How far does “lukascism” go? Insights into moral and political economies of Vjetnam and other Belarusian villagers

17 March 2018

Belarus is on the verge of changes, as 'lukascism' - with its underlying agrarian myth - still has a hold on the older generation of villagers but is weakening among the younger.

The paper addresses the economic and political consequences of the introduction of capitalist relations into a traditional, self-sufficient peasant agriculture in a process of capitalist agrarian transition in Belarus. It was previously excluded from capitalist development, first by the Soviet totalitarianism and later by Belarusian authoritarianism. This paper focuses on the moral economy and political economy mechanisms in Belarusian rural settings to understand where the present-day creeping de-collectivisation might lead to. It shows that the present rural and agrarian model does not serve the continuing basis for the nation, that the nationally specific moral economy is not averse to political economy, market and capitalism, and in an adverse case of isolation from political economy, the moral economy turns socially reactionary.

The prospects for resistance or adaptation in the agrarian sector are assessed, and promising routes to rural emancipation are pinpointed as including institutionalisation of the local community, electability of local authorities, and the introduction of land market mechanisms. The end-to-end examination of contemporary authoritarian populism in Belarus (“lukascism”) situated it at the juncture of agrarian and political populisms and assessed its reach as limited by the older generation and its timeframe as set accordingly.

This paper was presented at the Emancipatory Rural Politics Initiative (ERPI) 2018 Conference: "Authoritarian Populism and the Rural World"