Russian Politics: The Paradox of a Weak State

Russian Politics: The Paradox of a Weak State

by Marie Mendras
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

What has become of the Russian state twenty years after the collapse of Communism? Why have the rulers and the ruled turned away from democratic institu¬tions and the rule of law? What explains the Putin regime's often uncooperative policies towards Europe and its difficult relations with the rest of the world? These are among the key issues discussed in this

Overview

What has become of the Russian state twenty years after the collapse of Communism? Why have the rulers and the ruled turned away from democratic institu¬tions and the rule of law? What explains the Putin regime's often uncooperative policies towards Europe and its difficult relations with the rest of the world? These are among the key issues discussed in this essential book on contemporary Russia by Marie Mendras, France's leading scholar on the subject.

Mendras provides an original and incisive analysis of Russia's political system since Gorbachev's perestroika. Contrary to conven¬tional thinking, she contends that today the Russian state is weak and ineffective. Vladimir Putin has dismantled and under¬mined most public institutions, and has consolidated a patronage system of rule. The Medvedev presidency was but one chapter in the story, as Putin's re-election exemplifies. Political and economic power remains concentrated in the hands of a few groups and individuals, and the elites remain loyal to the leadership in order to hold on to their positions and prosper. Those at the helm of the state are unaccountable to the society they govern.

Up until the economic crisis of 2008, ordinary Russians largely turned a blind eye to these authoritarian methods because living standards had markedly improved. The economic slowdown, rising corruption and unfair elections have put the leadership under pressure, and have caused unprecedented public protest.

Editorial Reviews

Sir - Lawrence Freedman
A lucid, fresh, and shrewd history of the failure to modernize the old Soviet state by the new Russian elite. It is particularly timely in light of the current crisis in the Russian political system.
Lilia Shevtsova

Marie Mendras's fine insights into Russia's trajectory encompass the roots of personalized power, the evolution of society, the political dynamics of the leadership, the paradoxes -- and vulnerabilities -- of a system of power which 'hollowed out public institutions,' and the resurgence of aggressiveness in Russian foreign policy. Russian Politics is a first-rate, compelling, and indispensable study of one of the most important countries in the world at the start of a dramatic search for its identity.

Susan Richards

At last, a serious scholar has confronted the fallacy that Russia is condemned to autocracy. If you look carefully, argues Marie Mendras, you will see that attitudes are evolving and that the potential for a civil society does exist. Now it is up to the Russians. Yes, to that.

Sir Lawrence Freedman

A lucid, fresh, and shrewd history of the failure to modernize the old Soviet state by the new Russian elite. It is particularly timely in light of the current crisis in the Russian political system.

From the Publisher
"One of France's leading Russian experts, Ms. Mendras points up continuities from tsarist times...She portrays a society riddled with mistrust and corruption, which has fostered an elite around Mr. Putin that has hugely enriched itself. For all his proud talk of a 'sovereign democracy,' this has not been good for Russia. One poll she quotes finds 85% of Russians feeling they have no influence over how their country is run."—Economist

"A brilliantly textured portrait and fiercely argued expose of the troubled and troubling political condition of Putin's Russia. Paradoxically, as Mendras lucidly explains, the Russian state abuses its citizens precisely because it is too weak to control itself. ... the most stimulating work yet published on the origins and evolution of post-communist Russian politics."—Stephen Holmes, Walter E. Meyer Professor of Law, New York University School of Law

"This is a lucid, fresh and shrewd history of the failure to modernize the old Soviet state by the new Russian elite. It is particularly timely in the light of the current crisis in the Russian political system."-Sir Lawrence Freedman, Professor of War Studies and Vice-Principal, King's College London

"Marie Mendras fine insights into Russia's trajectory encompass the roots of personalised power, the evolution of society, the political dynamics of the leadership, the paradoxes and vulnerabilities of the managed democracies and bureaucratic capitalism and the resurgence of aggressiveness in Russian foreign policy. Russian Politics: the Paradox of a Weak State is a first-rate, compelling, and indispensable contribution on one of the most important countries in the world at the start of a dramatic search for its identity."-Lilia Shevtsova, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of Russia: Lost in Transition

"At last, a serious scholar has confronted the fallacy that Russia is condemned to autocracy. If you look carefully, argues Mendras, you will see that attitudes are evolving and that the potential for a civil society does exist. Now it is up to the Russians. Yes, to that."-Susan Richards, Open Democracy and author, Lost and Found in Russia

"A solid study of the Putin political regime, emphasizing the structural tensions between a highly effective authoritarian political machine and a governmental system that cannot effectively manage the modernization of post-Communist Russia." — Russian Review

"... a convincing account of the Russian political arena since the 1990s ... a good source for graduate students as well as the general public to develop critical thinking, obtain advanced knowledge of Russian domestic and foreign politics today, and learn about the possible implications of Putin's presidency." — Europe-Asia Studies

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780231703901
Publisher:
Columbia University Press
Publication date:
06/26/2012
Series:
Columbia/Hurst Series
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Stephen Holmes

A brilliantly textured portrait and fiercely argued exposé of the troubled and troubling political condition of Vladimir Putin's Russia. Paradoxically, as Marie Mendras lucidly explains, the Russian state abuses its citizens precisely because it is too weak to control itself. The most stimulating work yet published on the origins and evolution of post-communist Russian politics.

Meet the Author

Marie Mendras is Professor at Sciences Po University and Research Fellow with the CNRS and the Centre for International Study and Research (CERI) in Paris. She is an Associate Fellow with the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >