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Preying on the State

The Transformation of Bulgaria after 1989

by Venelin I. Ganev

Publication Year: 2013

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.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xii

This project began at the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago in 1997. The writing was not easy, and might not have been completed without the support of the teachers and colleagues who helped me persevere in the icy waters of academia and repeatedly expressed their belief ...

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1. The Dysfunctionality of Post-Communist State Structures

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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. ...

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2. The Separation of Party and State as a Logistical Problem

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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 ...

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3. Conversions of Power

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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 ...

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4. Winners as State Breakers in Post-Communism

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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 ...

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5. Weak-State Constitutionalism

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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 ...

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6. The Shrewdness of the Tamed

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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 ...

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7. Post-Communism as an Episode of State Transformation

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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 ...


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pp. 199-214


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pp. 215-222

E-ISBN-13: 9780801469978
E-ISBN-10: 080146997X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801479021
Print-ISBN-10: 0801479029

Page Count: 240
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: 1