October 1, 1997

Soviet Venality

A Rent-Seeking Model of the Communist State
  • Peter J. Boettke

    Director, F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
  • Gary Anderson

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While the recent Fall of Communism has focused the interest of economists on the admittedly fascinating problems associated with the ongoing economic reform process, the study of the functioning of actual communist economies still seems mired in the conventional model of central planning. This model is predicated on the assumption that communist rulers are unselfish drones who single-mindedly maximize the public interest. This article proposes an alternative, public choice model. The authors suggest that the Soviet-style system represents a modern incarnation of the mercantilist economies of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe, and that venality, not ideology, drives these economies in practice.

Read the article at SpringerLink.