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"По-лесно е да си представяш края на света, отколкото края на капитализма." Фредрик Джеймисън

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Georgi Medarov and Jana Tsoneva. Capital Reforms. Sofia: KOI Books, 2014. 

Capital Reforms is a follow-up publication under the project New Left Perspectives with the financial support of Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – Southeast Europe.

This study investigates the evolution of liberal justifications for austerity in Bulgaria as evidenced by articles appearing in the weekly newspaper Capital during the 18 years between 1997 and 2014. Its aim is to demonstrate the historically concrete articulations of liberalism and austerity in Bulgaria through the looking-glass this newspaper embodies.

Capital, as its title suggests, is the flagman of the Bulgarian pro-business press. Capital does not just report events, it hopes to direct their development. Capital is an activist-reporter, it does not shy away from publicly expressing support (or not) for any given reform, or backing (or not) anti-governmental mobilizations. Capital closely cooperates with (neo)liberal policy think-tanks and right-wing private research institutes. These features make Capital an ideal starting point for a research on the production of public consensus behind austerity measures and neoliberalization in general.

Capital’s impressive activist experience has led to the title of our study: Capital Reforms. By this we hope to capture the multifaceted reality of the post-socialist “reforms” and the paper’s interventions in these processes. So, Capital reforms (adj.) may be read as a synonym for major transformations. But also as Capital reforms (verb) it refers not only to the changes to the fields it intervenes in but also to itself, in that the spheres in need of reforms are not pre-given but emerge as the result of complex and often contradictory negotiations. 'Capital reforms' can also be read as reforms guided by Capital in the name of capital. Whatever reading of the title prevails, it is undeniable that we cannot think of liberal reforms outside the major public opinion institutions, a chief media outlet being Capital.

The course of reforms does not develop according to some pre-given logic, contained in its concept, and neither does it unravel teleologically to a predetermined goal. The content of “reforms” is contingent to very specific historical ruptures and their “logic” can be reconstructed solely retrospectively. Take the example of the anti-corruption rhetoric. It came into prominence in Bulgaria with the earlier post-socialist primitive accumulation. Its efficiency, however, declined severely after its peak in the 2009-2013 government, displaced with the discourse of the "judicial reform". Moreover, anti-corruption rhetoric was often appropriated as an acceptable popular critique of capitalism and not so much as a legitimation strategy for more deregulation, austerity and privatization. To sum it up: the more Capital tries to repress class struggle, the more class struggle returns within Capital’s (presumably) very own ideological terrain.

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- pdf version, online edition, 56 pages (download here)

New Left Perspectives and Collective for Social Interventions wish you a nice read!

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