Alain Kessi on 28 Dec 2000 20:21:24 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] contribution to Prague discussion: WB/IMF and Bulgaria

hi there,

the following article was published a few weeks before the prague events
in german, but i only recently managed to complete the english
translation. i'd be very happy to receive some reactions, comments and




This article was first published in com.une.farce No. 4, September
2000,  <>. The original
German version can be found at
<>, and in abridged form
in Megafon (Berne), September 2000.

Global Mobilizations - What are the protests in Prague all about?

Liquidation of the economy and new dependencies - the example of

by Alain Kessi

It is hardly accidental that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, better known
under its sobriquet 'World Bank' or short WB, are staging their next
meeting in Prague. [1] After the two Bretton-Woods institutions (named
after the place where they were founded in 1944) have already held a
first meeting this year in Washington, they situate this event in a
region in which in the past ten years they have properly wreaked havoc
and muddled up the social conditions.

Answering a call by local anarchist and other groups, thousands will
take to the streets in Prague on 26 September in order to protest
against the meeting. Some of them will have traveled a long way to get
there. This protest is part of a series of world-wide mobilizations
which aim to attack and delegitimize events organized by international
financial and trade organizations. In the form that has become
paradigmatically known through the "Battle of Seattle", the global
mobilizations started off in May 1998, when a broad protest - not only
in Geneva itself but also in world-wide decentralized actions - became
visible during the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization
(WTO) in Geneva. Since then, a wonderful energy, a new optimism has
resulted from each international action day and has become the basis for
working on preparing the next. Actions and logistics are discussed on a
variety of regional and thematic e-mail lists. What seems to be a bit
harder in the midst of this actionism is the common elaboration of
analyses and background information.

So far, in the mobilization for Prague, little attention has been paid
to the specific situation in Eastern Europe and the influence of the two
Bretton-Woods institutions on the region. On the many web sites that
mobilize for the protests, background texts dealing with Eastern Europe
are the exception. Most of the analyses are visibly taken from earlier
campaigns against structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in Asia, Africa
or Latin America and are now being applied without modification to the
situation in Eastern Europe.

It seems that large parts of the new wave of mobilizations take a rather
anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-sexist stance. As a smallest
common denominator this is already quite a lot. However, the rhetoric
seems to be approximately the same for every summit, for every event,
building on a somewhat superficial understanding of anti-imperialism.
Whether the protest is directed against the WTO or against the IMF/WB,
one hears more or less the same rather general criticism of
transnational corporations, of the destruction of livelihoods, of the
neoliberal imposing of an international staggered exploitation. The
mechanisms and strategies, the concrete role of this or that institution
in the international power construct, often remain only vaguely

I would like to attempt here to summarize a few thoughts specifically on
the role of the IMF and the World Bank in Eastern and South-Eastern
Europe and to contribute, in view of the mobilizations for Prague, to a
more concrete discussion - also in the hope that a more precise analysis
may help in achieving a clearer demarcation from right-wing and
neo-nationalist anti-globalization discourses.

Historical precedent - German Grossraumpolitik in the 30ies

Eastern and South-Eastern Europe was confronted with policies similar to
those of the Bretton-Woods institutions even before the IMF and the WB
were founded. In the course of the Grossraumpolitik (lit. large space
policy) of the National-Socialist government of Germany the region was
embedded in a gradient of geographically staggered dependency from the
German center and its exploitability ensured through financial
structures that prefigured almost all the aspects of the Bretton-Woods
structures to come, and through a regional differentiation of the
production structure. The aim here is in no way to equate the
imperialism of Bretton-Woods with German National-Socialism, but to show
certain clearly defined parallels between the economic and "development"
tools already in the phase of subjugation without bloodshed, in the
period before the Blitzkrieg campaign and the setting up of the
industrial NS destruction apparatus. Only a few aspects will be
mentioned here. Further details can be found in the article by Detlef
Hartmann in Autonomie Nr. 14. [2]

The German project of a South-East European Grossraum as part of Greater
Germany eventually failed due to the resolute resistance mainly of
peasants who were to be subdued and annihilated through this first
"green revolution" (soy offensive, etc.) that served as a model for the
better-known "green revolution" of the 60ies under the Bretton-Woods
regime. One first consequence of the technological attack was a radical
redefinition of the production and trade structures in the countries
under attack. With the introduction of monocultural cash-crops
production the agriculture was reoriented towards export, in the case of
Bulgaria especially tobacco, to the detriment of the growing of wheat
for local use. This destroyed subsistence structures, which set workers
free for exploitation in the industry, including agricultural
monoculture industry. The introduction of technology that went along
with the monoculture in agriculture led to dependency from the German
industry for machines, know-how, seeds, herbicides, pesticides and
fertilizers. At the same time the entire trade and processing chain, and
thus also the opportunity to siphon off surplus value, came under the
control of large internationally active corporations. The power
relations between the German metropole and the South-East European
"development countries" allowed the relative prices between the
"expensive" industrial products and "cheap" raw materials and
agricultural products to be fixed arbitrarily. This artificially created
price difference led to the absurd situation that Germany stocked up
with the raw materials and food products it needed from Eastern and
South-Eastern Europe while at the same time it managed not to pay for
them. On the contrary, with its long-term credit scheme it pushed the
countries delivering these goods into a dependency through debt. An
overview of the case of Bulgaria, where an elite shared common ideas of
modernization with the German planners and where little force was used,
can be found in an article by Thomas Bohn in Beiträge zur
nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik Nr. 12. [3]

John Maynard Keynes, together with Harry White from the Roosevelt
administration the main architect of Bretton-Woods, learned from the
mistakes of the Nazi economists as well as from those of the early New
Dealers of Roosevelt who had attempted a similar Grossraum project in
Latin America, the "Panamerican Cartel", and had similarly failed to
impose their project against the resistance of peasants living in
subsistence. [4] The essential innovation Keynes added to the economic
project of his Nazi and New-Deal role models was a facade of
legitimization. At least in the eyes of Western and Northern elites, the
reality of destruction through development, i.e., of the break-up of
social contexts and the destruction of livelihoods by introducing new
technologies, retreated into the background. Instead, the new scheme
presented a humanistic responsibility of "development aid" as a pretext
for intervention - the "civilized" phase of the "New Order".

Perestroika as an attack on social demands

After the first economic-technological attack, followed by an industrial
war attack, of German imperialism in the 30ies and the first half of the
40ies, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe for four decades came under the
influence of a different political-economic strategy of a modernization
attack and of international division of labor - Stalinian state
capitalism. This system, after it had shown some success in wiping out
the subsistence economy and forcing workers to submit to the logic of
capital accumulation, went into a deep crisis by the end of the 60ies -
at about the same time as the factory regime in the Western Fordist
system. The structures of legitimization that had brought the
modernization program rather broad support in various countries of
Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in the time of awakening after WWII, at
least in urban milieus, had become shaky. The egalitarian ideology had
come into too stark a contradiction with the party-based power
structures. Some forms of resistance are reminiscent of the forms of
struggle of the "autonomia operaia" in Italy: "They pretend to be paying
us, and we pretend to be working." As opposed to Western capital, that
fled from the successful resistance of the workers into a neoliberal
deregulation and an international division of labor within the
production processes themselves, the "Soviet"-Russian [5] capital lacked
the necessary flexibility. Perestroika was the attempt of the "Soviet"
elites to shatter the social structures that had formed and sedimented
under the influence of an egalitarian legitimizing ideology and now
stood in the way of an effective accumulation of capital, and to launch
a renewed modernization attack. [6]

This new orientation of the "Soviet" and East European elites gave
Western capital the unique opportunity to gain control over the East and
South-East European economies and force them into a dependency similar
to the dependency previously imposed on the so-called "Third World" - by
means of institutions like Nato, the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD
(European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The developments
since the beginning of Perestroika, and especially over the last ten
years, are characterized by common interests between local or national
elites in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and the Western imperialist
structures. The Western discourse on corruption and Mafia-like
structures in Eastern Europe overlooks the intricate connection between
the nouveau-riche sectors of society in Eastern Europe and the economic
interests of Western capital. Corruption always has an active and a
passive side to it, and it is the active side that is the driving force.
In this case, these are Western governments and corporations as well as
the international institutions under their control. This is not to
minimize the interests of the East European nouveaux riches - but these
have to be seen in the context of a much broader attack by Western

Mafia? Nouveaux riches?

The Bulgarian discussion also speaks of the "Mafia", but the term bears
a different connotation from that in the Western discourse. A different
term, the "nouveaux riches", covers further intricacies of the semantic
scope. The differences in use refer to differences between East and West
and thus deserve some elaboration.

In Bulgaria the term of the Mafia is used for the hierarchical
structures intricately interwoven with state institutions in which
influential businesspeople have divided up certain markets among
themselves, which they consistently defend against new competitors.
There certainly are parallels between these Mafia structures and those
of the Italian or US-American Mafia. The use of the term "Mafia" in
Western Europe however is so much determined by the idea that there is a
good, orderly market and an evil, Mafia-driven market that the term
becomes unusable in English or German to describe the situation in
Eastern Europe. In addition, the discourse on the Russian or Bulgarian
Mafia always carries racist attributions and indulges in conspiracy
theories that play with the fear of "foreign" influence on West European
national economies.

I prefer the term "nouveaux riches", because it seems better to grasp
the social process that has led to this new elite. The term "nouveaux
riches" (Bulgarian: novobogatazhi; Russian: nuvorish) is in use in
Bulgaria and also in Russia and designates those people who were in the
right place at the right time and made a great deal of money by
plundering the party assets at the beginning of the 90ies. The more
literary term "parvenu" (Bulgarian: parvenyu) bears an even clearer
negative connotation and designates those who obtained a social position
that was not meant for them - with the slight difference that in
Bulgaria the term is used from below and not by an aristocracy looking
down on uprising petty-bourgeois. Unlike the nouveau-riche capitalists
in the times of British industrialization who had to press their entire
increase in fortune out of the workers unless they made their profit out
of colonial trade, [7] the Bulgarian not-so-new elites were in a
position to appropriate in no time an enormous starting capital from the
party assets. This means they had the entire surplus value, the
exploitation of a period of several decades immediately at their
disposal - courtesy of the collapsing "Communist" Party. The tremendous
speed at which this process took place may also explain why the nouveaux
riches have not been able to create, other than with turbo-folk
(Bulgarian: chalga), Mercedes and mobile phones, a culture and
aesthetics legitimizing their class. Consequently, the public perceives
them indeed as threatening and powerful, but at the same time as

IMF and nouveaux riches hand in hand

When at the end of the 80ies the "Communist" Party in Bulgaria decided
with the "Lukanov Plan" to turn itself into a capitalist corporation of
Western type and started to send young party cadres to ivy-league
management schools in the United States, an entire new generation of
businesspeople was formed. Upon their return, these freshly-baked
professionals got the knack of massively diverting state and party money
into their own pockets by means of intermediary private firms and fake
or excessive invoices. This served as a starting capital that was later
multiplied by embargo trade (mainly of oil, shiploads of which traveled
up the Danube) with Serbia during the Yugoslav wars at the beginning of
the 90ies - including by people who are close to the current government.
[8] In this way a gap opened between the impoverishing population at
large and the nouveau-riche elites. A phase of brutal (including
physically) original accumulation was necessary for creating this social
inequality, which can be seen as a necessary precondition for the
Western invasion of the Bulgarian economy. Former top sportsmen
(so-called bortsi, plural of borets = wrestler) united their forces with
the nouveau-riche party cadres and with former secret service agents and
saved their social status into the new era as bodyguards and henchmen.
This openly brutal phase has come to an end insofar as in 1997 the
government gave the parallel economy the opportunity to legalize their
assets and businesses and the "Mafia" itself now has an interest of its
own in "peace and order" and a good investment climate.

It is only through these new, aggressive and predominantly male elites
[9] that the liquidation of the Bulgarian economy necessary to the
Western interests (as well as for the modernizing interests of said
elites) could be achieved. The Bulgarian elites were interested in the
destruction of the economy insofar as they could pocket the assets of
companies that were being liquidated - the IMF and other Western players
insofar as the liquidation of the economy and especially of its
functioning sectors was a precondition for forcing the Bulgarian economy
into a lasting dependency and embed it into an international division of
labor to the benefit of Western corporations. This common interest of
the local elites and of the international institutions opened the door
to the latter and allowed them to infiltrate their experts and from then
on continuously to exert a decisive influence on the political and
economic orientation of the governments.

The pressure from the IMF - which makes further credits to the
government for bridging financial bottle-necks dependent on a series of
conditions - to swiftly privatize state-run companies, as well as the
preparatory work of the World Bank for splitting off and privatizing the
profit-making departments of the companies (while loss-making
departments continue to be run by the state or are shut down), imposes a
completely non-transparent process of privatization and correspondingly
the personal enrichment of those who sit in the right places. Due to the
time pressure imposed by the IMF and the government, in many
privatization deals few or no offers were sent in in answer to the call
putting the company up for sale, so that persons close to the government
have been able to buy the companies for next to nothing.

It is startling in what detail the agreements between the IMF and the
government defines the policies of the government in all kinds of areas.
Besides general principles like the balancing of the budget, they
prescribe a raise in the pensionable age, plan the closure of 243
kilometers of loss-making train tracks, require the privatization of
banks, abolish in the case of the IMF the duty of bank employees to
maintain confidentiality, lift the ban on the export of unfermented
tobacco, and stipulate the regular elaboration and publication of a
series of statistics.

The politics of the IMF and the World Bank are sometimes in
contradiction with each other. In the case of the state railways the IMF
demands that they be subsidized by the state with at most 20 million US
dollars. The World Bank on the other hand assumes that the state railway
company fulfills duties of public relevance and is obliged by law to
maintain the infrastructure and to continue running loss-making
stretches. As a consequence they should receive 360 million US dollars
in compensation by the state. Asked about this contradiction, the
experts of the IMF and the World Bank shrug their shoulders. Whatever
the Bulgarian State does in this case, it cannot fulfill the conditions.

Example: The liquidation of the agricultural cooperatives

In 1992/93, liquidation councils were installed by the "democratic"
(blue) government in all municipalities in Bulgaria with the aim of
liquidating the agricultural cooperatives (known in Bulgaria under the
abbreviation TKZS - Agricultural Labor Cooperative). The party
functionaries set to task to sell off the machines at give-away prices,
to wangle the real-estate for themselves or acquaintances of theirs, and
send the livestock - including breeding cows that had been imported just
recently for serious amounts of money - to the slaughterhouse or sell
them to former employees of the cooperatives through a system of
vouchers. Most of the former employees have been unemployed since the
liquidation. The agricultural production is but a shadow of the fruit
and vegetable production formerly exported into the entire Eastern Bloc.
The market-oriented breeding of livestock is now concentrated in just a
few factory-like holdings. At best did some of the men find work in the
new cooperatives that have been built up on the ruins of the TKZS by
daring entrepreneurs. Or they herd the goats, sheep or cows of the
richer inhabitants of the village. The rights and liberties the women
had fought for within the state capitalist system have for the greatest
part been drowned in the return to a more traditional distribution of

Those who received some land (either because they or their parents had
contributed their property to the TKZS or because they had earned their
right through the length of their employment) and have the possibility
to grow some fodder cereal on it, can afford to keep some cows or goats.
Almost all however have been excluded from the directional arrow of
historical time (this progress that goes along with technological
attacks, but at the same time gives rise to some hope of improvement in
the conditions of living) and are now caught in the cycle of seasons.
They have not gone back to the type of subsistence that has been
effectively destroyed by the "green revolutions" of the Nazis and the
"Communists", but rather been forced into a new, extremely precarious
subsistence. Most manage to feed themselves - but many do not have money
to send their children to school, be it for shoes, for a shirt, for the
bus or for the schoolbooks. The subsidies have been cut due to the
pressure of the IMF, the TKZS have been closed upon pressure from the EU
and the nouveau-riche elites, the people practice the art of survival.

Example: The health reform

The health sector has traditionally been substantially regulated and
subsidized by the state. It should therefore come as no surprise that it
has been one of the first worries of the IMF in all countries of Eastern
and South-Eastern Europe. The free medical treatment guaranteed by the
state had to be destroyed and replaced by a market-capitalist
health-care system that is not accessible to most people. Concretely, in
Bulgaria those who cannot afford a private doctor and depend on the
state insurance are often treated in a lousy or even life-threatening
way, receive heaps of obviously wrong diagnoses, have to run through
half the city to find a syringe and a needle, have to find medication
themselves on the black market or from abroad, are put off to a month
later (if it so happens that they are still alive by then) because some
medication is not on stock. Broken windows cannot be replaced, so that
an ice-cold draft goes through operating rooms in the winter. Since
there are not enough antiseptics to maintain hygienic conditions, in
some departments it is purely and simply forbidden to receive visitors.

The shortage in public polyclinics imposed by the IMF - by tightening
the screw on the budget - pushes those who can somehow get hold of the
necessary funds into the private clinics and practices, and leaves the
others to cope with a sometimes deadly public medical system that is but
a shadow of what the state health-care used to be. Many choose not to
see a doctor to begin with, since they cannot afford some and do not
trust the others. This IMF strategy successfully lowers the reproduction
cost and sets resources free for servicing the debt and for
modernization programs.

Restructuring business practices

The common description of the economic changes sees a centrally planned
business practice being replaced by a practice based on the market and
on competition. This ideologically biased description has led to such
absurdities as "experts" appointed by the World Bank and other Western
institutions repeating for years to the address of managers of the state
monopolies that they should stop "planning" and start acting on the
market - only to send them, in more recent times, into planning courses,
since by now the ideological preparation has progressed sufficiently
that it can be admitted that planning is part and parcel of
market-economic activities. Also, the transition is not so much a change
from monopolies to competition, but rather a transfer of the state
monopolies to Western quasi-monopolies.

A far more characteristic trait of business practices in Bulgaria before
the Western modernization attack, a trait that must have caused much
more headache to the international institutions than the planned economy
as such, is the lack of written rules of business practices and the
importance of personal relationships in making business deals. This
system, sometimes described as "patriarchal" in discussions in Bulgaria,
left no chance to Western corporations at the beginning of the 90ies to
enter the Bulgarian market under their conditions. They were always
dependent on intermediaries who not only spoke Bulgarian and were
familiar with Bulgarian business practices, but who had also in long
years of practice woven a net of contacts and relationships without
which it was, at the time, impossible to do business in Bulgaria. It
should come as no surprise that in the West European public this kind of
business ethics is seen to be linked to "corruption", "clan structures",
"Mafia". That is not to say that the phenomenon is unknown in the West -
think of German Chancellor Kohl's "word of honor" with which he sought
to put an end to the scandal around the CDU party accounts.

Within a few years the World Bank, the EBRD and the Phare program have
managed to turn a situation in which Western companies had no chance
into one that completely excludes Bulgarian companies. Although the
World Bank and similar institutions do not contribute large loans to
projects (in return, other credit institutes are likely to trust the
World Bank's decision to support a project, so that the participation of
the World Bank opens up much larger credit lines than just those of the
bank itself), its participation is tied to the condition that a call for
tenders is issued, following the guidelines of the respective
institution. This is a potent instrument for eradicating the economy of
relationships and for imposing an ostensibly "transparent" procedure - a
procedure that in reality just favors a different set of market players.
It turns out that Bulgarian companies, even those whose managers are
Harvard graduates, often have the greatest difficulties not to be
excluded from the bid for serious irregularities in their tender. Out of
more than 40 contracts in the context of the renewal of the state
railways BDZ signed in 1998, only one insignificant delivery contract
was awarded to a Bulgarian company. The only chance for other Bulgarian
companies to get some of the crumbs is to be chosen as a subcontractor
by one of the international corporations, or to offer services to the
consultants of the international institutions.

In the large state monopolies so-called PIUs (Project Implementation
Units) were created, special departments with about half a dozen
employees who besides Bulgarian also speak perfect English and serve as
an interface between the international institutions and the Bulgarian
structures still characterized by the economy of relationships. In
collaboration with experts appointed by the international institutions
and unofficially bought by this or that corporation, the Bulgarian PIU
people develop the calls for tender, the contracts with the
international institutions and, in the final phase, the actual contracts
with the corporations that have won the bid. Depending on the influence
of the experts, but also of the directors of the state company and the
ministers in charge, who may have been promised by the competition one
to two percent of the project sum (compared to about ten percent profit
margin) in case of successful lobbying, the tender documents are
tailor-made for one or the other corporation.

When the Bulgarian State takes up large loans in order to implement its
modernization program it does not by any means follow that a real
improvement of the infrastructure will be achieved (never mind to the
benefit of the population at large). In the case of one of the large
state monopolies the loan-financed renewal of the internal communication
infrastructure will probably never function, or at least will never
allow an improvement of the services provided. The fact that a director
of the state company was lobbying for the consortium of Hewlett Packard
and Oracle, and a minister was backing the consortium of Compaq and
Informix, led to a stalemate in the tender evaluation procedure. A
compromise was found in which HP/Oracle was awarded one part of the
project, and Compaq/Informix was awarded another part. The solutions
proposed by the two consortia are technically not compatible and will
for a long time to come require the efforts of IT experts (IT =
Information Technologies) to patch up the project parts into a makeshift
system. At least for some Bulgarian specialists this is a chance to get
a more or less well-paid job for some time. The alternative, for the
state company, is to sign another contract with the two consortia, for a
lot of money, for them to integrate their systems and make them

Hyperinflation is redistribution

At the beginning of 1997 the socialist government of Zhan Videnov was
forced to resign by street protests - among other things the parliament
building was taken by storm by protesters, which exceptionally gave
Bulgaria a place on the title pages of the international media. During
the last few months of this government the inflation increased greatly
and reached 2000% in March (extrapolated to one year). This corresponds
to redistribution on a large scale. The population at large that had
been forced, especially in the years before 1989, to put away money due
to the lack of consumption and luxury goods on the market, lost a large
part of its savings in the process. In addition, a quarter of the
Bulgarian banks were liquidated in order to put an end to a banking
crisis that was driving inflation up because the deficit was covered by
the National Bank by issuing banknotes. In this process another part of
the savings went down the drain, even if a certain amount could be
recovered from the bank by standing in line for days on end. In return,
those who had come to enjoy large credits due to their connections (the
so-called "credit millionaires") and had in fact thus started the
banking crisis rolling profited greatly, since with the devaluation of
the lev their credits shrunk to a mere fraction of their original value.
In short, the hyperinflation played an important role in the
expropriation of the population at large and the stabilizing of the new

In everyday life the effect of hyperinflation was that the prices in the
shops were corrected several times a day. Immediately after receiving
one's salary one had to spend it. When the new government, in
collaboration with the IMF, installed a currency board and checked
inflation by tying the lev to the German mark and through a restrictive
monetary policy of the National Bank, the primary effect was that
everyday life became easier. The intention of the government, of course,
was not to relieve people of the obligation to spend their money as fast
as they could. In a report one year after the introduction of the
currency board, experts of the Bulgarian National Bank recapitulated the
reasons for its introduction: "Bulgaria's foreign exchange reserves fell
below the critical minimum which impeded normal service of the country's
foreign debt." [10] The correlation between hyperinflation and the
introduction of the currency board seems more complex than could be
imagined at first. Anne-Marie Gulde, Senior Economist at the IWF,
remarks in a report that the hyperinflation at the beginning of 1997 has
"helped ensure the viability of the currency board - by reducing the
real value of domestic debt, which had initially been a threat to a
balanced budget, it made fiscal management without recourse to the
central bank possible." [11]


Resistance against the politics of the World Bank and the IMF, or the EU
and other international institutions, turns out to be difficult in
Bulgaria, like in most other East or South-East European countries. The
most important aspect of this is that any kind of collective organizing,
even solidarity as such, have been thoroughly discredited by their
ideologically charged official use in the period before 1989. Protests
and resistance therefore remain on an individual level or on the level
of single-issue groups reacting to a specific event. Although it becomes
clear in discussions that many do understand the role of international
institutions in forcing the Bulgarian society to submit to the logic of
a geographically staggered exploitation, only few dare break out of the
hegemonic perception that there is no alternative to embedding the
Bulgarian economy into structures dominated by the West. Especially the
agriculture has been so thoroughly destroyed that indeed it does not
seem easy to choose a more autonomous path. Thus remains the hope to
find oneself, one day, on the more comfortable end of the system of
exploitation and, if it is impossible to enter the EU within reasonable
time, at least to be taken off the black list of the EU and be able to
travel to Western Europe without a visa. It is unlikely however that the
promise of joining "the West" and the promise of prosperity that has so
far kept people quiet, will indefinitely pacify those who see themselves
cheated out of their future through the modernization attack. Between
the pressure of the international institutions, coupled with the
interests of a Bulgarian elite, and the mounting anger of the population
against state politics, the government is not left with much scope for

But how does the wish of many East Europeans to open up to the outside,
i.e., to take part in a globalization, combine with the
anti-globalization rhetoric of a certain part of the international
mobilizations? Would it be thinkable and worthwhile to depart from that
rhetoric, taking into consideration also that it is difficult, with
leftist anti-globalization slogans, to demarcate oneself from similar
right-wing and nationalist discourses? In actual fact the resistance of
the global mobilizations is not directed "against globalization", after
all, but against those who prevent a real globalization in which each
person could choose where and how they wish to live, through manifold
instruments of regulation - border controls towards the outside, racist
laws towards the inside, the perpetuation of trade structures favoring
the industrialized countries, a mixture of military threat, war and
financial and trade-based imposing of dependency.

"For a globalization of rights", protesters demanded recently in Bologna
during a meeting of the OECD (Organization for Economic Collaboration
and Development). With this they refer to an operaist description of
class struggle that has at least the advantage of moderating a rampant
defeatism in view of singular struggles lost: One and a half centuries
of internationalist class struggle have pushed capital in a corner to
such an extent that it had to flee into a globalization of production
processes. By flexibilizing production it has largely succeeded in
undermining the effectiveness of the classical Fordist struggles. At the
same time capital has caught itself a global resistance movement - a
movement that takes the task of globalization seriously. Such a
description departs from the struggles of retreat of the nostalgics of
Fordism and opens up a new perspective in which social change is not
imposed only by technological attacks according to the exploitation
interests of capital. A global process of resistance and of struggles
grounded in the respective local conditions and relating to each other
globally offers the chance to formulate one's own wishes and together to
develop new social models in solidarity.

It is likely that in Prague the arrival of a large number of activists
from various countries will be at the center of public attention. But it
should not be forgotten that a global mobilization is effective only to
the extent that it can strengthen local struggles. These local struggles
will continue after 26 September, when most of the guests will have
left. Until then there is an opportunity for an exchange about analyses
and forms of resistance that can advance and strengthen the respective
struggles - so that in Eastern Europe as well the ideological and social
barriers for a broad resistance may fall.

1 By now the protests in Prague have taken place. Despite a strong
mobilization and the valuable fact that there were protests at all, the
discussion started in this article about international activists being
out of touch with local processes and the specifics of each summit seems
more urgent than ever. (Note added 5 November 2000)

2 Detlef Hartmann, "Völkermord gegen soziale Revolution - Das
US-imperialistische System von Bretton Woods als Vollstrecker der
nationalsozialistischen Neuen Ordnung" (Genocide against social
revolution - The US-imperialist system of Bretton-Woods as implementor
of the National-Socialist New Order), Autonomie - Materialien gegen die
Fabrikgesellschaft, Neue Folge (Autonomie - Materials against the
society of the factory, New Series), Nr. 14 (2nd, unmodified edition
1987). Even though in the text Hartmann describes quite precisely how
the financial instruments were developed in parallel in the different
imperialist countries, and which innovations were in fact introduced by
the Nazi economists, the title of his article seems to step into the
trap of anti-imperialist discourses of the 70ies, which daemonized US
imperialism as the implementor of Nazi politics and ignored such fine
differences as the Holocaust.

3 Thomas M. Bohn, "Bulgariens Rolle im 'wirtschaftlichen' Ergänzungsraum
Südosteuropa" (Bulgaria's role in the 'economic' supplementary space of
South-Eastern Europe), in Beiträge zur nationalsozialistischen
Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik (Contributions on the National-Socialist
Health and Social Policies) Nr. 12, "Besatzung und Bündnis - Deutsche
Herrschaftsstrategien in Ost- und Südosteuropa" (Occupation and alliance
- German strategies of domination in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe)
(1995), pp. 111-138.

4 Following an operaist description we could speak more generally of the
resistance of the Class. This term is distinct from that of the "working
class" in that it includes all antagonist, not integrable forces,
including especially peasants whose self-providing way of life
(subsistence), from the point of view of capital, needs to be destroyed
in order to guarantee their exploitability in the first place.

5 "Soviet" und "Soviet"-Russian is set in quotes, since after the
October revolution one of the first attacks of the Bolshevists around
Lenin was against the "Soviets", i.e., the councils, which were stripped
of their power. From then on the "Soviet" Union had little to do with
the republic of councils that social revolutionaries had been fighting

6 Cf. also: Materialien für einen neuen Antiimperialismus (Materials for
a new anti-imperialism) Nr. 4, "Das Ende des sowjetischen
Entwicklungsmodells - Beiträge zur Geschichte der sozialen
Konfrontationen mit dem sozialistischen Akkumulationskommando" (The end
of the Soviet development model - Contributions to the history of social
confrontations with the socialist accumulation command) (1992).

7 Cf. Eric Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire - From 1750 to the Present Day
(1968, revised and updated edition 1999).

8 On the history of the Bulgarian nouveaux riches cf. also Alain Kessi,
"Kriegsgewinnler und Embargoverlierer" (War profiteers and embargo
losers), in com.une.farce 3/99, encore.une.farce,
extended version of an article in Jungle World No. 29/99, 14 July 1999,

9 On the gender polarization of society after the "change" cf. Judith
Dellheim, "Lateinamerika im Osten?" (Latin America in the East?),
Ost-West-Gegeninformationen (East-West Counter-Informations) Nr. 2/97,
July 1997, Alternativ-sozialistisches Osteuropakomitee Graz (Alternative
Socialist Eastern-Europe Committee Graz).

10 Victor Yotzov et al., "The First Year of the Currency Board in
Bulgaria", Bulgarian National Bank, Discussion Paper 1, September 1998,

11 Anne-Marie Gulde, "The Role of the Currency Board in Bulgaria's
Stabilization", Finance & Development, September 1999, Volume 36, No. 3,
p. 36, <>.

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