Against the Normalization of the Communist Past in Bulgaria

O nenormalizovaní komunizmu

During the recent years, we have witnessed an ever-growing nostalgia towards state socialism as well as continuing attempts to normalize the communist regime. The article examines one of the reactions to this phenomenon, namely the attempts to create an anti-communist grand narrative in historiography and the intrinsic contradictions of this endeavor. It demonstrates that, to a large extent, the new anti-communist canon uses explanatory models and rhetorical techniques borrowed from the communist historiography itself. The communist regime is often presented in the same way as communist historiography used to describe the "fascist regime," the political repressions are portrayed by the same clichés that the nationalist Bulgarian historiography used to describe the atrocities of the time of the "Turkish yoke", the guerilla units during the early years of the communist regime in some publications look just like the communist partisans of the time of World War II, etc. For sure the result is impressive, but unfortunately such an approach is of little or no use for understanding the recent past.
Special attention is paid to the deepening division of historical studies along political and ideological lines, the politicization of historical studies and the attempts to instrumentally use them for the purposes of political propaganda. The article claims that successful development of an anti-communist grand narrative during the last years is in fact counterproductive, even for the purpose of political propaganda – it only mobilizes the authors of the opposite camp and radicalises their own pro-communist grand narrative. A more viable solution would be to give up political engagements altogether while researching the history of the communist past.