1st Edition

Environmentalism under Authoritarian Regimes Myth, Propaganda, Reality

Edited By Stephen Brain, Viktor Pál Copyright 2019
    252 Pages
    by Routledge

    252 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Since the early 2000s, authoritarianism has risen as an increasingly powerful global phenomenon. This shift has not only social and political implications, but also environmental implications: authoritarian leaders seek to recast the relationship between society and the government in every aspect of public life, including environmental policy. When historians of technology or the environment have investigated the environmental consequences of authoritarian regimes, they have frequently argued that authoritarian regimes have been unable to produce positive environmental results or adjust successfully to global structural change, if they have shown any concern for the environment at all. Put another way, the scholarly consensus holds that authoritarian regimes on both the left and the right generally have demonstrated an anti-environmentalist bias, and when opposed by environmentalist social movements, have succeeded in silencing those voices.

    This book explores the theme of environmental politics and authoritarian regimes on both the right and the left. The authors argue that in instances when environmentalist policies offer the possibility of bolstering a country’s domestic (nationalist) appeal or its international prestige, authoritarian regimes can endorse and have endorsed environmental protective measures. The collection of essays analyzes environmentalist initiatives pursued by authoritarian regimes, and provides explanations for both the successes and failures of such regimes, looking at a range of case studies from a number of countries, including Brazil, China, Poland, and Zimbabwe. The volume contributes to the scholarly debate about the social and political preconditions necessary for effective environmental protection.

    This book will be of great interest to those studying environmental history and politics, environmental humanities, ecology, and geography.

    1. Introduction Stephen Brain and Viktor Pál On the right  2. Reforestation of Waste Lands and "Environmental Statehood" in Nineteenth Century Prussia Jawad Daheur  3. Red and Green All Over: Counterinsurgency and Conservation in the Jungles of Cold War Guatemala Tony Andersson  4. Hydroelectric Dams and the Rise of Environmentalism Under Dictatorship in Brazil and Paraguay (1950-1990): the Case of Itaipu Nathalia Capellini Carvalho de Oliveira and Carlos Gomez Florentin  5. Crafting Authoritarian Atmospheres Under Pinochet’s Dictatorship Leonardo Valenzuela Pérez  6. Bark beetles and ultra-right nationalist outbreaks: Bialowieza, Poland Eunice Blavascunas and Agata Agnieszka Konczal  On the left  7. Planned Environment in a Socialist Dictatorship: Complex Water Management and Soil Improvement in Moravia Jiří Janáč  8. Slovakia´s economic and political development in the communist regime of the post 1948 Czechoslovakia and its environmental context Ľudovít Hallon and Miroslav Sabol  9. Retention of Sulfur Dioxide emission in the GDR: between Technology, Economics, Diplomacy and Public Opinion Michel Dupuy 10. Sino-Silviculture: State-Sponsored Green Forestry Initiatives in Mao’s China Christopher Ree  11. Zimbabwe’s Drift Toward Authoritarianism and Its Environmental Consequences, 2000-2017 Mucha Musemwa 12. Conclusions and Perspectives Richard Tucker


    Stephen Brain is an Associate Professor of History at Mississippi State University. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. His first book, Song of the Forest, was published in 2011.

    Viktor Pál received his PhD at the University of Tampere, Finland. Currently he is an international postdoctoral fellow at the Laboratory for Environmental and Technological History at the Higher Schools of Economics in St Petersburg, Russia. His first book Technology and the Environment in State-socialist Hungary: An Economic History was published in 2017.