This paper argues against what can be called a “double ontological erasure” of state socialism in eastern Europe, by both the east European right-wing intelligentsia and the west European militant left. In an effort to challenge said erasure, the paper draws on the journalistic and fictional work of Bulgaria's major dissident writer of the 1970s, Georgi Markov. Against mainstream readings of his work as staunchly anti-communist, the paper suggests that Markov makes at least three major contributions to the “communist hypothesis” from the perspective of eastern Europe. First, by offering a “postcolonial” (rather than a political-economic) critique of the “cult of things” and consumerism in the region. Second, by developing a truly immanent critique of state socialism from the position of the communist ideal. Lastly, by proposing what could be called a “communism of the abject” among individuals and communities on the margins of socialist governmentality. Arguably, this triple contribution not only proffers a more nuanced and complex understanding of life under socialism, but also has important insights for contemporary debates on the left today.
1 Baeva, Iskra and Kalinova, Evgenia, “Bulgarian Transition and the Memory of the Socialist Past,” in Todorova, Maria N., ed., Remembering Communism: Genres of Representation (New York, 2010), 84–85.
2 Petya Kabakchieva, “Rethinking Communism: Social Approaches to Comprehending ‘That Society’ in Postcommunist Bulgaria,” in Todorova, ed., Remembering Communism, 46; Maria Todorova, “Introduction: The Process of Remembering Communism,” in Todorova, ed., Remembering Communism, 18.
3 Badiou’s “communist hypothesis” was first articulated in English translation in a famous 2008 article from the New Left Review under the same name, and also in the final chapter in his book The Meaning of Sarkozy, trans. David Fernbach, (London, 2008). See resp. Badiou, Alain, “The Communist Hypothesis,” New Left Review 49 (January-February 2008): 29–42; and Badiou, “The History of the Communist Hypothesis and the Present Moment,” in Meaning of Sarkozy, 105–17. Badiou understands the communist hypothesis (which he refers to elsewhere as the “Idea of communism” as well) to be less a political program than “a pure Idea of equality” which “has no doubt existed since the beginning of the state” and very explicitly so since the nineteenth century; see Badiou, “The Communist Hypothesis,” 35. Badiou’s argument has spawned a large literature already, most notably the three volumes of The Idea of Communism edited by Slavoj Žižek and Costas Douzinas (London, 2010; 2013; 2016), along with his own collection of articles under the title The Communist Hypothesis (London, 2010). I use the term as a theoretical shorthand for major efforts among the western left to extricate the “purity” of a communist future from the “bad history” of the socialist past.
4 Apart from a rare reference to the “Solidarity movement of 1980–81,” as a minor instantiation of the “communist hypothesis,” that is; see The Communist Hypothesis, 258; The Meaning of Sarkozy, 111. To the best of my knowledge, Romanian scholar Ovidiu Ţichindeleanu was the first to note the complete devaluation of eastern European state socialism in Alain Badiou’s effort at reinvigorating the communist project: see Țichindeleanu, Ovidiu, “Where Are We When We Think of Eastern Europe,” in Art Always Has Its Consequences, (Zagreb, 2010).
5 See Negri, Antonio and Scelsi, Raf Valvola, Goodbye Mr. Socialism: Radical Politics in the 21st Century, trans. Thomas, Peter (New York, 2006); Bosteels, Bruno, The Actuality of Communism (London, 2011); and Dean, Jodi, The Communist Horizon (London, 2012). Both Bosteels and Dean call for a historicization of the experience of state socialism, yet discuss only the legacy of the Soviet experience. Slavoj Žižek’s references to state socialism, and to former Yugoslavia more specifically, are too numerous to bear mentioning here. He has been mostly interested in exposing the construction of the “Balkan Other” as a western fantasmatic figure, while also insisting (in various places) that “ethnic roots . . . are simply not categories of truth.” See Žižek, Slavoj, “Tolerance as an Ideological Category,” Critical Inquiry 34, no. 4 (Summer 2008): 660–82.
6 Debord, Guy, The Society of the Spectacle, trans. Nicholson-Smith, Donald (New York, 1995), 79.
7 A non-exhaustive list of this literature would include Bren, Paulina and Neuburger, Mary, eds., Communism Unwrapped: Consumption in Cold War Eastern Europe (New York, 2012); Crowley, David and Reid, Susan E., eds., Socialist Spaces: Sites of Everyday Life in the Eastern Bloc (Oxford, 2002); Crowley, David and Reid, Susan E., Pleasures in Socialism: Leisure and Luxury in the Eastern Bloc (Evanston 2012); Marinos, Martin, “New Media, New Habits: Socialist Television and the Struggle for ‘Harmonious Consumption’ in 1960s Bulgaria,” in Digital Icons: Studies in Russian, Eurasian, and Central European New Media 15 (2016), 37–55, at www.digitalicons.org/issue15/new-media-new-habits-socialist-television-and-the-struggle-for-harmonious-consumption-in-1960s-bulgaria/ (last accessed December 16, 2017).; Bren, Paulina, The Greengrocer and His TV: The Culture of Communism after the 1968 Prague Spring (Ithaca, 2010);Imre, Anikó, Havens, Timothy, and Lustyik, Katalin, eds., Popular Television in Eastern Europe during and since Socialism (New York, 2012); Yurchak, Alexei, Everything Was Forever until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation (Princeton, 2006); Ost, David, Solidarity and the Politics of Anti-Politics: Opposition and Reform in Poland since 1968 (Philadelphia, 1991); and Ghodsee, Kristen Rogheh, The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe (Durham, 2015).
8 Baeva, Iskra and Kalinova, Evgeniia, Sotsializmŭt v ogledaloto na prekhoda (Sofia, 2011), 104.
9 This article owes its initial impulse to Zhana Tsoneva and Georgi Medarov’s insightful “Georgi Markov: Kŭm edna arkheologiia na otsŭstvashtoto,” the first effort (to the best of my knowledge) at reading Markov’s work as an immanent critique of state socialism. See Zhana Tsoneva and Georgi Medarov, Novi Levi Perspektivi (November 2014), at www.novilevi.org/publications/204-markov (last accessed December 16, 2017). I have also benefited from Zhivka Valiavicharska’s close reading of this text and from numerous conversations with Martin Marinos. Last but not least, I express my gratitude my two anonymous reviewers, whose critical comments helped sharpen and nuance a number of arguments in this text.
10 Benjamin, Walter, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” in Illuminations, trans. Zohn, Harry (New York, 1968), 255.
11 During the period between 1963 and 1969, Markov published nine plays and two short story collections. As his old friend Dimitar Bochev argues: “His books were devoured, there were queues for them, then they were sold for double or triple price”; see Khristov, Khristo, Ubiite “Skitnik”: Bŭlgarskata i britanskata dŭrzhavna politika po sluchaia Georgi Markov (Sofia, 2006), 68. Before migrating to Italy in June 1969, Markov had done much of the screen-writing for a popular TV series, “Nie sme na vseki kilometŭr” (We Are at Every Mile). His name was subsequently removed from the credits of the series.
12 Markov, Georgi, The Truth That Killed, trans. Brisby, Liliana (New York, 1984), 182–86; Markov, Georgi, Zadochni reportazhi za Bŭlgaria, 2 vols. (Sofia, 2008), 1:290–97. The Truth That Killed, an English language selection from those two volumes, includes less than a third of the original essays. In the remainder of this text, I include the page references from both the English translation and the Bulgarian original, whenever available.
13 See “We Made You into a Writer,” Truth That Killed, 183; “Nie te napravikhme pisatel,” Zadochni reportazhi, 1:291. As Markov argues further down in the same text: “It flattered me to think that whereas as an engineer my public importance had been nil, as a writer I became the center of public attention,” Truth That Killed, 184; Zadochni reportazhi, 1:294.
14 In the same text from the Reports, Markov argues that the Bulgarian Writers’ Union abundant access to resources was in stark contrast to the plight of similar organizations in Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. Truth That Killed, 183.
15 “We Made You into a Writer,” Truth That Killed, 184; Zadochni reportazhi, 1:294. By contrast, Markov himself saw the country as “a land of increasing effervescence, a land where gestures and words have many dimensions, where everything is accompanied by its negation, where strength and weakness, love and hatred, reason and stupidity, courage and fear go together—denying and confirming each other” (1984: xvi). The task of the honest and responsible writer was therefore to give uptake to this complexity.
16 Those texts included Da se provresh pod dŭgata (To Pass Under the Rainbow—banned after its 13th performance), Komunisti (Communists), and Az biah toi (I Was Him). During the same time period he had also written the libretto to a musical and a movie script. None of those projects ever saw the light of day. See Khristov, Ubiite “Skitnik,” 126–29.
17 That Markov was killed by the Bulgarian secret services with the likely logistic support of the KGB continues to be the most wide-spread interpretation of the cause of his death. Among others, this is the position advocated by Bulgarian journalist Khristo Khristov in his monumental study of the “case” of Georgi Markov; see Khristov, Ubiite “Skitnik.” Notably, Khristov reads Markov’s life, work, and murder through an anti-communist lens. The scenario of Markov’s murder at the hands of the Bulgarian state has, however, been challenged by different sources, aided by the fact that the massive dossier accumulated in his name was destroyed in 1990. On this point see Kalinova, Evgeniia, Bŭlgarskata kultura i politicheskiiat imperativ, 1944–1989 (Sofia, 2011), 359.
18 Those texts were read by an associate of the radio (as he was contractually prevented from doing so) between 1975 and 1978, once a week in 137 separate broadcasts, generating an increase in the radio’s audience by 60%. See Khristov, Ubiite “Skitnik,” 321. Markov had completed them for publication, under the above-mentioned title, immediately prior to his assassination.
19 Trifonova, Tsveta, Da pishesh, za da mozhesh da umresh (Sofia, 2012), 20.
20 Rozaliia Likova, in Khristov, Ubiite “Skitnik,” 890.
21 Nikolov, Toni, “Georgi Markov, nash sŭvremennik,” in Markov, Georgi, Do moia sŭvremennik: Eseta, ed. Nikolov, Toni (Sofia, 2015), 7.
22 Markov, Truth That Killed, xvii.
23 Ibid. xv.
24 Markov, “Prologue,” Truth That Killed, xviii.
25 Znepolski, Ivailo Boianov, Bŭlgarskiiat komunizŭm: Sotsiokulturni cherti i vlastova traektoriia (Sofia, 2008).
26 Markov, “Poklon pred tsar dolar,” Zadochni reportazhi, 1:403.
27 Ibid., 1:406, 1:408.
28 Bren and Neuburger, “Introduction,” in Communism Unwrapped, 12.
29 Markov, “Legendata Zapad: Veshtite,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:422.
30 Markov, “Poklon pred tsar dolar,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:411.
31 Markov, “Legendata Zapad: Veshtite,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:423.
33 Marx, Karl, “From Capital, Volume I,” The Portable Karl Marx, ed. Kamenka, Eugene (New York, 1983), 447.
34 Marx, Portable Karl Marx, 450.
35 Markov, “Legendata Zapad: Veshtite,” 423.
36 By “postcolonial” I understand here the type of theorizing that challenges the alleged superiority of western modes of thinking and being and locates its origins in the rise of Europe/the west to global prominence, via practices of colonialism and imperialism. Admittedly, this is a broad definition of the term, attentive more to the theoretical and political possibilities opened up by postcolonial theory than to its original territorialities and genealogies of intervention (Southeast Asia in relation to western colonialism). I am certainly aware of the significant controversy surrounding the concept, including over the risks of its uncritical deployment to territories from the former socialist (“Second”) world. See resp. Shohat, Ella, “Notes on the Post-Colonial,” Social Text, No. 31/32 (1992), 99–113; McClintock, Ann, “The Angel of Progress: Pitfalls of the Term ‘Post-Colonialism,’” Social Text, no. 31/32, Special Issue on Third World and Post-Colonial Issues (1992), 84–98; and Todorova, Maria, “Balkanism and Postcolonialism, or on the Beauty of the Airplane View,” In Marx’s Shadow: Knowledge, Power, and Intellectuals in Eastern Europe and Russia, eds., Bradatan, Costica and Oushakine, Serguei (Lanham, 2010), 175–96. Still, my use of “postcolonial” here references not the legacies of the Ottoman Empire or the former Soviet Union/Russia in the region, but rather the identification (and self-identification) of eastern Europe and its people as organically inferior to the west and in need of catching up with it (what I call below “internal colonialism without colonization”). Even the biggest critic of the deployment of this term to the region, Maria Todorova, agrees with the imperativeness of the task of “deprovincializing western Europe.” See Todorova, “Balkanism and Postcolonialism,” 190.
37 Markov, “Legendata Zapad: Veshtite,” 409–39.
38 Baudrillard, Jean, “Consumer Society,” ed., Poster, Mark, Jean Baudrillard: Selected Writings, (Stanford, 1988), 47, 46.
39 Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (Oxford, 2009), 3.
40 See here resp. Wolff, Larry, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford, 1994), and Madina Tlostanova, “Towards a Decolonization of Thinking and Knowledge: A Few Reflections from the World of Imperial Difference,” at www.antville.org/static/sites/m1/files/madina_tlostanova_decolonia_thinking.pdf (last accessed December 16, 2017).
41 Markov, “Legendata Zapad: Veshtite,” 418, 428, 434.
42 Marinos, “New Media, New Habits,” 41.
43 The only text from the three included in Truth That Killed was “Zhiloto i medŭt na turizma” (The Sting and Honey of Tourism), 87–98.
44 Markov, Georgi, “Fiktsiite na marksizma,” in Nenapisanata bŭlgarska kharta: Eseta, chast 2 (Sofia, 2016), 81.
45 Jodi Dean argues that discursive chains such as “communism-Soviet Union—Stalinism-collapse” are in fact ideologically motivated attempts to repress “the communist alternative,” see Dean, Jodi, The Communist Horizon (London, 2011), 32. It is not difficult to see, in the quote above, how Markov falls in the same trap. A little earlier in the above-quoted text Markov argues that “Karl Marx’s effort to reconcile the contradictions in human nature’s complex and magnificent variety via an opposition between full and empty stomachs and a materialist vulgarization of human relations testifies to narrow-mindedness and naivete.” In his “Zapadnoto levicharstvo—iliuzii i deistvitelnost” (Western Leftism—Illusions and Reality), he warns against “Mr. Marcuse’s” “crazy” ideas; See resp. Markov, Nenapisanata bŭlgarska kharta, 80, 109. Other examples of Markov’s simplistic (and ultimately ideological) readings are not hard to find. Yet rather than read them as broadly indicative of the author’s generic anti-communism, I find it more productive to draw on the general tenor of his work, which more often than not speaks to a broad sympathy with the grand leftist themes of social justice and equality.
46 Markov, , “Pismo do Dimitŭr Bochev,” Az biah toi: 121 dokumenta za i ot Georgi Markov (Sofia 1999), 225.
47 Ibid., 222.
48 Ibid., 258–59.
49 Markov, “Izbor na pozitsiia,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:239, my italics.
50 Markov, Truth That Killed, 187–92.
51 “Krai Mal΄ovitsa,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:320–27.
52 Markov, “Bŭlgari ot novo vreme,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:490.
53 As Markov argues in another key text from his Eseta, the great challenge that the Prague Spring had posed to Soviet-style socialism had been the question: “Can the beautiful principles of Christianity, democracy, utopianism, and socialism become real beauty in real life?”; see “Praga’68,” in Do moia sŭvremennik, 111. The violent repression of that question by the tanks of the Warsaw Pact prevented the possibility of a positive answer, along with crushing any remaining hope for real reform. Another notable text from this period is Markov’s play Communists, commissioned for the 25th anniversary of the Communist Party takeover in 1944 and based on unprecedented access to the archives of the secret services. It was never performed on stage.
54 Markov, “Novogodishni fantazii,” Az biah toi, 152–57.
55 Interestingly, the series of wishes also include, among others, the end of standing armies and their arsenals, with their resources allocated now toward the construction of schools, hospitals, and homes, the disbanding of all political parties, the dismantling of the Berlin Wall, the restoration of free speech, the right to difference, and even a wonderfully Fourierist fantasy of using the energetic resources of the rich countries for tilting the Earth’s axis, so that all the planet’s regions have a fine weather.
56 Ibid., 154.
57 Ibid., 157, my italics.
58 See here his “Pismo do Khristo Botev,” in Nenapisanata bŭlgarska kharta (Sofia, 2016), pp. 139–45, as it probes the disagreement of two major figures from the Bulgarian independent struggles: Khristo Botev and Liuben Karavelov respectively. See also the above-mentioned “Izbor na pozitsiia,” 239–40, where Markov juxtaposes Botev’s theory of the physical combat to Karavelov’s position of “long and protracted struggle through which the regime can be returned to the pure beginning of communist idealism.” The former is no longer operative, according to Markov. While he tends to read the latter in accordance with Enlightenment ideals of education and persuasion, it can also be reinterpreted as a proto-Gramscian strategy for building a counter-hegemonic discourse.
59 Markov, “A Biography of the Regime,” Truth That Killed, 144; “Biografiia na vlastta,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:122–23.
60 Markov, “Pismo do Dimitŭr Bochev,” in Az biah toi, 226.
61 All these (autonomist) Marxist critics of state socialism, however, locate an irreducible gap between the “Idea(l) of communism” and its perverted materialization in the Soviet bloc. Markov’s work, as I read it here, is more nuanced.
62 Supek, Rudi, “Some Contradictions and Insufficiencies of Yugoslav Self-Managing Socialism,” in Marković, Mihajlo and Petrović, Gajo, eds., Praxis: Yugoslav Essays in the Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences (Dordrecht, 1979), 270.
63 Markov, “900 metra zhivot,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:332.
64 Ibid., 1:330, 1:331.
65 The taxonomy here is mine, not Markov’s. Markov’s approach, at least in the Zadochni reportazhi, is “empiricist,” a collection of scattered stories and impressionistic reflections whose cumulative effect allows for a broader pattern to emerge.
66 Markov, “Velikden krai ‘Aleksandŭr Nevski,’” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:57.
67 On sex work, see his text “Prostitutsiiata,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:487–502. On gambling, “Zapisano mimokhodom,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:443–50, along with his wonderful text “Portretŭt na moia dvoinik,” in Mezhdu noshtta i denia: Portretŭt na moia dvoinik, Selected Writings vol. 3 (Sofia, 2009), 362–415. On theft, see his short texts “Krazhbite,” “Zashto khorata kradat ot svoiata dŭrzhava,” and “Namigvashtata Temida,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:96–117, 118–25, and 126–33.
68 These quotes are from Markov, Zadochni reportazhi: “Komardjiysko intermetso,” 2:449, “Prostitutsiata,” 1: 491–492, “Krazhbite,” 1:111, “Prostitutsiata,” in Zadochni reportazhi 1:491, and “Komardjiysko intermetso,” in 2:449, respectively.
69 Markov, “Tsaria na vilite,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:134.
70 Markov discusses that experience most powerfully in “Okhtichavi godini,”in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:210–16. Fictionalized narratives of consumption include also the story “Smŭrt-zhivot” and the novelette “Sanatoriumŭt na dr. Gospodov,” in Mezhdu noshtta i denia, 103–14 and 258–361.
71 See resp. Markov, “Prologue,” in Truth That Killed, xvi (“Uvod,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:11), and “Okhtichavi godini,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:211.
72 Markov, “Okhtichavi godini,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:213.
73 Ibid. Sartre’s famous statement from his play No Exit is, of course, “Hell is other people.” See Sartre, Jean-Paul, No Exit and Three Other Plays, trans. Gilbert, Stuart (New York, 1989), 1–46.
74 “Otpadŭchni vodi,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:148–61.
75 Ibid., 160–61.
76 Ibid., 161.
77 Kristeva, Julia, Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, trans. Roudiez, Leon S. (New York, 1982), 4.
79 Bataille, Georges, Visions of Excess: Selected Writings, 1927–1939, trans. Stoekl, Allan, (Minneapolis, 1985).
80 See resp. Bakunin, Mikhail, “The International and Karl Marx,” in Dolgoff, Sam, ed., Bakunin on Anarchism (Montreal, 1980), 294, and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s Heretical Empiricism, trans. Ben Lawton and Louise K. Barnett, (Washington, 2005), esp. his text “The PCI to the Youth,” 150–58, among others.
81 Bataille, Visions of Excess, 51, 94, 117, 129.
82 Bataille, Visions of Excess, 51. For a fascinating discussion of Bataille’s relevance for contemporary debates on the Left, see Gáspár Miklós Tamás, “On Post-fascism: The Degradation of Universal Citizenship,” Boston Review: A Political and Literary Forum, (June 2000), at www.bostonreview.net/world/g-m-tam%C3%A1s-post-fascism (last accessed December 16, 2017).
83 In his recent An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army, Jameson argues for universal conscription as a powerful institutional force in the transition to post-capitalism. He insists that even in a future society antagonism (envy, the theft of jouissance) will not disappear, but will be, as it were, de-institutionalized. See Jameson, Fredric, An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army, ed. Žižek, Slavoj (London, 2016), 1–96. Kathi Weeks’s response is in the form of an essay in the book, under the title “Utopian Therapy: Work, Non-Work, and the Political Imagination,” 243–65.
84 Notably, Markov himself thinks of abjection as an Outside that is never quite outside, that cannot be assumed as a consistent subject position. In the text immediately following his “Otpadŭchni vodi,” he tells the stories of a few friends who tried to “leave” their cozy lives so that they can be among the people (one by seeking to become a miner, the other by going to live high in the mountains). In a finely dialectical complication of the lesson from the earlier essay (“exiting” the city, hence the logic of socialism), Markov concludes that no such outsider position is possible, or rather that it risks turning into complicitous escapism. See Markov, “Opiti za uedinenie,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 2:162–68.
85 Notably, the notion of the abject straddles the divide between (theories of) the psyche and (theories of) the social. To reiterate, the idea of a “communism of the abject” takes us beyond traditional types of Marxism, and even beyond Marx himself. Admittedly, the type of abject communism I discuss here cannot serve as a “model” for any future/better society, nor can it be assimilated and normalized within any historically-existing one. I have included religion as one example here as it was officially abject-ed by the socialist state. I have also discussed tuberculosis as an instance of the abject due to deep-seated anxieties around death and physical decay that continue to plague Bulgarian society to this day.
86 Vassilev, Rossen, “The ‘Third-Worldization’ of a ‘Second-World’ Nation: De-development in Post-Communist Bulgaria,” New Political Science 25, no. 1 (March 2003): 99–112.
87 Georgi Gospodinov, “Protestirashtiiat chovek e krasiv,” Dnevnik (June 18, 2013), at www.dnevnik.bg/analizi/2013/06/18/2084449_protestirashtiiat_chovek_e_krasiv/ (last accessed December 16, 2017).
88 Markov, “Okhtichavi godini,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:216.
89 Important texts detailing figures and practices of resistance to state socialism in Bulgaria include Evgeniia Kalinova, Bŭlgarskata kultura, esp. sections 3, 4, and 5; Migev, Vladimir, Bŭlgarskite pisateli i politicheskiiat zhivot v Bŭlgaria–2 (1971–1989 g.) (Sofia, 2014), esp. chapter 1; Traikova, Elka, Bŭlgarskite literaturni polemiki (Sofia, 2001), esp. pp. 178–211; and Slavov, Atanas V., The “Thaw” in Bulgarian Literature (Boulder, 1981). Evgeniia Kalinova has suggested that at least three different responses were available to Bulgarian writers (and artists more broadly) in the country: that of compromise and accommodation (as embodied by poet Liubomir Levchev); that of a refusal of reconciliation (Konstantin Pavlov, Radoi Ralin); and that of provisional accommodation followed by a growing critical distance (Georgi Markov); see Kalinova, Bŭlgarskata kultura, 337–40. Markov himself has suggested a taxonomy of four “communist” types under state socialism: idealists, Soviet agents, accommodationists, and random communists. See Markov, “A Biography of the Regime,” in Truth That Killed, 144; “Biografiia na vlastta,” in Zadochni reportazhi, 1:122–23.
90 Hararszti’s famous The Velvet Prison traces a teleological narrative of the artist’s seamless incorporation into the structures of the socialist state, under the rubric of what he calls “progressive censorship.” Written from the perspective of a self-proclaimed “romantic individualism” (162), it offers very little in terms of infra-practices of resistance and counter-genealogies of dissent which subtend even the most heavily administered institutions of control. See Haraszti, Miklós, The Velvet Prison: Artists under State Socialism (New York, 1989). Havel’s Heideggerian (via Patočka) critique of the “anonymous and impersonal” power of totalitarian society locates its origins in the soil of Western rationalism, proposing “living-in-truth” and a substitution of morality for politics as an antidote. See Havel, Václav, Living in Truth: Twenty-two Essays Published on the Occasion of the Award of the Erasmus Prize to Václav Havel (London, 1990). While Markov himself occasionally falls into the trap of the “totalitarian paradigm” or lapses into an existentialism that may even border on essentialism, a lot of especially his post-immigration work exhibits some of the features I have discussed in this essay.
91 See on this point Popivanov, Boris and Penev, V., “Marks izvŭn vlastta: Roliata na Karl Marks v ekspertnite i nauchnite diskusii prez bŭlgarskiia prekhod,” in Kaneva, Liliana, Mizov, Maksim, and Kandilarov, Evgenii, Izsledvaniia po istoriia na socializma v Bŭlgariia: Prekhodŭt–II, vol. 4, (Sofia, 2013), 189–210; and Mineva, Emilia, “On the Reception of Marxism in Bulgaria,” Studies in East European Thought 53, no. 1–2 (June 2001): 61–74.
92 Benjamin, “Theses on the Philosophy of History,” 255.
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