Sense of justice and civil society formation in Ukraine

Irina Panchuk
Master of Laws,
Researcher of the Department of
History and Theory of State and Law of
National University "Ostroh Academy"

UDC 340.1

Sense of justice and civil society formation in Ukraine

The article characterizes peculiarities of correlation between sense of justice and civil society. The importance of the legal initiative based on the sense of justice in the process of formation of the civil society is denoted in the article. It studies, as well the modern condition of Ukrainians’ sense of justice and the peculiarities of the formation of the civil society related to it.

Keywords: sense of justice, civil society, legal initiative.

The interest of researchers on the theme of civil society is not fading since the appearance of this phenomenon. Likewise the rule of law, according to most jurists, the civil society is the most suitable environment for the implementation of the rights and freedoms of the individual and citizen, the ideals of freedom and equality and other democratic and humanistic principles. Formation of civil society is complicated and multifaceted process, however its essential and irreplaceable participant has always been and shall be the individual, who in any case has a sense of justice and is able to interpret and evaluate the legal reality, which surrounds, make decisions and take actions that have a legal consequences. The path to the civil society and the Rule of Law goes only through democratization of legal awareness of citizens and try to avoid this step is impossible.

Today for Ukraine the question of raising the level of the legal awareness and formation of civil society faced particularly acute. Not so long ago, it seemed that the condition of Ukrainian society and State, as never before being far from the ideals of civil society, law and order. Indeed, during the last century all the achievements of our nation in this direction have been destroyed. Through a series of economic and social shocks the experience acquired by previous generations, concerning the functioning and development of civil society has been lost. A significant interruption in the processes of formation of civil society and sense of justice could not but affect the current stage of these events in Ukraine.

The phenomena of civil society and justice, as well as the interconnection between them were studied by domestic scholars, such as Y.Y. Kalinowski, A. M. Kolody, V.M. Litvin, O. Petrishin, P.M. Rabinovich, V.M. Selivanov, O.V. Skrypniuk, M.N. Tsymbaliuk. In addition, analysis of these issues devoted their writings the following Russian researchers as R.S. Bayniyazov, G.B. Bersirov, O.A. Lukashova, D.A. Potopeyko, S.A. Roslov, N.Y. Sokolov, I.E. Ferber and others.

However, the vast majority of researches in this area are devoted to the relationship of these two phenomena as a whole, or the influence of civil society on establishment of democratic sense of justice. At the same time, many questions remain unsolved in the sense of justice reverse effect on the formation of civil society. Among the objectives of this research paper can be distinguished the following: the study of the essence of the concept of civil society and its relationship with the phenomenon of sense of justice; description of the main characteristics of healthy sense of justice within a developed civil society; ability to influence the sense of justice of civil society and how this influence impact the current state of legal awareness of civil society in Ukraine.

The political and legal notions of «civil society» have rather deep historical roots. It became the subject of study in XVIII-XIX centuries and has been elaborated in the Philosophy of Right of Hegel, who defined the civil society as connection (communication) of people through the system of requirements and the division of labour, justice (law and order institutions), exterior order (police and corporations). The "Philosophy of Law" determined that the legal basis of civil society is equality of human beings as subjects of rights, their legal freedom, individual private property, the sanctity of contracts, protection of rights violations and an ordered legislation and authoritative court, including trials by jury [7, 43].

Researchers note that civil society is a system of varied connections and relationships of citizens, associations, unions, groups, based on equality and personal initiatives, including the obtaining of independence means of livelihood (this applies to associations held by voluntary contributions of their members). Objectives of citizens and associations of citizens are diverse and vary depending on their interests [7, 46]. Civil society is the community of free and equal people and their associations whom the state provides legal opportunities to own and take part in political life [8, 49].

The relationship between civil society and justice is quite a difficult and controversial matter. One aspect of their interaction is the ability of these two phenomena to support the existence of each other. It should be noted that in civil society the main mechanism of regulation of social life are the values ​​and samples of culture that is primarily moral and legal ideals, principles and rules, as well as the person’s self education of "simple" civil qualities (humanity, decency, honesty, trust, responsibility, etc.) [6, 2]. So, the sense of justice regulates relations in civil society due to its highest level, which corresponds to the awareness of human of the importance value of all his actions with the interests of other members of this society, its unwritten laws, and the requirements of the rule of law. Such a sense of justice is very essential for the functioning of the entire mechanism of civil society and its institutions. It can also be called a civic sense of justice. One of the main features of this type of sense of justice is considered that it is based not so much on the expectation that the others, especially the government, can do for an individual to realize his subjective rights and freedom, but on discovering his own initiative in terms of their legitimate implementation [10, 231].

Sense of justice within a developed civil society, on our view is fully consistent with the axioms of the sense of justice according for I.O. Ilyin, law of spiritual dignity, the autonomy law and the law the mutual recognition [4,20].

We believe that such sense of justice - a product of the civil society and the rule of law in action. It arises under the protection of social and legal institutions and supported by all possible means, legal education and training. Not an annoying regularity, but in single cases only happens the deformation of sense of justice within civil society. Therefore, again, referring to the theory of I.O. Ilyin, such a sense of justice can be also called "healthy" and oriented towards democratic values ​​and ideals.

Thus, the civil society is the source of a particularly high level of democratic consciousness, but it cannot be a source of legal consciousness as a phenomenon per se, since the ability to recognize the surrounding legal validity, to evaluate and interpret it is inherent to a human being person regardless of whether he/she is a member of the civil society or not.

It is quite logical and legitimate view is that democratization of social consciousness and civil society are interdependent and none of them can be considered as a primary [1, 302]. O. Petrishin draws our attention to the fact that civil society is formed historically, reflecting certain qualitative characteristics of the society, obtained only at a certain stage of development [5, 144-145].One of these quality characteristics, in our opinion, is the societal sense of justice as the system reflecting the legal reality of its citizens. Civil society develops fully only by reaching its potential participants a certain level of consciousness, which involves awareness of the need to participate in public life in order to achieve certain personal and public interest In other words, citizens’ consciousness of the importance of social, legal and political initiatives will push the society to the social progress towards a full-fledged, self-governing, autonomous and effective civil society institutions.

Thus, the basic element of civil society is a person, an initiative which underlies the creation of any of its social institutions. In turn, this sense of justice is the key to all personal and social legal initiatives. The desire to act in a certain direction and in the end, the action itself depends on the processes occurring in the human's mind. So, we should pay attention to the fact that any individual actions, which are important for the formation of civil society, expose comprehension within its legal ideology and psychology namely, are evaluated in terms of legal knowledge and ideas of man and its legal emotions, moods and attitudes. That's why at the heart of the civil society, along with the basic democratic, economic and political reforms, should be placed the sense of justice of citizens and its development in every way as the main driving force of social transformation.

Ukrainian senses of justice, in our opinion, fairly close to give new impetus to the development of civil society in Ukraine. One of the main reasons for this judgment is a quite high level of civic activity, indicating the beginning of the formation of the Ukrainian "healthy" sense of justice. In legal literature, civic activity is characterized as an expression of civic orientation that M.I. Boryshevskyy determines as, the stable set of motivational structures that direct the activity of an individual into the mainstream of socially significant activities. V.O.Suhomlynskyy considers civil activism as an internal orientation of an individual, able to influence the organization and development of humane society, its mature activity, which is associated with the implementation of national interests [9, 135].We believe that public activity is closely linked with the sense of justice of an individual. So, legally significant actions are aimed to implement changes in society, as well as the legal knowledge, motivation, skills and other elements of the sense justice, on which they are based, are the part of civic engagement, along with the political, economic and other activities in this direction.

Although the level of civic engagement in Ukraine in recent years has increased significantly, nevertheless a large number of Ukrainian people still remain a part of these processes. This situation is caused by many factors. The main is the lesion of citizen's sense of justice with such deformation as, for example, legal infantilism and legal nihilism. Legal infantilism can arise from the complete lack of knowledge of any element of the legal reality (then we can talk here about the "primary" gap in the sense of justice), or through the neglect of such a knowledge (the "secondary" gap). Legal nihilism is a kind of deformation of the sense of justice, as expressed in the presence of derogatory, negative or indifferent attitude to the law and legal reality without intention of offense [10.60]. This is a consequence of insufficient legal education and training, poor public awareness about the legal and social situation in the country, the difficult economic and political situation, which leaves no time for understanding of the problems of legal reality, and the Soviet heritage in the form of ambivalence, paternalistic attitudes, motivation uncertainties and other negative phenomena of the sense of justice.

Among the reasons that raise legal and civic engagement of citizens the globalization should be emphasized. It affects the sense of justice of Ukrainians, and especially the younger generation, mainly in terms of information processes. Globalization (from Eng. global - global, worldwide) - the key concept that determines the evolution of world civilization at the turn of the millennium, creates a new era of cooperation between nations, economic systems and individuals, causing fundamental changes in all spheres of public life. Globalization is referred to close relationship with the world, the movement of information, capital, goods and people across national borders in an increasingly rapid pace and scope, interconnections of cultures, lifestyles, dependence of all countries around the world from global problems [3.129].

However, we believe that the very active spread of the globalization processes in the Ukrainian sense of justice, may lead to negative consequences as well, which, among other things, can reduce the attention to the processes of democratic sense of justice and civil society in Ukraine. According to Y.Y. Kalinowski, who states: "During the globalization an individual sense of justice is developing rapidly. It becomes less possible to focus on the legal frameworks of individual countries due to their huge volume. In addition to regulations of home country, there are lots of international treaties that are also largely determined business activities in a global environment "[2, 181]. A person, whose sense of justice has not developed sufficiently yet, such a variable will only prevent to orient in the legal space, to think and benefit self-improvement. Any development, including the sense of justice and civil society should take place gradually, what will significantly impact the quality. I must say, that the well formed and stable sense of justice does not afraid, but even benefit the process of global integration, as they open many perspectives and horizons, but now their uncontrolled impact on the legal representation, moods and emotions of Ukrainian citizens can offset the sense of justice of national values ​​and ideas.

Having considered the question of communication and interference of a person's sense of justice and civil society, we can see that these phenomena are very sensitive to any changes in each other. Civil society as the highest form of self-organization of individuals can provide to a person all conditions for developing a high level of democratic sense of justice, which, in turn, is the necessary condition for the existence of such a society. We believe that public activity and initiative, which are important factors in the formation of civil society and the rule of law, based exactly on the sense of justice of an individual. It is they give the main impetus for democratic reforms in the country, as well as in society.

The fact is that the source of civil society in the country should be the people and the so called civil society institutes, imposed "from above" really are not. However, the state's influence can still be useful. Raising the level of sense of justice of the population through the real spread of legal information, provision of effective legal training and quality education can become as a much important step towards establishing a legal state and civil society as political and economic transformation in Ukraine.


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