Apr 12, 2010

Book: Owing Russia

The author of this book "Owning Russia: The Struggle over Factories, Farms, and Power" (Cornell University Press, 2006) is giving a talk this week. For a description of the book, see: http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=4462

In his book, Owning Russia, Andrew Barnes documents how a new generation of capitalists gained control over key pieces of the Russian economy by acquiring debt-ridden factories and farms once owned by the state. He shows that dividing the spoils of the Soviet economy involved far more than the experiment with voucher privatization or the scandalous behavior of a few Moscow-based “oligarchs.” In Russia, the control of property yielded benefits beyond mere profits, and these high stakes fueled an intense and enduring conflict over real assets. This competition empowered the Russian executive branch at the expense of the legislature, strengthened managers in relation to workers, created a broad array of business conglomerates, and re-shaped regional politics. It was a process that not only blurred the line between government and business but often erased it.

So, what exactly new is here? I guess it depends on one's knowledge of Russia. For somebody who doesn't know much, there might be something new and interesting. For somebody who witnessed all this - dah!