MUSEUM OF SOCIALISM:
THE CONTRADICTIONS OF HERITAGE
SOCIOANALYSIS AND THE PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMATIZATION OF COMMUNISM: SELF-INHERITANCE (TOWARDS THE PROBLEM OF A FUTURE VIRTUAL MUSEUM OF SOCIALISM)
This article requires thinking at the borderline, where, while being a socioanalyst, the author must also be a philosopher: as Foucault would say, we must be critical ontologists of the present and of ourselves. For philosophy – and specifically the one that, as he says, raises “the question of the present as a philosophical event to which the philosopher who speaks about it belongs” (and the question of the form in which, in the critical ontology of the present, the questions of the Enlightenment and of revolution are intertwined) – is what can be of great help as a counselor to socioanalysis in its civil functions. It can help us in problematizing “the contradictions of the inheritance” of the society in which we lived before 1989 – a society still lingering in our own fractalized identities and in the broken destinies of the still-living “enemies of the people” and the “active fighters against fascism and capitalism”; but it can also help us decide to invest effort to resolve these contradictions, i.e., to successfully self-inherit ourselves (as far as this is still possible). By “successful self-inheriting despite the contradictions of inheritance”, I mean the successful overcoming of the melancholic or schizophrenic “Í am who I am not” or “I am not who I am” of fractalized identity. This overcoming relies on those who point the imperative “Become who you are” towards themselves – i.e., those who by themselves seek again and, by their own effort, or by what Pierre Bourdieu calls “assisted self-analysis”, discover themselves. This is an overcoming that concerns all of us.
EXHIBITING BODIES AND MUSEUMIZING SUFFERING
On the basis of background knowledge on the already existing European museums of the communist secret services and Holocaust museums, the first part of the article discusses the role of the museum in policies of the sensory, with reference to the way in which political techniques exhibit bodies placed together in specific environments of contact and vulnerability. After discussing the “phenomenon-techniques” of exhibiting bodies, the article continues with the problem of the genealogy of the museum (similar to Nietzsche’s genealogy of morals) out of the depths of everyday life, out of the pre-museum, which takes place as “exhibiting the bodies below”. The second part of the text outlines two cases: that of the ruined bodies depicted on posters (printed in post-war Germany by the Allied armies) related to the German death camps, and that of the body-documents, discussed on the basis of a Bulgarian epistemological archive, dating from 1989, which anticipated the problem of the communist Secret Service.
Keywords: policies of the sensory, museumizing suffering, socioanalysis of ruined bodes (the legacy of the Holocaust) and of the body-documents (the legacy of communism)
IN THE COURTROOM OF THE PERSONAL “COURT OF HISTORY”: (ILLOCUTIONS IN THE DIARIES OF SOCIALISM)
The personal diary, being a work of historiography, is also a virtual (in the wider meaning of “imaginary”) court of the “history of the present times”. Among the defendants in this court, the diary’s author takes a specific place: one of his/her historical deeds is writing the diary itself and holding this quasi-judicial trial. The illocutionary forces of all utterances in this “court” depend primarily on the authorization of the author, on his/her authorizational identity bestowed by the action of the functions of legitimate discourse (Bourdieu and Deyanov) and by the action of the time-modalized retributive function: what will be the identity of whoever acts now, is a matter of pro-active time-modalization in which all these functions are transposed into the future, and what is to be done now to the one who will have that identity, is that specifically complex – pro-actively retroactive – time-modalization that affects the diary’s author. In the diaries of socialism, the maintenance of the author’s legitimate affirmative identity is achieved in the form of a perpetually active practical-logical modus ponens, and it is not the result but this perpetual action itself, insofar as it stays within the official truth of socialism, that authorizes the “court of history” held by this author.
Keywords: illocutionary forces in the “court of history”, proactively-retroactive time-modalization of the retributive function of legitimate discourse, self-authorization by a practical-logical modus ponens
THE UNION OF BULGARIAN ARTISTS AND THE IMAGE OF EVERYDAY LIFE IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE 1950s
The article explores the early history of the Union of Bulgarian Artist in relation to the serial replication of ideological messages through the production of items for everyday use.
Keywords: socialism, Union of Bulgarian Artists, ideology, everyday life
PICTURES AT THE END OF THE ANCIEN REGIME
The starting point of the present article are the memoirs of some high-ranking leaders of the Bulgarian Communist Party who were in a position of “double exclusion” – being simultaneously excluded by their “comrades” and by “the turn of history”. The concept of “pictures of visibility” is deduced from what was, at that time, an important decision of the Politburo, dating from August 1987 and entitled The Attributes of Power. The pictures of visibility emerge in the field of apparatuses and institutions. From the viewpoint of the individual and collective actors (functionaries and apparatuses) these pictures were in fact resources (stakes) in the network games. The socialist heterotopy was distinguished from the modern ones in that it created a different type of visuality, which, towards the end of the former regime, was contested, reduced, and transformed in an unusual way. The question is, why did the authorities take this peculiar step of delimiting not so much their power as their own visibility?
Keywords: network capitalism, network games, network (heliotropic) effects, pictures of visibility
SHORTAGE ECONOMY / ARBITRAGE ECONOMY
The article claims that the political economy of socialism could be more adequately presented as an arbitrage economy than, as usually considered in present-day communist and post-communist studies, as a shortage economy. In that context, an arbitrage economy is conceived of as economic activities geared at generating profit from the difference between markets, for example, from the difference between the pricing of a product on the government-regulated market and on the open market. The claim that socialist economy was driven by arbitrage is demonstrated by two accounts of the assemblages that the Bulgarian Communist Party developed after 1949 in its ceaseless attempts to tackle the grain deficit: on one hand, as a security apparatus aimed at preventing the deficit, and on the other hand, as a form of arbitrage. Building on the second account, the article proposes that the theory of socialist societies as network societies, developed by the Institute of Critical Social Studies, should be reinterpreted so as to take into account the socialist forms of capital incentives.
Keywords: shortage, arbitrage, capitalism, socialism, governmentality
THE ORGANIZATION OF SOCIALIST TRADE IN BULGARIA, 1954–1963: DOCTRINAL CONTRADICTIONS AND INTER-INSTITUTIONAL TENSIONS
Focusing on the ideology and management of socialist trade, this article reconstructs sustainable tensions and conflicts that existed between institutions and entire administrative sectors on the supposedly “united front” of the planned economy; the author emphasizes that their nature was characterized by system-built (d)effects. A starting point of the analysis is the Party program of “satisfaction of the growing needs of people of labor” and, specifically, its key priorities in improving the trade network by aiming, on the one hand, at mass provision and equal access and, on the other hand, at high quality and wide variety of supplied goods. The propaganda messages invested in this doctrine – a promised of prosperity for society at large and an evidence of the superiority of the command economy over the free market of capitalism – were, however, refuted in trade practice. Whereas domestic commerce was entrusted with the mission of meeting consumer demand, the national industry was pressured to economize on materials, lower the cost price and raise the volume of production – tasks that could not be coordinated with the requirements of quality and innovations. Solutions to this problem were sought along the line of administrative multiplication by altering horizontal fragmentation and vertical centralization. Yet the new organizations inevitably inherited the old conflicts and deficiencies. Even the ideological compromise of inaugurating luxury goods production failed to stimulate better-quality output and to synchronize the divergent motivations of producers, suppliers and traders.
Keywords: socialist trade, socialist production, state institutions, administrative centralization / decentralization, consumption, quality and variety of goods, luxury goods, fashion, turnover
THE SOCIAL SCIENCES IN THE ARCHIVES OF STATE SECURITY
This article is part of a larger study on the changes in the field of Bulgarian social sciences after the 1960s and the years of the “thaw”; the author compares the public narratives of scholars (the anti-Stalinists, the “young generation”, the reformers) with the narratives contained in the archives of State Security (SS) (primarily Sixth Directorate of SS and the Cultural-Historical Intelligence). The article traces the forms of control, the non-autonomy of the scientific field and its relationships with various situations in the field of power. The author describes the specific constellations through which SS participated in the field of power that controlled the “metacapitals and the exchange rate of capitals between different fields” (P. Bourdieu). Similar to other researchers of the archives opened after the “revolutions of 1989” (S. Combe, J. Rowell, E. François), the author indicates “disappointment by the archives” of the political police. The study highlights the inner contradictions within SS, the tension arising between the different institutions, disciplines, generations, and groups, which formed strange unions, mobilized different “capitals”, including Party, nomenklatura-based, or international capitals, in order to attain a dominant position in the scientific field. The hypothesis is that these were real, not fake, transformations in the “totalitarian social sciences”; that the new scientific concepts, debates and university centres were not merely a result of the transformation of Marxist ideology or of political-ideological strategies pursued by the ruling Party and its closest assistants, the SS agents; that new “utopian segments” appeared within the ideology itself, but quickly turned into instruments of domination. This type of causality is hard to comprehend by those adherents of the so-called “totalitarian paradigm” who wonder whether the social sciences were only an ideological tool or, on the contrary, represented a resistance against the Marxist “scientific ideology”.
Keywords: field of power, State Security, autonomy of scientists, scientific field, “scientific ideology”, social networks, critique of archives
READING THE COMMUNIST LEGACY THROUGH NON-COINCIDING COINCIDENCES: TZVETAN STOYANOV WITH JULIA KRISTEVA AND GEORGI MARKOV
In juxtaposition with Bulgarian expat intellectuals Julia Kristeva and Georgi Markov, the artistic and political position of their friend and contemporary, Bulgarian writer Tzvetan Stoyanov, is explored in this text as representative of what he described as the “tragedy of the epoch”: the effort to oppose the repressive communist regime through sheer power of thinking. The term “non-coinciding coincidence” is proposed as an elaboration of Mikhail Bakhtin’s “heteroglossia” and as a wager for social transformation through “fighting with brains” and contesting communism with “full complexity and knowledge of the opponent.” Evoking a series of literary portraits he created of “undefeated defeated,” Sroyanov’s own failure in outplaying the regime marks, perhaps, one of the brightest moments in Bulgaria’s communist past.
Keywords: non-coinciding coincidence, Enlightenment, emigration, the Secret Service
THE DISCOURSE OF THE FATHERLAND AS A REPRESENTATION OF SOCIALIST IDEOLOGY: DISCURSIVE FORMS AND DERIVATIONS IN A CHILD’S PERSONAL DIARY FROM THE PERIOD 1948–1953
This study makes an attempt at critical analysis of the discursive forms into which the image of the Fatherland is cast in a child’s personal diary from the early years of socialism. There are two main emphases: 1) on the image of the Fatherland as an ideological construction; 2) on the symbolic efficiency of the discourse of the Fatherland. Hence, the thesis that the discourse of/on the Fatherland forms a specific discursive regime by which socialist subjecthood is invented: functioning as a normalizing ecstatic discursive machine, it effectuates the process of normalization of socialist phenomenality. This is possible, on the one hand, because through that discourse, identities are ascribed – the essentially affirmative distinctive identities of those who are over-gifted and sanctioned by it, as well as the essentially negative identities of those deprived of such sanction; and on the other hand, because the stereotyped representations of the Fatherland correspond to specific discursive expectations and pre-givennesses that depend on the way in which the subjects of discursive practice have been questioned conditionally or unconditionally by the official ideology of/on the socialist Fatherland.
Keywords: discursive forms, symbolic efficiency, personal diary, socialist ideology, Fatherland
SANITARY CULTURE: TOILET CHALLENGES
Based on an analysis of the socialist toilet experience, this text argues that (1) the socialist discourse privileged the “upper part” of the body (including the symbolic aspect) at the expense of “the lower part” (including the symbolic aspect); and (2) this discourse also produced and reproduced a “mass” of people, in which individuals were sunk, i.e., were lost, but where, at the same time, they intentionally submerged, in order to efface themselves in a sort of evasion.
The socialist regime was fascinated by the practice of organizing gigantesque mass events, filling up the city squares with thousands of people enthusiastically marching in procession; at the same time, and paradoxically, the regime was confused by individual bodies dancing or making love. That is why the biopolitical modernizing strategies of the regime were clearly dissonant with the anatomo-political measures it took with regard to the individual bodies of people.
Keywords: sociology of the senses, body, toilet, lower part of body, socialism, anatomo-politics
CONTEMPORARY ART AS ARS MEMORIAE: CURATORIAL NARRATIVES AND POLITICS OF MEMORY OF THE COMMUNIST PAST
The article examines exhibitions of late socialist and post-socialist visual art from Central and Eastern Europe, which took place after 1989, as a possible medium for carrying and shaping memories of the recent past. The analysis focuses on the specific curatorial narratives that frame the artistic practices of “coming to terms with” the communist past, (re)negotiating post-communist identities, and re-positioning the former East in the new geographies of art. Five “ideal types” of curatorial narratives, by means of which contemporary art functions as ars memoriae, have been identified: the heroic, post-colonial, contextualizing, Europeanizing, and historicizing.
Keywords: Central and Eastern Europe, curatorial narratives, contemporary art, politics of memory, communist past
COMMUNISM IS AN EVIL
In this article, I examine the rhetorical mechanisms functioning within the scientific practices of the production of a politically efficient Truth about communism. My main argument is that there is no such thing as a “totalitarian paradigm”, but rather a totalitarian inclination. My focus of interest is how, despite the impossibility of internal systematization, it is possible for anti-communist interpretations (those interpretations that think via the category of totalitarianism and try to articulate a moral “judgment”), to appear as a totality. The totalitarian inclination can projects coherence only secondarily, i.e., by the very assertion that there is a communist “essence” that could be understood as “evil”. This “essence” might function efficiently only if it remains empty enough in order to be able to homogenize internal heterogeneities. In my article, I also problematize certain moments in the revisionist critiques of the totalitarian “paradigm”. My argument here is that revisionists risk totalizing something that is far too fragmentary and unsystematic. In other words, revisionists might miss the rhetorical mechanisms of the totalization of the anti-communist scientific practice and thereby underestimate their capacity to produce truth. Such truth, as I show in the end of my article, might function subversively.
Keywords: discourse analysis, history of socialism, totalitarian and revisionist paradigms
COMMUNISM IS A MISTAKE
Drawing on a psychoanalytically overwritten version of Derrida’s notion of iterability, this article explores how the revival and repetition, in 2013, of Bulgarian anti-communism of the 1990s led to dramatic ruptures in the semantic coordinates of this anti-communism. A radical break with the macabre anti-communism of the 1990s was effected, paradoxically, in and through anti-communist intellectual activity itself. This, in turn, results in the opening up of fantastic opportunities for thinking and practicing communist politics.
Keywords: communism, repetition, anti-communism, apparition, Bulgaria, 2013 protests
AN APOLOGIA OF FREEDOM AS POWER IN “THE FIRST PERSON”.PART II: EXERCISING FREEDOM
In Part I of this study, a basic synonymy of “freedom” and “power” was outlined: If we take Patton’s distinction between power to and power over, where power to means the subject’s force, might, power to re-valuate and transform given dependences, then not only is it true that freedom is power (the first Nietzschean axiom) but the paradox of the subject (in Judith Butler’s sense) disappears. Part II highlights the risk, arising from the first axiom, of mixing up the ordinary meanings of “freedom” and “power”; in fact, similar arguments – about the inability to distinguish between freedom and subjection or between legitimate and illegitimate power – have been raised against Nietszcheanism by Habermas and other normativists. But here we search for a way to distinguish between freedom and power (in the sense of subjection, domination, subordination, etc.) following Nietzsche and Foucault. That is why a comparative analysis of both thinkers is developed here – of their ontologies of force as well as of the exercise of freedom and power discussed in their writings. It is inferred through Nietzsche - in radicalizing his perspectivity thesis – that it is impossible to take a neutral meta-perspective on freedom: freedom is inescapably perspectival and a positively evaluated predicate. Since every current interpretation is centered by an immanent and indexically fixed view-point “in the first person”, all the ordinary usages distinguish “freedom” and “power” along the line of: freedom-in-the-first-person vs. power-in-the-third-person (the latter having a negative connotation: subjection, domination, subordination and the like). Hence, a second Nietzschean axiom is inferred: Freedom is a form of might and power – not of every might and power but only of that which we immediately are or which we support in the first person. Finally, Nietzsche and Foucault are stylized as conceptual personae embodying the two main aspects of critique: its decisionist agency and its reflexive diagnostics.
Keywords: power, freedom, force, might, subjection, subordination, perspectivity, Nietzsche, Foucault, ordinary uses, “freedom in the first person”-“power in the third person”
FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND BLASPHEMY
The article examines the basic arguments in support of freedom of speech as a basic right, but a right aimed at certain values: truth, democratic self-governance and personal development. Against this backdrop, the author offers a classification of the kinds of justified limitations to the exercise of freedom of speech, especially those related to its content, which may be a threat to public order, an infringement of the honour and dignity of the individual, or an instigation to hatred of certain minority groups living in a disadvantaged situation or marked by historical trauma. These two “coordinate systems” are the basis of the discussion on blasphemy. The article offers a general review of the attitude to the norms that prohibit or permit blasphemy in the modern world, especially in Europe; the author then offers arguments, based on solutions drawn from the theology of modern philosophy, in support of preserving this prohibition.
Keywords: freedom of speech, secularity, hate speech, blasphemy
SAYYID QUTB AND RADICAL ISLAM
The need for ideological counteraction against Islamic fundamentalism has been pointed out at high governmental levels in the Western world but remains without adequate fulfilment. This can explain why the name of Sayyid Qutb, a leading theoretician of radical Islam, remains little known outside the Muslim milieu. Among his followers is Osama bin Laden; the present leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri defines his own mission thus: “To put Qutb’s vision into action”. The influence of Qutb’s Milestones has transcended the borders of Sunni Islam and reached Ayatollah Khomeini.
The article examines the theoretical scheme of Qutbism, its religious and cultural context. Its emergence in the age of globalization is not accidental, but this is a topic that goes beyond the tasks of the study.
Keywords: Qutb, qutbism, Islam, radical Islam, religious fundamentalism, jahilyyah, jihad
MINIMUM INSURANCE INCOME: A TOOL THAT POLARIZED PUBLIC OPINION IN BULGARIA
The article presents the predominating views in Bulgaria public opinion on the impact of the Minimum Insurance Income (MII) on employment. The study is based on the methodology developed in March 2014 (so far the only one devised during the entire phase of implementation of MII in Bulgaria) to study the influence of MII on the informal economy. The article discusses the basic methodological challenges, approaches and solutions to the empirical study of the dominant views in Bulgarian society, and presents assessments as to the impact of the MII instrument on the Bulgarian economy. The most important components of employers and workers/employees models for assessment of the impact of MII on economic processes are presented.
Keywords: minimum insurance income, informal economy, survey methodology