What Does Autocracy Have To Do With Russia’s Economic Growth?

Michael McFaul has kindly provided the following comment to my December 31 post, "Mission Impossible, McFaul Style”:

“I appreciate the interest in our article. But you missed the main point of the piece.  We never claimed that Russians were better off in the 1990s than today.  On the contrary, we wrote very clearly that Russians today have never been richer.  Our claim is that autocracy has had little to do with this growth, that’s all.”

Dear Dr. McFaul,

Thank you for your comment, and I do appreciate your helpful clarification.  Now, that we agree that the Russians are better off today than in the 1990s, we can turn to the main point of your Foreign Affairs piece: that autocracy has little to do with this growth.

But who argues to the contrary?  I know of no single Russian politician or a serious analyst elsewhere who claims a positive effect of autocracy on Russia’s economic growth.  Besides, the political leadership of Russia insists that the country is not an autocracy in the first place; they call Russia democracy, albeit “sovereign.”

It seems to me that this completely superficial link between autocracy and economic growth is an entirely your creation aimed at launching yet another round of criticism of President Putin for his real or imaginable faults.

If Russians live better today, and autocracy has nothing to do with that, then what has been the driver of the growth? “Sovereign” democracy?  This seems to be the only logical conclusion from your comment. 

Quite naturally, I’d appreciate your further insight on the subject.


Eugene Ivanov


About Eugene Ivanov

Eugene Ivanov is a PMI-certified Innovation Management Consultant who helps organizations increase the efficiency of their internal and external innovation programs.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What Does Autocracy Have To Do With Russia’s Economic Growth?

  1. Alex says:

    Unfortunately Eugene your logic is as flawed as Putin’s political system. Clearly “sovereign democracy” was not the driver of growth in Russia, the driver of growth was high commodity prices and the action taken prior to Putin’s arrival, the devaluation of Russia’s currency. Given how Russia’s economic growth lags behind many post soviet countries that lack such natural resources, it is clear that an autocratic “sovereign democracy” actually impeded growth. In anycase the authorities now have the means at their disposal to deal witha restless population should a downturn occur which given the effect of the so called “Dutch disease” can be seen right now in the Rusian economy is not all that far fetched.

  2. sharrain says:

    i’m sharrain from malaysia.
    can you explain more about the disadvantage of autocracy?
    I need the information for my project.
    this is my email, princess_aien91@yahoo.com
    thank you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s