Accidental Occidental

Economics and Culture of Transition in Mitteleuropa, the Baltic and the Balkan Area
$55.00 / €42.00 / £35.00
Publication date: 
204 pages

“If political economy, i.e. the interdisciplinary study of interrelationships between political institutions and economic systems, has ever made sense, it is exactly now. Hardly any better example of mutual influence and co-determination between political action and economic behavior can be conceived than the historic transformation of a politically supercharged and embedded system into an economically more autonomous and predisposed one. While in communism the political sphere was more important than the economic one, it is not to say that in capitalism it is exactly the other way round. The interplay between politics and economics in capitalism is more subtle, stochastic, nuanced and balanced. What is important here is that transition, as a process of transforming a closed and exclusionary totalitarian system into an open and more inclusive, democratic polity, involves the restoration of relative autonomy for institutions in all spheres of societal existence, economy, politics, science, education, culture, law, religion, ethics, etc. Structural reforms, implemented throughout the protracted and still ongoing period of transition, have been aiming at achieving this delicate separation by a tremendous amount of deliberate institution building which requires highly professional and deeply political societal governance.” Excerpt from the book

1. Communism as an Economic and Societal System in the Twentieth Century
1.1. The theoretical model of the command economy and society
1.2. The historical evolution of Soviet communism
1.3. Three basic models of communism in Central and Eastern Europe
2. Transition to Market and Democracy in Central and Eastern Europe
2.1. The matrix of structural reforms in transition
2.2. Business sector liberalization
2.3. Macroeconomic stabilization
2.4. Competitive privatization
2.5. Public utility and financial sector privatization
2.6. Restructuring public utilities and financial institutions
2.7. Regulation and supervision of public utilities and financial institutions
2.8. Public finance and administration
2.9. Subsovereign governments
2.10. Legal and judicial reform
2.11. Matrix reloaded
3. Transition for the Twenty-First Century

"The book's merits are to be found in the distinct tone of an experienced policy-maker who precisely sheds any responsibility for neutrality in favour of pragmatic relevance and effective deliverance. It is in this way usefully demonstrating the operative assumptions of EU and Western economic policy-making, but perhaps more acutely than critical IR is used to."
"Accidental Occidental is an inspirational enterprise and a thought-provoking book. One of its greatest benefits is its firm insistence on the relevance of path-dependency. According to Lajos Bokros, the regime change and the events of today can only be digested by understanding the features and the logic of the socialist system, as all of us in Central and Eastern Europe still carry its legacy in our mentality and behaviour."
"Bokros recognizes that functioning market institutions have been consistently the outcome of an open public space and an advanced civil society. This is the area where culture can play a transformative role. It can guarantee that the lands between the German- and the Russian-speaking spaces will be occidental, i.e. part of Western Europe, but not accidentally any more. A very interesting book written by a scholar who combines the rigor of the academic with the focus of the policy-maker. It offers a rounded and useful public policy analysis of central planning, market transitions and the institutional challenges ahead."

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