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« BACK ON TRACK TO NORMALCY INSTEAD OF RESET. IN THE WAKE OF MUNICH CONFERENCE | Main | RUSSIA REPORT AND THE NATURE OF RUSSIAN DEMOCRACY ARTICLE »

February 15, 2013

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David Habakkuk

The US-Russia.org discussion of corruption is most illuminating. Among other things, it is very good to be hearing from Sergei Roy again.

His distinction between different forms of corruption actually meshes with arguments made by some historically informed work on economic development. A professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies here in London, Mushtaq Khan, has argued that the empirical evidence simply does not support the conventional wisdom that the achievement of ‘good governance’ should be a critical objective for states seeking to develop.

Obviously, ‘good governance’ is desirable. It has not, however, proved critical to development in the way it is generally believed to have been, Mushtaq Khan argues. The evidence he produces meshes well with Roy’s arguments about Russian history.

Moreover, the fact that 'good governance' is the ‘dominant consensus’, in Mushtaq Khan’s view ‘sets poor countries infeasible and unachievable agendas, creating dismay and disillusion, and takes our attention away from achievable and critical governance agendas.’

(He can be seen presenting his argument at http://www.diis.dk/sw94747.asp )

Meanwhile, a noted expert on China, Michael Pettis, has produced a fascinating discussion of the problems of the Chinese economy. It starts:

‘As regular readers know I have often argued that the Chinese development model is an old one, and can trace its roots at least as far back as the “American System” of the 1820s and 1830s. This “system” was itself based primarily on the works of the brilliant first US Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (see especially his report to the Congress on manufacturing and his two reports on public credit and banks).’

(See http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/02/pettis-china-and-the-history-of-us-growth-models.html )

One critical point that Pettis stresses is that the success of this American version of ‘national socialism’ was critically to do with the avoidance of a situation where a great deal of – perfectly ‘rational’ – economic activity ends up being primarily concerned with, as it were, sucking at the teat of the state. This is what Roy points out tends to happen in Russia.

The arguments of both these writers, incidentally, bring into sharp focus the utter ignorance of the relevant economic history displayed by those Western advocates of ‘shock therapy’ who had such a calamitous influence in Russia in the 1990s. Rarely can a group of so-called ‘experts’ have combined such utter intellectual arrogance with such ignorance of so much of the relevant evidence about the questions on which they were so convinced they had a monopoly of truth.

Da Russophile

Thanks for the shout-out Patrick. For those who are interested in Russia corruption, I have a further set of graphs comparing it to the BRIC's and East-Central Europe here: http://darussophile.com/2013/02/17/russias-corruption-in-comparative-international-perspective/

Alexander Mercouris

Dear Patrick,

I would just make one short comment to your excellent summary.

The European Court of Human Rights does not normally entertain applications unless it is satisfied that domestic remedies have been exhausted. It is possible in Russia to challenge a law on the basis that it violates human rights that are safeguarded by the Russian Constitution. The way to do this is by challenging the law in the Constitutional Court.

A good recent example of this is the recent (and very controversial) law on rallies. This was challenged in the Constitutional Court which recently delivered a Judgment which significantly watered the law down. This has attracted little attention but many of the provisions of this law that many found most offensive (including the high fines and the blanket liability on rally organisers for criminal violations during rallies)have either been heavily modified or done away with.

It may be that I have overlooked it but I have not heard of any challenge of the NGO law being made to the Russian Constitutional Court. If no such challenge has been made then it may be difficult to get the European Court of Human Rights to entertain this application.

Incidentally I would not go so far as to say that the European Court of Human Rights regularly decides against Russia. It has often done so, usually with good cause, but in the more high profile cases I would say that it has tended to find in Russia's favour. The four judgments the European Court of Human Rights has delivered in the Khodorkovsky case are an example. Nor have I ever heard of a case of Russia refused to comply with a final judgment of the European Court of Human Rights.

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