The Socialist Movement In Bulgaria
[The following facts are extracted from a long letter, written in Esperanto, which has been received from Comrade P. Petrov, of Tambol, and should be interesting in view of recent developments in this country.]
Industrially, Bulgaria is where Britain was 100 years ago, but slowly, nevertheless most certainly, capitalism penetrates and will continue to penetrate into the land. After the country’s liberation from Turkish rule it commenced to shape like the Western European states; its government, its army, its political and economic life commenced to take an entirely new form and direction. European news, and news of European Socialism were spread throughout the land. But because production was still in the hands of the small middle-class, because the ordinary labourer did not exist as in England, the labour movement was entirely weak, and in no way Socialistic.
From 1894 there has existed a Social Democratic Party, but at the commencement the members were principally of the middle-class. The majority of the party consisted of merchants and small proprietors. During the years 1898 to 1901 there was an economic crisis, which greatly affected the merchants, small proprietors and agriculturists, who then began to doubt the capability of the different bourgeois parties, who were politically dominant, and to look with a favourable eye to the Socialists, thinking that they (the Socialists) might improve their adversely affected condition. At that time the Socialists were exceedingly active amongst the people, but in their propaganda paid more attention to the minimum program of the Social Democratic Party than to the maximum, and they succeeded in sending 7 deputies to Parliament. But the success was not lasting. In the following years the crop was exceedingly good and the economic position improved. Discontent subsided and the majority of the middle-class members left the ranks of the party. Then some of the Socialists began to advocate a middle course. They doubted whether capitalism would spread over Bulgaria, and, desiring immediate success, they, little by little, fell away from Socialist principles and advocated strenuously, “One common cause amongst the producing corporations.” Then commenced a battle amongst the Socialists themselves. Some desired to remain true to the party principles, especially on the question of the Class War. Others wished to make “Labour Compromises,” and in March, 1903 the party divided into two sections, one wishing to work specially amongst the labourers, whilst not ignoring the lower middle-class, who were being gradually forced into the ranks of the labourers, and always holding to the class war, and the other dreaming about the common cause between the producing corporations, and advocating compromises. To the first came all true and conscious Socialists, to the other a few workmen, sincere, but led astray. And thus were formed two Socialist sections, acting as independent parties. But it was soon remarked that the second section was acting as an enemy of the Labour Movement and of Socialism ! Because the first section worked amongst a smaller circle and severely held to the principles of scientific Socialism, they were named “narrow Socialists” (“Impossiblists”), and the others were named “broad Socialists” or “common-causers” “opportunists.”
The “narrowers” assured of the economic development in the future, knowing that capitalism was spreading and would continue to spread, commenced a quiet but continuous and fruitful policy of educating the workers in their class interests. Many workmen’s societies, enlightened and instructed, and syndicates (trade unions) soon sprang up, in which a strong propaganda was conducted, aiming at the creation of sound, conscious and capable fighters, worthy to be enrolled under the Red Flag, and shoulder to shoulder, to defend their class, and together with the proletariat of the whole world. to organise for the establishment of the Socialist Republic. In a short time the members of the party, and of the separate societies, greatly increased.
Meanwhile, the enemies of the workers, the “broad” Socialists, preached and still preach to the workers organised in trade unions “neutrality,” i.e.. no political action by the unions. They wish the unions to see nothing but their direct trade interests, to fight only on the economic field. The “narrow” Socialists, on the other hand, preach that the workers must also fight the capitalists politically, and of course must come to the Socialist party, which alone in Bulgaria defends the class interests of the workers. They say, always and everywhere, that the economic and political battles are the two foundations of the class war.
The “broad” “ex-Socialists” as the “narrow” ones term them, pursue a policy which is entirely contrary to the principles handed down to us by our great first instructors, Marx and Engels. They are like the Bernsteinianers in Germany, the Jauresists in France (previous to their union with the Guesdists) and the Turatists in Italy. A few trade unions are under their influence, but their number ever declines. They cannot even conduct a strike !
The “narrowers” have a good Socialist literature. Their chief organ, “Workers’ Gazette” appears twice weekly, and is also the official organ of the trade unions. The “New Time” is a monthly review, and there are many others. The “broad ones” also issue a journal twice weekly — “The Workers’ Battle”. They also issued a review — “The Common Cause,” but this has ceased. They make full use of the literature and translations of the “narrows.”
In Tambol, whence our comrade writes and where he lives, there is a Workers’ Instruction Society, which aims at preparing members for the party. They thoroughly study Socialism, and when by their action and consciousness they prove that they understand it, and not till then, they are admitted to the ranks of the active Socialists.
The Party Congress took place in August, and amongst other things it was decided that in future no one should have the right to issue any gazette or review, unless the Party gave permission. The question of the unity of the Bulgarian Socialists, arising out of the Amsterdam resolution, occupied attention, but it was decided that as the “broad” Socialists are not really Socialists, that instead of helping the coming of scientific Socialism, they hindered it, no union could take place, but every true friend of Socialism was called upon to enrol under the red flag of the genuine Socialist Party, those who would he termed in Britain, the “Impossiblists.”