From the Cult of Waste to the Trash Heap of History
The Politics of Waste in Socialist and Postsocialist Hungary
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Indiana University Press
Download PDF (55.7 KB)
This book has been in the making for a long time. I tried to do something that I had no model for, and therefore I am indebted to many people who not only found the development of a social theory of waste worthwhile but also encouraged me and lent their support in various forms over the years. I am first of all grateful to my mentors at UC Santa Cruz—Ronnie ...
1. Was State Socialism Wasteful?
Download PDF (134.9 KB)
Soon after I came to the United States in 1988 as a Hungarian �migr�, state socialism collapsed, not only in my country but also in the entire socialist camp of Europe. In reading American news about the region, I was struck by the persistence of the metaphor of waste. State socialism was described as having been a wasteful economic order and polluted to the ...
2. Toward a Social Theory of Waste
Download PDF (190.5 KB)
That socialism’s ‘‘demonstrated’’ wastefulness could turn into yet another ideological weapon demonstrating Western economic and moral superiority in the Cold War and in the postsocialist transition has much to do with the poverty of the scholarship on environmental issues in Eastern Europe. In fact, the question whether state socialism was wasteful was ...
PART 1. DISCIPLINE AND RECYCLE (1948–1974)
3. Metallic Socialism
Download PDF (772.0 KB)
If by some miraculous time machine you could go back to the Hungary of the 1950s and walk around Budapest, you would keep bumping into dingy little shops with large orange signs proclaiming ‘‘MÉH,’’ which in Hungarian means ‘‘bee.’’ Yet if you decided to peek into one of these shops, you would not find bees or honey, but rather piles of dog-eared books, ...
4. The Primitive Accumulation of Waste in Metallic Socialism
Download PDF (177.7 KB)
By the early 1950s, there had evolved a pervasive cult of waste in Hungary. Enterprises registered, collected, and reused their own or other companies’ wastes. Workers, managers, cooperatives, women, and students were all enlisted in nationwide waste collection campaigns, and material conservation was hailed as a most noble characteristic of Homo Sovieticus. ...
PART 2. REFORM AND REDUCE (1975–1984)
5. The Efficiency Model
Download PDF (167.9 KB)
Starting in the mid-seventies, the concept of waste went through a radical transformation in Hungary. There were several factors that made the early state socialist concept outmoded: (1) the recognition of the unintended consequences of the early state socialist waste policies; (2) the economic reforms, which created a new discursive environment for waste issues; (3) the post-1956 K�d�rist d�tente, which rendered the disciplinary ...
6. The Limits of Efficiency
Download PDF (170.5 KB)
On Highway 58 going south from Pécs, Hungary’s fifth-largest city, until recently there was a large sign painted on a wall with the ditty: ‘‘Waste is not garbage, MÉH will take it and pay for it.’’1 Just about ten kilometers from this billboard oozes Hungary’s most notorious toxic waste dump, filled with the wastes of BCW that MÉH could not take and that the reform-inspired expenditure reduction programs could not diminish. ...
PART 3. PRIVATIZE AND INCINERATE (1985–PRESENT)
7. The Chemical Model
Download PDF (262.7 KB)
It was 1988, and I felt weird. Here I was, at my second demonstration against the construction of a dam on the riparian border of Hungary and Czechoslovakia,1 feeling righteous and, since I was surrounded by hundreds of others, quite strong as well. Yet, when I looked around, all I saw were women and children. As this was a women’s march, men were only ...
8. ‘‘Building a Castle out of Shit’’: The Wastelands of the New Europe
Download PDF (394.7 KB)
Somehow we never manage to make use of free monies. To wit, we would have received 66 billion Forints [about $300 million] from the [European] Union, of which we so far have managed to use 3.7 billion, that is, four percent of the funds. For example, we will throw six billion out the window by the end of the year if we don’t find locations for two regional waste dumps, one in northeastern Pest [County], and one on the northern shore of Lake ...
Download PDF (163.5 KB)
In the foregoing chapters I have presented a history of Hungary’s waste regimes from 1948 to the present. I have sliced this history along three dimensions—the production of waste, the representation of waste, and the politics of waste—and I have analyzed the limitations and contradictions of each waste regime—the metallic, the efficiency, and the chemical— through the BCW/Garé case study. Helping the reader in this review is a summary table (table 9.1). ...
Download PDF (124.4 KB)
Sources and References
Download PDF (179.1 KB)
Download PDF (6.9 MB)
Page Count: 264
Illustrations: 13 b&w photos, 1 figures, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2007