Capitalism in Russia, is it failing? If so, why?

My Papa Joe Stalin thread got me thinking about this topic. even sven noted correctly that many Russians don’t see the modern so-called capitalist era as being as good as the old days under Stalin. Rather than hijack that thread on what is a great topic in and of itself, I thought I’d ask why is capitalism failing, or perceived as failing, in Russia?

I wonder if the old Communist belief that all capitalism is gangsterism has affected the way people have gone about implementing the system?

I believe that capitalism requires governmental oversight to work. Capitalists, if left alone, will collude to avoid price competition, violate contracts, deceive, engage in croneyism, and commit crimes - like any group of humans - if there is not the right mix of fair and predictible oversight. Furthermore, there needs to be support from educational institutions and capital providers in a way that simply does not exist in Communism.

You can’t just create advanced entrepreneurial capitalism from nothing. Sometimes we forget how many layers of civilization are necessary to accomplish the seemingly smallest thing.

Well, Russia is still recovering from 70 years of communism, or more accurately, extremely authoritarian socialism. This seriously messed up the industrial base of the country, which didn’t keep up with productivity improvements. That and the people were not educated in how to function in a capitalist economy, and culturally were not prepared. That and the transition to capitalism was bungled badly, with much wealth and foriegn aid being stolen and hidden. Also, organized crime has been a plague on Russian business as well, as the current government hasn’t been able to crack down on it very well. Still, I believe most standard of living indicators have recovered to the level they were prior to the collapse of communism, and are rising, not falling. I am trying to find cites for this at the moment, and will be back with confirmation.

People who aren’t equipped well to adapt to new conditions have fared very poorly under Russian capitalism. Pensions are worth basically nothing, and public employees receive their miniscule salaries sporadically, if at all. Whatever legislative safety nets there are are very, very minimal. So basically Russia has become much, much more stratified; a small number of people have become insanely wealthy, a relatively decent-sized number are barely scraping by, and many, many people are living at or below subsistence level.

I can try to dig up more specifics/stats/reading recommendations if you’re interested; I’ve got a bookshelf full of them. Are there more specific questions you want to ask? This one is pretty broad and could pretty much go on forever.

PBS aired an interesting documentary based upon a book, Commanding Heights: The Battle for the World Economy, which covers the issues involved with communist countries adopting the capitalist model.

Of course, under capitalism, anyone in the economy is a capitalist, which would then explain union behavior in the cases of corruption.

I think this is very true, but it isn’t like the former USSR was in the dark ages or something. As I understand it, albeit from personal reports from people I know who lived there during the switch, the corruption in the government enabled the corrupt to grab the wealth and production in the economy, making them from legal tyrants to economic ones (if they so chose, of course, I’m not saying everyone there is a tyrant if they own something). Thus, any cynicism about the government that helped provide its downfall could immediately transfer over to the economic system, because that’s where those in government went.