Cold War Bulgaria: People's Republic -- Mass Organizations

Figure 1.--Totalitarian states (both Communist and Fascist) are notable for the huge public demonstrations, essentially state and party extavaganzas designed to give the impression of popular support for state policies. They were not just organized, but choreographed by the ruling parties--in the case of Bulgaria the Bulgarian Communist Party. Often the focus was on the idea of peace and disarmamrnt meaning the that Western democracies should disarm and acquiese to Soviet agression. Fascist demonstartions often included historical figures and symbols in these demontraions. This was rare with Communist demonstrations which sought to promote ideas about the future. Here we see a Bulgarian Communist demonstration commemorating medoeval Bulgarian hitory--the invention of the Cyrillic alphabet. The press caption read, "The ABCs of Celebrating: School children parade in Sofia:, Bulgaria, bearing characters of the Slav alphabet and large portraits of the brothes Cyril and Methodius commemorating the 1100th anniversary last weekof the creatiin of the Slav alphabet by the Bulgarian brothers. Cultural workers, artists and scientists also tookmpart in the parade." The photograph was taken in June 1963.

Democracies are counries structured in such a way that affords citizens to independently exert pressure on goverment through elections, publicity campaigns, protests, and other means to affect policies. Socialist totalitarian states (both the Communist and Fascist variants) are structured in the oppisite way, small ruling cliques determine state policies without popular input and rather exert presure on the subject populations to conform. Totalitarian states are cintrolled by one rulin Party. Other parties were outlawed or coopted. The ruling party in Bulgaria was the Bulgarian Communist Party (BCP) which coopted a basically e\window dressing coalition partner, the Bulgarian Agrarian National Union. Here Fascism and Communism which developed largely similar policies and political processes, diverged slightly. The Fascists made no secret of their disdain for the principle of democracy. Fascist regimes adopted the Führer Principle (Führerprinzip). A single all powerful leader with vitually mystical capabilitie made the decisions. Communists have pretended to opeate a democacies--often styling themselves people's democracies. People's Republic of Bulgaria They often had collective leaderships, although often single leaders seized control (Castro, Kim, Mao, and Stalin). In Bulgaria, Todor Zhivkov with the support of Stalin became the BCP leader (1954). And he ruled for the following 33 years. Now whether we are talking the Communist or Fascist Socialist variant, each totalitarian state moved to control all organizations and institutions. The membership of the Communist party as conceptualized by Lenin's was to be limited to a select group of activits. There was, however, the need for a network of separate, but controlled organizations asigned to mobilize mass support for the Party. Commonly people's democracies had similar organizations and institutions as liberal democracies. Normally the Party seized control of existing institutions, including cultural groups, peasant associations, profesional organiations, sports' asociations, student groups, trade unions, welfare groups like the Red Cross, women's groups, and youth groups (Young Pioneers). The difference was that they were no longer independent designed to influence Government policy. They were government ot Party unit desined to ensure that people confirm and support to established policies. No independent groups werte permitted to organize. Even the Christian churches were penetrated by the Party with some exceptions (primarily Poland.) To give the illusion of mass support and to maintain the fiction of a people's democracy, mass demontrations were organized. Demonstration took on a new sense. They were very different from demonstratiins in the West which were normally independent expressions of citizens protesting government policies or demanding government or societal changes. Mass demonsrations in people's democracies were organized by the Party abd designed to give the impession of nearly unanimous public support for Partyand Government policies. Participation was virtually mandatory though schools and organizations controlled by the Party.



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Created: 4:50 PM 4/27/2019
Last updated: 4:50 PM 4/27/2019