Sergey Lebedenko: The theses of an imaginary and true democracy

There is a wide and growing acceptance in the world today that many of our political traditions and institutions, whilst they may be cherished, are no longer fit for purpose. Frances Fukiyama could hardly have been more wrong when, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, he proclaimed “The End of History” (1992). The western model of liberal democracy, underpinned by capitalism, has proven to be inappropriate to many developed nations, and certainly to many more developing nations, writes Gary Cartwright

EU Today was pleased to meet with Sergey Lebedenko, an engineer, innovator, and political thinker who has developed an imaginative concept which challenges the integrity of the contemporary Hegemonic or Competitive Elitist model, which he describes as ““Elite Polyarchy”, which we see in many if not most western nations, and which is the antithesis of the Pluralistic “People’s “Polyarchy” model. He suggests a new model, which in certain aspects is rooted in the original Athenian system which first developed 2600 years ago. 

The latest world events, political trends and scientific studies point to an approaching global political crisis associated with the problems of the degradation of "democracies." In order to understand why the “democracies” are degrading, it is necessary to consider the reasons. The reasons can be found out by examining the core of the existing political systems.

Sergey Lebedenko

The established world political systems, called “democracies” in the modern world, are not conceivably like the ancient Greek political regime based on a method of collective decision-making with equal impact of the participants on the outcome of the process or on its essential stages’, he says.

‘It is generally recognised that countries, which are considered to be democratic, have built systems of polyarchic power far removed from the open political competition of various groups seeking voter support.

‘The public competition of political elites and the involvement of the population in the political process make the concept of polyarchy close to the concept of democracy. But this is not the same thing.’

American Nobel Prize winning economist Kenneth J. Arrow, in his 1951 work Social Choice and Individual Values, stated that ‘the public choice in polyarchy matches to the guaranteed choice of the social welfare function made by the dictator.’

He was echoed by British political theorist Professor David Held, in his highly acclaimed book Models of Democracy, first published in 1987, who described Competitive Elitism as a system in which the most charismatic member of the political elite would achieve power.

As Lebedenko puts it, ‘In other words, in the current regimes of polyarchy we choose the dictator of the social welfare function, and those are called democracies only because there are some public institutions made to raise public attention if the ruling elite exceeds the reasonable (Pareto efficient) legislative, judicial and executive moral scope peculiar to democracy. And the ruling elites (or clans) are supposed to listen to public opinion.

The most general requirement for a social welfare function in a democracy is the consistency of this function with the Pareto efficient criterion: if the practicality (welfare) of one of the society members increases, the rest should not decrease.

Pareto Vilfredo, chair of Political Economy at the University of Lausanne, 1920

‘But what happens if the ruling elites directly or indirectly buy representatives of public institutions or go into a huddle with each other? The question is rhetorical. The answer is already on the streets of many developed countries. The news increasingly turns into military chronicle. The guards of elite polyarchies stop working in systems of different countries. And this is just the beginning.

‘In a concentration situation: 1% has more wealth than the remaining 99% of the Earth’s inhabitants, this is clearly not the Pareto efficiency and this fact can be one of the main evidences of the “elite polyarchy” model failure at the current stage of societal development, the reason and the sign of the upcoming world disaster.

‘Arrow’s theorem, so it is argued, will be true for each individual choice of “overextended’”economic and political resources if the social welfare function aggregated in his theorem is presented as its components. In practice, these are institutions that perform the basic state functions. 

‘By choosing themselves their judicial and legislative executives, power according to Arrow's theorem, they will get local function dictators of public welfare in their person.’

Separately selected local dictators of state functions will not be able to go into a huddle with each other, in terms of less than their powers, find the Nash equilibrium.

John F. Nash, "Non-Cooperative Games”, PhD thesis (1950)

Lebedenko supports the theory that under the existing polyarchic system the elite, attorneys, judges, key civil servants et al. are chosen, not directly elected. Therefore they not obliged to do anything for the citizens, but to work for the interests of those who appointed them. In such a polity the people are only the subject of management, but certainly they are neither partner nor employer.

A system where the local dictators of separate state functions and controllers are legally chosen by the people leads to an understanding of the true "polyarchic democracy" not the current imitative one.

Those who govern have become temporary “Kings” with their own selected or engaged retinues (elites) in power for 5 years or so, those subject to their rule have indeed become “subjects” once again.

Historically, Kings were not interested in the withdrawal of funds from the country and the creation of a transnational elite, much more powerful financially than their countries. They were masters of their countries. But who are the real owners of the countries under the rule of the temporary elite polyarchies? Obviously not the people.

Lebedenko postulates that a new global hegemon has appeared in the form of a transnational ‘super elite’: whilst the power of national elites may temporary, ‘having withdrawn national resources during the reign from their country the national elite becomes a part of the transnational super-elite with a huge capital sufficient to bribe (directly or indirectly) individual representatives of the  national "democratic" institutions, engaging the changing national elites, and ensuring that the electorate sees no alternative to the existing system through the purchased media and the support of engaged "intellectuals", populists, nationalists and opinion leaders engaged through the distribution of grants and awards. 

This process is becoming easier due to the fact that the overwhelming majority of the public is preoccupied with ordinary day to day activities or just surviving with their meagre share of national wealth.

'What prevents people from understanding the benefits to themselves of directly choosing and holding to account state executives and their controllers with their re-election a year later, as a guarantee of their functions in Pareto efficiency? The answer is obvious - unawareness of causal problems. 

'This artificially created system of papering over causal problems, diverting the attention of the people to artificially created problems and such beneficial crises as may occur from time to time, keeps the people’s collective eyes off the ball.

'The obvious beginning of the world political crisis of imitation elite polyarchy can contribute to the awareness of causal problems and the search for ways out of the upcoming political and economic disaster.'

Lebedenko states ‘It is not necessary to change the structure of government. By changing the electoral system of the governing elite to the electoral system of people’s representatives in the government structure, the regime of government automatically changes: the outdated political system will be changed to a democratic one, without radical changes in the structure of government. 

‘In this case, the system of “elite polyarchy” is transformed into the system of “people polyarchy”, which is much closer to the “ideal democracy” (the Athenian aspiration), and much further from the imitational one.

‘Therefore, the coming global political crisis is a crisis of imitative elite polyarchy and not a crisis of democracy per se.

‘Separately, it is necessary to understand the timing of the crisis. The transnational super elite, as it stratifies into clans, with the division of spheres of influence into weaker national elite polyarchies. This is extremely dangerous due to the possible transition of the confrontation of the transnational super-elite clans from a “cold” phase to a “hot” one: citizens of the imitation democracies will be the first to find themselves in the firing line.

‘This is not to deny the elite their usefulness. Under conditions of well-founded “leadership” and not “leaderism” elites play their natural role as engines of human progress in the political sphere.’

Leadership is a process of social influence, through which the leader receives support from other members of the community to achieve the goal.

Chemers M. An integrative theory of leadership. (1997)

‘It is important to build interconnected relationships between the people and their elites , also with the super elite.

‘Transformation of existing regimes by national societies to the system of “people polyarchy” can be implemented along the following lines: (and on the basis of generalisation of the generally accepted scientific works):

Direct elections of the central government: 

Term of office up to 3 years

• President with the functions of control of the Constitution

• Commander-in-chief

Term of office from 1 to 2 years

• Chief Justice and Court Members

• Attorney General and members of the board

• Head of the Security Service

• Head of the Anti-Corruption Department

• Head of the Special Prosecutor's Office

• Head of the Bureau of Investigation

• Prime Minister

• Minister of Government Property

• Minister of Finance

• Minister of Health

• Minister of Police

• Education Minister

• Head of the Central Election Commission (CEC) and its members

• Legislative Deputies

• Head of Central Bank and his deputies

• Head of Antimonopoly Authority

• Head of public media and members of media regulatory institutions

Direct elections of regional authorities:

Term of office from 1 to 2 years

• Governor

• Judges

• Attorneys

• Representatives of the regional legislature

• Head of Police

• Head of Healthcare

• Head of Education

• Head of Public Property Management

• Head of Land Administration

• Head of Election Commission and its members

• Head of Public Media

Direct elections of local government:

Term of office from 1 to 2 years

• Mayors or Heads of Communities

• Attorneys

• Judges

• Executive Representatives

• Healthcare Committee

• Education Committee

• Head of Collective Property Management

• Head of Land Administration

• Head of the Election Commission and its members

• Head of Public Media

‘The most important safeguard of the “people polyarchy” is the annual re-election of people's representatives for each branch of power of at least 10, at each level of government. The total amount of years spent in office by individual representatives may remain traditional, due to the fact that the time required to develop synergistic partnerships may not be enough, and it is unlikely that a full set of new managers could maintain consistent strategies.

‘The above configuration of the polity structure must observe the basic rules of public choice, and not contradict the basic Constitutions of democratic nations or the Charters on human rights of UN and EU.

‘In economically developed countries, parts of the presented layout have been implemented historically and intuitively. These countries are the least affected by the global political crisis. The introduction in the full complex (or its semantic modification taking into account historical peculiarities) of the system of election of people’s representatives in the structure of government in countries with pronounced "elite polyarchy" will allow them to avoid the global political crisis and go to the regime of the people or that will be identical to "democratic polyarchies ”

Practical implementation can be carried out through a social contract and (or) a referendum.'

Sergey Lebedenko was born in 1965 in the city of Zaporozhye, Ukraine. A graduate of the Kharkiv Aviation Institute. His engineering skills have been applied not only to the aeronautics, but also to the automatic and energy sectors. He is also a successful businessman.

Recently he has  been working on the concept of Public Health Insurance and implements programs that involve a significant increase in efficiency in the use of funds allocated to finance the health care system, a major issue in Ukraine at present.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

In October 2021 POLITICO described Gary as "the busiest man in Brussels!"

He is a of member the Chartered Institute of Journalists, a professional association for journalists, the senior such body in the UK, and the oldest in the world having been founded in October 1884

Gary's most recent book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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