Preying on the State

Preying on the State: The Transformation of Bulgaria after 1989

Venelin I. Ganev
Copyright Date: 2007
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Preying on the State
    Book Description:

    Immediately after 1989, newly emerging polities in Eastern Europe had to contend with an overbearing and dominant legacy: the Soviet model of the state. At that time, the strength of the state looked like a massive obstacle to change; less than a decade later, the state's dominant characteristic was no longer its overweening powerfulness, but rather its utter decrepitude. Consequently, the role of the central state in managing economies, providing social services, and maintaining infrastructure came into question. Focusing on his native Bulgaria, Venelin I. Ganev explores in fine-grained detail the weakening of the central state in post-Soviet Eastern Europe.

    Ganev starts with the structural characteristics of the Soviet satellites, and in particular the forms of elite agency favored in the socialist party-state. As state socialism collapsed, Ganev demonstrates, its institutional legacy presented functionaries who had become accustomed to power with a matrix of opportunities and constraints. In order to maximize their advantage under such conditions, these elites did not need a robust state apparatus-in fact, all of the incentives under postsocialism pushed them to subvert the infrastructure of governance.

    Throughout Preying on the State, Ganev argues that the causes of state malfunctioning go much deeper than the policy preferences of "free marketeers" who deliberately dismantled the state. He systematically analyzes the multiple dimensions, implications, and significance of the institutional and social processes that transformed the organizational basis of effective governance.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6997-8
    Subjects: Political Science, History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. 1 The Dysfunctionality of Post-Communist State Structures
    (pp. 1-32)

    After more than a decade of scholarly research and reflection on political developments in post-Communist Eastern Europe, a consensus has coalesced around the viewpoint that the transformative processes unleashed in 1989 precipitated a rapid and radical weakening of state structures. While debates about how to conceptualize and measure the decline of state power continue unabated, academic observers, policy analysts, and political actors readily agree that throughout the 1990s the infrastructure of governance was stricken by a grave malaise. It was primarily the failures of promarket reforms in early post-Communism that led World Bank officials to the conclusion that “an effective...

  5. 2 The Separation of Party and State as a Logistical Problem
    (pp. 33-61)

    How did party and state separate in the aftermath of the dramatic events of 1989? In the literature on post-Communism, this question is almost completely ignored. Yet, such a neglectful attitude is unjustified. The separation of party and state was a major, large-scale organizational phenomenon that directly affected the “stateness” of the former Soviet satellites. The undoing of the institutionalized party-state axis sent shock waves through existing apparatuses of governance and diminished the infrastructural capacity of available bureaucratic machineries. It generated a transformative impetus that disrupted mechanisms of control in the public domain and decreased levels of governability in the...

  6. 3 Conversions of Power
    (pp. 62-94)

    The separation of party and state and the defection of powerful elites dramatically reduced the usability of existing institutional tools of governance in post-Communist Eastern Europe. It would be plausible to argue, however, that the decrease in administrative capacity attendant to the end of Communist rule may be a necessary price to pay for the accomplishment of worthwhile objectives—such as the advancement of political pluralism, which cannot be achieved without diminishing the hegemonic stature of the state. Moreover, there is no a priori reason to believe that the consequences of the separation will be long lasting. It is fairly...

  7. 4 Winners as State Breakers in Post-Communism
    (pp. 95-122)

    Amid the turbulence that marked the early stages of post-Communism, various winners emerged on the political scene—powerful groups that occupied strategic positions and established control over vital flows of resources. The relations between these winners and post-Communist states are among the most important dynamic factors driving the restructuring of post-Communist states. An in-depth analysis of these relations, particularly of how they have evolved over time, is indispensable for an adequate understanding of emergent forms of control over resources and the ways in which specific displays of newly acquired power impinge on the effectiveness and coherence of the machinery of...

  8. 5 Weak-State Constitutionalism
    (pp. 123-150)

    The collapse of one-party regimes in Eastern Europe marked the beginning of ambitious constitutional reforms whose ultimate objective was to lay the institutional basis for democratic governance and the rule of law. These reforms constitute the archetypical form of “state-building,” a term defined by Francis Fukuyama as “the creation of new government institutions and the strengthening of existing ones.”¹ Fukuyama’s definition is not perfect, but it does rest on a commonsensical proposition whose soundness is hard to dispute, namely that inquiries into statebuilding should encompass both dimensions of institutional change, that is, the deliberate making of new institutions and the...

  9. 6 The Shrewdness of the Tamed
    (pp. 151-174)

    One of the central challenges confronting democratic constitution-makers in the modern world is how to institutionalize a system of checks and balances to constrain the exercise of political power. With this particular objective in mind, the framers of Bulgaria’s postauthoritarian constitutional order created two autonomous bodies charged with the task of imposing limits on the behavior of democratically elected elites: a constitutional court and a central bank. These two experiments, however, produced strikingly dissimilar outcomes. By 1997, the Constitutional Court had established itself as an authoritative and influential player on the national political scene; in stark contrast, the attempt to...

  10. 7 Post-Communism as an Episode of State Transformation
    (pp. 175-198)

    In an incisive short essay, John Dunn observes that there are two ways to investigate “a state in crisis.” The first is detached and dispassionate, aspiring to grasp the facts, develop theories, and offer explanations. The second is permeated by ethical concerns and practical considerations that ultimately seek “to guide judgment and perhaps even to prompt action.”¹ In this book I have attempted a balancing act that endeavors to reconcile the two approaches. Insofar as what I offer is an inquiry into the malfunctioning of the infrastructure of governance, my analysis is centered on to developments that render aspects of...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 199-214)
  12. Index
    (pp. 215-222)