BULGARIA: Report of Anarchist Federation of Bulgaria on the situation after the last protests
3 April 2013
Comrades from abroad asked to send them our analysis of what is happening in Bulgaria. Without going into details, we tried to compound our vision for the development of the events and the determining factors. We tried also to summarize our vision of the tasks that the anarchists are facing today.
Several months ago thousands of people started to demonstrate on the streets of the towns, usually in Sunday, expressing their discontent. They did not have representatives, demands, they were simply dissatisfied and they wanted a change for a better. The government resigned. The new parliamentary elections are scheduled for 12th of May.
The whole process inevitably passed was influenced by several factors that set the framework and determined its potential development.
Everything that happens (or could happen) in Bulgaria is heavily dependent on “international” factors, in particular, of the planetary centers of power. Our country seems to be of interest primarily to the governments of the U.S., Russia and the countries dominating the EU. Indicative in this aspect is that in the hours before he resigned, the Prime Minister visited the U.S. Embassy and talk to Russian president by phone.
All kinds of power in Bulgaria (official – legislative, executive and judicial, and informal – economic, media and crime) are exercised by the people who come in one way or another from the Party and its “bodies.” While not a “united front”, various groups are interlinked and have many common interests, including the preservation of the status quo, that allows them to “live like normal people” entrusted to the back of their 7-million-fold.
Among the Bulgarian people the idea of an alternative to the status quo is limited to a dictatorship similar to that one before 1989. The authority (in its various forms) have successfully suppressed all attempts to present social and political vision, that does not fall under its control. Not only the anarchists are not in the “public space”, it misses the mere question of organizing society differently from well-known representative democracy.
Of course, many other factors, that we will mention later, also influence the process, like the more accessible Web environment and strengthened “civil society” But at this stage their effect seems limited to the set of the most essential factors listed above.
The protests began as another initiative group (or rather groups) of people with aspirations to express popular discontent, but little hope for support among the population. A number of such groups created under the “wing” of the various types of NGOs, political or even overtly mafia structures have been involved in various protests for populist causes – environmental, trade and others. In Bulgaria, the so called “civil society” is funded more or less openly by governments and corporations from “the West” and, rarely, from “the East”. The few grassroots initiatives are marginalized by simple financial filter. Few are those groups who have no obvious links with governments, corporations and mafias – those were the “Occupy Sofia” and protests against certain privatizations. But it is not important exactly which groups stand behind the first protests, which inspired a surprising number (even the organizers) people to take to the streets. Soon afterwards, the role of organized units was taken over by professionals.
Initially, the situation seemed almost revolutionary – lowlands not want anymore and tops can not offer change. Later it turned out that most people from the “lowlands” are not desperate enough for anything more than “do not want” and the top suggested change – leaving the flock without a shepherd. Gradually the composition of the protesters changed – the proportion of people with difficulties in paying bills retreated at the expense of the share of dissatisfied with the political status quo. Without pretending for statistically representative information, on our observations protesters were mostly small strapped owners, employees associated with the opposition parties, relatively well-paid workers in the private sector, employees of the services that find way to work for themselves, pensioners, students.
A large majority of these were not proletarians of production or people from the lowest social level, permanently unemployed. As the protests developt these people completely disappeared.
Together with the composition of the protesters, their demands changed. Initial requests, made by the organizers, was for government intervention to reduce the price of electricity. The representatives of political parties were declared undesirable. Gradually the intervention of various “organizing” factors led to demands for “nationalization”, “expulsion of foreign capital”, “civilian control”, etc. There were declared several parties and movements “of the protesters”. Protests in the capital were occupied by several nationalist parties and with the help of criminal brutes, their “competitors” were physically removed. Soon after this, the protests in the capital (and thus – in the other towns) practically ended, the number of people coming out to protest, declined from several thousand to tens of people.
The direct effect of the protests remained resignation of the government, obviously serving the interests the opposition parties.
The problem, that led the people out on the streets, the more and more deteriorating social situation, found no solution beyond the demonstrated “concern” of politicians. So the protests were completely controlled by the defenders of the status quo, although some shifts among them. After 23 years of ‘democracy’ Bulgarian voters did not want to learn anything new – like in the first years of the democracy, they again asked for “round table”, “Grand National Assembly” and “civilian control”.
The most serious direct factor for the protests development were political circles, standing in opposition to the government, but controlling a significant part of the economy (including the repressive apparatus) in the country.The primary means by which the rulers of the various groups were trying to influence the masses of protesters were media. Even for people attending the protests, the presentation of the media was crucial in shaping their attitude towards what was happening. Crucial role in the developments during the protests themselves played fascist gangs, controlled by police and political groups, keeping the process in the eligible frames. The ideological impotence of various “organizers” or “frontmen” permanently ended the hopes of the people to achieve something different than the next election circus.
Elections are on May 12, disaffected are already chosing the right party, to “do” them. It seems that the nationalist parties will perform more strongly than usual, but no major changes are expected. Despite the increased election populist rhetoric, we can hardly expect a significant improvement in the social situation of the people. But we can also hardly expect and similar expressions of mass discontent at least until next winter. If the new (probably older) governor take a “drastic” measures such as the nationalization of businesses, increased social spending, suppression (legally or illegally) of the various “alternative” groups. they may be able to master the frustration even for a few years. But the factors described in the beginning, restrict such actions, and we can hardly expect them without serious cracks in the global status quo.
We have years of increasingly serious social problems ahead, hidden under the veil of inertness and apathy. A good illustration of the despair and inertness that king among the people are the self-immolations in recent days. Given the meager forces available to us, we can neither arrange, nor influence a new protest movement, that would threaten the status quo.
Our goal at the moment can only be creating a strong revolutionary organization with the potential to affect a similar process in the distant future and promote the idea of a social revolution as the only alternative to the status quo. And the only basis on which to establish the organization and to make this propaganda, is clear program of how to destroy the institutions of power in the coming decades and the establishment of self-governing bodies to ensure the welfare of the people. At this stage the construction of such a program is the hardest, but most important task for the anarchist movement, not only in Bulgaria but also in the world.
Anarchist Federation of Bulgaria – http://anarchy.bg/?p=2088