and civil society. In this country, there exists a very touchy problem of private security agencies. Qualitatively, they are functioning on the equal footing with the state system. On the other hand, there are illegal military formations in Chechnya. What should be the position of civil society here?
The bottom line is that addressing these issues we should try and reach consensus especially in the military field, though this is complicated by the circumstances of the transition period. Thank you.