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
Subjects: Political Science, History
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