(London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2017) Paperback 2019.
This book explains how and why the state-socialist regime in Hungary used technology and propaganda to foster industrialization and the conservation of natural resources simultaneously. Further, this book explains why this process was ultimately a failure. By exploring the environmental pre-history of communist Hungary before analyzing the economic development of the Kádár regime, Pál investigates how economic and environmental policies and technology transfer were negotiated between the official communist ideology and the global economic reality of capitalist markets. Pál argues that the modernization project of the Kádár regime (1956–1990) facilitated ecological consciousness at both an individual and societal level, which provoked great social unrest when positive environmental impact was not achieved.
Today, global issues of climate change, urban pollution, resource depletion, and overpopulation transcend political systems, but economic and environmental discourses varied greatly in the twentieth century. This volume is important reading for all those interested in economic and environmental history, as well as political science.
"This is a quite unique book on an often neglected aspect of economic development: the environment. State socialist countries had a pretty bad record on environmental policy, and that was true for Hungary as well. However, the country's rare market-oriented reform process from the 1960s changed this situation. The Author has excellent insider knowledge about both the economic and environmental issues that makes this work valuable and a must read for those who are eager to learn about the connection and contradiction between industrialization and the environment."
Iván T. Berend, UCLA
"Pál's closely researched and important study reveals the self-contradictory nature of an 'environmentally clean' state-socialist industrialization despite a surprising level of good faith on the part of the Hungarian regime and even of some enterprises from the 1970s. However, the lessons of this book apply to all industrial societies."
Douglas Weiner, University of Arizona
"Viktor Pál has written an important book that makes long-overdue contributions to the economic history of Eastern Europe and of socialist economic development." (Tamás Vonyó in Journal of Economic History, May 2021)
"One of the greatest merits of the book dawned on me after completing the reading. I was eager to see Hungarian events related, but the author keeps bringing forth examples from the Western World, Western Europe, and North America. By sharing all these, Pál does not render the book superficial but creates a comprehensible and logical link between local events and processes and the contemporary international situation. (Anna Varga in Global Environment, May 2021)
The book’s consideration of technology-environment relations, which is still uncommon in the economic history field, is crucial for his analysis. Indeed, the author makes a strong case for the value of a longer-term perspective in offering a fuller understanding of these issues, and he offers a wider geographical perspective, too, with consideration of this context in relation to Europe and the USA. (Michal Durco in Environment and History, May 2021)