Selected Essays of Axel Leijonhufvud
Economists of the Twentieth Century series
Chapter 16: Problems of socialist transformation: Kazakhstan 1991
* The undoing of a totalitarian state does not make a functioning democracy. The undoing of central planning does not make a working market system. Simple truths sometimes make bitter lessons. After the initial euphoria over the undoing of the communist regimes, these lessons have by now sunk in. The literature on the problems of the socialist transformation is already large and it is growing faster than a reader’s eye can follow. Case studies may be more useful than further disquisitions on general principles at this point. The actual reform work has to be carried out under political conditions that vary widely between the various countries and that in almost all instances have been changing very rapidly. In this paper, I will discuss recent reform efforts in the Kazakh Republic and try to put them in their political context. The reader should be warned that Soviet studies has never been my ﬁeld and that, even though I spent much time on some of the economic reform problems of Kazakhstan last year, I spent only a few weeks in the country and do not, by any means, consider myself an expert. Much of what follows is personal impressions and opinions based on fragmentary and not always reliable information. ECONOMIC GEOGRAPHY AND DEMOGRAPHY Kazakhstan stretches some 1,800 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Chinese border. It is more than four times the size of France and six times the size of California. Yet, while the republic is rich in mineral resources,...
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