World Policy Journal

"The term 'mafia state' was introduced by a Hungarian social scientist named Bálint Magyar. There’s nothing wrong with describing Russia as a fascist state; it’s just not very precise. A mafia state is a much more specific term, which was developed to describe a particular kind of post-communist regime. A fascist state, at this point, is such an expandable term that I don’t think it’s terribly informative. In the most general sense, a fascist state is a state that is run by a far-right, nationalist government on a basis of everything of the state and everything for the state. That’s pretty accurate when applied to Russia, although what you define as right and not right in a Russian context is a little tricky. And I wouldn’t call Russia a nationalist state—at this point, it’s an imperialist state. So 'fascist' is just not informative. Magyar is very precise about the fact that what has allowed these mafia states to flourish in Hungary and in Russia is that they were built on the ruins of a totalitarian society. The instruments they can use and the way they can instrumentalize things like ideology is specific to societies that have lived through totalitarianism. In the States, we don’t have that experience at all, and we see society responding to the signals from Washington in entirely different ways—thank God—than you would expect in a post-communist country. 'Post-democratic mafia state' is not a defined term. Magyar has published two books and a number of articles on what constitutes a post-communist mafia state. But we don’t know what a post-democratic mafia state looks like."
Reviewed book: 
Bálint Magyar
$40.00 / €30.00 / £24.99