Failed Transitions

The Eastern European Economy and Enviroment Since the Fall of Communism

An examination of the economic and enviromental consequences of the overthrow of communism

“A richly exampled account . . . of how Eastern and Central Europe has become a dumping ground for obsolete technologies, withdrawn products, and waste.” —Iza Kruszewska, Greenpeace International

One of the most pressing questions facing us today is the degree to which the formerly Communist countries of Eastern Europe can bring about true change. While profound economic upheavals have definitely taken place, it remains far from clear whether the basic administrative structures have been overthrown. Indeed, there is a frightening continuity in personnel, as we now see in the many former Communist bureaucrats controlling a rapidly growing number of Eastern European businesses. Failed Transitions is one of the first books to examine the economic and environmental consequences of the overthrow of communism. It is a tale of wasted opportunities, mixed-up priorities, and myopic environmental policies. Roger Manser, a seasoned environmental critic, reveals how, behind the official optimism, governments and administrative agencies are grappling with the unforeseen pressures of the free market with tools more suited to nineteenth-century laissez-faire capitalism.

Manser argues that while the reintroduction of the free market in Eastern and Central Europe has curbed certain excesses of communism's polluting economies, it has yet to make any fundamental changes. Indeed, in many cases it has made some matters even worse. Environmentalists are now battling against dangerous nuclear reactors, a dramatic increase in household waste, and perhaps most damaging, Western investors attracted by lax environmental laws. Failed Transitions raises many crucial issues that have been neglected by the unquestioning coverage in our daily press.