Success or Failure?

Vladimir Mau

Russia's transformation has been a revolution, comparable to the European revolutions of the past.

Russia's struggle to build a market economy on the ruins of central planning has been strongly criticized by Western observers. For example, Professor Joseph Stiglitz's Whither Reform? Contains a set of 'accusations' contained in Stiglitz's paper to reflect on the Russian transformation. Four main questions are therefore considered: Could Russia have followed the Chinese model? What was the role of financial stabilization and of institutional reforms? How successful was the Russian privatization process? What was the role of Western advisers? Vladimir Mau shows that most of the criticisms originate from a complete ignorance of the transformation that Russia had to undertake, given the way in which Soviet central planning functioned and the social and ethical wasteland bequeathed by the Soviet system. His paper argues that this transformation has been a revolution, comparable to the European revolutions of the past. Such an approach contributes to a better and more helpful understanding of contemporary Russia.

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