Green Barons, Force-of-Circumstance Entrepreneurs, Impotent Mayors

Green Barons, Force-of-Circumstance Entrepreneurs, Impotent Mayors: Rural Change in the Early Years of Post-Socialist Capitalist Democracy

Nigel Swain
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 412
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  • Book Info
    Green Barons, Force-of-Circumstance Entrepreneurs, Impotent Mayors
    Book Description:

    An exemplary study in comparative contemporary history, this monograph looks at rural change in six countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. In the 1990s most of these nations experienced a fourth radical restructuring of agricultural relations in the twentieth century, and all went through the dramatic transition from communism to capitalism.

    eISBN: 978-615-5225-71-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-X)
  3. List of Tables and Maps
    (pp. XI-XII)
  4. Preface
    (pp. XIII-XIV)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)

    In the early 1990s, rural communities in East Central Europe and the Balkans underwent the fourth radical restructuring of their production relations of the twentieth century. All had experienced a land reform after the end of World War I, some more radical than others;¹ all had experienced a further land reform at the end of World War II, which, in the eyes of left-of-centre politicians, brought to fruition the possibilities immanent in the earlier reforms which had not focused sufficiently on the needs of the poor peasants;² and all had experienced collectivisation, although poland abandoned it after the failure of...

  6. Chapter 1 Politics, Policies and Legal Measures
    (pp. 19-70)

    In the more than two decades following the collapse of socialism in Eastern Europe a particular kind of post-socialist capitalism has emerged, a capitalism that is extremely dependent on western, mainly European, companies and which retains many traces of its socialist birth.¹ This work insists is that post-socialist capitalism is something new and different, and agrees with Frances pine when she stresses that the post socialist return to subsistence farming does not represent a return to the structures of an earlier era.² Both Steven Sampson³ and Don Kalb⁴ have used the phrase ‘comprador bourgeoisie’ in the context of the dependence...

  7. Chapter 2 Common General Findings
    (pp. 71-111)

    This chapter presents some of the general findings of our research. Its focus is on common and general elements in rural change in the period under consideration and will consider in turn the restructuring of agriculture, the non-farm economy, local government, and rural communities and civil society. The country-specific chapters that follow will provide greater depth and switch attention rather to specific phenomena in each country.

    It is difficult to question the justice of restoring real land ownership rights to those who had lost themde factoif not, technically,de jure. But doing so ignored two processes that had...

  8. Chapter 3 Bulgaria
    (pp. 113-151)

    Rural Bulgaria in the early-to-mid 1990s had been on the receiving end of one of the defining policy differences between the main actors in post-socialist national politics. Bulgaria had been one of the true ‘gradualists’ in the early post socialist years, although unemployment levels were amongst the highest in the region; it was only after the political and financial crisis of 1997 that all strands of political opinion became convinced of the need for radical reform. But agriculture had dominated the national political debate in the early part of the 1990s, and the essence of that debate was reflected in...

  9. Chapter 4 Czech Republic
    (pp. 153-193)

    As was discussed in Chapter 1, the co-operative transformation and restitution legislation of the still unified Czechoslovakia was somewhat backward-looking, when compared to Hungary at least, and financially unsophisticated. Restitution was physical and direct, rather than denominated in tradable securities, and the value of the compensation that the transformed co-operative had to pay to outside owners (who did not begin private farming) for their assets seven years after transformation was fixed at their 1992 face value. The backward-looking emphasis tended to make membership expensive for all other than those from wealthier landed backgrounds, and the seven-year cash-call placed a considerable...

  10. Chapter 5 Hungary
    (pp. 195-239)

    As discussed in Chapter 2, despite being considered a ‘gradualist’ by many commentators, Hungary was committed to rather radical economic reforms in the immediate post-socialist years. In particular it was the only country in the region to pass tough bankruptcy legislation in the first years of the first post-socialist decade, legislation which took effect in 1992, the same year as the co-operative restructuring legislation. Furthermore, the government was not prepared to forgive socialist-era co-operative debts. As a consequence, the transformation of many co-operatives took place in the context of bankruptcy, and canny managers manipulated co-operative transformation and bankruptcy legislation to...

  11. Chapter 6 Poland
    (pp. 241-277)

    Poland’s abandoning of collectivisation in 1956 meant that it lacked one of the central features of the rural post-socialist transformation elsewhere: the restructuring of agricultural producer co-operatives. But if this major drama for rural actors did not take place, restitution issues emerged in relation to the state sector in farming nevertheless, even though the Polish government failed to pass restitution legislation before Poland’s entry into the EU. The absence of agricultural producer co-operative restructuring necessarily resulted in greater continuity of, and variety in, farming structures, but the main developmental trends were broadly in line with the rest of the region....

  12. Chapter 7 Romania
    (pp. 279-319)

    Village-level developments in Romania were structured by the legacy of its unreformed Stalinist policies. This was manifest both in agriculture and in the extreme dependence and impotence of local authorities who struggled with a particularly severe socialist public services gap. In agriculture, collective farms were spontaneously destroyed because they had delivered no benefits to their members, while the continuance of Stalinist Machine and Tractor Stations (Agromecs) meant that agricultural producer co-operatives had very little machinery that might form the basis of post-socialist agriculture. Post-socialist co-operatives shunned the term ‘co-operative’ in favour of ‘association’, which covered a variety of organisational forms...

  13. Chapter 8 Slovakia
    (pp. 321-360)

    As discussed in Chapter 1, Slovakian politics in the early-to-mid 1990s was dominated by the rise of mečiar, and this left its mark on rural restructuring and local rural politics. As in the Czech Republic, agricultural co-operatives underwent restructuring but, to an even greater extent than in the Czech Republic, tended to stay in place. It was, however, more common for them to demerge to their constituent parts prior to the mergers of the 1970s.¹ Whereas Czech governments were somewhat embarrassed by the continuity of socialist entities and always stressed that co-operatives were a form of private ownership, co-operatives in...

  14. Conclusion
    (pp. 361-372)

    This project in contemporary comparative history has investigated agency and large-scale social change in rural communities in Eastern Europe undergoing what, for most of the countries concerned, was the fourth radical restructuring of agricultural relations in the twentieth century, a fourth restructuring that was also part of a historically unprecedented trajectory from socialism to capitalism. Conscious of all of the methodological compromises that it had to make (see Introduction), it attempted to recapture a moment in the early, pre-European Union phase of the formation of post-socialist capitalist democracy. By using case studies it sought to achieve a balance between providing...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 373-390)
  16. Index of Research Villages
    (pp. 391-392)
  17. General Index
    (pp. 393-398)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 399-399)