AntiNote: An energetic new project called Theory Without Borders has started publishing English translations of topical and theoretical texts from and about anti-authoritarian struggles happening all over the world. With their kind permission we reproduce here their translation of an important statement from a particularly embattled group of comrades, anarchists in Bulgaria.
Since refugees began crossing Bulgarian territory in larger and larger numbers several years ago, and tales of Bulgarian authorities’ brutal responses to this traffic began trickling into mainstream media several months ago (confirming years of refugee testimony which had habitually been disregarded as rumor in institutional discourse), Bulgaria has seemingly appeared on many western European leftists’ map for the first time. The reflex attitude: horror, disgust, scorn.
Unfortunately, this scorn extends occasionally to Bulgarian leftists (when they are even acknowledged to exist, that is); the accusation seems vaguely to be that they aren’t doing enough, are either scared or aloof or disorganized. Antidote’s own occasional descriptions of the situation in Bulgaria have often been less than charitable.
That’s no way to build solidarity. We can and must be critical of each other, always, but to be critical of anything first we have to learn about it. Where do Bulgarian anarchists, you know, stand? What do conversations around migration and nationalism look like there?
Bulgarian Anarchists Speak on the Border Crisis
31 May 2016
Note from Theory Without Borders: We believe that people from the eastern parts of Europe have a slightly different view on global issues compared to other parts of the world, and it would be useful for anarchists around the globe to know their analysis. We would be glad to receive your opinions on the text we present here, as long as it contains arguments.
This text was published in the newspaper of the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it true that anarchists are running away from giving opinions on the refugee problem?
Unlike ‘elite’ philosophers such as Andrei Raivech and Michaeil Konstantinov, we don’t slave over cliché opinions about migrants, be they supportive or critical of the situation. Unlike Raivech and Konstantinov, we don’t believe that “the invaders must be stopped at any price” – an allusion to physical violence. We also disagree with the ideas presented by some who wish ill on the refugees so that they turn around and discourage others from coming. This is an absurd notion that provokes similar thoughts to Bulgarian migrant workers in the rest of Europe. Equally absurd is the notion of ‘baptizing’ the refugees as a means of integration – another idea that came out of our “intellectuals.” What do we win by replacing one poison with another?
The answer to the “crisis” is actually very simple. To stop people from fleeing to any particular region, the solution is not to make the destination inhospitable for them. Instead, the place that people are trying to flee by any means necessary must be improved.
Western governments have destroyed countries in the Middle East and Africa. After the second world war, millions of Turks and Arabs from European colonies saved Germany and France from ruins. Today, European companies have not complained that the influx of cheap labor (especially certain shady businesses that launder money and drive European capitalism) is hurting their interests. Therefore, neither guns at the borders, nor denial of humanity for any reason, nor turning Greece, Bulgaria, Macedonia and Turkey into refugee camps will stop the flow of refugees. Only stopping the machine guns, cannon fire, and bombings in the home countries will truly stop the “problem.”
But we see an issue that will exacerbate the problem. Refugee centers will become concentration camps, while regular European citizens will be eager to look for the reasons behind these problems elsewhere, outside of their own system.
Meanwhile today, resources spent on fences and guards would be enough for the recovery and improvement of troubled regions where the migrants are coming from. However, the West does not want to see competitors in global or even regional markets. Because of this, the refugee crisis truly has no answer within the capitalist system which is founded on rivalry and oppression and will always create refugees.
You adamantly call these people “refugees” even though they are criminals who break the law by illegally crossing borders while not being legally deemed refugees.
Our attitudes towards the laws are, mildly put, skeptical. The law exists so that lawmakers, lawyers, policemen, and judges can get their pay. For law-abiding citizens, the law is a thief who puts him or her on the defensive and makes him or her conform to what the law wants and keeps them from going where the law doesn’t want them to go. The law can turn anyone into a criminal – such as the case of Lora Kazanlieva, who was somehow found to be an accessory in her own death when she was hit by a speeding driver because she didn’t heed the crosswalk sign. The law has already made criminals out of the homeless who dig for food in trash bins. The laws are on their way to turning anybody who doesn’t agree with election results into criminals. The “refugee status” doesn’t register the fact of whether or not somebody is really running from a warzone. The status is only a mark that bureaucrats are willing to recognize the obvious.
Then what is your answer to the problem?
First, we have doubts as to whether or not this is really a problem or if the media has overblown the issue. So far, Europe has been able to deal with the immigrants. How Europe has done so is self-evident. The products of hypocritical tolerance and financial opportunities motivates those born in the EU to bomb their fellow man, while their actions force innocents into refugee camps. The issues stem from the European powers, not anywhere else.
Our solution is a social revolution. This will happen when the exaggerations of the refugee crisis become the reality and the proletariat of Europe works with them to create a new world.
Do anarchists really not see that the refugees are barbarians and invaders, dangerous to Bulgaria and Europe?
The topic of refugees is not very relevant for Bulgaria. Our nation is not the destination nor even on the ideal route of the refugees. Because of this, no agreement with the political elite in Paris, Berlin, or Brussels, nor with Moscow, Washington, or London will force us to work towards fixing the problems they have caused. Instead, we will work towards changing the existing world order.
Are the hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians that go to Shipka to celebrate Bulgarian Independence Day blind to the fact that the European governments behave just as cruelly to others as the Ottoman Empire did towards us 138 years ago?
Why do anarchists not show any interest in the demise of the “Bulgarian nation”?
The disappearance of Bulgaria as a nation has nothing to do with the “invasion” of migrants. The Bulgarians are running away on their own to other nations. This also includes the battle of keeping our own language. Proud patriots often rebuke migrants for being “young and healthy but not willing to fight at home.” But the same goes for Bulgarians – why are they not fighting for a better future instead of looking for an easy solution outside of the country? The paid-patriots are not fighting for the people, but for the most common enemy of the people – state power, and they are bringing us with them under the pretense of reform.
So let us not cry or complain about the disappearances while we are actively fleeing our own country. No laws or reforms will stop the drain of Bulgaria’s people – just like barbed wire is not stopping the refugees. Something that’s dying will surely die, if it has no will to live, if it has no power to bring in hearts and minds, but has the powerlessness to force itself into a mold, a cliché – “true Bulgaria.” If “true Bulgaria” is not before all else a land for free people, who value their own freedom just as much as they value the freedom of others, there is no other way for it to be “true,” but it is instead a non-entity.
Written by the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, Федерация на Анархистите в България
Featured image source: Antifa Bulgaria (Facebook)