Thanks so much, Charles. I appreciate you taking my suggestion. this is a very informative and succinct description of what sounds like was an exhaustive and complex process. I feel much better informed after reading this.

how can we know that this wasn't all just a Ptoelmkin process, stage-managed by the party? You cite some interesting figures about participation. But Socialist regimes are pretty good at mobilizing support in this way. As an outside observer, (and from the standpoint of social science) I'd argue that the most decisive proof that it was a genuinely consultative process would be if some initial parts of the draft were changed/overturned. But, except for gay marriage, this doesn't seem to be the case.

Maybe you can give more info about how some other contentious issues were shaped by the consultative process? (even if the initial draft was not overturned).

Or some info as an insider who may have attended a meeting of one of the local commitees?

Forgive me for playing Devils' advocate. You know me and my cynical habits. I have been living in E Europe too long. I am in the middle of witnessing one of the most stage-managed elections in modern RU history. Lots of very creative (and even comical) dirty tricks by the governing party to "manufacture" consent.


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Thank you very much, Andrej, for your comment and for your challenging “Devil’s advocate” argument. In reply to your commentary, I would say that the people wrote the first draft. They wrote it in practice: in their informal economic activities, and in their constant informal commentaries in their places of work and study and in their neighborhoods. This first draft was presented to the Party in practice, because Party members live, work, and study among the people; Party members do not live in a world apart. In response to this first draft of the people, the Party proposed Guidelines, which were discussed by the people in their places of work in 2011 or so. There were considerable differences between the first and second drafts of the Guidelines, especially in tone. The tone of the first draft was that the people ought to work harder, and the people responded by saying that the Party and the State ought to do a better job of creating conditions that make hard work rewarding. The second draft was much more oriented to creating structures that would make work more economically beneficial, but retaining a certain exhortation to work. It was on this foundation that the Party put forth the proposal for a new Constitution, which is where I take up the story in this commentary.

The biggest change in the 2018 Constitution, as against that of 1976, was the expansion of space for private property. It was no surprise that the people supported this change, because it originally came from the people; and the initial practical steps taken around 2012 were widely supported by the people, with many becoming self-employed persons, and identifying themselves as such. In the 2018 consultation, it was clear that some were concerned that this turn to capitalism might go or might have gone too far; in response, the Commission made changes in the text, seeking to reassure.

I personally was not sympathetic with the first draft written by the people. Feeling that the people were to some extent influenced by the consumer societies of the North, my reaction was somewhat ultra-leftist; and if I had been in charge (thank goodness that I was not!), I would not have responded the way the Party did. However, I was persuaded by the arguments of Party leaders, for whom I have much respect, inasmuch as they are revolutionary leaders with considerable experience, who have forged a persistent socialist revolution that maintains the support of the people. I could not avoid thinking that these folks know something about leading a revolution.

My sense in interacting informally among the people during this time of change was that there was not a sentiment that a new road was being imposed. My sense was that the people appreciated the efforts of the Party and the government to respond to their desires.

The dynamics on gay marriage were different. This was not a proposal that came from the people, except a small minority. The champion of the cause, the daughter of Raúl Castro, was able to win the support of a majority in the Party, but not among the people. I do not know where this will go.

Sometimes a ruling party has to manufacture consent. But not in all cases. In Cuba, there has occurred the opposite, that is, the manufacture of dissent.

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