Toward a Mid-Range Theory of
In the past few years, the news media have been full of shocking accounts of the breakdown of public order and the rise in crime in Russia in the wake of the country's abrupt transition to a "free market." "From St. Petersburg to Vladivostok," according to one account, police are facing "an epidemic of murder, robbery and mayhem." 1
Much the same picture has been repeatedly drawn of China in the last several years. The Wall Street Journal says that lawlessness under the new market-oriented regime is so pervasive that "Police, Peoples' Liberation Army and party members are opening their own nightclubs and brothels," often in joint ventures with "criminal organizations from overseas." 2 The Guardian describes a country so troubled by escalating crime and so determined to stop the explosion of violence in its tracks that it is resorting (not for the first time) to mass public executions. 3
An odd thing seems to have happened, in short, to what only a couple of years ago was being celebrated as the triumph of "democracy and free markets" around the world. Some of those countries whose conversion to market principles we were so heartily applauding seem to be virtually disintegrating before our eyes.
More often than not, these media accounts of rising violence and crime in formerly communist countries make a clear link between that social disintegration and the precipitous economic "reforms" launched in the name of the market -- including the shredding of social safety nets and the obliteration of traditional guarantees of employment. Curiously, however,