The year 1989 brought the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe. It was also the year that the economic theories of Reagan, Thatcher, and the Chicago School achieved global dominance. And it was these neoliberal ideas that largely determined the course of the political, economic, and social changes that transformed Europe--both east and west--over the next quarter century. This award-winning book provides the first comprehensive history of post-1989 Europe. Philipp Ther--a firsthand witness to many of the transformations, from Czechoslovakia during the Velvet Revolution to postcommunist Poland and Ukraine--offers a sweeping narrative filled with vivid details and memorable stories. He describes how liberalization, deregulation, and privatization had catastrophic effects on former Soviet Bloc countries. He refutes the idea that this economic "shock therapy" was the basis of later growth, arguing that human capital and the "transformation from below" determined economic success or failure.
Most important, he shows how the capitalist West's effort to reshape Eastern Europe in its own likeness ended up reshaping Western Europe as well, in part by accelerating the pace and scope of neoliberal reforms in the West, particularly in reunified Germany. Finally, bringing the story up to the present, Ther compares events in Eastern and Southern Europe leading up to and following the 2008-9 global financial crisis. A compelling and often-surprising account of how the new order of the New Europe was wrought from the chaotic aftermath of the Cold War, this is essential reading for understanding Europe today.
Philipp Ther is professor of Central European history at the University of Vienna. His books include The Dark Side of Nation-States: Ethnic Cleansing in Modern Europe and Center Stage: Operatic Culture and Nation Building in Nineteenth-Century Central Europe. He lives in Vienna.
Preface to the English Edition vii 1 Introduction 1 On the Road to 1989 1 Postrevolutionary Europe 12 Neoliberalism on the Rise 16 Europe in Transformation 20 2 Where the East Meets the West: Crisis and Reform Debates in the 1980s 33 The Demise of State Socialism 33 An Alternative Reading of the Cold War 37 The Neoliberal Turn in East and West 39 3 The Revolutions of 1989-91 49 Milestones of the Revolutions 49 Causes of the Revolutions 54 Centers and Agents of Revolution 66 The "Negotiated" Revolution 71 4 Getting on the Neoliberal Bandwagon 77 Milestones of the Transformation 77 The Bumpy Road of Reforms in Eastern Europe 79 Neoliberalism's Inherent Problems 95 A Typology of Reform Outcomes 102 5 Second-Wave Neoliberalism 112 Neoliberalism at Full Speed 112 Flat Tax Systems and Populism 115 Human Capital 120 New Wealth 126 Rich Cities, Poor Regions 132 The EU's Marshall Plan for the East 144 6 Capital Cities Compared 161 Chalk and Cheese? Or Why We Should Compare 161 The Situation before 1989 163 Transformation from Below 167 The New Business Boom 176 Poor Berlin 184 Boomtown Warsaw 192 Metropolitan Convergence, or Why the East Looks like the West 200 7 The Great Recession: 2008-9 and Its Consequences 209 The End of Economic Convergence? 209 Variations of Crises 217 Predatory Lending in Central and Eastern Europe 221 Political Reactions: Between Neoliberalism and Authoritarianism 226 8 Southern Europe: The New East? 235 Crisis Commonalities between Southern and Eastern Europe 235 Escape Route: Mass Migration 246 Mental Maps of Europe 248 9 Cotransformation: The Case of Germany 259 Social and Labor Market Reforms in Germany 261 The Civil Society Debate 273 The Politicians Who Came in from the East 279 10 The Roads Not Taken 288 Mass Participation in Revolution 288 The Values of 1989 297 Birth Pangs of United Europe 306 The Conflict over Ukraine 314 Europe after Neoliberalism 329 Acknowledgments 339 Notes 343 Selected Bibliography 399 Index 419