The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes

A Conceptual Framework
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834 pages, 210 mm x 270 mm (8.25" x 10.75"), 85 tables, 50 figures, 42 text boxes, 58 QR codes
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Offering a single, coherent framework of the political, economic, and social phenomena that characterize post-communist regimes, this is the most comprehensive work on the subject to date. Focusing on Central Europe, the post-Soviet countries and China, the study provides a systematic mapping of possible post-communist trajectories.

At exploring the structural foundations of post-communist regime development, the work discusses the types of state, with an emphasis on informality and patronalism; the variety of actors in the political, economic, and communal spheres; the ways autocrats neutralize media, elections, etc. The analysis embraces the color revolutions of civil resistance (as in Georgia and in Ukraine) and the defensive mechanisms of democracy and autocracy; the evolution of corruption and the workings of “relational economy”; an analysis of China as “market-exploiting dictatorship”; the sociology of “clientage society”; and the instrumental use of ideology, with an emphasis on populism. Beyond a cataloguing of phenomena—actors, institutions, and dynamics of post-communist democracies, autocracies, and dictatorships—Magyar and Madlovics also conceptualize everything as building blocks to a larger, coherent structure: a new language for post-communist regimes.

While being the most definitive book on the topic, the book is nevertheless written in an accessible style suitable for both beginners who wish to understand the logic of post-communism and scholars who are interested in original contributions to comparative regime theory. The book is equipped with QR codes that link to, which contains interactive, 3D supplementary material for teaching.

“This ambitious book provides not only a better vocabulary, but a whole new grammar for describing the political regimes that emerged in communism’s wake.”—Henry Hale, George Washington University

"Magyar’s new book, co-authored with Bálint Madlovics, contains, among other insights, a critique of how we usually talk about and measure corruption."—Masha Gessen, Amherst College, in the New Yorker

"Политически и Россия, и Белоруссия – постсоветские патрональные автократии, экономика которых основана на государственном капитализме (его можно назвать и коммерциализованным социализмом)."—from the website of the Carnegie Moscow Center in Russian and in English.

List of Tables and Figures
Reader’s Manual for QR Codes and Online Supplementary Material

Preface by Alena Ledeneva


Trapped in the Language of Democratization
The Inadequacy of Existing Models for the Post-Communist Region
The Multi-Dimensional Analytical Framework: Spanning Conceptual Spaces
How It is Made: The Construction of a Conceptual Toolkit
How to Look at It: The Framework as a Structural Construction
How to Read It: A Textbook with Original Contributions
How It Unfolds: Outline of the Content

1. Stubborn Structures

1.1. Guide to the Chapter
1.2. Thesis A: Regime Type Depends on the Separation of Spheres of Social Action
1.3. Thesis B: The Separation of Spheres Followed Civilizational Boundaries
1.3.1. Civilizations and the Three Historical Regions
1.3.2. The Basic Structure of Unseparated Spheres in a Feudal Framework
1.4. Thesis C: Communist Dictatorships Arrested and Reversed the Separation of Spheres
1.4.1. The Basic Structure of Merged Spheres in Communist Dictatorships
1.4.2. The Effect of Communism on the Separation of Spheres in Different Regions
1.5. Thesis D: Democratization Did Not Change the Separation of Spheres
1.5.1. The Basic Structure of Unseparated Spheres in a Democratic Framework
1.5.2. Single-Pyramid and Multi-Pyramid Systems: The Determinants of Democratization in the Three Historical Regions
1.6. Beyond Hybridology: A Triangular Conceptual Space of Regimes

2. State

2.1. Guide to the Chapter
2.2. General Definitions: The Basic Concepts of the Framework
2.2.1. Regime, State, Violence, and Coercion
2.2.2. Elite, Ruling Elite, Patronalism, and Informality
2.3. The Dominant Principle of State Functioning
2.3.1. Societal Interest, Elite Interest, and Ideology Implementation
2.3.2. States in Democracies and Dictatorships: from Constitutional State to Party State and from Night-Watchman State through Welfare State to Developmental State
2.4. Conceptualization of States Running on Elite Interest
2.4.1. Interpretative Layers: What is the Nature of the Ruling Elite?
2.4.2. Interpretative Layers: What is the Action Targeting State Institutions?
2.4.3. Interpretative Layers: What is the Action Targeting Property?
2.4.4. Interpretative Layers: What is the Legal Status of Elite-Interested Action?
2.4.5. Combining Layers of Different Dimensions: Defining the Mafia State
2.4.6. Constitutional State vs. Mafia State: Normativity and Discretionality
2.5. Challenges to the Monopoly of Violence
2.5.1. State Failure, Violent Entrepreneurs, and Oligarchic Anarchy
2.5.2. The Legitimate Use of Violence: A Typology
2.5.3. Sub-Sovereign Mafia States
2.6. The Invisible Hand and the Grabbing Hand: A Comparative Framework for State Types

3. Actors

3.1. Guide to the Chapter
3.2. The Three Spheres of Social Action
3.3. Political Actors in the Three Polar Type Regimes
3.3.1. President/Prime Minister—Chief Patron—General Party Secretary
3.3.2. Cabinet—Patron’s Court—Politburo
3.3.3. Politician—Poligarch / Political Front Man—High Level Party Cadre
3.3.4. Trustee – Patron’s Hand (Smotryashchiy)—Middle/Low Level Party Cadre
3.3.5. Civil Servant—Patronal Servant—Administrative Cadre (Apparatchik)
3.3.6. State’s Secret Service—Patron’s Secret Service—Party’s Secret Service
3.3.7. Democratic Party (Politicians’ Party)—Patron’s Party (Vassals’ Party)— Centralized Party (Cadres’ Party)
3.3.8. Governing Party—Transmission-Belt Party – State Party
3.3.9. Opposition Party—Marginalized / Domesticated / Absorbed / Liquidated / Fake party
3.4. Economic Actors in the Three Polar Type Regimes
3.4.1. Entrepreneur—Oligarch—State Enterprise Leader
3.4.2. Lobbyist—Corruption Broker—Tolkach
3.4.3. Economic Front Man (Shell Company)
3.5. Communal Actors in the Three Polar Type Regimes
3.5.1. Citizen—Servant (Client)—Subject
3.5.3. Independent Church – Client Church – Repressed Church
3.6. A Ruling Elite of Colluding Spheres: The Adopted Political Family
3.6.1. What the Adopted Political Family Is and Is Not
3.6.2. The Anthropological Character of the Adopted Political Family
3.6.3. Disposing over Status and Wealth as Chief Patron
3.7. The Structure of Elites in the Six Ideal Type Regimes
3.7.1. Elites in the Three Polar Type Regimes
3.7.2. Elites in the Three Intermediate Regime Types

4. Politics

4.1. Guide to the Chapter
4.2. Civil Legitimacy and the Interpretation of the Common Good  
4.2.1. Civil Legitimacy as the Basis of Modern States
4.2.2. Civil Legitimacy in Liberal Democracy: Constitutionalism
4.2.3. Civil Legitimacy in Patronal Autocracy: Populism
4.2.4. Civil Legitimacy in Communist Dictatorship: Marxism-Leninism  
4.2.5. Weberian Legitimacy Patterns: Populism as a Call for Substantive-Rational Legitimacy
4.3. The Institutions of Public Deliberation in the Three Polar Type Regimes
4.3.1. Discussing: Media and the Spheres of Communication
4.3.2. Associating: Protests, Interest Groups, and Party Systems
4.3.3. Electing: Campaigns, Elections, and Referenda
4.3.4. Lawmaking: Policies, Laws, and Legislatures
4.3.5. Enforcing: Courts, Prosecution, and the Institutions of State Coercion
4.4. Defensive Mechanisms: Stability, Erosion, and the Strategies of Consolidating Democracies and Autocracies
4.4.1. Liberal Democracy: Separation of Branches of Power and Civil Society
4.4.2. Patronal Democracy: Separation of Networks of Power and Color Revolutions
4.4.3. Patronal Autocracy: Separation of Resources of Power and the Problem of Succession
4.4.4. Reversing Autocratic Change: The Regime-Critique Paradigm and Democratic Consolidation

5. Economy

5.1. Guide to the Chapter
5.2. Relational Economics as a Challenger of the Neoclassical Synthesis
5.3. Relation
5.3.1. General Definitions: Relation, Cooperation, Collusion
5.3.2. Collusion and Corruption: A Typology
5.3.3. Corruption Types in Comparison: General Dimensions and a Case Study for the Transformation of Corruption 
5.3.4. Corruption Measurement, Criminal Ecosystem, and the Role of Corrupt Monies in Regime
5.3.5. Relation in Communist Dictatorships
5.3.6. The Culture of Relation in the Post-Communist Region: From Family Obligations to Blat and Guanxi
5.4. State Intervention
5.4.1. The General Framework
5.4.2. Regulatory Intervention: The Forms of Rent Creation
5.4.3. Budgetary Intervention: The Forms of Taxation and Spending
5.5. Ownership
5.5.1. Political Reorganization of Ownership Structure in the Post-Communist Region
5.5.2. Making a Privatization Profile: Technocratic and Non-Technocratic Motives
5.5.3. Making a Patronalization Profile: Predation and Property Rights
5.5.4. Predation and Economic Dynamics: Stalking Value, Hunting Value, and Booty Value
5.6. Comparative Economic Systems
5.6.1. Administrative Market, Competitive Market, and Relational Market
5.6.2. Mixed Market Economies: the Dynamic Balance of the Three Economic Mechanisms in Market-Exploiting Dictatorships
5.6.3. From Crony to Mafia: Types of Political Capitalism

6. Society

6.1. Guide to the Chapter
6.2. The Level of Social Structures: Networks and Societal Patronalization
6.2.1. Open and Limited-Access Orders: Eliminating the Strength of Weak Ties
6.2.2. Clientage Society: Inequality and Social Mobility in Patronal Autocracy
6.3. The Stability of Power and Mass Political Persuasion
6.4. The Level of Discourses: Ideology and the Political Market
6.4.1. The Supply Side: Ideology-Applying Actors and Regimes
6.4.2. The Demand Side: From Identity Politics to Conspiracy Theories
6.4.3. Populism Summarized: An Ideological Instrument for the Political Program of Morally Unconstrained Collective Egoism
6.5. Modalities of Informal Governance: A Summary

7. Regimes

7.1. Guide to the Chapter
7.2. The Triangular Framework: Defining the Six Ideal Type Regimes
7.2.1. Doubling of the Kornaian Ideal Types of Democracy, Autocracy, and Dictatorship
7.2.2. Eleven Dimensions in the Triangular Framework
7.3. Regime Dynamics: A Typology with Modelled Trajectories of Twelve Post- Communist Countries
7.3.1. General Definitions: Sequence, Trajectory, and Pattern Change
7.3.2. Primary Trajectories after Communism (Estonia, Romania, Kazakhstan, and China)
7.3.3. Secondary Trajectories after the Regime Change (Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Russia)
7.3.4. Regime Cycles and the Duality of Personal and Impersonal Institutional Change (Ukraine,
Macedonia, Moldova, and Georgia)
7.4. Beyond Regime Specificities: Country and Policy-Specific Features
7.4.1. Ethnic Cleavages as a Source of Pluralism and Disorder
7.4.2. Deep State and the Survival of Communist Secret Services
7.4.3. Country Size and the Global Ambitions of Former Empires
7.4.4. Geopolitical Orientation and the Coexistence of Liberal and Patronal Regimes in the European Union
7.4.5. Dependence of Capitalism and the Global Connections of Local Patronal Networks
7.4.6. Natural Resources and Other Sources of Distributable Rent
7.4.7. Policy-Specific Features: Regime-Based Analysis and the Room for Maneuver  


The Significance of Language and the Basic Axioms to Analyze Post-Communist Regimes
Towards a Global Perspective: Dissolving our Implicit Axioms for the Post- Communist Region Technology and Climate Change: Era-Specific Features and the Prospects for the Future


"The book is an impressive freight of scholarly work that leaves behind the terminological problems of earlier strains of post-communist research. Though the book's conceptual language is applicable elsewhere, its greatest analytical leverage will be in the states of the former Eastern Bloc. Clarifying and systematising a conceptual framework that rigorously covers much of post-communist state and society facilitates finer analysis and research that can be more easily related to other studies. (Insofar as its new language reduces semantic confusion, the book's value cannot be understated). The textbook format speaks to the authors’ primary audience: the book will be a welcome resource for the classroom and for students studying regimes, particularly in the post-Soviet space."
"This book, over 800 pages, is one of few serious attempts to offer a systematic and massive ‘anatomy’, as Magyar and Madlovics rightly call it, of all the possible variations between the oversimplistic dualist opposition of communist dictatorship and liberal democracy. A key feature of this book is that it is structured in a way that can be easily integrated into teaching. The book comes with its own dedicated website offering extensive online resources including a draft seminar that can be adopted for a course on post-communist regimes, and a 3D interactive model of post-communist regime trajectories that can be studied using desktop software and a mobile app. A large number of topologies, analytical models, quotes of important ideas clarifying tables and figures facilitate a variety of teaching methods in classroom settings."
"As a reader and specialist in post-communist transformations, the author of this review has never seen such an impressive book. Bálint Madlovics and Bálint Magyar deliver an exceptional work, matured in the Hungarian intellectual milieu of the Central European University, which overlaps with the individual researches from each of them. With a remarkable capacity for synthesis, the authors pursue a dual theoretical and pedagogical ambition, exploiting a rare analytical capacity and reflexivity that will benefit both specialists and students."
"Among many other fascinating sociological insights, the authors contrast the 'invisible hand' classical-liberal system with the 'grabbing hand' system of a predatory state. They divide the grabbing-hand systems into three categories: (1) Communist totalitarianism, (2) the mafia state, which takes from disloyal outsiders and gives to loyal insiders; and (3) the failed state, where unorganized bureaucrats employ predatory practices unsystematically."
"This book – with its wide variety of additional online resources and textbook-like format – will surely prove to be an invaluable teaching tool, especially for graduate students interested in post-communist regime development. The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes is a comprehensive, astute consideration of regime development in the post-communist region. The conceptual framework not only helps us reconsider how we think and talk about democracy and autocracy, but it also provides a roadmap for identifying early warning signs of democratic regression. For all these reasons, the text is an impressive scholarly contribution that should appeal to a wide audience."
"Поиски новых слов, призванных описать ту «серую зону» (с западной точки зрения), где оказались страны, которые раньше представлялись идущими к либеральной демократии, начались еще в 2000-е годы. Социолог Балинт Мадьяр и политолог Балинт Малдович, авторы вышедшей в прошлом году книги «Анатомия посткоммунистических режимов», решили внести в эти поиски радикальный вклад. Язык западной политологии для описания большинства посткоммунистических стран не годится, считают они. Представляя Россию полуавторитарной или полудемократической страной, считают Мадьяр и Малдович, мы как будто предполагаем, что эта система все еще идет к демократической цели. Но посткоммунистические режимы радикально иные. Их ключевая особенность — отсутствие четкого водораздела между политической, деловой и общественной деятельностью. Это отсутствие — наследие коммунистических времен, когда деятельность одной партии пронизывала все структуры государства и общества."
"Magyar’s new book, co-authored with Bálint Madlovics, is 'The Anatomy of Post-Communist Regimes: A Conceptual Framework.' It contains, among other insights, a critique of how we usually talk about and measure corruption. Magyar and Madlovics write that the problem with measurements used by, say, Transparency International, which produces an annual index of perceived corruption, is that the index assumes that corruption represents a departure from a norm: 'They understand the state by its formal identity: as dominantly an institution of the public good, with some subordinates who deviate from that purpose and abuse their position by requesting or accepting bribes and appointing cronies without a legitimate basis.' This view of corruption fails when confronted with a government to which corruption is central, or in which corruption is not voluntary but coercive—where the corrupt relationship is forced by one partner upon the other."
"The book by Bálint Magyar and Bálint Madlovics is a substantial work, and not only in terms of its physical characteristics. The authors have created a detailed and coherent conceptual framework for the study of post-communist regimes, which will be indispensable for future researchers. In addition to the theoretical coherence, the numerous conceptual innovations and the deep embeddedness in relevant literature, the sheer professionalism of the execution is also worth highlighting – I personally found it particularly useful that the book’s website allows us to compare the regime trajectories of different countries. The book is a voluminous and original work that helps us see the functioning of post-communist regimes in historical perspective and on a broad comparative canvas. If not as a textbook to be read in its entirety, it will still be an indispensable part of the reading list for courses on its subject."
"I would advise any scholar entering this field to begin by reading this book, and diving into any of the particular areas they illuminate so powerfully—stubborn structures, the state, actors, politics, economy, society, corruption, regimes, and others. Indeed, the next time I teach about (de)democratizations, this volume’s diagrams of regime transformations for twelve postcommunist countries will supplement the diagrams Charles Tilly’s Democracy (2007) offers. If I headed a foundation I would assemble for six months those dedicated to figuring how power works in culture and society, within the postcommunist world and beyond it, to engage this volume and these scholars."
Review symposium on The Anatomy of Post-communist Regimes: "Magyar and Madlovics’s book aims to contribute to our understanding of the role of stubborn structures and to highlight the decisive role of informal politics in post-communist political and economic developments. The book elaborates a comprehensive framework for predicting future regime change, authoritarian breakdowns and revolutionary breakthroughs in the post-communist world; and it provides very important insights into the nature of post-communist political, economic and social systems. It is a terrific achievement." "The publication of Magyar and Madlovics’s book means that post-communist studies have reached a qualitatively new level. A new paradigm for this research field has emerged. From now scholars working in this branch of knowledge will have to engage with the conclusions of this book, do their research based on them or refine them." "The book defines post-communist countries as... more