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Building (Peripheral) Capitalism: En marxistisk ideologikritik av Anders Åslunds nyliberala förståelse av den ryska chockterapins drivkrafter och aktörer
Södertörn University, School of Historical and Contemporary Studies.
2019 (Swedish)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Building (Peripheral) Capitalism : A Marxist critique of Anders Åslund's neoliberal understanding of the actors and driving forces of the Russian shock therapy (English)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this study is to criticize the neoclassical and neoliberal ideological understanding of the actors and driving forces of the Russian shock therapy – expressed by Anders Åslund, political economist and adviser to President Yeltsin’s governments 1991-1993 – from a Marxist world system perspective. The sources of the study are Åslund’s various publications on the Russian development, mainly his books How Russia became a Market Economy (1995) and Building Capitalism (2002). From these sources, Åslund’s understanding of the actors and driving forces of the shock therapy are derived and summarized and his analysis is compared with the analysis of other social scientists, historians and political economists. The critique lastly focuses on and tries to explain contradictions in Åslund’s analysis. The Marxist world system analysis-perspective used in this study assumes that Åslund’s ideological interpretations, as well as the actors and driving forces of the shock therapy, need to be analyzed from a holistic perspective. Actions and beliefs are seen as the outcome of dialectical processes between subjective factors and the surrounding political economy and other social and political factors, themselves dependent on material conditions, such as the development of the productive forces and the hierarchies of the world economy. Hence Åslund’s view of these factors are also somewhat analyzed in this study. 

Åslund initially considered the shock therapy successful if not perfect, but eventually grew more critical of the Russian development, calling Russia a ”rent-seeking” and ”semi-democratic” state. This was still an improvement, he claims, given the alternatives. Åslund gives the “liberal revolutionaries” around Yeltsin’s governments the credit for what he means was achieved, while blaming Russia’s lingering problems on the “rent-seeking” state enterprise leaders who resisted shock therapy. Much research contradicts Åslund’s interpretations. The contradictions in Åslund’s analysis can be explained by his theoretical assumptions. Åslund’s revolutionary neoliberal view of democracy sees free markets as the purpose of democracy, rather than as optional tools of it, making him underestimate the negative social effects of shock therapy, as well as its negative effects on civil society and democracy. It also makes him interpret social actors democratic legitimacy from their stance on “free markets” rather than on democracy. Åslund’s theoretical assumptions also prevents him from recognizing how underlying political, social and economic relations of power, according to many scientists, shaped the ”free markets” he imagines shock therapy created. Therefore Åslund cannot see how shock therapy strongly contributed to massive rent-seeking – as defined in classical political economy – and blocked modernization of Russian economy and society. Åslund’s theoretical perspective instead makes him see the peripherization of Russia and the compradorization of the Russian bourgeoisie as progress, since this was in line with what domestic and international markets demanded.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2019. , p. 158
Keywords [en]
shock therapy, Russia, transition, neoclassical economics, neoliberal, rent-seeking, periphery, comprador, world system analysis, Marxism
Keywords [sv]
chockterapi, Ryssland, transition, neoklassisk ekonomi, nyliberal, rent-seeking, periferi, komprador, världssystemteori, marxism
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-40433OAI: oai:DiVA.org:sh-40433DiVA, id: diva2:1417529
Subject / course
History
Uppsok
Humanities, Theology
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2020-03-30 Created: 2020-03-29 Last updated: 2020-03-30Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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