TED Conversations

Plamen Chetelyazov

This conversation is closed.

Is Western Europe indifferent to Bulgarian agony?

Bulgaria is officially the EU`s poorest member. The salaries rarely exceed 250e. The country is one of the most corrupted in the EU according to the Transparency International Index. The census data confirmed that over the twenty-year period, emigration represented a 6% loss in the total population. High emigration levels were accompanied by low fertility rates, which contributed a further 12% loss. Moreover – the country has unenviable Press Freedom Index. Reporters without borders rank Bulgaria 87 which is a great retreat because back in 2003 Bulgaria ranked 34.
On 24 February more than 300 000 Bulgarians went out into the streets to express their indignation against the political monopoly and its derivatives – the monopoly of the market, the corruption, the poverty, the unemployment, the criminality... The people shout „We want future” and want radical change of the political system because the elections push in alleged new parties made of worn out politics in disrepute. Some of the demands are: no immunity for the members of the Bulgarian Parliament, limit of their mandates, recall of all former deputies, majoritarian voting system.
So far there is no adequate response from the political elite only a cosmetic change of the government and ugly but successful attempts to mount the protest.
The spokeswoman of the European Commission Pia Hansen said: “There is a democracy in Bulgaria and we respect that” but It must be a lie because few days ago Europe blocked Schengen membership for Bulgaria due to the functionality of the judicial system.
At the same time there is a wave of desperate people who literally set themselves on fire. 4 people already died for a month and one is still fighting for his life. The most famous case is the death of Plamen Goranov and now his name stands for this dreadful and shocking epidemic. The 36 years old photographer and mountain climber set himself on fire in front of the municipality building in his hometown of Varna on Feb. 20.

Share:

Closing Statement from Plamen Chetelyazov

Capitalism does not confer the same status as democracy! In this system the money is at the same time the capital potential, the ultimate goal and the greatest might. This basis contributes to the spreading of corruption, exploitation, manipulation, emotional degradation e.t.c. One of the ugliest defects is that people are learned to consider those who are poorer also less cultured, intelligent and capable.The real alternative to capitalism is a working democracy aiming at the progress of creative education and true freedom.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Mar 29 2013: I know this is neither comforting nor helpful, but I'm afraid that the answer to your question is affirmative. The world is overloaded with news of crises from desperate peoples, and the world's general response seems to be "I'm glad it's happening somewhere else." It sounds callous, but perhaps people must become callous in order to retain their sanity. They can't bear the problems of the world which until a few decades ago were kept local, but now overwhelm everyone on their pads, phones and screens every day. They tune out the horrors of Syria, Congo, Mali, Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan and all the other places where people are dying by the hundreds and thousands every day. I'm afraid Bulgaria's internal problems, bad as they are, must be solved in Bulgaria. Probably a leader must arise who can mobilize and motivate the people to long-lasting mass action.
    Sorry that I don't have anything more encouraging, but I wish you and your countrymen all the best. You will get through this period, we just don't know how yet.
    • thumb
      Mar 29 2013: You are right Paul and I share your thoughts. But I think that converting mass communications into a scarecrow is just a defect and it is one out of many reasons for this nonchalance … They are all defects of capitalism. As I said - capitalism does not confer the same status as democracy! In this system the money are the ultimate goal and the greatest might. So the people are learned to consider those who are poorer also less cultured, intelligent and capable. That is why West-Europeans and Americans consider us primitive just like Bulgarians consider the inhabitants of Syria, Congo, Mali, Burma, Iraq, Afghanistan et cetera. And it is a weak-minded and shameful characterization of the Western Culture.
      • thumb
        Mar 29 2013: Yes, I'd say these statements are all true as far as they go. But I don't think we're blaming mass communications - it's just that the mass of information that overloads people does arrive through those media. And the various flaws you mention are indeed defects of capitalism and western culture. But they're equally much defects of socialism and communism and feudalism and all other economic systems we've tried, and they're just as prevalent in Chinese culture or Russian or Angolan culture as they are in western culture. They seem to be features (call them flaws if you like) of human nature, derived from instincts of self-preservation: the natural tendency to seek advantage for oneself and one's group. Selfishness, in other words.

        I don't think we've arrived at the ideal economic system yet. What we've learned from our current systems and those in the past will, I trust, some day result in a system that rewards people not only as competitors but also as cooperators, yet does not stifle individuals under excessive governmental regulation. I've written a short piece on that at my web site, Blue Ridge Journal: http://www.blueridgejournal.com/brj-neweconomics.htm
        • thumb
          Mar 30 2013: I find your conclusions Indisputably right and I will definitely visit your web! It is great to find people ripe for these ideas and it somehow gives me a breath of optimism!
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2013: Mr. Chetelyazov basically it seems you would like people of other countries to influence their Governments to force the rulers of Bulgaria to grow up and play nice. This has been attempted by several countries in recent decades (not by the will of the citizens so much) most extravagantly by the U.S. my country. The results have varied a bit but not many would call these any of these attempts an unalloyed success. You may have noticed that possessing a lot of resources (oil) or harboring perceived threats like Al Qaeda or a nuclear weapons program (Iran, N. Korea) seems to get the attention of our Government or the corporations that use it as a front (Halliburton). Most American citizens have had about enough of nation building efforts that have nearly bankrupted us and cost the lives of more soldiers than anyone predicted. Obama has attempted nation building lite in Libya (which had both Oil and a unruly Dictator) but is playing hard to get with Syria. This may all seem very cynical but it just corresponds to observable facts as far as I can see. Most decent people around the world, once informed, would probably like to help your country. But the reality is that even in moderately functional semi Democracies like the U.S. the people have not that much more influence than you do in yours. Our Politicians like to keep us at loggerheads about silly things like gun or birth control and distracted from what they are really doing. Corruption here is more central and embedded in the system so that the voters don't notice it on the local level as much. Yes people young and old are not suffering as much as in your country but it is mostly a matter of degree. I know plenty of Americans with university degrees who also can not find appropriate work. Even here it is too often who you know and not what you know that can help you in your career. I wish you well but can offer no proven solution other than continue to try and arouse more Bulgarians to action like the Tunisians
        • thumb
          Apr 17 2013: Mr. Manderscheid,

          Bulgaria is a European Union (EU) member country. The EU institutions have the means and even the obligation to force the rulers of Bulgaria to grow up and play nice but they miss the willingness. Bulgarians do not know why Western Europe misses the willingness especially after the last fierce protest and its strangulation and vitiation. Bulgarian people clearly show that they don’t believe that “there is a democracy in Bulgaria” unlike the hypocritically statement of the spokeswoman of the European Commission. At the same time Bulgarian authorities clearly show that they don’t want democracy in Bulgaria and have the means to maintain the depraved status quo. Bulgarian people don’t need foreign money or foreign army but clear foreign messages of compassion.

          I have lived and worked in the US. Trust me – our labor markets have nothing in common. Not a thing! But otherwise you are right about many things.

          I can not even imagine what it is like in the world`s poorest countries. Or the nations engaged in war... What happened in Boston… They say one of the victims is just a 8 years old kid. Just a kid! Real human beings are dying of hunger and explosives, dying because of a primitive malice all over the earth. There is so much suffering in this world. And capitalism clearly shows that it is not only unable to inspire but actually is suppressing the emotional evolution of our civilization because in this system the money is at the same time the capital potential, the ultimate goal and the greatest might.

          Basically I would like people of all countries to influence their Governments to realize that the emotional recession is the real threat and that the emotional evolution is far more important than the technological progress.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.