A quarter of a century ago, in the days of the August coup, many people thought that democracy in Russia won forever and that we were only a couple of years behind the countries of Central Europe, which were swept by the velvet revolutions in 1989.
Today, these optimists do not exist anymore. Why did we refuse so easily from democracy? There are many answers to this question - scientific, non-scientific and pseudo-scientific.
In my opinion, there was not a refusal, because there was no democracy as a system. And there was a jaunty show which captured the thoughts and feelings. Personally, I clearly remember the day when democracy charmed me. It happened in the very first election campaign in 1989, when the union of deputies was formed on an alternative basis.
I tried then to get to the meeting of the residents of Vasileostrovsky district of Leningrad (because I lived there). At that meeting, among numerous candidates, candidates had to be select of those people who would have the possibility to become a deputy. Strange were the rules, by today's estimation, a little bit wild. But enticing.
Sure, I was lured very fast, but I did not get into the hall, as it was full of workers, who arrived by bus from Vasileostrovskiy plants. They have to vote for a candidate, specially selected by the Party authorities of the Leningrad.
At the entrance the huge crowd of politically active citizens raged and worried, they wanted to get in because they wanted to participate in solving the country's fate.
Police did not let them in - as it was expected - assuming that the proletarians in the proletarian state are present in big quantity and it is enough to determine the fate of the country.
People were nervous and desperate, but then the democracy triumphed in the face of the correspondent of the newspaper "Leningradskaya Pravda", specially sent to cover the event.
He asked the police to let the public in, and - now is hard to believe this - the guards obeyed. "Leningradskaya Pravda" was the organ of the regional committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which meant that a correspondent - even an ordinary one - according to the Soviet Constitution, represented a leading and guiding force of society.
He sent our group into the hall, and we began to determine the fate of the country. But the most interesting not even that event. The number of the citizens turned out to be much less than that of the proletariat.
However, the outcome of the selection of candidates was not a foregone conclusion. Specially arrived workers quickly turned into citizens. They listened to the speeches, asked questions, thought and made decisions.
Today, at the similar type of the public event, the proletarians, brought by buses, would vote exactly as it is required by the authorities. And at that time the result came out - 50 to 50. The screenings were passed not only by the "right" workers, but also by the wrong "intellectuals."
Was it really a democracy? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand what really motivated people in the past.
A clear understanding of how your voice can influence the political process? Hardly. Perhaps, some citizens, who tried to break through police cordons, had such an understanding, but the vast majority of the audience - no.
If an active minority had not made them involved in the process, the proletarians would simply have departed to their apartments, honestly having performed their duty of zits-assessors.
But in the course of the burning discussion they became interested. The boring meeting turned into a fascinating talk show with an uncertain ending. But in Soviet times, we did not yet know virtually no talk shows (only "What? Where? When?").
At that time, I naively thought, that we were deciding the country's fate, but now I realize that the majority only played an exciting game. Which can be played for a long time. As long as you do not get bored, of course.
It is interesting to note that preparations for the elections to the First Congress of People's Deputies of the USSR was in fact in parallel with the first show on TV serials of the foreign soap opera called "Slave Izaura". And a "soap" opera was as popular as democracy itself.
And to this day series and different kinds of shows dominated in our society. Latin American "soap" gave way to domestic ones and "democracy" gave way to "Dancing with the Stars", "American Idol," "House-2", and a number of well-organized political talk shows, where you can let off steam, and be a fan of an empty-headed speaker whom you like most of all.
There is an entertainment in all of this. It is much more exciting than the dull process of going to the polling station when the result of the people's will is known in advance.
Even the current session of our Parliament cannot be compared in its brightness and entertainment to the First Congress, during which the real battles took place.
Then people walked down the street with the receivers to listen to the live broadcasting from the Congress, and now they are bored to death by the deputies present at the meetings, and they leave for vacations, passing the card for electronic voting to their colleagues who are on "duty in the hall". "Democracy" has become a routine, and huge sums of money are being pumped into TV shows and serials in order to keep the audience. After all, without the public will not be advertising, without advertising there will be no money.
In fact, "democracy" of the late 1980s was only a quality entertainment show, which was enjoyed by the society, unaccustomed to such an entertainment.
Except for a small percentage of actively thinking people, all the others were spectators. And then they were disappointed not in democracy as a political institution, but in "democracy" as in an obsolete spectacle where the roles are now performed by the pathetic provincial actors, without drive, without skills and without exciting scenario.
We did not have real democracy in the past. We will have real democracy in the future. Today it makes no sense to talk about the disappointment in something which really did not exist.
The problems associated with Putin's political system cannot be determined by frustration caused by the absence of such poorly understood things, like democracy. Although, of course, they are really determined by disappointment. Only people are frustrated by quite different things.