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Was Mancur a Maoist? An Essay on Kleptocracy and Political Stability

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  • Susan Rose-Ackerman

    (Yale University)

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    Much of Mancur Olson's work explored the link between government structure and economic development. This paper provides a framework for thinking about this link that exposes both the powerful insights and the deep tensions in Olson's work. In The Rise and Decline of Nations Olson argued that instability was good for democratic accountability because it upset entrenched interests. In contrast, after the fall of the socialist regimes in Europe and the Soviet Union, Olson argued that the stability of a single autocrat or "stationary bandit" was superior to the competitive rent seeking of competing "roving bandits." I argue that there is a real inconsistency in Olson's thinking on the role of stability and change in political life; I do this by developing the connections between Olson's classic Logic of Collective Action and his subsequent writing. The paper concludes by building on Olson's insights to point the way to a more complete analysis of democracy and transition. Copyright Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2003.

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    Article provided by Wiley Blackwell in its journal Economics & Politics.

    Volume (Year): 15 (2003)
    Issue (Month): 2 (July)
    Pages: 163-180

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    Handle: RePEc:bla:ecopol:v:15:y:2003:i:2:p:163-180
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