In This Review

Capitalism Russian-Style
Capitalism Russian-Style
By Thane Gustafson
Cambridge University Press, 1999, 264 pp

Who is right about Russia's rocky road to reform -- those who think Russia is slowly making its way toward capitalism, however unsteady and compromised, or those who believe no less passionately that the whole process has been hijacked by brigands posing as new capitalists, leaving Russia nowhere? Both, says Gustafson. Russia is midstream in wide and rough waters and cannot go back. The old order has been successfully ruined, but the country does not know how to complete the swim. Mistakes made along the way create large barriers to further progress. Gustafson surveys the whole story better than anyone else to date: the nature of the reforms, privatization, the rise of capital markets, the emergence of a banking system, the character of the new (and not-so-new) capitalists, the scourge of crime, and above all, the enfeeblement of the state. Gustafson concludes that Russia will make it. But how messy, costly, delayed, and harrowing the passage will be depends greatly on how soon Russia regains a state worthy of the name.