This paper is an attempt to explain the lack of economic development in the Congo. I will focus on the political system and its disastrous effects on various sectors of the economy, especially the rural sector. Anthropological fieldwork was carried out in the period 198690 (thirteen months) in the two cities, Brazzaville and Pointe Noire, and the countryside of the Pool and Kouilou provinces. Changes in the political system seem to be under way but it is too early to be specific about the outcome. I will argue that the economic crisis of today is very much produced by the Congolese state and the state class. The responses to the crisis are therefore divided. There is a response from circles outside the power core in the direction of democratization and an apparent determination to put an end to the privatization of the state economy, while the state class itself seems to have accelerated its flight of capital during the second half of the 1980s.