self-government(redirected from Self-governance)
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the management of the affairs of a territorial community, organization, or group independently by its members, through elective bodies or by direct means such as assemblies or referenda. The main features of self-government are the possession of public power by the people or electors of a particular territory or by the members of a public organization or group, their autonomy in deciding internal questions, and the absence of externally appointed governing bodies.
In local self-government, one of the types of state administration at the local level, the population of an administrative and territorial unit manages local affairs autonomously, either indirectly through elected bodies or directly, within the limits of laws established by the state. Introduced in Western Europe as a result of the bourgeois revolutions, the system of local self-government completed its development under premonopoly capitalism. Bourgeois local self-government was very narrowly applied. At the sociopolitical level, it was a sham, because formal recognition of the members of the community as the agents of government was combined with the de facto elimination of the exploited masses from participation in government. The growth of centralism and the increase in state intervention in local affairs, which accompanied the transition to the imperialist stage of capitalism, resulted in the loss of even the limited autonomy of bourgeois self-government and in its transformation into a component of the administrative apparatus of the state.
The broadening of the powers of the bodies of local self-government is among the general democratic demands of the working class in contemporary capitalist states. However, contrary to the claims of bourgeois and reformist ideologists, democratizing local administration and broadening the functions of locally elected bodies (municipalities) are not sufficient to produce change in the character of the bourgeois state or the capitalist system. V. I. Lenin exposed the opportunistic essence of the conceptions of municipal socialism and emphasized the class limitations of bourgeois local self-government and its narrowness and impotence when confronting centralized power (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 17, p. 163).
Complete, consistently democratic, local self-government develops with the victory of the socialist revolution. In the socialist states, local self-government has a qualitatively new basis. Local representative bodies of state authority are organized and function so that the working people participate in administering local affairs and in deciding issues relevant to the entire state. In socialist society the working people exercise political power through their own state and through various public mass organizations and other bodies of independent civic activity. The activity of these organizations and bodies in guaranteeing the interests of the working people, in meeting their material and cultural needs, and in carrying out governmental tasks assigned to them constitute a form of social self-government, which is one of the manifestations of popular rule and socialist democracy. Public mass organizations and bodies of independent civic activity are components of the political organization of socialist society.
Social self-government continues to have a political character under socialism, playing a tremendous role in involving the working people in regular and active participation in administering government and public affairs. As the socialist state develops and perfects its political system, a state of the whole people emerges—a transitional stage in the development toward the stateless form of organization under communist society, toward the full implementation of social self-government. The development of social self-government is one of the principal means for the gradual transition to communist social self-government.
G. V. BARABASHEV [22–16334]