N O W , L O O K H E R E !
Chris MYRSKI, Sofia, Bulgaria, 2001 ...
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[ Remark: As far as the book is enormously big it is published here, by old habit, in small booklets amounting to about 50 (to 100) KB, containing normally from three to five papers. In this booklet we continue the Section "For Newspapers" with the next portion of five materials. ]
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CONTENTS OF THE SECTIONS
I. For Journals
II. For Newspapers
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Contents Of Section "For Newspapers"
The truth about Bulgaria
About the market and the Bulgarian
Five years of devastation
Do you want to lose your 13th pension?
Time to draw conclusions
About the elections and the demos
Requiem for one coalition
Something more about democracy
What we have messed with the Currency Board
Convergence, what is this?
Why the communism has fallen down?
And where are we?
Predictions for the year 1999
Can the Bulgarian pay 50% taxes?
Reflections on the eve of the "holiday"
About democracy and melioration
About democratic phenomenon
A step forward and two back
Again sharp turn
Oh God, what we eat!
Why the cocks crow early morning?
Does global warming exist?
The fatal 2013 year in Bulgaria
Why we vote, when we ... don't vote?
About the fascism from common sense positions
About the Social Ministry in Bulgaria
How to improve democratic protests?
Read Chris Myrski (in the sense of political reviews)
Thoughts about Ukraine
... new for newspapers
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REQUIEM FOR ONE COALITION
When somebody decides to build a new home, or to demolish the old, he usually calls his friends (and followers) and makes a coalition, scientifically speaking. After building the house, or, respectively, demolishing it, he may drink his drink with these friends, or make new coalition (for building or destroying, say, of a summer cottage), but the old coalition, in any case, does no longer exist. It has been so from tines immemorial, it is so now, and it will be the same in the future! Otherwise, coalition that stays too long monolithic, begins to be like an irritable old man, for whom all pray to God to take him faster to the other world (how it really was with our well known Fatherland Front in the recent Bulgarian past).
In other words, the only evolvement, which some coalition can endure, is to its disintegration! Like we this or not, it doesn't matter, for such is the life! And the only things that can be said about somebody who leaves the life are good words. So that let us forget the bad and recall us only the good about our not unknown coalition called UDF (Union of Democratic Forces), because it has done many good things for Bulgaria.
The first thing, about which we have to thank the UDF, is that it has helped the troubled and inflexible BCP (Bulgarian Communist Party) from the times of our "Bai Tosho" to change to a modern left-wing party, what without help from outside was very difficult and almost beyond the power of BCP. The main advantage of multi-party system is this, that it does not soften the critic of opposition, and UDF was strong and young opposition: so strong for to be able to take the power, and so young for ... not to be able to keep it! Exactly such uncompromising opposition was necessary for BCP in order to reform it in the initial moment.
Further, we must express our gratitude to the UDF for this that it, really, was a coalition, and in this case it has begun very rapidly (even before its coming to power) to disintegrate. It now also does not want to become a party and continues to disintegrate, freeing in this way quite painlessly Bulgaria from the useless bipolar model, leaving only one pole and a group of modern young opposition parties for its balancing! UDF is a modern opposition, more then this, it is the eternal opposition to all left-wing parties, no matter is this good or bad for the country in the given moment, and in the same time it is sufficiently weak for to change something, what is pretty good. In this sense UDF is the ideal opposition and, when in a near future it will fall down to roughly 15% of the seats in the Parliament, it might become necessary to take some measures for its preservation and conservation for the future!
On the third place, but this is as if the most important issue, we must thank the UDF for this, that it has helped to a big number of people to perceive the benefits of left-wing idea and understand that the socialism, really, is the only future of the mankind! Yet not socialism of fascist or communist type, but exactly social-democratic socialism as the best, at least for the moment, variant of compromise between the immoral capitalism and the utopian communism. This ripening of Bulgarian people could have been reached in two ways: either allowing mass emigration, which after a time will unavoidably show to the emigrated that Bulgarian proverb "you have a cow — you drink milk, you haven't one — you only look" is not justified for Bulgarian nation (as it isn't justified also for many wealthier nations in the world); or trying to built in our country the rough capitalism from the beginning of 20th century, in order to allow the whole nation in shorten terms to become convinced in this. Our UDF has done even both this things! In this sense UDF providently has "dug its own grave", where, however, it will take its honourable place in political life.
And finally, UDF has given the main push for establishing of multi-party system and democracy in Bulgaria, conditions which best of all show the advantages of the real socialism, reached in many Western countries! No other political power except UDF has had the necessary influence to show that only ideas (say, about democracy, multi-party system, lawfulness, freedom, etc.) are not enough, due to what is often said that the way to hell is strewn with good intentions! Anyway, in addition to the good ideas is necessary also a good party which can achieve this, else it happens that the freedom, for example, is expressed mainly in freedom of pornography and criminality. In other words, the awareness of the need of freedom, as balanced middle point, has become possible only owing to the bad example of realization of (otherwise good) blue idea.
So that let us take the hats down and bow our heads before the heroism and self-sacrifice of the UFD, sirs and comrades. Amen!
P.S. As every politically engaged work this material also is unavoidably prejudiced, but in broad outlines it is true and indicative for this, that each coin has its two sides. The mentioned tendencies continue to exist. But there is one peculiar moment for the thoughtful people (though the whole population isn't such), namely: even though the people from UDF are idealists, they have no idea, because nobody does deny now the principles of democracy (only their particular realization), nor the inflexibility (not to say the ossification) of old communists, et cetera, so that when the novelty of their movement passes away even the "green" young enthusiasts already begin to abandon them.
Surely, it can be raised also the dual question, especially after the flowed time of the red Zhan Videnov, but the truth in his case is such, that he tried, as far as this was possible, to restrain the devaluation of our lev with our own means, and up to significant extent he succeeded, because all, who have had some money in the gone bankrupt (or, rather, made bankrupt) banks, have received their money, and if there were not the winter marches of the supporters of UDF we could have done without the untimely introduced currency Board. Well, it is true that (under the influence of UDF) also the BSP (Bulgarian Socialist Party, the former communists) have not succeeded to find the decent average age for its politicians, because "Zhancho" was simply Komsomolets. And also other, as we say, "wooden chips for cutting". But there are already enough requiems for BCP (resp. BSP), so that this is not interesting topic. Instead of this the author has something like apologetics of the communism as a new atheistic religion, but this is in a separate booklet.
Anyway, if one begins to comment all his earlier thoughts there will be no end of this, so that it is time to stop here.
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SOMETHING MORE ABOUT DEMOCRACY
The democracy is the maximally ineffective form of ruling and this must have been clear to everybody who has asked himself this question, while on the other pole — the most effective ruling — obviously, stays the autocracy. As much as we do not want to accept such view this was known from deep antiquity, and this is the most important reason for existing of all: tyrannies, despotic rulings, absolute monarchies, and various forms of dictatorship (where the question is not, excuses them the author or not, but why they have existed and still exist).
This, that the democracy is the most ineffective form of ruling of some state, naturally, does not mean that it is a bad form, because every event must correspond with its time and place, and must be applied in the necessary extent! Otherwise all looks pretty naive and childish. For if the democracy was the best possible thing in the world and if it has had no drawbacks at all, then for 25 centuries since its instituting in Ancient Greece (by the tyrant Pisistratos, as the historians say) there would have been today not a single state where it were not the single and unquestionable form of ruling, because people, even if they are uneducated, never forget to look after their interest.
If we take a more precise look at the contemporary democracies we will see that in them exist elements both, of democracy (Parliament, or Talking Shop in translation), as well as of dictatorship (Monarch or President). Exactly these dictatorial elements in the democracy allow the contemporary democracies to exist for several centuries and be not mutually exclusive neither with the strong institute of Presidency, nor with the Monarchy. While at the same time in Ancient Greece, at the dawn of democracy, there have simply alternated 5-10 years of democratic ruling with a similar if not longer period of tyranny. In other words, the subtlety is in the compromise between these two extremities. And if a person or a nation can't find the necessary level of compromise, then this level ... again is met, only in the time, i.e. via fluttering between both ends!
The history of every nation, in one or another extent, shows that authoritarian ruling was set only then, when the nation was confronted with some serious danger, were this foreign enemies, were it internal disorders, were it natural disasters, and in the expiring century because of global economic problems endangering the nation — in brief: then, when was necessary that the nation was united and pursued some vital goal. And then when there is no such main goal, or, put it otherwise, when the main goal is just to live well, then was established some form of democracy, or at least of more liberal ruling. Exactly in such cases the democracy was and remains preferred, because together with more freedoms for the personality it provides more amusements for the people.
It is so not only in Bulgaria today, it is so in every other democratic country where each new elections give the people new chances the make various bets about politicians, in the same way as with the horse races. In the end, it is known long ago that, as the English say, people want bread and circuses (what we translate in Bulgarian not quite correct, according to the author, as "bread and entertainment"). And when the people want their "circuses" then why not give them to the people? Yeah, but when the bread is guarantied.
"But the bread is scarce, the bread is not enough, children", as has said our poet Nikola Vaptsarov in a time not much different from this very moment. And when there is not enough bread for everybody then emerges an important goal to survive, keeping the standard of life from at least the times of our "uncle Tosho", no matter that it was significantly lower than that in the "normal" democracies. And when an important goal exists then the people can't endure this ineffective form of ruling. The Western Parliaments can allow themselves to discuss questions like, say, this: should homosexuals be allowed to conclude marriage contracts or not, but by us such debates are not necessary (not because we have no homosexuals, of course). Speaking more clearly: in heavy for the nation moments must be strengthened dictatorial elements in the ruling.
This can be achieved legally: either by choosing Parliament and President of one colour (in these elections we have not agreed to go entirely to the left, but, as the UDF like to say, the future time is ours, so that it may happen that relatively soon we will move completely to the right), or else strengthening the Presidential power (a thing that we always can, and possibly must, do, although this requires changes in the Constitution).
Some of the Western commentators state that we are the first of ex-communist countries having finished the first oscillatory motion and having gone to the second period (i.e. they take for true that we are moving like damped pendulum, what is a model quite near to the reality, though in Bulgaria this thesis is not received with special enthusiasm, either by the politicians, or by the people, but maybe from a distance one sees better), only that very fast movement happens to be characteristic for bigger lability of the system* (put in technical language), or for hopelessness of the situation (put in common language).
[ * This point is elaborated good by the author in the paper "About the turn to the left (or pulse political science)" ]
Our Shopp (from around the capital Sofia) has one clever thought, namely: "what must be done, it begs to be done". I don't want to be a prophet, but if we do not succeed to reach some stable, united ruling in the critical moment, in which we are now (no matter whether we will call it crisis of catastrophe), then ... well, we will again reach this, but in some more turbulent way. And as far as according with the demos goes the -cracy, then only we alone will be guilty in this process!
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WHAT WE HAVE MESSED WITH THE CURRENCY BOARD?*
[ * It is published practically entirely (without illustrations) on the 8th page of the newspaper "Kontinent" from 07 Oct 1998 (with a little varied title, but in this spirit). ]
[ Idea about an illustration: a dam with high wall, where with capital letters is written "Money Board Dam", and in which on the top float different Bulgarian banknotes of 1, 2, 5, and also 10 thousand Bulgarian levs, and from the bottom flow small rivulet with banknotes of 5, 10, 20, and 50 German marks, maybe also some coins. ]
1. If we should have had Money Board in Bulgaria, then we have chosen the most inappropriate moment for this,
where every other moment, were it earlier, were it later, would have been significantly more advantageous for us! If we have introduced the Board 12 months earlier, for example, then our lev would have costed 12 times more, than it costs now, and similar would have been the situation also several years earlier. And if we have introduced it now (end of 1998), then one lev would have been about 1,300 levs, because such is its real price now, if we take as basis the prices from the times of our "Bai Tosho", when one lev was equal to one US$ (not in its official price but via some consumer basket, how it has to be done), and multiply them by this coefficient. At a price of 1,750 lv for one US$ the price of kilogram sheep white cheese must have been about 6,300 lv, of good cheese, milk butter or meet — about 10,000 lv, of white sugar — 1,700 lv, of white bread — 700 lv, of an egg — 230 lv, and so on, but they are lower! This, that there are some exceptions, is explained in different ways and does not contradict the thesis for the correct proportions between the prices of major foodstuffs under the totalitarianism (to what we, anyway, are aiming), with a correction for some highly subsidized earlier branches, like the transport.
The sunflower oil in the moment is exactly as much as it must be, but this is due to the harvest of sunflower and its price will fall down in the winter to 1,500 lv; the cow white cheese now is close to its correct price of 4,500 lv, but it has fallen down significantly and will again fall down up to 3,500 lv; a bottle of raki of 750 ml must be 7,300 lv, and a pack of cigarettes "Arda" with filter — 1,000 lv (and they will become again as much), but our population is now so poor, that the rulers are just afraid to raise the prices on excise goods (as they are maintained in all Western countries), and we come even to such anomalies that one can buy a liter of vodka or raki on tap for 1,000 lv, but a liter of fresh milk "Verea" — for 950.
The prices of major food products in the moment are quite lessened, for the reason that the Board, fixing the salaries, does not allow the prices to grow (because in a market economy the prices of products are established by the buyers, not by the sellers, how thinks almost every Bulgarian), but there is nothing good in this for our economy and, furthermore, from this follows the unavoidable conclusion that in the next one or two years they will only rise up, in what there is nothing good this time for our people! The lower prices of products hinder our own production, which also without this barely "crawls" compared with the stagnation years. Before the Board many food products of domestic fabrication were exported outside the borders because of currency hunger on the part of the companies, but now they have no interest at all to do this (on dumping prices, of course, for our former markets have disappeared, or "gone to the movies", as we say, since we have set our feet on the path to democracy, and to conquer new ones, in conditions of fierce competition with the other developed countries, though also with the former brothers of fate like Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovenia, Baltic countries, etc., with which we are forced to compare, we have simply not enough strength). With the necessary unavoidably slow raising of the salaries must flow possibly ten years until we reach again the condition from the end of our totalitarian years, and what are we to produce till that time — isn't pretty clear. Our balance of trade may look good on paper, but in this can believe only such a person, who has not lived at least six months in Bulgaria for to see that we are conjurers in fitting the calculations to the desired results, because it is clear that we produce nothing serious, and all our home appliances are imported, what means that we buy them.
The expected influx of foreign capitals (because by this poverty everything in our country is cheaper and can easily be bought by wealthy Western companies) still does not come, and even the tourism on which we have set big hopes (and which has brought us big income during the totalitarian years) is very poor in this year — as it seems, the foreigners prefer more quiet and "moderately poor" countries. In any event, now we are on the second place in poverty from our former socialist neighbouring countries after Albania (what, maybe, is justified because our name begins with the second character in the alphabet?). It happened so that
The Board only fixed our poverty,
because before it we have just begun to restore the price of our lev and have succeeded to achieve the impossible, having beaten even the American dollar twice, and there were all reasons to expect to lessen a bit more its rate (as we try to do now through the deflation of the lev), but alas, we will never again succeed to do this. This involuntary reminds me one anecdote from a pair of years ago about a question to Radio Yerevan "Do you know what happened with the Bulgarians, have they reached the bottom?", to what they answer "Sure thing they have reached it", and then they again ask them "Well, and what are they doing now?" — "Well, they dig further!" was the answer. Thanks to the Board we have at last stopped to dig further, but instead of this we now
have stuck in the mud!
Our money crisis till that moment was a natural process of searching of hard covering for our unreliable lev and it has passes by itself when our money have begun to be spent little by little (something like the youth acne which, however one smears them, nothing helps, but then comes time and they disappear by themselves). It can boldly be stated that also without the Board the dollar would have been either cheaper, or better commensurable with our salaries. Anyway, the minimal salary in Bulgaria is still less than 30 US$, what is, maybe, the level of Rwanda.
If our politicians have not put again, by old habit, the politics above the economy and have invented something more reasonable than winter marches on the streets, in order to cause the next jump up of the dollar (because the price of some national currency in market conditions is established, first of all, by the credit or trust which one can give to the country, what means that in a stable political climate in it, which in its turn depends at least on the leading to their end of the electoral mandates), then the dollar should have jumped up to some level of about 1,000 - 1,200 levs and should have stopped its growth, by the simple reason that people would have had no more money to buy it, and now, maybe, little by little, we should have emerged to the surface (i.e. to the totalitarian level of living standard), while now with the Board we have so strongly stuck to the bottom, that are not in position to come loose.
2. If there was necessary in a rough way to stop the devaluation of our lev, then we alone could have made ourselves currency board,
which should have led to limitation and elimination of the money market of our lev (for that is what the Board, in fact, has done!) and to fixing it at some reasonably low level. Because, as we say, "the hunger has big eyes", some hard currency had to be given to the people, but it would have sufficed small quantity of it to pacify them, due to the fact that this currency is necessary for them only as means for savings, yet on the background of our poverty one could have hardly saved more than 20 per cent of his or her income. One simple proposition is the following: all salaries, pensions, and other monetary assistance have to be paid partially in hard currency, where this part is, say, 1/3 of the amount (at worst 1/4). Such quantity could have been found by every decent company, because the salary fund is usually about 5 to 10% of all expenses, so that it goes about literally 2-3% in hard currency. A bit more complicated would have been the case with the pensions, which come to not a small sum, but there could have been searched for some loans or other help, or even to issue some certificates, like for the state securities, for round sums of 100 money units, for example (and if the part is smaller then it can be accumulated), and their real payment could have been performed after a pair of years. The kind of currency could have been chosen by everyone and it could have been changed each six months, and if somebody could not find cents for bread or milk then he could sell this currency to whom he wishes, and in this way for 3-4 months would have been established a complete standstill on the money market (with some yearly inflation of about 10-20%, what is quite normal for our ailing economy), as also peacefulness among 90% of the population.
If, despite these measures, the things do not become stable, then could have been used some reasonable blocking of the deposits in foreign currency, for example by the next scheme: free for operation are all deposits up to 250 US$ (or equivalent in other currency), from accounts of up to 1,500 US$ can be taken monthly by 50 US$ (where it is not necessary that this happened each month, and if somebody has not visited the bank for 4 months he can take on the 5th at once 250 US$ — with purpose to buy, say, a TV set), and from deposits with bigger amounts one can withdraw only portions of 1/10 of the amount at three months. Surely there must be allowed exceptions of this rule in cases of need for urgent medical treatment. This is not at all something unheard in the world and the social price of this measure would have been much less than our "system" of sevenfold annual inflation and two to three times compensation with the interest rate.
3. The Currency Board has not at all solved our main problem for bettering of standard of life of the population,
because it has not raised the salaries of working people (even on the contrary — has frozen them), neither has created conditions for intensification of our domestic industry (because it has taken no protective measures for defending of Bulgarian products on the market — introducing high taxes on import goods, to give an example), neither has lessened our foreign debt (but on the contrary — fixing one worse than real rate of our lev it has, in fact, increased the debt, for the reason that its payment is produced in our country, i.e. in levs, but paid outside the borders, i.e. in hard currency), nor has even pacified the people who have succeeded to save some coins for "black" days (due to the fact that by this symbolic interest rate and the unavoidable gradual increasing of the salaries, and the prices which follow them, it turns that the money savings continue to melt — slow but steady)! But it, if one gives a thought to the question, the Board has never set itself the task to solve any of these questions (because it can not solve them!), but simply to accumulate some advantages for one of the political powers, which can hide behind the fact of stabilizing of our lev. Yet such rigid fixing of the price of one currency is direct violation of market mechanism (and we as if state that the market is always a good thing), and in the times of our "Bai Tosho" there also was constant price for the lev (and now we say that the situation then was not correct).
The only good result of the Board's activity is that it has created a stable atmosphere for good accounting and maintaining of constant prices in our national currency. But who has said that the accounting reports must be performed in our own currency, when the main principle in creation of European economic community is exactly the unified bookkeeping in ecus (and after the 1st January in 11 countries will be operated officially in euros)? This does not affect national interests of the countries in community, neither requires real existing of such banknotes in circulation in the domestic market in each of the countries, and their printing and using is planned only for the year 2002. The bookkeeping could have been done in each of the hard currencies, and all calculations could have been converted from levs in such currency (what anyway is done by money transactions in the companies, but in reversed direction).
The prices of the products could have been actualized according with the daily exchange rate or set in ecus, for example, and be recalculated at the moment of purchase, if the rate is pretty unstable, in the same way as it was done unofficially in a number of companies somewhere since 1991, only that they have used usually US dollars. The salaries must have been established in some hard currency, bur paid according with the averaged rate for the past month.
Similar situation has existed in our history, where soon after the Liberation from Ottoman yoke we were tied to the French franc (and our first post stamps were in centimes, not in stotinkis), and this has lasted for many years. And what was our currency under the totalitarianism if not tied to the rouble, where our lev differed with a pair of stotinkis? All "subtlety", obviously, is in this to tie ourselves to strong currency, not to weak one (and when the rouble has "weakened" we tied ourselves unofficially to the dollar (as also the Russians, by the way).
Only that our politicians have had misapprehended feeling of national pride and have thought that it is expressed in working with Bulgarian levs (and this is fixed in art. 4 of our law on bookkeeping). And while they have thought so the proud Bulgarian lion-lev has reduced itself to the dimensions of a ... louse (if we take that a lion of an average size is long about 1.80 m, or 1,800 mm, from the head to the tail, if you do not pull the latter — but it isn't advisable to pull a lion on the tail —, and a louse is about 1 mm, or 1,800 times less). So that if there exists something that has impaired our prestige this is the diminution of our lev, not the official currency in the bookkeeping
4. Even if we have ridiculed ourselves with the Currency Board, we will make a bigger error if now renounce it,
because by a thoughtless change from one level to another the moment of transition turns to be worse than each of the levels! And under "thoughtless" or "unreasonable" here is meant not by exponent, i.e. not smoothly, but with presence of strong sinusoidal, i.e. wavelike, fluctuations, that exceed the new level at both sides, and our transition to democracy happened to be exactly of that kind and accompanied by strong and fast changes, once to the left, and once to the right, that are rather similar to a muscle tremor of an old man than to a reasonable control from central neural system.
At the end, one can get used to everything, so that we can also accustom ourselves to the Money Board (and what other choice remains to us?), and after, so, 5-6 years the things may become better. The bad thing is that we have done this in one quite unsuitable way, and in the most unsuitable moment only for political motives, not from the standpoint of our national interests. But this also has its advantages (as a Scotsman has said after his house has burned down — for his wife, too, has burned with it), because in this way we at last
have realized our poverty
(after we have fixed it for long time ahead), and perceiving of one's own faults and problems is the principal prerequisite for their amending. Let us hope that we will become a bit more bright to succeed to amend them.
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CONVERGENCE, WHAT IS THIS?*
(or about the difference between social capitalism and capitalistic socialism)
[ * It was published almost without changes on page 8 of the newspaper "Kontinent" from 16 Nov 1998. ]
In literal translation the term "convergence" means joining of two tendencies in one, or two ways in one — something like the joining of two parallel lines in the infinity. The theory of convergence of capitalism to the socialism was very acclaimed about 20, and even more, years back, but at that time the communists very resolutely denied it as reactionary. It isn't that one can't understand them, because then one of the fundamental assertions of Marxism-Leninism was the thesis that the socialism is a qualitatively new step in the evolution of society, and if so a new step has no rights to merge sometime with the previous one, for it will become then that there are no steps at all in this social staircase and, what is even worse, that the socialism can begin at the end to slide down to the capitalism.
From the height of the passed almost 10 years from the transition to democracy it is obvious that our socialism definitely has slid down to the capitalism. And there is an easy explanation of this, because the socialism, or communism (like also fascism), are just variations of capitalistic form of economic organization of society and, no matter that there exist differences, they are not exactly new steps but rather sides (more or less left) of one and the same step. Now this causes no doubts in anyone, but it is, still, necessary to focus on some points of this convergence, which in each of the former communist countries proceeds in different way.
The first peculiarity that strikes the eye is the nearly instantaneous speed of our convergence to the West, so that we
have simply stuck to the capitalism,
and so strongly, that the developed capitalist countries now just wonder how to get rid of us! There have passed only 4-5 years from the time of demolishing of Berlin Wall and it has already become necessary to raise the Schengen one, which, although not made of bricks or concrete, is not less strong than the former. What means that now is imposed to us the question: whom mostly has the Berlin Wall protected — the East from the West, or vice versa? Similar was the situation also with the "mass swimming across" the Adriatic, and with the "Regattas" Cuba - Miami Beach. From a formal standpoint this is not pure convergence but a degenerated form, in which the one straight line has just broken towards the other. Something of the kind could have been expected due to the more powerful "gravitation" of developed Western economies, but the real extent surpassed the forecasts of the very West.
Another characteristic moment, especially for our country, is the
returning back in the time
to the period of rough or green capitalism from the beginning of the century. It is true that for the existing of capitalism are needed capitals, i.e. much money in few hands, and as far as nobody wanted to give his (or her) totalitarian savings (for they, however unseriously small, but were the only savings by us), then the "more capable" were forced to take them away from the others, once in legal, once in illegal ways. It is true also that one can't build a new home without destroying the old one, only that we lived pretty long time "in tents". It is entirely clear, at least from the examples of some of the other "former" or ex- socialist countries, that we could have converged a bit more smoothly and not going back in the time — as in regard of our standard of life, so also in the sense of moral values, which we had earlier — but we out of strong "partisan" predilections, stubbornness, unjustified pride, fraudulence, and so on, have not done this. Not that we have not heard that the capitalism is like a medlar and while green is not to be eaten, but we apparently had little brains, from what follows that now we have to have strong backs, else we shall see no advantages.
Our degenerated convergence, however, does not mean that the West has stayed with arms crossed during the existence of former Socialist Bloc. While our nearing to the West was impeded by our totalitarian governing in the developed capitalist countries there were no obstacles for
gradual convergence to the socialist ideas.
And the West has converged, only more smoothly and moderately, what means reasonably! For what are the various social-democratic Western flows during the last at least half a century if not attempts (and quite successful) for creating of one more humane and socially rightful capitalism? What else if not deliberate convergence, i.e. borrowing of the positive and avoiding of the negative of the real socialism? Each self-respecting Western country has some pension, healthcare or for labour accidents insurance, as also accessible by all, i.e. free of charge in the moment of receiving it, education, while in the past century it was not at all so.
It can't be that the major part of the readers have not heard the phrase that
the main gain from the communism was that it has made the capitalism better,
only that many of those who have heard it still take it for an extravagant declaration, while it is the naked truth, in a global historical perspective! Because the real socialism, anyway, was one global experiment for this how to cope with the shortcomings of capitalism. This, that it turned not to be very fortunate, does not mean that it has not produced results. And in addition, one should not ignore the local economic and social peculiarities and think that if in United States, for example, there was no socialism, then it was unnecessary also in Russia, because the tsarist Russia was very backward in almost every respect country. When the Reds stormed the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, in United States were nearly 100-storey skyscrapers and the conveyor of Ford has throwing out cars in ceaseless stream, in France loomed the Eiffel Tower, In Germany was long ago built the Cologne Cathedral, in Czech Republic the castle of Hradcany, and so on.
And one should also not forget that the "ghost of communism" has emerged for the first time not at all in Russia, but has succeeded to get around the entire globe and has remained there, where in that time were good living conditions for it. But it affects all countries and causes unavoidable convergence of all kinds of capitalism to one more humane and contemporary social order with stronger social elements in it. Yet will we call it social capitalism, or capitalistic socialism, or just capitalism, or in some other way, is not quite substantial. This ghost is now traveling somewhere in the Third World countries, but it has not entirely disappeared, for the simple reason that the ideas about socially just society exist since Ancient Greece, from the times of Platon, or they coincide with the dawn of democracy.
Interesting for mentioning is the fact that while
the residents of Western countries are convinced that the capitalism in not a good order,
and exactly because of this they incessantly try to better it and make it more up-to-date, we behave on the contrary and think that now we have reached the paradise on the Earth. That is the reason why our capitalism will for a long time remain green! Maybe this is consequence of our totalitarian past, to think that this, what we are doing, is the best, but we have pretty fast forgotten that the capitalism is always accompanied by series of crises and needs precise centralized regulation in order to work properly. It is inadmissible to forget about the world economic crisis of 1929, which has prolonged itself for such a big time that has resulted later in the World War II, yet we as if have forgotten this. We have forgotten even the quite recent crisis, which has begun in the beginning of 80ies, but which, at any rate, has added the last touch to the atmosphere of disarmament between the East and the West, forcing the developed countries at last to change the policy of stick with that of carrot (from your "stick and carrot approach"). The collapse of socialist system has solved for a time this crisis, because there emerged new markets for the Western, not only new but also outdated for them, or second hand, goods. But we are already witnesses of several crises in the Far East, of unsolved problems in the ex-communist countries, led by Russia, know also our own problems, so that it is high time to come to the Western view that the capitalism is a bad order, but there is not known a better one (or said in the reversed direction).
The recognition of the real situation could have helped us to find also a cure for it. Otherwise we are left with nothing else than to think that the democracy is to be blamed for our accursed situation. What isn't entirely true, because
the democracy is one contemporary tool for reaching of the goal,
but will we use it correctly depends on our entire population. Denying the natural processes of convergence between the capitalism and the socialism, what in our case means denying of all our achievements from the period of socialism, and rushing headlong to the green capitalism with paid education and healthcare and myths about fast and easy enrichment, can bring us nothing but troubles for the country!
It is hard to find a western country in which at least one of the three leading parties were not pro-socialist, or at the least had not a properly developed social platform. The name is not the most important thing in this case, and in many countries they still are running away from the word socialism, so to say, as "the devil from the incense", but throughout the Western world is spread one or another from of socialism, one or another symbiosis of capitalism with the ideas of socialism and communism.
In one strongly developed and "highly" European country like Austria, for example, by tradition is celebrated the first of May as day, how they call it, of "planting of the May tree", which is one quite interesting custom and I will allow myself to explain it briefly. It goes about raising of one high, at least 10 but maybe also up to 20 meters, pine-tree, decorated with garlands and flowers, which is fixed at the level of ground in some special contraption — something like a carriage mount — so that it can move in one plane only and there were no danger that it will fall to the side. The very raising is performed with united efforts of about twenty common citizens in entirely primitive way, namely using poles and beams, with propping and shifting forward the beams, accompanied by shouts like "c'mon, go" (or "hey-uhnem" of Volga boatmen), until the tree is raised vertically and then it is fixed in this position and stays so about two weeks. During the raising, which continues maybe an hour, all the local people are gathered together, devour grilled chicken, drink beer and rejoice. But what else is this custom if not a holiday of creative labour, or one typically socialist holiday, which we in Bulgaria were so foolish (for this can't be named otherwise) to reject as a relic of totalitarianism?
And one last touch, which we would like to underline: the joining of two poles, or the convergence between capitalism and socialism must unavoidably be expressed in
bringing of the left- and right- wing parties one to the other.
This must not be very difficult for us because the main part of our political figures consist of diverged in their time members of former communist party, who have simply decided to seize the opportunity for making of political career. Yet for this, that they are still not doing this, are to be blamed not they alone, but our nation, which makes them to play this game and even take pleasure to shout at mass meetings "uhh" or "down". The politicians are kind of artists and they can't "play" on an empty stage, and when so then they willy-nilly "dance to the flute" of people. If sometime out people grow so wise to become tolerant to the meanings of the others and to look at the democracy as at some attraction, only then it will cease to be just an attraction! However strange this may sound it is true, because it is confirmed by the practice of Western democracies.
P.S. Ten years later this is still absolutely true. Will it be so after hundred? Let us hope it will. But it is important that our nation succeeds to grasp this elementary truths before the elapsing of a century (when for a decade has not yet understood them well).
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WHY THE COMMUNISM HAS FALLEN DOWN?*
[ * It was published almost without changes on page 8 of the newspaper "Kontinent" from 15 Dec 1998. ]
The capitalism is society of capitals and from that standpoint it is justified to divide people in three major groups, namely: a) such who spend less than they have earned, or who mainly save money, or are creditors of the society; b) such who have spent more than they have earned till the moment, or live on money received in advance for their future work, or are debtors of the society; and c) such who have good balance of the received and spent, or who live from day to day, or as we also say "whatever was won has quickly gone". This is untraditional dividing of people, different from commonly used in poor, of middle affluence, and very rich, but it allows us to make interesting analyses. Creditors can be not only wealthy persons but also relatively poor, who save, as our people say, "white money for black days". Debtors can also be more or less affluent, and those with balance on the zero — too.
Important for our view to the things is the relation between every citizen and the society.
It is important because, no matter whether one gives or takes from the society, he (or she) is tied with the others, while the one who lives with the purpose to spend everything won is the weakly dependent on the others, or the mostly autonomous. But a society can't exist without good ties between its members, or without some level of compulsion. In the development of human civilization until now we have moved in direction of higher freedom of the ties, where in the situation of capitalism the compulsion for performing of some socially useful labour activity is first of all economic, but it exists. It is like the remote control in the electronics, but we can't do without it. The same is true also in our case — if one wants to live fulfilling life one must keep strong economic ties with the society, otherwise it begins to dissolve and this leads to anarchy. Freedom does not mean total independence and laxity, a thing in which we more and more convince ourselves on the basis of our ailing transition to normal capitalism, but it will never become normal until suitable relations between its members are established.
In the developed Western countries the above mentioned division is naturally performed based on the differences of each individual, which depend first of all on his age. When the young people begin some work with initial salary of, say, 3,000 US$ monthly the company or the banks try to offer them sufficiently big loans of the amount of about one yearly salary, in order to help them to secure for themselves decent home and means of transport, .which money they will repay for ten or more years. In this manner one, willingly or not, becomes debtor to the society until he (or she) reaches some age of approximately 40 years. Then begins the reverse tendency, when he tries to put aside more from what he earns, in order to save for his old age something in addition to the pension. Even if the person in question is daughter or son of a millionaire the situation is similar, because such is the human nature and one should not move against it.
This, naturally, does not mean that there don't happen exceptions, or that a debtor can not invest money in something else while he pays out his debts, or that a creditor can not take loans. He must maintain some zero balance for the period, as does every company, but this does not disturb his ties with the society and rather strengthens them. While that who spends only this what he wins is maximally free in financial terms, but also maximally unbecoming for the capitalism as social order. In other words, this, what is the best for the individual, isn't good for the society, and vice versa, but this is logical as far as the capitalism, and our whole life, is only a set of compromises with the others around us.
But by our socialism the things were not so, because
about 80% of the population have lived by the principle "what was gained was spent".
Surely there were debtors and creditors, but they have not felt themselves as such, for the reason that neither the bank interests were normal, nor decent loans were allowed, nor also one could have remained for long time unemployed. It is possible that for the young ones this might sound strange, but in the totalitarian times the majority of people, really, were more free in economic regard. In order to have been maintained then a stable society this freedom was compensated in some extent with a number of other compulsions and "cares of the Party and Government", but with the time they have ceased to provide the necessary result. More than this, all citizens have turned in the end to major creditors of the state, while our industry has taken the place of the major debtor, due to its low efficiency. This, in fact, has happened to be the main economic reason for disintegration of the socialist community — the lack of reliable stimuli for personal expression of everybody, as well also for his tying to the others. That is why the Gorbachev's perestroika in economic aspect has begun with efforts to raise the economic dependency of the workers and separation of the state from the economy. But these tries have come with some delay and the economic levers were inadequate with the requirements of a developed society.
The irony of our current situation, however, is that we
have not succeeded to find better economic tying between the people,
because, thanks to our extremely low living standard during the time of our transition to democracy, we have boycotted all ways for crediting in advance of the young people, as also were denied all tries for crediting of society on the part its old members, who have suffered in the highest extent by these changes. Taken really our lev has devalued roughly 1,800 times, while the compensation which all previous governments have succeeded to propose via the bank interest are reduced to approximately 30 times, what means that
the creditors have remained with about 1/60 part of their savings,
and hardly will make another try to sponsor the state. The young one, on the other hand, can't hope to receive some significant credits due to the same poverty, so that we again live on the principle of consuming of everything earned. But this isn't, and can't be, a way to a developed capitalist society!
Our paradoxical understanding of capitalism was reduced to the thesis of higher freedom and fragmentation of economy and agriculture, but this is exactly the opposite to the requirements of developed capitalist society! It will be good if the political powers draw the necessary conclusions, but in our efforts to make total negation of the totalitarianism we have come to nothing good (if we don't count the realization that we have come to nothing good!).
The socialism in the former communist countries has collapsed everywhere and logically, while the succeeding capitalism falls down only in some countries like our, where the politics continues to stay above the economy. In a certain sense this is also logically.
P.S. That earlier, in conditions of "muddy water" in regard to our currency, the banks have not released loans is understandable, but even today (in 2008) the things don't look very good, yet this time for the people. Somewhere about 2005 begun "frantic race" between the banks in offering credits to whom they only can, because nobody wanted to take (even companies, probably), for the reason that there is no work and no normal market, but the banks can not only receive money, they must give it away, else the buying and selling can't be performed. Judging by the incessant race in offering loans it seems that people, still, mainly invest money (not that they have much, though the people are not a few), but probably exist also quite enough citizens (and companies, too) who are enslaved to pay back while are living. This, what is bad for the people, is that the slavery of capital is now widespread everywhere, because we are immoderate in whatever, and now have thrown ourselves to live in loans (who can afford it). All the same, in the spirit of the material, the things are moving in the right direction tying the people (if we don't count our excessive efforts).
And one more remark, regarding the wild inflation, when people have looked how for one whole former saved salary they can't now buy even a loaf of bread, and first of all regarding the practically laughable compensation of the inflation via the bank interest. The author still intends sometime to make comparison of the compensation of savings in several ex-communist countries and does not do this because of the difficult access to the inflation rates and bank interests for the countries for at least ten years, but he is practically convinced that worst of all they were compensated in Bulgaria (even in Russia was better, to say nothing about Czech Republic, Poland, or Hungary). Bad is not the very high inflation but its practically zero compensation, and these 60 times losses the today's young people, who have not been witnesses of this, they just don't believe it! Today every day we are deceived so bold from all sides and about everything (chiefly through the ads, but the politicians, too, try not to remain behind), that some young people (let us call them "contemporaries of the freedom") now don't believe reliable and questioned by nobody historical facts, as for example the author has once heard from a young boy that this about the fascists and Hebrews and the gas chambers was not true (because the common sense does not accepts it — but also a country in which the population was "duped" 60 times, without some intervention on the part of the Government, also contradicts to the common sense, yet it is, alas, true).
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