Moving from the adoption of the "post-Stalin" Constitution of 1977 through its subsequent implementation under Brezhnev, Andropov, and Chernenko to the radical legal "restructuring" of the Gorbachev years, Robert Sharlet traces the gradual evolution of a nascent constitutionalism in the erstwhile USSR. Sharlet, a noted authority on Soviet law and constitutional development, demonstrates the gradual transformation of law from an instrument of Communist Party rule into the new "rules of the game" for nonauthoritarian political development. In effect, he argues, one of Gorbachev's most durable achievements may be his redefinition of Soviet politics into a legal idiom along with his relocation of policymaking from behind the closed doors of Party conclaves into the more open, emergent arena of constitutional government. In analyzing the politics of law from the Brezhnev era to the rise of Yeltsin, the author takes account of the "war of laws", the symbolic uses of the Soviet constitution, and even the fact that the leaders of the failed coup attempted to justify their seizure of power on constitutional grounds. Constitutionalism has sufficiently suffused Soviet public life, the book concludes, that most of the sovereign republics as successors to the former USSR, have begun designing their futures - to varying degrees - in constitutional forms.
Calling for a fundamental change in the focus of public policy in America, this book paints a vivid portrait of the nation's social health. Miringoff and Opdycke clearly show that social progress has stalled and the country's energies need to be directed at critical domestic issues in the years ahead.The authors propose a new agenda for monitoring America's social well-being built around sixteen key indicators of American life, such as infant mortality, teenage suicide, health insurance coverage, and affordable housing. They maintain that social conditions, like economic conditions, must be constantly monitored in order to have a clear sense of "how we are doing" as a society.The book builds on the work of the Institute for Innovation in Social Policy and argues that there needs to be a greater visibility for social issues - and a closer link between social reporting and public action - to better address the nation's social problems. It considers the critical role of the media in advancing public understanding of social issues, and examines important advances in the community indicators movement and international social reporting. Eye-opening and compelling, the book is a provocative centerpiece for policy debates and national initiatives on today's crucial domestic concerns.