Dependent development and authoritarian state capitalism: Democratic backsliding and the rise of the accumulative state in Hungary
• Dependent development led to economic polarisation in Hungary.
• Hungary’s authoritarian turn is in part rooted in the revolt of the national capital.
• New class alliance between the national capital, TNCs, and nationalist politicians.
• The new authoritarian regime is an accumulative state.
• The accumulative state is a way to manage the tensions of dependent capitalism.
Democracy is in crisis around the globe. Hungary was long heralded as a champion of political and economic liberalization in postsocialist Eastern Europe. However, the country recently emerged as a striking example of the current wave of autocratization. Starting from the premise that political regimes are the results of class compromises, in this paper, I argue that Hungary’s authoritarian turn is in part rooted in the reconfiguration of the dominant power bloc and the concomitant change in the state’s strategy. The aim of this article is twofold. Firstly, I analyze the socio-economic roots of Hungary’s authoritarian turn and propose a new, theoretically driven causal narrative challenging and extending existing accounts. Relying on macro-statistics and a new dataset on the economic elite, I describe how the collapse of the class compromise that sustained the post-socialist liberal competition state engendered the revolt of the national bourgeoisie and the rise of the new authoritarian regime of accumulation. Secondly, I offer a new conceptualization regarding the political-economic nature of the new regime: the accumulative state. I empirically identify the political instruments through which the accumulative state props up capital accumulation and the ensuing social conflicts. Instead of portraying Hungary as a divergence from liberal capitalist norms based on a textbook view of markets, I situate authoritarian politics in the logic of capital accumulation. However, I stress that the post-2010 accumulative state serves only short-term capital accumulation and fails to enact long-term structural transformation.
Authoritarianism; State capitalism; Political economy; Democratic backsliding; Dependent development; Accumulative state
Geoforum, Available online 5 September 2019