“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.