Debates on politics and culture
The special double issue of Neprikosnovennyj Zapas is dedicated to the topic of historical makings of corporativity and the place of corporations in the modern world. The phenomenon of corporation is looked at from several angles. The issue presents articles by sociologists, economists, political scientists, historians and even corporate practitioners not to mention direct political opponents of modern transnational corporations. In this way the editorial board tried to present a broad spectre of analytical and political opinions, since those opinions had rarely been found under the same cover before.
The issue opens with a personal column of a sociologist, Aleksandr Kustarev. This is the first text in his NZ commentary project we chose to name Imaginary of Politics . Kustarev’s article is dedicated to analysis of corporativity as a way by which stares, societies, businesses and even hybrids of state and business corporations that the author defines as corporation, might be organised.
The next section The Phenomenon of Corporation depicts both the inner mechanisms of corporate functioning and the place of corporations in the society, including modern Russian society. Jakov Pappe and Yana Galukhina analyse the history of Russian corporations that according to the authors have travelled a long way from completely olygarchial structures to fully legitimate participants in the world market. The articles of Irina Semenenko and Sergei Peregudov are devoted to the social aspects of corporate internal arrangements and activities.
The topic keeps on an interview with a famous economist, Higher School of Economics Head of Research, Yevgeny Yasin. Yasin builds up a scheme of Russian government’s relationships with Russian business (primarily corporations) and suggests two possible scenarios of the ways those relationships might develop.
The next section if the NZ special issue returns the reader to the history of corporate formation. The phenomenon of corporation in the Middle Ages is discussed in an overview article of a well-known medievist Adelaida Anatolievna Svanidze, while Yulia Arnautova examines corporations as a way of survival in the early Middle Ages. Yulia Arnautova also considers a very important matter of historical roots of modern corporate culture.
The phenomenon of corporation is particular not only to modern globalist economy or medieval urban society. The 20th century had seen several attempt to build a corporate state, and the notion itself was introduced in the Fascist Italy as early as 1920’s . In “NZ Tribune” there are two opinions on the matter whether the current Russian regime is trying to build a corporate state coming from opposite ends of political spectrum. Despite their political differences, Vladislav Inozemtsev and Boris Kagarlitsky give a positive answer to that question (albeit with varying degrees of reluctance). We hope that their articles would become a subject of serious discussions in the future issues of NZ.
The matter of relationships between corporations and the state is further discussed by Natalia Zubarevich and Irina Bysygina in the section of the same name. The spectrum of analysis is broad from the place of corporations in regional Russian politics to lobbying of corporate interests at the EU level. American researcher from the Cato Institute Timothy Carney proposes his own concept of relationship between the state and big business. He tries to decrown the myth about rivalry or even conflict existing between big business and the so-called big (i.e., strong and regulatory) government.
The following four sections are dedicated to a very important topic that (in the broadest sense of the word) can be called corporate ethics . Under “ethics” one might understand specific corporate rules of employee conduct (Lev Usykin s article), their relationship to each other and the corporation as a whole (Elena Krasnikova s, Nadezhda Panferiva Recourses and limitations of corporate ethics in modern Russian companies), corporation s attitude to its hired personnel (Galina Gradoselskaya Myths of new Russian corporations). Another aspect of corporate ethics discussed is the way a corporation would behave outside its own borders, its charitable activities, social and ecological programs (articles by Inga Pagava, Olga Fedoseyeva and Gleb Turin).
Corporate activities are increasingly criticised all over the world; especially that of transnational corporations that tend to monopolise the world market. An example of such anticorporate and antiglobalist criticism is presented in the Culture of Politics section by an article bordering on a manifesto written by Alex Kozlov, programs director of the Ecological and Social Justice foundation.
Corporations exist not only as Fascist or Frankist state or big transnational business. Any closed society that lives according to its own rules and can lay claim to history and tradition of its own (and its own rituals, of course) is a corporation. A university, for example, is the one of these phenomena. The phenomenon of university as a corporations is discussed from different professional angles by Vitaly Kurennoy, Dmitry Kurakin, Aleksandr Filippov and Aleksandr Sogomonov.
In the traditional NZ column Sociological Lyrics a well-known sociologist Aleksei Levinzon returns to the topic of the historical roots of corporations (he even treats Moscow prikazy as such) and poses a burning question: Who incorporates whom? Does modern Russian state subsume the corporations or do the corporations subsume the state?
Aleksandr Tarasov follows him up in the section Corporations and Trade Unions: between Struggle and Solidarity by tracing the history of post Soviet trade unions, that, in his opinion, rejected the pursuit of corporate interests of hired personnel in order to be included into a much wider and much more powerful corporation that joined interests of state and big business. Ilya Budraytslis text Corporate Industry in Russia and Rebirth of Trade Unions serves an important supplement to that article.
The issue is concluded with our running sections: Yevgeny Saburov’s column Humanitarian Economics, Russian Intellectual Journals Review and New Books (in the last section please notice Aleksey Penzin s review of the recently published Russian translation of Lois Althusser’s notable book For Marx ).