To the Readers of "The World of Transformations"
Transformations. This word implying in itself unbridled dynamics and bright diversity of life, highlights most accurately the meaning and substance of the last 15 years from the history of almost 30 countries, formerly being called the socialist. Everything in these countries started moving, everything is transforming before our eyes. State, society, economy, politics, culture are becoming different. Productive relations are changing, world outlook and world perception of the peoples are under transformation, inter-state and inter-personal relations are emerging in a new manner. Unusual criteria, new motivations, new assessments are intruding upon human psychology, breaking up the world scene which seemed to have been established forever.
Two processes are dominating the endless variety of transformations: profound transformation of post-socialist countries' social system and their unusual, but inevitable accession into the sweepingly globalizing world. Having rejected communist dogmas, as well as those of command and administrative autarchic economy, the peoples of the former Socialist bloc with great hardships are mastering the rules of pluralistic democracy and civilized market economy. Some of them cope better with this task, others meet enormous hardships on their way. However, the transformations come easily to none of them.
In different countries, restructuring started in different ways, assuming its specific forms in each thereof. It might be due to this reason, that the outcome of transformation (if estimated by the living standard and the profoundness of carried out democratic reforms), turned out to be variable, as well. The deviations in the experience acquired are obvious enough. However, this very experience is marked by common patterns, requiring objective analysis.
Grandiose transformation doesn't imply a return to "old good" pre-socialist times, but rather a movement towards "normality", perhaps, neither of the former socialist countries has experienced. A new type of social and economic inequality is entering life "after communism". Hardly anybody knows, if we'll manage to make it legitimate and at the same time acceptable to everyone. How sustainable will private property, which emerged in the outcome of privatized state property, turn out? Will the newly-constructed social system turn out to be durable? Is it possible to assess mental costs of a rapid transition from utopian labor motivation, as released from self-interest, to the psychology, dominated by private interest and personal responsibility? How can one find a verge between overcoming the imposed collectivism and the spread of individualism which denies human solidarity? In short, is this just what was dreamt by the people, who craved to be released from shackles of obtruded ideology? What is the former socialist bloc heading for?
The answers to these and many other questions are required not for history, but for those immediate participants of transformations. Even today, we'd rather know, what is implied, or, better to say, heralded by crying despair of Otar Ioseliani's words: «Some time I thought: let the bolshevism collapse and paradise will be established. And now, it's collapsed but there is no paradise, everything has grown even worse and the extent of solitude has increased». One can blame bolshevism, market and democracy of failure, but how can one introduce more sense and optimism into our life?
First of all, one should single out general and specific features of transformations and forecast their dynamics. Unbiased assessment of achievements and successes, failures and mistakes is no less significant, and the main thing is provide a correct assessment of social price of transformations. As the practice shows, productive development of new forms of management, as well as of democratic principles the society is organized upon, is becoming slower, and sometimes utterly failing.
As it's well-known, this May the former socialist countries of the Central and Eastern Europe will become full-value members of the European Union, the fact which, to a certain extent, ushers them into ending of the transitional period, although the future holds new transformations, may be even rather unexpected, for them. As for other states of the "second" world embracing almost all the former Soviet republics, they will still have to undertake significant efforts in order to complete successfully their system transformation. They will face their own transformations, which should be assessed and forecasted in an operative manner, in order to take rational solutions.
Finally, one cannot but observe that transformations take place not only in the post-socialist countries. All the world is embraced by transformations. And these changes cannot be disregarded by the research centres of the transition countries.
Regular study of the interaction that happens among the transforming states within the framework of regional and sub-regional associations (the CIS, EurAzEs, GUUAM) as well as of other forms of their integration into world economy is considered as no less significant.
The substance and outcome of democratic and market transformations in the East of Europe has become a theme for many individual and collective monographs and articles, being different in width of their coverage, depth of the provided analysis, conclusions and recommendations. But the reader is not yet offered an edition, which is going to publish in its every issue, in concentrated, systemic and consecutive manner many-sided materials on the abovementioned problems.
A new international social and academic journal "The World of Transformations" makes it its aim to fill this obvious niche in the information space. Its founder, the Institute for International Economic and Political Studies of Russian Academy of Sciences (IIEPS RAS) strongly hopes that in case the journal concentrates on the implementation of the abovementioned targets, it will appeal to those, who are interested and professionally engaged in transformations within the post-Socialist world. "The World of Transformations" also intends to contribute to restoring and developing numerous and multifold inter-state academic and cultural connections, that have been formerly discontinued.
The journal is open to scientists, social and political figures, businessmen, as well as those representing other strata and professions, for those who are eager to share their personal experience and feelings of co-participation in the transformations. Generally, we expect as our authors analyzers and observers of these reforms, who will not avoid sharply criticizing overtones in their discourse. We particularly welcome discussions generating precious seeds of truth. The journal sets as its basic mission providing support to any undertakings and projects, that would lead to formation of pluralistic democracy, social market economy and civil society.
Welcome to "The World of Transformations"!