This article examines one reason for the failure of full-scale authoritarianism in Ukraine, 1992e2004. The monopolization of political control in Ukraine was partially thwarted by the disorganization of Ukraine’s ex-nomenklatura elite that dominated the country after the Cold War. Elite Ukrainian politics in the 1990s can best be understood as an example of ‘‘rapacious individualism.’’ This term was used by Martin Shefter to describe pre-machine New York city politics in the 19th century, dominated by a non-ideological and unstructured competition for power and rents. Rapacious individualism in Ukraine had a contradictory impact. It hindered full-scale democratization but also undermined efforts to consolidate authoritarianism. At one level, widespread corruption allowed the executive to concentrate political power because he controlled key patronage resources. At the same time, weak organization reduced the costs of open confrontation with the executive while corruption distributed resources to a broad range of future opposition leaders. The result was competitive authoritarian rule.

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