THE SOUTH OF THE CIS: FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS OF DEVELOPMENT
Aziz Niazi, Senior researcher, Department of Comparative and Theoretical Research, Russian Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Oriental Studies, director of the Institute for Development Problems of Central Asia (Moscow, Russian Federation)
The Soviet Union has been history for twelve years now, but the heated debates around the reasons for its collapse and the country itself are still going on. We indeed experienced a unique communality of nations that knows no analogies in history. A multi-tribal civilization congregated around Russia for centuries, at first in the form of separate state formations, and then under the wing of czarist autocracy. During the Soviet era, this process continued at a qualitatively different level, without the metropolises and colonies inherent in empires, but the country prided itself on its previously unheard of consolidation of nations, which radically cast aside linguistic, racial, and confessional confines in the name of a single state. This Eurasian community has acquired its borders within the course of civilizational development and made an intense lunge toward modernization within a very short time, which is still awaiting an objective scientific assessment.
The Soviet Union collapsed overnight and broke down into smaller countries. Nevertheless, they all stand on the same foundation—the Eurasian civilization. We can argue until the cows come home about the reasons the Union collapsed, and the pluses and minuses of the Soviet system, but the crux of the matter is that we still depend on each other, just as before. The CIS is a single organism run through with common technological, educational, and intellectual vessels. The cultural-psychological, spiritual, and blood strings that have their origin in the depths of time and became entwined into a single ball during the Soviet era prevent us from moving away from each other. Together we rise, or together we fall. The question is which path we choose. And in order to define it we need to understand our past and present in the context of the global development processes, where the priority lies on man’s relationship with nature, and the influence of the scientific and technological revolution on society and the environment.
In contrast to the western world, we mainly relied in our development on our own resources, both human and natural. We took, squandered, and destroyed them beyond all measure and in the end were the first to reach those limits of development which the whole of mankind is now beginning to encounter. We were the first to recognize the social and environmental crisis, and we can hope that we will be the pioneers in the search for and affirmation of a new way. It is important that in our historical community, the most valuable thing is retained—the spiritual and cultural blending of East and West, and this feeling of universal unity will hold us in good stead for a long time to come. What is more, we still have oodles of educational and scientific-technical potential inherited from the Soviet era, and thanks to it we are keeping our heads above water and have plenty more in store.
Now about the general picture, a short description of which is necessary to gain an idea of the common misfortune we have encountered, the situation we find ourselves in, and what awaits us.
The Contradictions of Contemporary Civilization
At the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries, world civilization arrived at a critical threshold. For the first time in its entire history, mankind came into extremely harsh and massive conflict with the world around it, and with itself. While exulting in economic rationalism, the human race is obliviously soiling own nest and becoming increasingly homogeneous.
In the 20th century, the universal system of the consumer society appeared. Its main principle was: consume more, produce more, and consume more again. But by the end of the century, the industrial-consumption models (their western and Asian versions, and the Soviet model as well), which gained momentum (and then dominated) thanks to their unprecedented use of the world’s natural storerooms, began to break down. Nature cannot regenerate and function at the rate it is being exploited. The intensive use of resources is exhausting the ecosystems that sustain the livelihood of communities.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain consumption on an upward path even in developed countries. Even now, the population of prosperous states (16% of the entire human race) consumes 80% of the resources produced on the planet.1 The rest have to content themselves with the leftovers. What is more, these resources are not infinite. By 2015, for example, 80% of the known world oil deposits and 95% of the gas deposits will be spent, and forty years after that all supplies will have dwindled to almost nothing.2 A catastrophic situation is developing with the use of fresh water. Whereas today at least 400 million people live in regions that do not have enough water, by 2050 their number will increase to 4 billion.3
In addition, the world order that developed during the 20th century greatly polarized mankind, caused a vast technological gap between developed countries and the rest of the world, gave rise to the stagnant nature of poverty in certain regions, lowered the cultural level of entire nations, destroyed their social fiber, and led to marginalization, and consequently, radicalism and extremism.
The prevailing world market system gives weak impetus to the economies of backward states and more often than not sends them into a tailspin, orienting them toward raw materials and the manufacture of resource-intensive, labor-intensive, and less scientific-intensive products. During the first half of the 1990s alone, the gap (according to per capita GDP) between the ten richest and the ten poorest countries has widened 35- to 45-fold.4 According to some estimates, by the end of the 1990s, in 85 countries of the world (of the 174 studied) people have a lower standard of living, according to the human development index, than they did ten years ago, and only five countries—Canada, Norway, the U.S., Japan, and Belgium—raised this index.5 Poverty has grown in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, Europe, and Central Asia.6 At present in the world, predominantly in poor countries, 1 billion 300 million people do not have access to clean drinking water, 2 billion do not have electricity, and more than 3.5 billion people live on less than two dollars a day.7 In turn, this situation is beginning to have a negative effect on the socioeconomic and political stability of rich countries. In the global economy, the poverty of the world’s outsiders is shrinking the markets and increasing the risk factors and the military spending of the world leaders. Retaining the quality of life in developed countries is becoming impossible without raising the standard of living in the developing states.
At the same time, the planet’s biological supplies are steadily diminishing, more than 65% of virgin forests have already disappeared, fish supplies have dwindled by 70%, and two thirds of the agricultural land is inflicted by erosion.8 Serious problems are arising during industrialization caused by fertile land being withdrawn from circulation, pollution and degradation of the environment, perceptible changes in the biosphere, and upsetting of the balance of certain natural cycles, which can no longer be restored. Environmental pollution and degradation are leading to a deterioration in the physical, intellectual, and spiritual development of people. In light of the population explosion in the developing counties, the number of conflicts over the ever dwindling natural resources is increasing. Global militarization is swallowing (in latent and blatant forms) approximately 70% of all the world’s money.9
Today it can be said with certainty that systemic crises of the new generation are emerging in many areas of the planet, on which the interrelationship between society and the environment is based. They are already encroaching on all the spheres of human existence, and cultural, social, economic, political, and military problems are becoming closely intertwined with environmental issues, so that it is frequently impossible to determine which of them predominate.
The industrial-consumption model itself is erecting various natural and social barriers in its way, which are becoming increasingly difficult to overcome. In truth, man initiates and nature regulates, the world has reached the point where nature is becoming a full-fledged player in the development of society: ignoring environmental factors is boomeranging back on it and the economy. Nature is beginning to make adjustments to the development processes, in the final analysis, technological systems based on a wasteful and predatory attitude toward nature and toward mankind itself can expect to fold.
Development Limits of the Southern Regions of the Former U.S.S.R.
The all-encompassing destructive processes were manifested with particular clarity during the last years of the Soviet Union’s existence. The crisis of the Soviet system was much more profound than it is usually interpreted as, not only by today’s reformers, but also by their ideological adversaries. It took place during the phase of overall global changes. On the eve of perestroika, we began to encounter serious difficulties with interrelated problems of social development, the economy, and the environment. Socioenvironmental crises came to the fore in the country, which undermined the very foundations of further constructive development. They primarily affected the southern regions. On the whole, the increase in production in the U.S.S.R. based on outmoded resource-intensive technologies and extensive development led to a much higher percentage of natural resources and energy being spent on a unit of end product than in any developed country.10
Beginning in the 1930s, industrialization of production and agriculture began in the Central Asian and Caucasian republics, as in other constituencies of the Soviet Union. But the southern regions did not have the same starting potential as the European part of the country and Siberia. The matter concerns not only the formational and socioeconomic conditions, but also the natural-climatic, demographic, and civilizational parameters reflecting psychology, religion, ethics, and world outlook as a whole.
We will remind you that the southern regions of the former U.S.S.R. and now the CIS mainly occupy territory with extremely sensitive natural-climatic conditions. They are characterized by mountainous, steppe, desert, or semi-desert countryside with limited water resources and a shortage of land suitable for cultivation. Nature here is capricious and intensive farming easily upsets the ecological balance.
During the years of industrialization, these conditions were simply ignored. Industry developed in keeping with the overall state program. Priorities went to building large facilities. The chemical, metallurgical, and machine-building industries, as well as the military-industrial complex comprised a significant percentage among these facilities. They all posed the greatest threat to the south’s fragile ecosystems, but the extreme danger they caused to territories in zones with low potential for self-cleansing the arid soil, water resources, and atmosphere was not taken into account. Reorientation toward energy-intensive industrial production went hand in hand with building large power plants, where the rule of thumb was the bigger the better. The operation of powerful thermal power plants caused air pollution and withdrew large amounts of water resources from circulation, and scarce arable land was flooded under the reservoirs of large hydropower plants. In agriculture, extending areas for cultivating a single crop, particularly in Central Asia, led to the creation of economically and agronomically unstable economies.
As early as the 1980s, the technological loads on the environment in many southern republics began going overboard. Local ecosystems perceptibly deteriorated and water and land resources significantly decreased. This was all accompanied by a very high natural increase in the population. Correspondingly, the anthropogenic load on the environment increased. At the same time, cities and large settlements grew in size and number, due to the disappearance of small kishlaks and auls, as well as to mountain dwellers moving to the valleys, and the development of mountainous areas was considered unpromising. In the towns, suburbs, and large villages, the population density was dozens of times higher than the norms permissible for normal livelihood. Social problems accumulated. In the past decades, the rates of economic growth in most Central Asian and Caucasian republics could not keep up with the increase in population size, and social development lagged chronically behind the accepted standards. In these regions, incidentally, as in the other parts of the U.S.S.R., economic man destroyed his interrelationship with his living space. For all that, the ability of southern ecosystems for self-restoration was overestimated compared to that in other parts of the country.
Another important feature of industrialization in Central Asia and the Caucasus was that it took place primarily in agrarian, basically traditional societies where most of the population has a stable peasant-handicraft psychology. Socioeconomic and simply human relations here are based primarily on the Muslim culture, which was utterly incompatible with the cultural atmosphere prevalent in the era of industrial development in Russia, which found it easier to go the industrialization route by essentially keeping to the western model of “progress.” The values and practice of industrial development in Central Asia and the Caucasus were in profound contradiction to the Islamic way of life.
Industrial modernization of primarily agrarian and basically traditional societies, which was accompanied by ignoring natural and climatic conditions and the demographic situation and by doing violence to the Muslim culture, ultimately led to destructive consequences both for the environment and for the societies themselves. Socioenvironmental crises became explosive, and it was no accident that most of the protracted blood-spilling conflicts emerged in the south of the Soviet Union. Degradation of the biosphere and the social sphere gave rise to a high level of conflict-inducing factors and social aggression aimed within and without. The collapse in the Soviet Union only poured oil on the fire.
A vivid example of the systemic crisis of the new generation is Tajikistan where the clash between the industrial-consumption model of development and traditional culture and the environment was manifested the most acutely. The conflict that flared up in this republic was caused by extremely urgent crisis situations in the environment, economy, politics, demography, and the spiritual-cultural sphere coinciding in time and becoming superimposed on each other. Kyrgyzstan, separate regions of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, as well as Daghestan, Karachaevo-Cherkessia, and Kabardino-Balkaria, experienced similar adversity. They have accumulated their fair share of detonators.
We will take the liberty to maintain that many internal conflicts in the Muslim regions of the CIS have deep-rooted social and environmental causes. But we should note something else as well: Islamic protest movements in Central Asia and in the Caucasus are caused by a crisis in the interrelationship between society and nature. These movements arise primarily where the environment’s ability for regeneration has been overestimated, and where nature, man himself, and his spiritual cultural world are abused. In such Muslim areas of the CIS, the human development index changes very slowly, it frequently declines, and the harmony between man and his living space is being destroyed. Life is difficult not only in the material, but also in the spiritual and psychological respect.
Conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus
Most of the internal and border conflicts in Central Asia and the Caucasus are related primarily to the increasing shortage of water, land, energy, and food resources. This is the crux of the matter. But there is no doubt that the ambitions of politicians, the interests of businessmen, the aggravation of ethnic identity, and external interference also have their role to play. One thing gets superimposed on another. But the key to stabilization nevertheless lies in resolving the fundamental problems of development. Not one conflict in the south of the CIS will be completely eradicated by military-political methods. With the help of politics, the current demarcation may be reinforced for some time, for example in the Georgian-Abkhazian and Armenian-Azerbaijani conflicts, that is, in confrontations on the level of recognized and unrecognized states and state formations. Here it is easier to come to terms and separate troops, and it is easier for international mediators to work. Internal conflicts, particularly in the Muslim regions, are another matter. They are more difficult, they already involve a more serious spiritual and psychological opposition between the traditional culture and the modernization processes detrimental to it.
The driving forces and dynamics of internal conflicts in Central Asia and in the Caucasus have much in common. On the one hand, secular ethnic-territorial elites are fighting for control over material riches and dwindling resources. This fight is primitive and deprived of any serious ideology, although its participants appeal to national sentiments, and often play out a fanciful opposition drama between the “communists” and the “democrats.” After getting what they wanted, the leaders of the hostile camps rapidly turned from rebels into conformists. On the other hand, Islamic movements are forming. They are already presenting a serious nonconformist force. They are mainly formed from the traditional and semi-traditional rural and urban strata of society. It is precisely this part of the population that felt the greatest brunt of the destructive consequences of forced industrialization. With the beginning of perestroika, their lives became even more unstable and difficult. They see the Islamization of social relations as an alternative to the past and present order. These movements are for now the only socially oriented force trying to designate a new path of development. But their ideas about an alternative to the emerging crises are vague and idealistic, and their methods frequently radical. In the form of supporters of Islamic order, traditional society is defining the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable for it in the modernization process.
The high conflict potential in Central Asia and the Caucasus can be traced at the most diverse levels: titular—non-titular nations; city—village; mountain-dwelling—valley-dwelling residents. But all the same, the main break is occurring between the technocratic, industrial-minded part of society and the traditional strata. The value reference points of these groups are incredibly different. In the Muslim regions of the CIS, the industrially oriented elite continues to dictate the conditions for its development. It does this from the standpoint of a strong and merciless egoist. The modernization it is carrying out includes social, economic, and technological processes that are destroying the culture of relations built up over centuries of experience among people and between man and the environment. This culture is traditional, its pivot is Islam. And the places where it has put down deep roots in human hearts, and the Islamic ethics defines human behavior, are the places where the protest against the technocratic models of “progress” is strong. This protest is justified in its own way, since the technocratic ideology on which contemporary economic management is based is giving rise to a barbaric attitude toward nature and man himself, and has brought many nations and countries face to face with the problem of survival.
Powerful Islamic movements are basically remonstrative in nature, and reach maturity primarily in those places where the rural way of life prevails and a deep-rooted relationship remains between people and the land, nature. In Central Asia and the Caucasus, these movements usually begin with a spontaneous protest, which is most often manifested in the local communities of “pure Islam” trying to impose their own law as an alternative to the lawlessness. Infuriated by the extortion, corruption, and the state’s neglect of their needs, the rural residents and urban strata (mainly those with a peasant mindset) try to organize local self-government, to put it in today’s terms. The characteristic feature of it is that it relies on tradition. But traditional economic and social ways of life are in contradiction with the ideals of “progress” of the ruling elite. Radical, usually, forceful measures to prevent traditional self-organization arouse a radical response. Hence extremely ideological groups make their entry onto the political stage under the banner of Islam, and the influence of foreign extremist organizations rises.
The authorities, on the other hand, are usually unable to resolve the deep-rooted reasons for the crises by means of their non-professional, violent, and radicalism-provoking actions. Socioeconomic planning continues to move along the well-trodden industrial-consumption paths that are destructive for society and the environment, and the settlement of conflicts is usually seen in reshuffling the leading posts in favor of a particular ethnic-territorial group. But the way the opposing ethnic elites are constantly “pulling the blanket” toward themselves is doing nothing to resolve the crux of the crises.
It is time to understand that in the southern regions of the CIS, we are dealing all the more often with conflicts generated by systemic crises. Attempts to resolve them by political and military means alone are doomed to failure, since violence and war cannot eliminate the mass of interrelated problems that have accumulated in the hotspots. They are only being stuffed further down inside, where they fester and are in danger of bursting out in even more extensive and flagrant forms. By sticking to a simplified view of the origin of such conflicts and the ways to “resolve” them, most of the Commonwealth countries have to unsuccessfully draw out large amounts of money for military purposes. There is no need to explain the effect this has on the economy. Other negative factors are the militarization of public consciousness, the further breakdown in the CIS into military and political groups, the increase in authoritarian trends, and the difficulties in international cooperation, both in the western and eastern directions.
The main target of the CIS’s politicians and military is burgeoning Islamic fundamentalism. Correspondingly, the military-political component begins to play a dominant role in the integration processes. But this is only a compulsory tactical measure in the absence of a general development strategy, many political contradictions remain, and from time to time they even get worse. Economic, scientific, and cultural relations are restored with great difficulty. The multi-vector standpoint of the CIS countries that is clung to in the geopolitical and geo-economic games is making the integration processes unstable.
There is no doubt that the vicious fires flaring up in the hotspots must be put out. But the focal points in the security conceptions of the participants in the agreements are turned upside down. The main thing in the fight against terrorism, extremism, and the drug business is struggling with the consequences. Measures for preventing the reasons that give rise to conflicts should be first and foremost. And these reasons are primarily internal, inherited from the Soviet era, as well as those that appeared during post-Soviet times. And no one, apart from ourselves, can solve them.
The Contours of the New Path
Since for many reasons the CIS is still a single organism and part of this organism is seriously sick, making the whole of it weak, overall treatment is needed. Local anesthesia and isolated operations will not help, amputation is contraindicated, and the body’s defense system will not kick in—we will all suffer. For now the illness is progressing.
The course of treatment must be comprehensive and directed at all spheres of interaction among the economy, society, and nature. It is time to engage in this seriously and at the highest level. The designated problems are most directly related to the joint development strategy of the CIS countries and their security. It is with them that the future of the Commonwealth is primarily associated, since instability and the degradation processes in some republics are hindering development in others. We will emphasize that the matter does not simply concern resolving environmental problems, but also drawing up a common strategy that recognizes the current situation and the trends in world development.
We have one alternative left, to seriously engage in introducing the ideology and practice of sustainable development. Its conception and criteria aimed at establishing harmonious relations between modern civilization and nature are still at the elaboration stage, but the world scientific community has already designated its main principles, which may be relied on. Now the ball is in the court of the CIS scientists. Using general postulates of sustainable development and drawing up its individual alternatives for different countries and regions of the Commonwealth is the fundamental task of our scientific community. Serious theoretical and practical progress has already been made in this direction. We only need to bring together the separate parts of our scattered intellect and draw up strategic programs of comprehensive solutions to problems relating to demography, state structure, and harmony between economic activity and the environment.
The leadership of the CIS countries should pay keen attention to the main ideas of the conception of sustainable development, since they reflect the new global trends that are gaining momentum. Taking them into account when planning our future will help to avoid many mistakes and blindly copy socioeconomic systems that have exhausted their potential.
The prospects for world development, according to the forecasts of science working in this sphere, appear as follows.
In light of the exhaustion of non-renewable resources, degradation of the environment, and growth in the planet’s population, the possibilities for socioeconomic growth in the developed countries will be exhausted in the next few decades. Since at the moment they are consuming much more material goods and resources than the developing countries and at their expense, the latter will not be able to reach the western standard of living. And there is no point in trying. This goal is fruitless. The post-industrial world itself will have to reduce its consumption, spending increasingly larger amounts of money on social and environmental programs and helping poor countries.
In the next few decades, it will be necessary to balance socioeconomic development with environmental prosperity to maintain even an average standard of living. Along with the economy and social regulation, the environment will become an equal system-forming factor in social development, mankind will have to shift to constantly regulated, stable relations with the environment, and society will enter a new stage of its development—coevolution with nature.
The transfer to sustainable development will entail fundamental socioeconomic changes, primarily in relation to market mechanisms. The neo-liberal (American) conception of the market (as a universal value system), which is currently considered the driving force of progress, will not be able to efficiently prevent social and ecological crises. Even now, as it is employed in many developing countries, including the CIS, it is amassing destabilizing social, economic, and environmental factors, rather than eradicating them. The Euro-American economy itself is beginning to encounter serious problems relating to the growing environmental expenses. The same can be said of Japan, for example, which is intensively following the West. In this respect, a need is arising for social management of the market and market mechanisms. They will no longer occupy a dominating position in the development of society.11 Shifting the emphasis from the economy to the environment and social development will bring about major changes in the modes of production and in consumption.
The regulatory role of the state will increase. Liberal-democratic models (where the priority is on the private rather than the public) will be replaced by socially oriented models that balance out the interests of the individual and society. If necessary, public interests will stand higher than private and corporate. We will have to give up certain democratic norms and personal freedoms in their current western understanding in favor of collective rights and obligations. At the same time, the functions of local self-government and public associations will expand.
In projecting such prospects for the new world order onto the CIS, we will single out several factors which, if retained, will hinder our development. First, many of our politicians have forgotten how to relate with respect to their past. The word “socialism” has gone out of fashion, and the system of social security has been destroyed. State officials naively believed in the myth of the invisible hand of the market, which supposedly automatically harmonizes public and private relations and creates a self-regulating economy. Second, most of the Commonwealth countries were obliviously reoriented toward the raw material vector of the economy, and Soviet models prevail in the general production development systems, many of which have exhausted their progressive potential. Third, the streamlined mechanism of state management and control has been destroyed. Fourth, science and education have been dealt a heavy blow, and science has been removed from making important economic decisions.
In order to extricate ourselves from the grips of stagnation, the following must be clarified.
We are striving for such models of economic structure that in actual fact have already seen their day, have exhausted their creative potential, and are leading to conflicts and disasters. The Soviet industrial-consumer model collapsed overnight. The rudiments of it that remain mainly contain charges that are destructive to society and the environment. Among them we will note the attempts to return to “the bigger the better” mania in planning industrial complexes, and the barbaric attitude toward natural resources and spiritual-cultural social structures. In light of the poor environmental control, continuing to be guided by the former systems of industrialization (although now with a capitalist “face”) is inevitably increasing the anthropogenic and technogenic pressure on the biosphere. It is no accident that in the CIS countries the number of technogenic and environmental disasters is growing with each passing year.
At the same time, while retaining and even reviving the rudiments of the Soviet industrial-consumption model, the CIS states are continuing to follow the post-industrial, essentially, American model of development, which is even more stricken by the ideology of unrestrained consumption. But as a system of values universal for the world, the North American conception of the market is undergoing collapse. Liberal democracy and liberal market mechanisms are incapable of resolving the new problems of development on their own, in the course of which control must be toughened up over consumption and production, even reducing them for the sake of preserving the environment and preventing systemic crises. Such major tasks can only be carried out by a state using the market mechanism as a tool of its policy.
So time is running out for the radical marketers, their defeat in the CIS republics is inevitable. The years of “independence” have shown in practice that introducing neo-liberal institutions and economic relations into our environment is not yielding the anticipated results. Superimposed on the matrix of local social relations and economic culture, they even slow down social development. And in most countries of the Commonwealth, people are already returning to the idea of regulating the economy on the basis of social values. But the problem is that without a general strategy of sustainable development, attempts to socialize state policy are doomed to failure. The current indeterminate policy will constantly bring them up against manifestations of deadpan economic rationalism, which calculates values only in material equivalents and ignores mankind’s real needs.
The state must declare its duty to be providing its citizens with the very basics for maintaining a normal standard of living. There is no need to give sweeping promises of universal prosperity, but the state simply must eradicate poverty so degrading to human dignity. It is a well-known fact that society in the CIS has been extremely polarized into a fistful of rich people and masses of poor people—a normal phenomenon for developing countries liberalizing their economies in keeping with western standards. This polarization will grow at the highest rates where the economy is focused on export and raw materials and on extensive, but poorly controlled flows of foreign aid. This gap must be narrowed. A sensible social policy is just as important for economic growth as a well-conceived economic strategy. This, for example, is shown by the latest studies of the World Bank of Development. They note in particular that in the 1990s, in countries with little inequality in income, doubling the growth rates had a greater impact on reducing poverty than in countries with a high level of inequality. If, on the other hand, income distribution deteriorated during the growth process, there was essentially no decrease in poverty.12
It is just as important for people to have spiritual equilibrium, and the ability to retain their health and protect themselves from wars and environmental disasters. We must keep in mind that mankind is increasingly making the choice in favor of preserving a favorable environment and a simple and natural way of life. What is more, new world outlook and moral imperatives are appearing in the world in general that are manifested in people returning to social and spiritual values.
Another task of the CIS countries is to move away from the raw material orientation of their economies. The current, almost ubiquitous orientation toward increasing primarily the production and export of natural resources is fraught with many difficulties in the strategic respect. They are already being felt today in light of the military campaigns launched by the U.S. and their allies in the East. In the future it appears we will have to feel the vulnerability of raw material economies in the face of global cataclysms even more keenly. In the present day and age, long-term prosperity is more often achieved not so much by means of resources, but by advanced technologies, the level of education, the development of science, sensible laws and their clear-cut execution, and investments in agriculture and the processing industry.
International studies of recent years show that countries with economies based on raw materials have largely failed to achieve the desired results, and the potential for political and socioeconomic crises in them is high. Prosperity based on resources frequently fails. It has already been proven that economic growth is not directly related to resources. Natural riches ensure prosperity only if all other conditions are equal. But the presence of significant deposits of natural resources usually makes these conditions unequal. Finances and scientific-technical intellect work primarily in one direction. Agriculture declines, other branches of the economy are not developed, and the environment is dealt a heavy blow, which in time can bring the state greater losses than the profit gained from the raw material. Revenue from its export is frequently appropriated by a narrow stratum of society and invested not in its own economy, but in that of foreign countries, that is, the first become the “donors” of rich states. It is characteristic that in our day and age most countries with a high per capita income have scarce natural resources, and many that have rich resources find themselves in the poverty zone.13
Of course, our development should be oriented toward resource-saving high technologies in industry and agriculture, primarily in machine-building, the reprocessing industries, and the light industry. Thank goodness all the CIS republics still have the scientific and technological potential for this. The main question is where to get the money? In this respect, we need to urgently resolve the question of introducing rent for the use of natural resources. Land, water, lumber, and minerals have been given for the benefit of all people. In the final analysis, they are God-given gifts and He is the exclusive owner. So individuals or certain groups do not have the right to get infinitely rich on things they have not produced themselves, but are a gift of nature. At present, in Russia for example, according to the estimates of Academician D. Lvov, the natural and raw material sector accounts for at least 75% of the country’s total income (60-80 billion dollars a year). But only about half of this amount goes into the state treasury, and 50% is concealed from taxation.
Rich Russians, who constitute 15% of the country’s population, are accumulating 85% of all the savings in the banking system, 57% of the monetary revenue, 92% of the revenue from property, and 96% of the expenses on the purchase of hard currency. Whereas 85% of its residents have only 8% of the property revenue and 15% of all the savings.14 In the southern regions of the CIS, the picture is approximately the same, if not worse. Of course, this situation, when a small group feeds off the country’s overall wealth, is giving rise to contradictions in all spheres of public life. So the question of rental payments is now becoming a top priority. Resources borrowed from nature should not be free. As Academician Lvov notes, the owner of land and natural resources has the incontestable right to revenue derived from his business activity. But it is also legitimate that the portion of the revenue left over, which is not the “doing of human hands,” but, metaphorically speaking, is given to man by God, should belong to everyone. Then everything falls into place: private ownership consents to the principles of freedom, equivalent exchange, efficiency, and social justice.15 Based on our common social and cultural future, the question of introducing rental payments should become the pivotal one in the Commonwealth’s economy.
And finally, the CIS states should expand their economic relations without failing to keep in mind their cultural and natural-climatic characteristics. During the Soviet era, a natural division of labor developed among the republics. This should be taken advantage of. But the distribution of productive forces must be adjusted depending on the environmental conditions, economic systems, traditional values, the ratio of rural to urban population, and the demographic processes in different republics. The new development plans must be introduced into Central Asia and the Caucasus, the most conflict-prone regions, primarily by means of joint efforts. Advanced socioenvironmental technologies can be successfully superimposed on the matrix of social relations and ties developed for centuries, intertwining them into the structure of everyday life. Internal tension in the south of the Commonwealth must be defused before the CIS can make the transition from semi-military degradation to creative construction.
1 See: World’s Wealthiest 16% Uses 80% of Natural Resources, CNN Internet report, 13 October, 1999.
2 See: Washington ProFile, No. 15 (150), 28 February, 2002 [http://www.washprofile.org].
4 See: L.S. Mokrushina, “Sotsial’no-ekologicheskie problemy XXI veka,” in: Priroda i kul’tura, Series “Sotsioestestvennaia istoriia,” ed. by Ye.S. Kulpin, No. XX, RAS Institute of Oriental Studies, Moscow, 2001, p. 135.
5 See: U.N. Report: Globalization Favors Rich Nations [http//cnn.cjm/ WORLD/ america/9907/12/un.globalization].
6 See: N. Lusting, N. Stern, “Broadening the Agenda for Poverty Reduction. Opportunity, Empowerment, Security,” Finance and Development, Wash., Vol. 37, No. 4, 2000, p. 5.
7 Such data were presented at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (see: Inter-Eko, 1 October, 2002 [http://www.eco.com]).
10 See: L.D. Gagut, SNG: novy put razvitiia v XXI veke, Moscow, 2000, p. 161.
11 Now many western scientists are doubting the idea of the omnipotence of the market, its abilities to automatically harmonize social and personal relations, regulate social processes without the interference of society, and reshuffle the riches at national and international levels from the rich to the poor. Hundreds of works have already been written about this. It is worth noting that for revising the classical western views on the relations among society, the market, and the state, three American economists received the Nobel Prize in 2001.
12 See: N. Lusting, N. Stern, op. cit, p. 4.
13 See: G. Kuliev, “Mify i real’nosti neftianoi strategii Azerbaijana,” Tsentral’naia Azia i Kavkaz, No. 4 (5), 1999, pp. 168-169.
14 See: Novaia gazeta, No. 10 (843), 10-11 February, 2003, pp. 17-18.
15 See: D.S. Lvov, “V chem nashe budushchee?” Prirodno-resursnye vedomosti, No. 10, March 2002, pp. 1, 3.