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First the Transition, Then the Crash: Eastern Europe in the 2000s Paperback – 12 Sep 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 280 pages
  • Publisher: Pluto Press (12 Sept. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745331157
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745331157
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.5 x 21.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 729,140 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

Central and Eastern Europe is a neoliberal horror story. The details are well told here: of 'grabitization' kleptocracies, NATO expansion and capital flight. These well-packaged studies show how U.S.-sponsored 'reforms' de-industrialized Russia and other post-Soviet states. ... This story needs to be known.’ (Michael Hudson)

Radical political economy finally comes resurgent in the former communist countries. Dale and his collaborators comprehensively cover the transitions, from Hungary to the Russian Pacific. The best alternative survey of how the post-communist entrants are faring in 21st-century capitalism. (Georgi Derluguian, author of Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A World-Systems Biography)

This book provides a vital corrective to neoliberal triumphalism, and a starting-point for socialist renewal. (Hugo Radice, University of Leeds)

A very valuable contribution to a growing literature on the post-Communist transition. (Dr Carl Levy, Reader in European Politics, Goldsmiths, University of London)

About the Author

Gareth Dale is Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Brunel University. His previous books include The East German Revolution of 1989 (2007) and Karl Polanyi: The Limits of the Market (2010).

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Format: Paperback
This is a useful, factual survey of the disasters that have hit Eastern Europe since the counter-revolutions of 1990-91. After the counter-revolutions, the `newly-independent' countries of Eastern Europe became new protectorates, EU and NATO members, with German employers and US bases. `Neo-liberal' strategies based on drastic privatisations gave power to criminal groups that got rich by looting publicly-owned assets.

As a result, these countries suffered slumps. Between 1992 and 1998 Russia's GDP fell by half, its industrial production by more than half. Between 1993 and 1998, its grain harvest fell by more than a half, down to below 1913's level. Hungary's `structural adjustment' of 1988-95 destroyed more economic assets than did World War Two, and 1.5 million jobs. Ukraine's GDP fell by two-thirds between 1990 and 1997.

The mass of the people were forced into poverty. During the 1990s, wages in Central and Eastern Europe fell more than in any country during the 1930s Great Depression. In 1990-92 wages fell by 34 per cent in Poland and by 22 per cent in the Czech Republic. In 1989-96 Hungary's wages fell by 24 per cent. In 1997, Bulgarian pensions were $2 a month and 90 per cent of the population were below the poverty line of $4 a day. By 1999, wages in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania were less than half 1989's level.

A European Commission report of February 2007 noted that unemployment among Eastern Europe's young people was 40 per cent, so huge numbers of young people voted with their feet. This huge emigration helped to hold down labour costs in Britain and Ireland.

In 2007 the IMF absurdly forecast that the GDP of Central and Eastern Europe would rise by 5 per cent a year in 2008-12.
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A very good survey of the real disaster of capitalist restoration in Eastern Europe looking specifically at the real situation, as opposed to the IMF and World Bank fairy stories, in country after country.
The best chapters cover Russia, Ukraine, Latvia (the best IMO), Serbia and Hungary.
But many of the contributors seem to lack a worked out political standpoint - they mix Marx, Trotsky, Gramsci and new left academic sources to give an appearance of erudition but the result is somewhat of a mish mash. Good on description, weaker on political diagnosis and programme.
But it is probably the best or only class based analysis of the dire situation of the Central and East European economies.
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72% of Hungarians believe they were better off under so-called 'communism'. Similar disatisfaction is expressed elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

It wasn't supposed to be this way. The global capitalist crash hit the region hard in 2008 onwards. Increased 'prosperity' and economic growth had been paid for by borrowing and the resulting debt came crashing down harder in CEE than elsewhere. Devaluation of currency meant that debt soared in the Baltic states. That was coupled by a slump in demand for exports leading to a collapse of investment, production and, consequently, employment. GDP fell more sharply in CEE than elsewhere in Europe, with partial exception in Poland and Czech Republic, as property bubbles burst and exports, in export oriented economies, fell.

The economic collapse has seen a rise in racism and right-wing nationalist politics across the region.

This book is a series of essays which examine the capitalist crisis since 2008 in CEE. They show that economic growth was often speculative and that neo-liberal reforms actually made these economies more vulnerable to crisis. As with any book of essays, there is variation in quality. Those authors who understood the former Eastern Bloc as having state-capitalist economies have a much more certain grasp on the transition to market economies than those who see them as having a non-capitalist past and, consequently, the analysis of what has gone wrong is stronger.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful study of the dire effects of the counter-revolutions in Eastern Europe 13 Jun. 2012
By William Podmore - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a useful, factual survey of the disasters that have hit Eastern Europe since the counter-revolutions of 1990-91. After the counter-revolutions, the `newly-independent' countries of Eastern Europe became new protectorates, EU and NATO members, with German employers and US bases. `Neo-liberal' strategies based on drastic privatisations gave power to criminal groups that got rich by looting publicly-owned assets.

As a result, these countries suffered slumps. Between 1992 and 1998 Russia's GDP fell by half, its industrial production by more than half. Between 1993 and 1998, its grain harvest fell by more than a half, down to below 1913's level. Hungary's `structural adjustment' of 1988-95 destroyed more economic assets than did World War Two, and 1.5 million jobs. Ukraine's GDP fell by two-thirds between 1990 and 1997.

The mass of the people were forced into poverty. During the 1990s, wages in Central and Eastern Europe fell more than in any country during the 1930s Great Depression. In 1990-92 wages fell by 34 per cent in Poland and by 22 per cent in the Czech Republic. In 1989-96 Hungary's wages fell by 24 per cent. In 1997, Bulgarian pensions were $2 a month and 90 per cent of the population were below the poverty line of $4 a day. By 1999, wages in Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania were less than half 1989's level.

A European Commission report of February 2007 noted that unemployment among Eastern Europe's young people was 40 per cent, so huge numbers of young people voted with their feet. This huge emigration helped to hold down labour costs in Britain and Ireland.

In 2007 the IMF absurdly forecast that the GDP of Central and Eastern Europe would rise by 5 per cent a year in 2008-12. But the world crisis put paid to that, reinforcing depression in Russia and across Eastern Europe. In 2009 Russia's output fell 7.9 per cent; in 57 out of 83 regions disposable income per person fell by 30 per cent or more. In 2008 the IMF made a loan to Ukraine; in 2009 Ukraine's GDP fell 15 per cent, wages fell 10.9 per cent and unemployment rose to 9.6 per cent. Eastern Europe is suffering its third serfdom, as older people cannot move because they are tied to their debt-leveraged properties.

By April 2010, 72 per cent of Hungarians said they were worse off than before the counter-revolution. But there are signs of resistance. In 2010 Hungary's government refused to enforce the extra cuts demanded by the IMF.
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