Media, Roma, and Capitalism

Media, Roma, and Capitalism

The media in Bulgaria gets very insulted whenever they are accused of participating in the dumbing down of society. They are very insulted because it is the truth. The media is not busy informing, but instead maintaining stereotypes. Under the guise of “freedom of the press” they release critical commentary but only if their criticisms don’t reach dangerously close to the truth.

Because of this there are many statements on the television, along the lines of “Yes, capitalism has its issues but we can fix it to have a human face” when discussing business in Bulgaria. Is it a conspiracy between the state and media, that the problems will simply be blamed on the “wrong people making the wrong decisions”? Usually, such ‘brave’ speeches are garnished with “we deserve who we voted for”. The media hints that we only needed to vote in the ‘right people’ and all would be milk and honey.

It never happens that a speaker in the media says that the “capitalist state” system is a huge problem. Leaders instantly nudge troublemaker to check themselves – and usually that’s what happens.

Recently, one morning a national television station invited a “model Roma” to repeat the cliché excuses that are given as liberal propaganda. By the way, with the problem of “internal refugees” the media in Bulgaria are swinging like a pendulum: that gypsies are causing ethnic tension, ruining Bulgarian society, and that there should be some resistance to their actions or that the Roma must be integrated into Bulgarian society because “That is democratic and European”. The first shows a support for nationalist interests, while the second supports the same illusion of a ‘just country’ and ‘human capitalism’. The two both veil the social issues of the problem, and lend credibility to the lies that politicians tell, allowing them to play the public with “there is, there isn’t” to patriots and liberals alike in a con game.

The “educated Roma” however, although not involved with radical thought, often puts his finger in the wound and looks to official state statistics which he deviates from and engages the host and other guests in debate. He will probably not be invited again.

Exemplary citizen Ognyan Isaev, represents the educated part of the Roma youth, with his ‘unusual’ calmness and expression, stands in the face of viewers and their well-known and falsified facts.

He reveals the public secrets, that Roma thugs control Roma ghettos in pure obedience, causing them to do anything that which we call ‘petty crime’, that is badness that is not something horrible in of itself. Moreover, a little before this the media reported on the arrest of a group of money lenders (and a few days afterwards about an arrest of another similar group, which was led by a mayor), who for years harassed a Roma neighborhood. What is revealed is that they gave the most attention not to oppression and its consequences but mostly to the participation of the group in “migrant trafficking” – which implies that the media saw this as its biggest crime.

If you hear a crash, it’s the collapse of the cliché of the lack of integration of gypsies in the market economy – infact, they are perfectly integrated into capitalist production, for our shared troubles.

Afterwards, Ognyan challenged the myth that social welfare is parasitic; in Bulgaria, social welfare helps 60,000 people, and not only gypsies. The budget dedicates 60 million to social welfare. In comparison, the state administration costs 2 billion.

He showed with official data, that shared participation of gypsies in light and medium crime is comparable with the percentage of ethnic Bulgarians. It is true, that statistics are only registered cases, but even with this correction, that data from one side is not drastically affected, and is also proven the true, undeclared goals that the police should exist – and they are not “guardians of citizens” at all, but only of the ruling class.

This aside, damage of the whole “Roma criminality” through the last 25 years is not enough to reach even half of damage of the the KTB affair – committed by Bulgarian bankers and politicians. And this is the damage done without us even counting all privatizations, external loans, and such dealings of the state, whose functions are at 95%, according to the words of both pure Bulgarians and passionate patriots.

The myth of irresponsibility and excessive childbearing for state support within the Roma community is also breaking apart. Having many children only stopped being Bulgarian tradition from the middle of the last century, and today only 5% of families have more than two children. However, the Roma are more than 5% and through statistics, the myth makes no sense. But the media prefers to show the exceptions and show them as the rule. But either way, the state allocates 90 million within the budget for child support. How much does the parliament cost?

During talks about Roma, leading opponents of Roma within Bulgaria blur the topic of work within the Roma community, hence the decline in interest towards education (successful businessmen in Bulgaria are not burdened by higher education – again a statistical fact) which creates the self-perpetual cycle that pushes the Roma towards dirty work. Bulgarians, in another conflict with the Roma, aren’t presented with another exit besides to side with their oppressors, because Bulgarians prefer to beat the poor instead of taking the risk in removing their leaders. Explicitly, Roma thugs are business partners with their “white” brothers. Towards the list of Roma problems (which is very similar to the list of Bulgarian problems) Ognyan adds “illegal buildings”. A large part of these became illegal after privatization of land and the removal of regulations. Warning, tomorrow the same might happen to ethnic Bulgarians; will there be riots against those in charge of such acts?

For us affected by Ognyans facts against capitalism and servicing statehood. Ognyan, of course, did not present them like this, but his efforts to debunk media myths received a sharp reaction. This reaction of the media is fully transparent: little remains from these people to make real, radical choices – for example, that Bulgarians, Turks, and Roma should work together to rid themselves of the thugs in charge instead of fighting between themselves. However, it is exactly this that the media wants to prevent by any means possible.

Only through sowing discord between ethnic groups can those in positions of power (nationally and economically) stay in power. Remember this: without ethnic tension, the state would have long ago been in the mud, where it belongs.

Originally written by the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, or Федерация на Анархистите в България.

When the robots fire us

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Our work is low paying, unsecure, and appalling. We are working less and less with what is beneficial to us, but spend more and more time fighting with our bosses and the state. Whoever doesn’t come to terms with this misery runs away to the West. However, analysis shows that even there it will soon be even harder to make ends meet.

Aristotle was afraid that the machines would eventually replace people. You don’t have to be an ancient genie to realize the fact that new technology may leave you without work – such as the notorious rebellions by Luddites who destroyed machines to save their jobs. Industrialization changed the labor market. First it replaced highly skilled craftsmen with low skilled laborers with the use of machines. After the introduction of machines, the need for maintenance workers was created to keep the machines working. Unlike the craftsman, however, today’s specialists don’t create the end products which are instead products of the machines.

Through the last decade, the increased involvement of computers into production also changed the labor market. Studies show that this has led to the loss of middle and lower class jobs, which has led to the creation of a U shaped curve with many lower class jobs and upper class jobs, but few in the middle class.

Today, computers are in charge of many tasks that demand precision in factories, armies, schools, and in offices. There is no period in history in which machines have been able to do as much work compared as human laborers. However, trends in collecting and analyzing large amounts of data that was until recently missing or unanalyzed created new industries which at this point cannot continue without computers. Tasks which ten years earlier were dismissed as work that cannot be done by robots, such as driving in urban areas, are today seen otherwise – self driving cars are already being tested on the streets of Florida, California, and Nevada.

Researchers at Oxford university have calculated how the latest trends in machine self-training and mobile robots will affect the labor market. They distinguished 3 difficulties in front of the computerization of tasks – “knowledge and management of the field”, “creative intelligence”, and “social intelligence”. Data from the Ministry of Labor in the USA determined 702 professions,  whose difficulties can be quantified. With help from various experts in mechanization, they determined 70 of these professions that can easily be fully automated with today’s technology. The resulting models are with 90% certainty able to measure whether certain profession will be fully automated or not.

According to the results of the model, for 47% of these professions (which currently employ 68 million people) there is a 70% certainty that they can be fully automated with modern technology. Also, those professions with a 30% to 70% chance of automation are certainly going to rise because “knowledge and management of the field” is the most improving of the previously mentioned difficulties. The most affected will be “most workers in the transport and logistics industry, along with many office, administrative, and production fields”. The service industry, in which many USA jobs have been recently created, is also very susceptible to automation. Unlike the last decade where middle class jobs were lost, the first ones to be automated and lost will be lower class jobs.
There is no reason to think automation will not affect work places outside of the USA. Wages in countries such as China are undoubtedly lower, but in long term machines are always cheaper, compared to real workers. To be able to find jobs, we must first find work what machines cannot do, or be forced to compete with them. There is no way we can all become dentists or drive goods 24 hours, day and night.

In 1589, the priest William Lee invented the first sewing machine with the hope that it would free workers from sewing by hand. When looking for a patent to save his invention, he showed it to Queen Elizabeth the First. But the queen was very worried about the situation. “Think about what your invention would do to my poor subjects! It will surely destroy them when it leaves them without work, and it will turn them into beggars.” She denied his patent. William Lee was forced to leave the kingdom. Half a millenium later, in our so called democratic societies, the situation is the same. Robots continue to work more, but instead of us working less, we are becoming more and more redundant. Why is something that is supposed to improve our lives instead making it more difficult and unsecure?

When ownership over the means of production (resources, machines, and more recently technology) is concentrated in the hands of the few, the people receive a share based on how much they can sell their labor. If somebody cannot sell their labor, they must rely on the good of others who have more in order to survive. Today, when few are without work, aspects of society such as social, health insurance and pension funds work as distribution of excess, so that nobody dies of hunger. But the time is coming when a large part of us (according to the study, close to half of the population in the USA in the upcoming decades) will be cheaper than the food they need. The machines will create even more than today, but it won’t be ‘right’ for us to use what they produce because we haven’ worked or sold our labor for it.

What will we do then? Will we destroy the machines like the Luddites? Will we chase out the inventors like Elizabeth? Do we love work so much that we don’t want machines to do it instead of us? Barely.
Technological progress gives us opportunities to work less and less, and to create more. Instead of this, however, the need to sell ourselves on the “labor market” threatens to ruin us. The only decision is to remove this market, the removal of ownership over our natural resources, technologies and robots, distribution of resources based on the needs of the people. We are valuable because we are people, not because we work. Only then will we be secure in our futures. We will surpass the monotony of work, the repetitiveness of every day, and the shorter days with more creativity.

Originally written by the Federation of Anarchists in Bulgaria, or Федерация на Анархистите в България. Translated for Theory Without Borders.

Bulgarian Anarchists About The Refugees

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This text was published in the newspaper of Federation of anarchists in Bulgaria. We believe the people from the eastern parts of Europe have a bit different view on the global issues compared to the ones in the other parts of the world and it would be useful for the anarchists around the globe to know the way we present our analisys to them. We would be glad to receive your opinions on the text we present, as long as it contains arguments.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is it true that anarchists are running away from giving opinions on the refugee problem?

It’s not.

Unlike ‘elite’ philosophers such as Andrei Raivech and Michaeil Konstantinov, we don’t slave over cliché opinions about the 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, no guns at the borders, 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 reasons of 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 the 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 which 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 to 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 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 turn anybody who doesn’t agree with elections 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 exaggeration of the refugee crisis become the reality and 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 cruel 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 accuse 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 – the 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