Why do so many people hate communism

Romania and Bulgaria

Ivaylo Ditchev

To person

Dr. phil., born 1955; President of the Red House Center for Culture and Debate, Sofia, and Professor of Cultural Anthropology at St. Kliment Ohridsky University Sofia. 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd., 1504 Sofia / Bulgaria.
Email: [email protected]

On the one hand, there is consensus on Bulgaria's European orientation, on the other hand, opinion polls reveal anti-European attitudes. Nobody knows exactly what Bulgaria's attitude towards Europe is.


At the time of socialism there was a famous joke that allegedly describes the national character of the Bulgarians: An American spy is sent to Bulgaria and a month later sends a desperate message to his superiors: "I don't understand anything in this country. Nobody works, but everyone receives wages. Everyone receives wages, but there is nothing to buy in the shops. There is nothing to buy in the shops, but all the refrigerators are full. The refrigerators are full, but everyone hates the communists. Everyone hates the communists, but nobody protests. "

This chain of absurdities could be extended to the present day of preparation for the country's accession to the European Union (EU). On the one hand, there is almost unanimous consensus on the country's European orientation; on the other hand, opinion polls (e.g. on the shutdown of the only nuclear power plant, on social measures for the Sinti and Roma minority or on the reintroduction of the death penalty) openly reveal anti-European attitudes and prioritize integration Thrown overboard of inner convictions. If it remains abstract, the Europeans are admired; However, when it comes to an EU expert, a Greek capitalist or a French football team, astonishingly negative energies discharge out of the blue. Whatever aspect of integration is, no one knows exactly what the country’s attitude is. The Bulgarian negotiators or European ministers are sometimes contemptuously called "Mr./Mrs. Yes" in their own country. If, to everyone's astonishment, the outcome of the accession negotiations is not so bad and if Bulgaria (the country among the ten Central and Eastern European candidate countries that was closest to the USSR and furthest from the West) is treated fairly, that doesn't spark enthusiasm, but paranoid speculation about secret accession clauses and an imminent catastrophe.

This paradox is found everywhere. Most Bulgarians are happy to finally belong to the "team" of the stronger - for example NATO - and at the same time are extremely critical of their actions against Serbia. Emigration is seen as an exciting opportunity for individuals and a source of income for the entire country, but the idea of ​​a demographic apocalypse is causing deep national depressions. Bulgarians pride themselves on being a nation of hardworking citizens and the next moment they are ashamed of their laziness; one hears of heroic battles and historical deeds, but also stories of betrayal and wickedness.