Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Interview with Aresistance

Introductionary note
Readers might be surprised why I choose to make interviews with groups not participating in the protests. I do this because I believe that readers with a western background like me easily will interpret the Bulgarian political landscape in familiar terms of left and right. Young people clashing with police in the streets is a long time hallmark of the militant left wing, and a close to yearly scene in cities like Berlin or Copenhagen.

Needless to say - this is not the case in Bulgaria. But to better understand this landscape, pretty far from Berlin or Copenhagen, I think it is necessary to also include the viewpoints from the non-participants.

Therefor I here publish an interview with an anarchist group called Aresistance, that did not take part in the protests. The original version of the interview in an email form in Bulgarian can be found here.

Interview

Q: Why did you not participate in the demonstrations 14 Jan 2009?
A: The answer can be found in the statement we published three days ahead of the demonstration. The shortest way to say it is: we don't want to participate in anything that hurts the cause we stand behind. Тhere were direct as indirect reasons. We had the information that this demonstration was not well prepared and that there would be provocations.

(I will make an English summary of the statement in the next post)

Q: Do you, as a political movement have any contacts with:
  • The enviromentalists
  • The protesting students
  • Other organisations behind the protests ?
A: Yes, we have good, personal contacts with different people, and we know what is going on in these groups.

Q: Does it, according to you, have any significance at all who wins the elections 2009?
A: Of course there is, but this is not a question of new politicians and a new ethic in the political life - this is rather a tactical queston for the activists at a reshuffeling within the oligarchical lobby - if it the field will be opened for for the movements of civil organisations, or if the new government will adopt adopt a harder attitude towars all kinds of protests.

Q: Which are the biggest problems in Bulgaria, according to you?
A: The oligarchic model and the lack of a civil opposition to these practices. The political apathy and the educational system, that produces politically litterate young people.

Q: What do you think about the protesters demands?
A: This prtoest was tactically confused from the very beginning, and with the lack of experience it was bound to fail. The demands were not, and are not, realistic. This turned into a classical populist protest, similar to the very system that they would like to reform.

Q: Many of the protesters ask for eurointegration. What's your understanding of Bulgarias role in the European Union? How can Europa help Bulgaria? How can Bulgaria help Europe?
A: Yes, you are right, this is a very prominent thesis among the ecologists - EU as a correctiv of the local power. They believe the pressure from the EU on Bulgarian politicians wil solve our problems. This is a complete dilusion. The idealization of the EU is one more myth. One forget to analyze, that a large part of the problems are conected to foreign investors, companies from the EU, and bhehind stand strong lobby groups and EU politicians. Bulgaria has a place in the EU only if the EU is built up on a democratic, transparent and free foundation. Currently this is not the case. Festung Europa serves only the elites!


Q: Which are the biggest problems in Bulgaria, according to you? (I don't know why I asked this twice ;) )
A: Theре is only one problem - the close relations between the mafia and the power. These are the same structures, thaty have haunted the whole life. The imitation of democratic proceedings, without any form of citizens' pressure and experience as a correctiv. The impossibility to organize serious, big unifications on social grounds , groups that protest and exist over time

Q: How do you propose to solve these problems?
A: Decentralisation and authonomy based on civic associations. The crushing of the party mafia and oligarchy. The creation of working alternatives to today's status quo.

Q: Which place do you see for internet, blogs and other new media in a democratic state?
A: On teh one hand this is a very powerful weapon, still out of control from the politicians. On teh otehr hand this comfortable anonymity works against, or rather substitutes for civil movements in the streets, in real life.

Please write a list of five things that is missing in Bulgaria, and five things of which Bulgaria has too much.

Missing
Solidarity
Counter culture
Democracy
Resistance
People

Too much of
Passivity
Consumerism
Stupidity
Chalga (Cheap brand of Bulgarian pop music)
Cops from DS (Darzhavna Sigurnost - the STASI of Communist Bulgaria)

(Great thanks to my special friend Annie for helping me with the interview :) )

9 comments:

M said...

Ok, there's much logic in these words. But then again... Bulgarian anarchists seem more politically minded than our major party activists. Maybe you had to ask them why for example they do not function in the way their Greek colleagues do. And if they are so "experienced" in protests why didn't they help their unexperienced friends with the January protests? What were they thinking when they were reading in the Bulgarian media that "anarchists" were the ones throwing Molotoff in Greece? Weren't they urged to raise awareness what exactly is anarchism about?

I tried once to ask anarchists for answers in the past - it's no use.

Anonymous said...

AS

Малко пояснения, по повод горният коментар.

Интервюто е доста кратко по наша вина, защото не сме, а и не искахме да навлизаме в детайли по темата 14. 01, както и не беше цел да правим изложение на нашите виждани, тактики и действия като група. Отношението ни към анархисктките идеи и практики е дълга тема, и не сматаме, че мястото и е тук.

Ето какво можем да допълним, в желание да разясним още малко случилото се и нашата позиция.

Имаше мащабно нагнетяване на параноя и страх преди 14ти. Определени вестници пишеха неща, които целяха да сплашат хората и да дискредитират протеста - Това бяха основно Новинар, Стандарт, Монитор, 19 минути - там упорито се прокарваше тезата за "ГРЪЦКИ тифози и анархисти, които идват, за да върнат услуга"

Това разбира се бяха лъжи, но ги знаехме малко хора.

В същият момент организаторите се срещаха с агитките, с представители като Козарев. После пред медии и на други срещи отричаха за такива срещи???? Защо??

Опитахме да ги предупредим ТОЧНО КАКВО ЩЕ СТАНЕ на 14ти и да мислят какво да правят - давахме идеи. Те не възприеха нищо. Причините може да са всякакви, но основната е липсата на опит, подценяване, лекомислие, еуфория, поддаване на звездомания.....

Решихме, че поне малкото, което можем да направим за протеста е да успокоим хората, които не ни познават, че АНАРХИСТИ няма да има, ДА ПРЕСЕЧЕМ НАВРЕМЕ тази линия в сценарият на властта и разните групички и ДА ПРЕДПАЗИМ имено организаторите от връзки и работа с анархисти - на ФОНЪТ НА ТОВА КОЕТО ЗНАЕХМЕ, ЧЕ ЩЕ СЕ СЛУЧИ на 14ти.


И разбира се да предпазим анарходвижението от капана в който искаха да ни вкарат косвено. ЗАЩОТО АКО БЯХМЕ ПОДКРЕПИЛИ ОФИЦИАЛНО ПРОТЕСТА - после зулумите щяха да са СВЪРЗВАНИ ОСНОВНО С НАС, независимо, че никога няма да предприемем действия, които ще опорочат ТЕЗИ ПРОТЕСТИ!

Властта просто остави неопитни хора да правят "НАЦИОНАЛЕН" протест, защото после с лекота ги обвини за станалото - САМИ ВИДЯХТЕ. От друга страна имаше сериозна режисура и то ОТ РАЗЛИЧНИ ГРУПИ И ИНТЕРЕСИ! На 14 не бяха една компакна и ясна група хулигани от стадионите - ИМАШЕ КРИМИНАЛЕН КОНТИНГЕНТ, Цивилни ченгета, платени от партийни централи лумпени и тн

Целяха се много дивиденти от различни хора. Разгонтване на протеста физически, плашене на хората профилактично, демонизиране на Бойко Борисов, демонизиране на властта и опит за отблъскване на лекторат за сметка на НОВИ ПАРТИИ и ГРУПИ, РАЗЧИСТВАНЕ НА сметки между НАРКО БОСОВЕ, използване на вандалщините за НОВИТЕ ПРОМЕНИ в закона за Митингите и събранията и още и още.....

Възможността неонацисти - да се "направят" на анархисти и да беснеят, като дават и манипулативни интревюта с маски пред медия - също стоеше като възможност. Вече са го правили! на 1-ви май 2007г. Те водят от години кампания против нас, защото разкриваме лицето им и същността им.

Затова също се разграничихме официално, защото ще е доста нелепо и съмнително след това някой да вее червено-черни знамена. Не че с това сме си свършили работата, но на този етап това ни е по силите.

Има и едни друг момент, БНС и Расате не е добре приет в някои футболни среди, тартори, неонацисти - имат лични и идейни разногласия, което в случаят беше ДОБРЕ ЗА ПРОТЕСТА.

Расате предлагаше на организаторите да ползват ултраси като ОХРАНА на протеста!! против провокатори и анархисти!! По този начин очевидно иска да прокара и неговите фашизирани момченца и да се пише съорганизатор. Имаше гостувания на хора от СРОКСОС в неговото предаване ПРЕДИ И СЛЕД протеста!!

Имам много критика към организаторите. Протестите трабва да продължат, макар че ТЕ ВЕЧЕ СА ПОЛИТИЗИРАНИ, а се обявяват за не-политически - това е нон-сенс.

Има много нелепи и вредни тенденции, искания, формулировки сред организаторите (особено последните 2 дни), визирам СРОКСОС. Няма да пиша, защото НЕ СМЕ ПРОТИВ ПРОТЕСТИТЕ, но те не се готвят и координират на консенсусна, демократична основа, при широк обществен дебат.


с уважение АС
ако може да бъде преведено, ще е хубаво :))

Anonymous said...

@M
You seem to imply that Bulgarian anarchists are unaware of the situation in Greece and clueless as to what "real" anarchists protests are like. Asking why Bulgarian anarchists don't act the why their "Greek colleagues" do is ludicrous.
Frankly, if you don't like anarchists or anarchism, why write about it?

M said...

@AS, As I said: I think that your point is perfectly logical. We live in a very weird society and you are perfectly right to watch your back. I admit that in your place I would have done the same. And yet, our friend Daniel is completely right when saying:

Young people clashing with police in the streets is a long time hallmark of the militant left wing, and a close to yearly scene in cities like Berlin or Copenhagen.

Needless to say - this is not the case in Bulgaria. But to better understand this landscape, pretty far from Berlin or Copenhagen, I think it is necessary to also include the viewpoints from the non-participants.


@Anonymous:
Here is what Anarchists did in Greece for Konstantina Kuneva (a Bulgarian immigrant there): http://metafrasiorg.blogspot.com/2009/01/blog-post_6351.html They not only "protested", they raised money and they raised awareness. Which of these things is done by Bulgarian anarchists? Maybe I've missed something and I will be glad if you could enlighten me on the subject.

I am also accusing Bulgarian anarchists for letting the corrupt media create a demonic image for anarchists in general: just read this http://dnes.dir.bg/2009/01/23/news3893609.html and tell me what impression is left on the poor reader who has a very vague idea what an "anarchist" is.

As for "liking". I respect anarchists immensely and I am very sad that they are so passive in Bulgaria. I know they have thousands of reasons for this but this doesn't stop me from wishing that things were different.

Anonymous said...

11.01 Statement of "AnarchoResistance"
Hello!

Here is the statement of "AnarchoResistance", 3 days before the
protests from 14th. I will try to translate also a brief article about what
happened.

======================================================================
About the upcoming protest



This communique is a response to the rumors and statements circulating
in the media and on the internet regarding the upcoming protest on
January 14. We, the people gathered in the informal collective
„AnarchoResistance“, decided to clearly express our attitude towards the
upcoming protest even though writing declarations and using big words in
not our prefered method of action. We do not pretend to represent anyone
else but ourselves, and we are not purporting to speak on behalf of the
entire anarchist movement in Bulgaria.

First and foremost we want to clarify for those around us and for the
media that we are NOT CO-ORGANIZERS or ORGANIZERS, and will not be
supporting or attending this protest officially as a group. We do not
want to get into a more serious debate with the organizers and
co-organizers not because we don't have serious arguments and opinions
SPECIFICALLY about this protest, but because we consider this to be
inappropriate since we don't have a direct connection to the current
organizers.

We find it uncanny and detrimental that soccer fan groups and factions
have suddenly become involved in the protests especially at a moment
when the student movement was getting stronger and was clearly operating
outside of the influence and manipulations of the state, the political
parties and their leaders. We don't see the logic behind letting people
with openly racist positions and neo-nazi affiliation to participate and
frame the boundaries and tone of protests which have concrete goals and
demands... unless of course certain political and economic circles are
simply aiming to discredit the raising dissent. All of this is happening
in an athmosphere of threats of „the ugliest scenes in Bulgaria“ and
open attempts to instigate clashes between warrying soccer hooligan
groups which threatens to sully the student protests and to give a
formal excuse to the state and the medias for attacking and dismissing
the goals of this protest. This is a way to channel the social tensions
once again while discrediting the malcontent students, evironmentalists
and ordinary citizens through the actions of a handful of soccer
hooligans. As a result of these manipulations the demands of the
students have already been completely obscured while the medias are
awash with empty worlds and generalizations.

This text is also a response to widely published lies and sick fantasies
about some imaginary „support“ by Greek soccer hooligans, who
purportedly were going to „return the favor to Bulgarians who supported
last month's protests in Greece.“ This is a complete fabrication by the
medias seeking cheap sensations and an attempt to discredit both the
righteous rebellion in Greece and the participation of Bulgarian
anarchists (not of soccer vandals) in it.

We cannot stand behind a protest, which began as a youth and citizen
movement, but is being represented consistently as „national“, wrapped
in nationalist rethoric and symbols. The „national“ status of the
protest implies a solidarity with all kinds of Bulgarian mafioso,
ultra-right, and neoliberal groups and interests simply because it
assigns belonging to a common, monolithic, undivided whole (unity) to
each and every one of us. The „nation“ is a fiction that serves to
frame, manage and manipulate various social groups and issues. It is
populism and demagoguery. We recognize clearly in it the essence of that
which we are fighting against.

Various materials and video clips are circulating on the internet
inviting people to participate in this protest. These materials are
charged with clear political insinuations and are already damaging not
only the outcome of this particular protest but the future of a movement
of dissent in the long term. We are concerned that these protests will
become nothing more that sanctioned parades. They are not challenging
the state better, they not becoming more creative or more effective for
that matter, they are turning into a shapeless crowd of people holding
sings. People are already sick and tired of this kind of protest, and we
all must seek more effective and more moving ways to express oursevles
and achieve that which we are striving for. „The insertion“ of very
different and real demands by various protesting groups into the common
populist protest frame, of which we are all so tired, will turn this
protest into a grotesque.

In addition, the lack of coordination among all those concerned and
expected to participate is creating a space for „leaders“ and an
„avant-garde“ to step-up who are visibly enjoying the media attention
and the courtship of various political parties without having a
legitimate or moral right to represent all protesters. A protest framed
in these terms serves directly and indirectly political parties such as
GERB and ATAKA – right-wing populist formations which interestingly
enough are not being recognized as part of the ruling gang.

We support political demands and believe that we should not avoid
„politicizing“ the protests when they have clear goals and transparent
organizational methods. Those in power should be brought to their knees
but that necessitates a political culture and clear consensus among
protesters.

We stand behind the environmental groups and the students in their anger
against the continuing commercialization of the natural environment and
of education. We support them in their outrage at the violence that is
part of these anti-social processes of privatization. But we do not
support protests with openly nationalist tendencies. We do not support a
protest that will only serve the authorities and the state, a protest
that will serve to channel the student dissent around a specific event
and with concrete demands but will stop directly and indirectly future
student protests, it will prevent the creation of an independent student
activist network, it will stop the building of real, automonous citizen
structures that could apply a constant pressure against the authorities
and could seek change not only of the status quo but of the entire
current system – the lies called „representative democracy“, „free
market“, „market economy“ and „capitalism“.

January 11, 2009

automonous anti-authoriatiran group „Anarcho-Resistance“
http://www.aresistance.net

Anonymous said...

I am an anarchism-inspired activist in Bulgaria for some years now. Not only within the anarchist circles(which are tiny), but also in enviormental and other political groups (even thou I dont usually wear my 'A' sign on my forehead) and I am aware of the context. doesnt mean im talking from the name of anarchist ideology of course. that would be absurd. its only my (anarchist-inspired) personal opinion that is here.

Now to the questions put forward by 'M':

1."And if they are so "experienced" in protests why didn't they help their unexperienced friends with the January protests"

I do not consider myself as 'so experienced', but it is enough to me that first and foremost i clearly do not support the bulgarian fascist movement(getting stronger by the minute even thou the liberals are unable even to see that).

I was there on the so called 14th of January riots. I was very aware that some of the nazi football hooligans had already infiltrated SROKSOS and were preparing what they did well before the 14th. Nevertheless the organizers from SROKSOS decided not to take action and went on with their conservative rhetorics ranging from national-populist ( with slogans like: we are the first european state) to clearly racist (with slogans like: we are a 'white' state). I tried hard to speak with people and not to allow the nazis to do their shit up to the last moment when it was more than clear that the cops will attack the demo. Instead of seeing the problems with their style they decided to turn to the some kind of a vanguardist national martyrs and the next demos became a complete joke. They even go on with the protests on a weekly basis even when all the ppl that go are a handful of neo-liberal party functionaries(from UDS and the like), few fascists and some lost naive liberals. 20-30 people tops.

Of course its our fault too as radicals who conformed to a context where people simply blindly follow their authorities. As SROKSOS turned to such an authority, people decided that there will be someone over there to be their parent and think instead of them. Thus it is the passivity and the stupidity of all of us(anarchists in the first place) that had produced that ridiculous self-proclaimed empty vanguard - SROKSOS, that was subverted in all kinds of directions(from neo-liberal to clearly fascist) with such an ease.

2. "What were they thinking when they were reading in the Bulgarian media that "anarchists" were the ones throwing Molotoff in Greece? Weren't they urged to raise awareness what exactly is anarchism about?"

Yea, its truly our fault too, that you were lead to believe that anarchism is about throwing Molotoff and rioting.
An anarchist thing to respond to this would be - dont expect me or any other anarchist to act as your parent and guide you to find out what anarchism is. Dare to have the responsibility to find out yourself . if you want of course

3. About Kuneva. Yea of course you are right. There are dozens of other things that we could have done.'Anarchists' are not separate from the rest of society thou. We could have all done more about the fucked up condition of proletarian migrants. no?

4. "I am also accusing Bulgarian anarchists for letting the corrupt media create a demonic image for anarchists in general"

:) To be honest I dont give a fuck about reforming corporate media. As for reading it I would not advice to go for cheap shit like dnes.dir.bg. Surely you know better ones. Of course corporate media is not the best place to get understanding of how society works. It never will.

___

Lastly I want to make a point on the political situation in post-socialist bulgaria. The ultra right, conservative and nationalist/patriotic shit is totally hegemonic to the point that it is so normalized that you cant even notice it. Especially in Sofia most active people are actually (neo)liberals who go for nationalistic, highly conservative and naively euro-patriotic ideas really really easy. The events from the last couple of months show that clearly. The inability of the highly conservative society to see the rise of the ultra right movement is one more sad example of the situation.
this ties in with the point made in the interview that: "the educational system, that produces politically litterate young people"

it is probably meant that political illiterates are produced. Because that is what we are into. Fuckin hell! People think that it is socialism what we are up against!?!

Yea I am very pessimist, but it is in such a pessimism, i think, that one can more effectively uncover the really existing possibilities. especially coming from an anarchist perspective.
__

take care and cheers for the blog! looks really extensive. thanks a lot about it.

Anonymous said...

@M
If you really wish that things were different for anarchists in Bulgaria and wanted to see them more active why don't you join them and help them be more relevant and active. You know, it's not like anarchists have some special party card that gives them super powers.
As far as Konstantina Kuneva is concerned, people are very aware of what is happening with her, and all the support she's received from folks in Greece is great. In Greece anarchists felt an actual connection to her and decided to help her. There is no obligation for Anarchists in Bulgaria to support her or raise money, and besides, that is already being done in Greece. Real support and solidarity can only be born out of a genuine affinity and freedom of association, not our of obligation. And those are true anarchist principles.

M said...

@anarchism-inspired activist: thank you for taking the time to comment. Once again you sound quite reasonable and logical - on the other hand: you tell me nothing that I don't know already.
Cheers.

@anarchist 2: sorry, I am not very fond of explanations why something is not happening. And anarchists in Bulgaria are offering namely this: discussions, explanations, excuses. As for Kuneva, I didn't say you have to support her in the way your Greek counterparts do. But I am sure that there are thousands of other things here in Bulgaria that could inspire you to take some action. I was pleasantly surprized to see an anarchist signed banner at the protest that took place on 4th March http://bulgariaenasha.blogspot.com/2009/03/0403.html
Maybe we are going to observe a new period in the history of Bulgarian anarchism? Surely there are more important things than, for example, urging people in Sofia not to pay for tickets in the public transport.

Maladets! said...

Thanks everybody for reading and commenting the interview, and sorry for being lat to comment my self. I have been aways since I wrote it, that's why.

I read this discussion with great interest, but I don't feel I can say anything about what Bulgarian anarchists do or don't myself, and my comments will be very general

The comparison to Greece is obvious and intersting, even if I guess the differences between Greece and Bulgaria are as many as the similarities...

Of course it's up to anarchists themself to define what anarchism is or what anarchists should do... and of course also non anarchists have a right to comment or have opinions about this.


I also want to thank you for keeping this discussion in English, as I hope also some people outside Bulgaria are reading this ;)

Best Regards
Daniel