Mainly Russian politicians and political parties, which have dominative ambition, show a real practical interest to the content and specific characteristics of functioning and developing mechanism of public choice at present. Public choice in its form is the most important part of political development, by means of which the politicians acquire or confirm their power authorization. However, in its content «public choice is a collective elaboration and decision making concerning production, distribution, exchange and consumption of collective goods»[1].

 

The mechanism of public choice affects the allocation of resources between the market and social sectors, the motivation of participants in economic affairs, the distribution of incomes, and the degree of satisfaction of people’s needs in public and market goods. Thus, it drastically determines the efficiency of use of economic resources in the society, and the nature of social development. It must become a topic of political economics owing to the nature of its economic content and peculiarities of the political form. Being an important element of the organization of social and economic development in the society, the mechanism of public choice reflects distinctive features of the development of certain countries, but it is theoretically treated mainly in the tradition of Anglo-American school.

 

Let us consider the special features of public choice as a special phenomenon, its internal contradictions in order to understand the directions for the development and modification of the theory of public choice for the benefits of Russian economics. Common versions of the theory of public choice are targeted at the solution of the following fundamental questions: how politicians, who have their own interests, turn their efforts to the satisfaction of population needs; which benchmarks they choose; how they may influence the opinion of the electorate, consolidating their decision preferences, acceptable for the majority or a considerable part of the electorate. Anglo-American school in the public choice interpretation relies upon general principles of economic liberalism, according to which the interests of politicians and electorate differ cardinally and coincide only implicitly, as the conditions of meeting a goal objective of politicians ultimately coincide with the interests of electorate.

 

Private interest of taxpayers and politicians is dominant in the theory of public choice. It is supposed that taxpayers are able to estimate the marginal utility of expenditures connected with satisfaction of this or that unit of financial resources and match it with the marginal utility of expenditures connected with satisfaction of another social need . The decision of a politician on the amount of expenses of financial resources for the satisfaction of any social needs is considered as a prerequisite and serves as a utility criterion of its activity for the voter with the particular set of preferences.

 

However, the most part of these prerequisite is either doubtful or has a limited or dominant value for the evaluation of a real usefulness of politician’s activity. Not every politician can be estimated on his individual solution to spend public funds for the decision of any public problems.  Representative power authorities take corporate actions on the distribution of limited public funds in the majority of cases. When taking part in the adoption of collective solutions, individual politicians are guided by certain norms of behavior, ideology, worked out by a political party or social movement. «The mere fact of choice, as well as doctrine headquarters, is cardinally modified with the development of parties. From now on the question is on the dialog between the electorate and the electee, the nation and the parliament: the third person stands between them, which radically changes the nature of their relations. The deputy is elected by the party before being elected by the electorate: the electors only validate this choice»[2]. Decisions, adopted by the representative bodies are often a fruit of agreement between the parties, party groups, deputy groups.

 

A considerable part of electorate adopts normative evaluation of politicians’ actions and the ideology from active and authoritative public figures, representatives of political parties and social movements. «Society has always been a flexible unity of the minority and masses. The minority is a complex of individuals, distinguished by special qualities; the masses are not distinguished at all…Masses are everyman, who does not measure himself by a special measure in the good or in the evil, but feels «as everyone» and is not only dispirited, but satisfied with his own indistinguishability»[3].

 

In this connection a practical value of the activity of individual politician for the separate elector can be defined on how successively he observes public or group norms, how deeply he is confined to the party ideology. The standard of behavior and ideology, built on the ground of individual opinions, norms and evaluations of a certain politician, does not have a real social power and appeal.

 

The implementation of adopted decisions on the distribution of limited financial resources mainly depends upon the activity of the executives but not the electorate. A real contribution of representatives of electoral (legislative) authorities to the public problems settlement can consist primarily in the provision of effective, successive and fundamental control over the implementation of taken decisions. However, this control can split the representatives of executive and legislative authority and lead to the visible decrease in the work results. They both may decrease a positive assessment of the politician’s activity by the electorate.

 

In order to prevent it the representatives of different branches of authority should be solidary in general approaches to the solution of various problems, moderate to each other in critics, should collectively participate in the formation of positive evaluation of the activity of various authority representatives by the electorate, as much as the electorate is unable to form a qualified and faithful evaluation in many cases.

 

The solidarity of representatives of all branches of government is clearly manifested in the power of critics prohibition of what cannot be rejected. «Everybody spontaneously vails in front of him… Anybody, who shyly tries to put incontestable into question, meets the most furious ressentiment…The power of prohibition! The conscience and will to control are silent in front of him…The power is rooted equally in both clearly declared and direct prohibition, which makes it impeccable in our eyes, as well as in the violence, destined to express it»[4]. 

Thus, a liberal model, which means based on the liberal, neoclassic ideas, of the public choice mechanism appears to be limited in the breadth and intensity of its impact, which is blurred by the increasing influence of institutional and social factors. The evaluation of politicians’ actions by the electorate appears to be vaguely connected with theirs individual role in the decision making on the distribution of public funds for the satisfaction of different social needs in practice. In many cases the orientations of politicians prevails,which are directed for the intraparty norms of behavior, the implementation of policy and principles of intraparty ideology, the observation of internal unity within the whole state machine management, despite various positions and interests of different branches of government.

 

Weakness and insufficiency of liberal model of public choice may be mainly compensated by two basic ways. The first way is to limit the role and influence of social norms and institutions at most, which are not compatible with liberal values, for the solution of problems, connected with a fuller satisfaction of social needs.

 

The second way is to admit the fact of content duality of public choice mechanism, the presence of components, based on the influence of social norms, institutions, instruments and leverages for the organization of collective actions apart from the components of interaction of isolated and qualitatively different private interests of politicians and the electorate, which are connected by means of implicitly manifested mutual benefits. In this case it is necessary to think of and take care about how to connect these mutually disagreeing components rationally and efficiently.

 

Which of the two ways is possible to what extent, which advantages and losses are connected with each of them, how to use the emerging opportunities for the dynamic and harmonizing public relations of social development? — Questions, which are connected with the choice of way, are not only theoretical. A real effectiveness of Russian system of public administration and also the route, on which the next step forward in the Russian civilization should be, depend on their decision, which is far from ideal at present.

 

The movement on the first way is connected with the variety of deepening contradiction, with which western countries come across. They are still not perceived by the Russian thinking intelligentsia and politicians as very dangerous and hopeless against the background of recent perturbations, connected with the transition to the market economy. The contradictions of the transitional period, despite all their acuity are transitive. The contradictions are less acute, but are internally typical for the already created and developing social-economic system, may have a fatal character, if they act and are constantly increased, thus eroding the very grounds of the created system.

 

Let us consider which internal contradictions are connected with the development of liberal model of public choice mechanism. One of the contradictions is expressed in the known impossibility theorem of K. Arrow. It lie in the fact that there is no universal, acceptable for any situation, set of democratic rules of individual preferences arrangement in the reference to specific alternatives, which would allow to avoid  a dictator at the decision making under the weak principle of Pareto[5].  The weak principle of Pareto lies in the fact that if every member of the society X is preferential than Y, then the whole society should prefer X to Y.

 

In other words, the theorem means that even within the personified democratic procedure in the process of management of democratic society, which is the procedure of elections, it is impossible to exclude the dictator’s authority, and therefore, a rude violation of democratic principles. We may oppose to it as the exceptions from general rules, requiring the use of dictator’s credentials, are relatively rare, and their number can be relatively reduced on the grounds of complex voting rules. Nevertheless, it is impossible to eliminate them completely.

 

This conclusion may be interpreted in the sense that democracy is impossible in its pure form, the implementation of public choice mechanism on the ground of successive liberal principles only is impossible. A positive content of this conclusion lies in the fact that a genuinely functioning public choice mechanism should include the components, based on the activity of various social norms, the rules of conduct, and human institutions in addition to the components of a liberal model.

 

The organization of public choice mechanism, based on the successive liberal principles, contains other internal contradictions, which become more acute with. All this testifies more distinctly on the potential limitation of such mechanism for the provision of the efficient solution to the problems of society development. Let us consider these contradictions. The main one is a contradiction between the sociality of functions, performed by politicians in the sphere of state administration, local government, and the tightness of private, financial interests, which dominate in the actions of politicians and the electorate within the system of successive liberal values, theories and practice of economic liberalism.

 

A social character of politicians’ functions is chiefly connected with the distribution of public financial resources. A part of these resources stands out for the production of collective goods and the supervisory control for this production. As it is known, public goods are meant for the satisfaction of joint, collective needs, typical for different communities: from work collectives and social communities to social and political alliances of citizens on the society scale. «Purely public goods are used collectively (in the absence of competition), which means their simultaneous usage by the economic entity i and economic entity d. These goods are given to everyone in equal volumes, the extra usage of goods leads to zero expenses»[6].

 

When politicians solve problems, connected with the needs of certain social status categories, the population of certain territories, the mechanism of political business struggle, distribution of common property resources on the ground of the revealed preferences of population and decision making on the ground of the opinion of the overwhelming majority of voters is quite appropriate. Such mechanism really provides efficient distribution of limited public financial resources by Pareto criterion and Kaldor–Hicks criterion in accordance with the ranged preferences of population. In this case the mechanism of taking policy decisions, based on successive liberal principles of individualism and competition, are quite appropriate.

 

However, in modern conditions the most part of public funds is spent on solving of problems, which have a have common value for the population of the whole country. To such problems may be referred the problems of provision of national and environmental security, population problems, the problems of creation of effective system of national education, public health, development of science in accordance with the dominant world-wide tendencies and the needs of national economics, problems of efficient integration of national and universal cultural values and other.

 

All increasing means of national states should be spent on the solution of global problems. «Today practically all national states have gradually intertwisted with functional parts of more large-scale models of global transformations and global streams. International structures and relationships embrace nearly all spheres of human activity. Goods, capital, people, knowledge, relation, and weapon as well as crime, polluting substances, fashion and beliefs, quickly cross territorial boundaries. The world turns from the condition of «independent civilizations», or simply international community of states into the global, internal, interdependent system with the intense model of exchange and distinct power models, hierarchy and inequality»[7].

 

Nationwide and far less global problems cannot be solved on the ground of formal orientation on the majority of the electorate votes, because the majority either does not understand, how to solve these problems, or their perceptions turn out to be associated with far from better solutions. One may not rely on the mechanism of political trade in this case, or the competition of various electorate groups can reveal the dominant opinions and favors, but not the best decisions, wherein everyone is interested. The liberal model of social choice, built-in in the political system of western countries, demonstrates the failure to secure viable solutions of nationwide and global problems.

Common interest of the electorate consists in finding a certain political mechanism of their solutions for the given problems. The society is interested in the delegation of special authority to the trusted politicians or specialists, and give them the opportunity solve these problems with authoritarian methods, coming from their view on the practicability and effectiveness of methods and approaches used.

 

It is necessary to elaborate a special politico-social revelation mechanism, detection of social status, and the way of solution of nationwide and global problems. For example, the society could form a Council for the settlement of nationwide problems on the ground of direct and general elections (it is necessary to make certain amendments to the Constitution of the Russian Federation for this). This authority could make proposals for the State Duma within the meaning of status and authority functions, which will be engaged in the solution of nationwide problems, as well as a proposal on the organizational control. The system of political trade do not work within the mechanism, created for the settlement of nationwide and global problems, nationwide interests receive priority over the private interests of certain electorate and politicians, provision of specific authority to highly qualified and responsible politicians will allow to elaborate and implement real viable solutions of nationwide and global problems.

 

Thus, the efficient organization of public choice mechanism supposes the creation of political organization elements in its structure alongside with the liberal mechanisms of political trade and decision making based on the detection of electorate preferences of political organization.

Let us consider the second contradiction of of liberal mechanism model of public choice. What is meant here is a contradiction between the democratic principle, in which the decisions, taken by the representative authority, should correspond to the majority interests and have a limited potential of citizen to express public interests, efficiently participate in the state management.

 

The population majority understand their interests in a very limited way, they cannot even see what combines them with the interests of other people, cannot state or perceive a real allowable ideology, the strategy of usage of limited public funds on different needs of citizens and the state. That is why there is an inclusion of the majority to the solution of public problems, which has been known since Plato times, providing a necessary influence to democratic politicians, is drawing of means from the rich and their redistribution in order to secure successful reelections[8].

 

A market, which is liberal in its base, conception of the public choice mechanism comes out of the fact that the electorate has a formed and quite efficient preference scale, according to which they coincide, range the needs in the market and public goods, as well as distribute their preferences between various types of public goods. However, the electorate in the majority of cases, are guided not only by economic considerations when elaborating their opinions, and being under the influence of socio-psychological factors, factors of absence of relevant information and knowledge, but simply do not want to spend their time and efforts on the elaboration of their own opinion. 

«The most strength in population belongs to the provoking and quarrelsome or to deceitful and empty learning. These words attract supporters using lyes and deceit. That is why the most gifted ones have always been exposed to violence: people with outstanding talent and mind still had to obey today’s judgment and crowd, wishing to rise in the estimation of the public opinion»[9]. These words, which belong to F. Bacon, written around 400 years ago are still relevant now.

 

It is necessary to embed a number of uprated limitation therein, which do not admit the acceptance of populist decisions, and bring popular votes to politicians, but which are not profitable for the economics and society in order that the market liberal mechanism of public choice secures the acceptance of really efficient decisions on the distribution of public means for various public needs. In order to solve this task it is necessary to create a system of strict corporate rules of conduct for professional politicians and government officials, which would limit their inequitable conduct towards the electorate and the whole society under the threat of declaration of boycott and deprivation of rights for the corresponding activity for those who do not follow the set standards and rules.

 

As is the case, it is reasonable to create public associations of the electorate, guided by strict rules of corporate governance in order to limit the impact on the acceptance of policy decisions of the electorate, who is irresponsible, subjective, and knows nothing abut politics and economics. Associations, charged on public account, could provide clarification concerning the sense and consequences of accepted or offered policy decisions by various politicians for the citizens interested , carry out a proposal examination of citizens on the system development of political management, or instructions of the electors to politicians on a voluntary basis .

 

As a matter of fact, the proposed modifications in the liberal model structure of public choice, which adequate form of implementation is political democracy, indicated the building in of system elements of aristocratic form of government in its structure. It is justified, because it can lead to the increased efficiency of accepted policy decisions, more complete satisfaction of population needs, and the rise of overall welfare level.

 

The third essential internal contradiction, common for the successive liberal and market model of public choice mechanism, is the contradiction between the innovative nature of social development and the conservatism of the voters’ generality, whose opinion should be brought to life by politicians. The implementation of innovative model of community development is always connected with the limited public funds redistribution: decreased expenditure financing for the current needs of the public and increased financing costs for the innovations and investments, which includes ones charged on public account in the public sector of the economy. As J. Shumpeter has shown, the development contrary to the traditional cycle of economic turnover, connected with innovations, new combinations of factor use. «…»financing» as a special act is fundamentally necessary for practice, and mental picture creation at the realization of new combinations «[10]. 

Innovations, connected with changes in resources allocation and requiring extra financing, including public means, will not be in favor by everyone, because they will cause the reduction of actual earnings. If the politicians are subsequently guided in their decision by the opinion of the majority of voters, a lot of innovations, which consequences are hard to foresee, will fail to be implemented. This will eventually lead to the significant decrease in the efficiency of distribution and usage of the limited public funds in the long-run period.

 

The contradiction can be overcome at least partially on the basis of incorporation into the political democracy of «tabula rasa», which is comparable with the successive liberal model of public choice, the elements, developed withing other forms of political management.  The question is to enhance the role of the acceptance of policy decisions in social forces, which understand the risks and obstacles connected with innovations better than the others and can anticipate and assess theirs consequences realistically. Among them there are entrepreneurs as well as large owners. The political regime will inevitably acquire certain features, which are common for oligarchy and plutocracy if to increase their roles in the making of political decisions. The changes will be justified, if the distribution efficiency and the use of limited public means are increased in the long-run period as well as the overall public welfare during their implementation.

 

Thus, we arrive at a conclusion that the efficient mechanism of public choice should comprise of a mixed model, including the elements of pure democracy (typical of successive market model, developed on the basis of liberal principles) as well as the elements of other means of political management: authoritarianism, aristocracy, oligarchy or plutocracy etc. It is necessary to direct each component of the common mechanism clearly to settle these public problems, which can perform it the best, so that the mixed model could become economically viable and efficient. It is necessary so bind the separate components or blocks of general mechanism, so that they could eventually correspond and complement each other efficiently. Furthermore, it is necessary to create such a system of mutual checks and balances, at which the elements of political systems, which are the part of the public choice (in the modified view), could acquire the necessary qualities of stability and flexibility for the development of society. The subsequent evolution of these elements should exclude the vicious cycle of change of absolute political management forms: monarchy, democracy, oligarchy, aristocracy, tyranny or authoritarianism, ochlocracy with their peculiar defects.

 

The corresponding scientific investigations of laws and resources of the organization of combined political systems are necessary to solve present Russian problems and historical experience in order to settle such difficult practical tasks. The investigation should be of the interdisciplinary nature. They should be aimed not only at the immediate practical outcome, but at the creation of interdisciplinary theory of social development, which explains its sources, driving forces, and allows the mutual links among the effects of economic, political, social, spiritual and cultural factors. Eventually, the interdisciplinary theory and the application of the scientific outcome on its basis should serve the purpose of harmonization of social development, efficiency enhancement of the use of common property resources, social welfare of society and its citizens, increase of their real economic freedom.

 

The initial prerequisite of the theory of public choice should be taken into account. They should be formed in the frame of general theory of social development, but not be limited by the democracy theory. Public choice and its mechanism have sufficient impact on the qualitative shift in the economy development, the nature of resources allocation, qualitative changes in the power structure in society. «Power can be understood as a symbolically chosen commutative tool», «power is a chance to increase the probability of appearance of incredible selective bonds»[11].

 

The public choice mechanism is a powerful means of broadcasting of qualitative changes of various cultural components, which are responsible for the appearance of innovations in society. Social development exists as phenomenon only thanks to these many sided changes of various factors.

 



Sergei Laptev, Doctor of Economics, professor, head of department of accounting and finance of Lipetsk State Technical University.

[1] R.M. Nureyev The Theory of Public Choice. A course of lectures.// Нуреев, Р.М. Теория общественного выбора. Курс лекций : учеб. пособие для вузов.- М.: Изд. дом ГУ ВШЭ, 2005. — С. 78.

[2] Duverger M. Political Parties // Дюверже, М. Политические партии.- М.: Академический проект; Королев, Парадигма, 2005. — С. 414-415.

[3] José Ortega y Gasset, Revolt of the Masses // Ортега-и-Гассет, Х. Восстание масс // Избранные труды: Пер. с исп. – М.: изд-во «Весь Мир», 1997.- С. 45-46.

[4] Moskovichi S. Making Gods Machine // Московичи, С. Машина, творящая богов./ Пер. с фр. – М.: «Центр психологии и психотерапии», 1998. – С. 286-287.

[5]  See Atkinson E.B., Stiglits J.E. Lectures in Economic Theory of State Sector // Аткинсон, Э.Б., Стиглиц, Дж.Э. Лекции по экономической теории государственного сектора: Учебник / Пер. с англ. — М,: Аспект Пресс, 1995. – С. 412-413.

[6] Brummerhoff, D. The Theory of State Finances // Брюммерхофф, Д. Теория государственных финансов /Пер. седьмого немецкого издания/ Под общей ред. А.Л. Кудрина, В.Д. Дзогоева. – Владикавказ: Пионер-Пресс, 2001. С. 69.

[7] Held D. etc. Global Transformation: Politics, Economics, Culture // Хелд Д. и др. Глобальные трансформации: Политика, экономика, культура / Пер. с англ. – М.: Праксис, 2004. – С. 57.

[8] Shapiro I. The Moral Foundations of Politics. //См.: Шапиро И. Моральные основания политики / Пер. с англ. – М.: КДУ, 2004. – С. 257.

[9] Bacon F.The Great Instauration// Бэкон, Ф. Великое восстановление наук. Предисловие // Соч. в 2-х т. Т. 1.- М.: Мысль, 1977. — С. 62

[10] Shumpeter. J. The Theory of Economic Development: Capitalism, Socialism, Democracy // Шумпетер Й.А. Теория экономического развития. Капитализм, социализм, демократия / Пер. с нем. – М.: Эксмо, 2007. – С. 137.

[11] Niklas L. Power// Луман Никлас. Власть / Пер. с нем. – М.: Праксис, 2001. – С. 25, 24.