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Resistance to space

Leonid Blyakher on why it does not go to develop the Far East from the beautiful far away

Resistance to space

Leonid Blyakher

Professor, Head of the Department of Philosophy and Culturology of the Pacific State University, Doctor of Philosophy
At one time, for many years I was haunted by one, quite a private question from the history of the Far East: why the Japanese interventionists, controlling the region, possessing quite intelligible legitimacy here (both the zemstvo government in Vladivostok and the government of Ataman Semyonov were supporters of their presence), quite calmly left this territory? After all, there were a lot of them, from 70 to 100 thousand soldiers. This is much more than the entire population of the region could exhibit. But not all were opponents. And the advancing Red armies near Lake Baikal perceptibly tried to leave these places forgotten by God, since they were planning a war with Poland, and Wrangel was still quite comfortably sitting in Crimea. Consequently, the Red troops did not pose a particular threat. Then why?

Even earlier, the American military left the Far East, whose task was not so much to control the territory as to curb the appetites of the Japanese allies. And again why? The answer turned out to be quite simple, albeit unexpected: the Americans ceased to fear that the Land of the Rising Sun would gain control over this territory, and the Japanese themselves became convinced of the senselessness of seizing the Far East. And the reason for this was not only the military confrontation. Attempts by partisans or the People's Revolutionary Army of the FER to conduct regular military operations against the Japanese troops ended in failure. The problem is space.

In order to retain and control this huge territory, receiving from this at least some dividends, you need to spend so much that the profitability of this enterprise is questionable. It is necessary to maintain a mass of officials, power resources (troops), to maintain communications, to supply resources to the region from outside, so that all these people can simply feed, clothe, provide the most necessary. And here there is enough of the slightest force countermeasures or even ordinary sabotage, so that an attempt to take control of the rich Far East would result in an economic catastrophe.

Something similar is repeated in the history of the Eastern suburbs of Russia with an enviable regularity. And not only in the form of external intervention. We have a region rich in minerals and other resources, people here do not suffer. Only now it is not controlled very well. Almost in no way controlled. It would be good to somehow lead to a norm. And the next program for the development of the Far East begins. Plans and strategies are built from the beautiful far away. Why? Yes, because they do not trust this "local". Who trusts such? Especially if they are going to control them.  

It looks approximately like if to your home comes an employee of the city government with a demand to immediately change furniture and make repairs in the apartment according to the approved in the City Hall project. On the pitiful attempts of the tenant to remind that he lives here and he is not so comfortable, explain that one should not think about himself, but about the city as a whole. Yes, and the money for repairs will be allocated by the City Hall, however, all this time the controller will live in your apartment, which will ensure that everything is according to plan and approved estimate. And then - we know you! 

So or so approximately in the region come controllers. New, very detailed rules for reporting to supervisors are being developed. Without this, nothing at all. Otherwise, everything is stolen. Gradually, step by step, those industries that seemed profitable, the local are seized. They can not be trusted. 

Overlap "loopholes" in the laws to live like everyone else. Large-scale projects are being created, as a rule, without regard for profitability. For example, a pulp and paper mill is built, designed for wood, which exists only on paper. It's still in 90-e cut. Just because they did not need it then. And the experts who are building the project from afar did not notice this. Under construction, loans are taken, and construction capacities are used. As a result, the plant is built, the funds are developed, there is no recoil, since there is no forest, there are no roads to new plots, there are no storage facilities and access roads. A non-operating enterprise passes to a creditor, a bank controlled by the state. The result - the state's expenses for billions, profits - alas. Today, new investors are being sought, from the Middle Kingdom.

At some point, another clever man discovers that even yesterday the profitable spheres, which fed tens of thousands of people, still losing something to the budget, become unprofitable. And the region is getting deeper and deeper in debt and subsidies. The people from the prosperous region are fleeing, as from a plagued city. What's the matter? Who cheated? Where was it stolen? Investigation structures are digging deeper, the planting company is growing more active. Only ... the region does not become profitable. And it's not about that, or not so much that someone stole something. Simply monitoring and reports ate all the profits, made the production itself or management something extra in relation to the main job - writing reports. Of course, the Far East can be controlled from afar. Only it is expensive. The costs of control are greater than the profits that the territory can provide.

Actually, inconvenient laws, excessive regulation - the trouble is not only the Far East. Today, this is a common problem for the whole country. But here, in the Far East, in conditions of high migration readiness of the population, huge spatial costs and serious state investments, it can turn into a severe economic failure.

Is there an exit? Certainly. The main thing is to understand that you can not control everything and you do not need to.
The space that does not lend itself to bureaucratic control, which, under these conditions, reduces the return on investment tenfold, which makes any transaction more expensive, is quite effectively mastered on the basis of trust. They do not steal from themselves. Or, at the very least, "keep up appearances." This means that what is and will be in the region should be “ours”. Then there will be no need for cumbersome reports and constant checks. This means that transaction costs will be an order of magnitude lower. 
But how to make it "his"?

For this, as it seems, you do not need much. It is desirable to develop projects for the development of something in the region in the region itself, or at least taking into account the opinions of those who live here. At the same time, "those" are not so much governors, employees of the plenipotentiary apparatus or employees of the ministry for the development of the Far East, as there are native experts whose opinion is usually asked, but ... in the tenth turn. It is desirable that the "ordinary people of the Far East" turn out to be "those who are asked". Is it feasible to include the Far East in the development of the Far East not as objects of control or guardianship, but as partners? I think yes. True, so far this task has not been put. The fear that "they are stealing everything" blocked all such attempts. The idea is simply to calculate the costs of "stolen", comparing them with the costs of excess control and failures due to ignorance of local characteristics is not very popular.

But this is not enough. The Far East must understand that each project is a contribution to his future. The Ministry of Regional Development, determining the target of its powerful, albeit somewhat strange, PR campaign, seems to have got it a little confused. Instead of explaining to the residents of the region why they need it to develop, they relied on an “external” audience. Ideally, she doesn't know anything about the region. At the same time, against the background of the all-Russian demographic decline, it is not entirely clear where these external developers will come from? Perhaps only from Central Asia. But here with highly qualified specialists who are supposed to be attracted, it is not very dense. And the existing ones are in demand at home.

That's "for internal use", for PR residents or at least Soviet "explanatory work" was not provided. Yes, and this is understandable. After all, inside the "PR" is much more difficult, and the development projects themselves still exist almost separately from the Far East: they were not created here, they were not calculated for them. Yes, and "PR" here is limited to difficult. Today, the level of people's confidence in any state innovation tends to zero in the region. After all not the first year in their apartments do repair under the instruction from above with residing of the controller on the same living space. This is manifested in migration readiness more than in any other indicators. So, to make projects work, and trust becomes the basis of economic efficiency, each of the projects realized here should be reflected in the purse of the Far East, its comfort, prospects.

Will this become a panacea? I do not know. But only in such conditions the task of developing the Far East can be set.
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