Publisert av: Yngve Sætre | juli 24, 2012

Studiebrev fra Harvard 14/12


Boston, Cambridge, 23.07.12.

Utviklingen i Russland har vaert et av temaene i komparativ politikk i det siste, og noe av diskusjonen i klassen har gaatt paa om kultur er grunnen til at demokratiet har saa daarlige vekstvilkaar i Russland. Jeg faar meg ikke helt til aa tro at kulturen og mentaliteten i et land skal vaere grunnleggende antidemokratisk. Men det tar tid aa bygge et demokrati som fungerer. Institusjoner, politiske partier og et demokratisk tankesett skal paa plass, og dette er ikke gjort over natten. Tross alt er det bare litt over 20 aar siden Russland var endel av det kommunistiske Sovjet, og i historisk sammenheng er det kort tid. Hyperinflasjon paa 90-tallet bidro ogsaa sterkt til aa gi demokratiet i Russland en krevende start.

Her er noe av det jeg har bidratt med skriftlig i den interessante diskusjonen om Russland. Temaene er den oekonomiske utviklingen og strategien i Sovjet og Russland, og demokratiets tilbaketog i Russland:

«In the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin the property rights was taken away and agriculture was collectivized. This resulted in the collapse of agricultural production and 7 million lives were lost in the resulting famine (cases in comparative politics, p. 253).

Despite the tragic collapse of the agriculture the state industrialized rapidly in the first years of the Soviet system. The economy was growing and the standard of living increased. But in the 1960’s and onward the negative sides of this system started to show. The economic growth slowed down, and in the 1980’s Soviet was stagnating and falling behind western countries. (Cases in comparative politics, p. 253-254). The economic decline was a key course to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 Russia, under the leadership of Boris Yeltsin, implemented a number of reforms in the 1990’s to privatize state assets and to free up market forces. This did not give any immediate positive result as it resulted in hyperinflation. Also the privatization process resulted in a concentration of wealth. A limited number of people with strong economical and political connections got very wealthy (Cases in comparative politics p. 275).

Putin became president in Russia in 1999, and under he’s leadership the political freedom has decreased while the economic growth has increased. The decrease in political freedom under Putin has lead to the growth of the state, and there is now 1, 5 million state employees. There has also been an increase in corruption and property rights have been undermined.  The state dominates many sectors among others the energy sector. Russia has also become less secure and less healthy under Putin, and there has been an increase in murder rates and alcohol consumption (The Myth of the Authoritarian Model). 

If you consider the limitations on the press, the concentration of power, and the way the elections are held in the Russia of today the country cannot be described as democratic.

Today the Russians are richer than ever before but the reason for this is largely the increase in oil prices. The increased energy revenues has allowed for the return to autocracy. Despite the growth in the economy the growth rates under Putin has been below the average among the post Soviet countries.  There is little doubt that corruption and the undermining of property rights will hinder economic growth in the long run. The Russian economy is growing, but if Russia had a democracy with property rights and free market the economy would grow much faster (The Myth of the Authoritarian Model).

I don’ t think the failed democratic consolidation in Russia was inevitable. I think a number of unfortunate circumstainces has given a failed democracy in Russia. The economic decline in the 90’s is maybe the single most important factor. After all «money talks» and people were dissapointed with the economy under Yeltsin. I also think it’ s a little to easy to blame it on the political leaders. I think that a major problem is that Russia have not developed any democratic framework and political parties with ideology and a political platform. How can you establish democracy if you don’t have ideological political parties that can attract potential political leaders and present visions for the future?» 

Yngve Saetre


Responses

  1. Hei Yngve
    Takk for din meget gode analyse om utfordringene hos våre naboer i øst, jeg mener dette må være så nær en innertier som det er mulig å komme. Også meget interessante vyer i ditt brev av 22/7, vil man nok så får man det til. Her går livet sin vante gang, men forholdsvis rolige dager. Vi ønsker deg fortsatt godt opphold, og ser frem til å høre masse om alt du har opplevd når du kommet hjem.
    Hilsen Erik

  2. Hei Erik, og takk for det! Ja, byutviklingen i Boston kan nok være til inspirasjon andre steder også.

    Ellers er alt flott her i Boston, selv om jeg av og til savner formannskapsmøter og den slags🙂

    Vi snakkes!

    Yngve


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