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Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989: - page 8 / 22





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in the other countries, and the fact that the economic paradigm, economic education, etc. in the socialist bloc were largely equally sterile and hermetized (cf. Romania; Aligica, 2002). However this may only be partially true. My opinions do not completely correspond with that of Wagener (2002); he believed that the economic science conditions in Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia, on one hand, differed from those in Czechoslovakia, GDR, USSR, Bulgaria, and Romania, on the other, to such an extent that they could be divided into two large groups of countries, i.e., the former group comprised those countries that were open to receiving knowledge from abroad and the latter comprised countries that were considered to be closed.

Irrespective of the extent to which the reasons for a lack of original economic science during the socialist period may be deliberated, the fact of the matter remains that when the planned economy disintegrated, Bulgarian economic science was unprepared and was lagging behind and therefore, had to start from scratch21).

This study defines the approximate zero level of the Bulgarian economic science as zero knowledge of the market economy and Western theories. Other researchers, primarily from the older generations, defined a zero point in a different manner and believed that Bulgaria is not at a zero point22). One variant of this non-zero position was to consider a new interpretation of the Marxist classics during the initial 23 years after 1989 (a kind of a late Bulgarian “Perestroika”); although such attempts were made by a few Marxist scholars, the dynamics of the changes were so rapid that they rendered any such efforts futile.

The next logical cognitive step was to extend this research further back in time, i.e., to before 1944, which was the period prior to the communist era, when, as mentioned earlier, there existed a normal European economic theory and teaching in Bulgaria that could play the role of an anchor for the wavering Bulgarian economic scholars; at the time, a few lecturers even made attempts to emphasize this. In fact, during that period, the textbook on political economy and theory of money by Simeon Demostenov had become rather popular (although for a short period of time); a phototypic edition of the three volumes of this book was reissued by St. Clement Ohridski, Sofia University in 1991. Roumen Avramov made efforts in this direction for restoring the popularity of the forgotten and original Bulgarian economist Stoyan Bochev (Avramov, 1998). Unfortunately, these efforts were promptly swept over by the wave of economic knowledge and publications from abroad, primarily American textbooks, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank publications, and to a limited extent by European textbooks23).

A few interesting similarities may emerge by comparing the dilemmas of Bulgarian economic science after 1989 with those of the period after Bulgaria gained its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1878. Both the cases refer to a departure from two empires, i.e., “the Soviet empire” in first case and the Turkish empire in the second case. In the first case, the “bondage” lasted for 45 years, and in the second for five centuries (13931878)24). As is evident, these periods are incomparable. However, this study evaluates the impact of these events on Bulgarian economic science?

First, both these events adversely affected the development of Bulgarian science, in particular, and education, in general, either suppressing or simplifying them ad infinitum. Second, tracing past events has its peculiarities. The attempts to identify the achievements of the pre-Ottoman period, the illustrious past of the Balkan countries while emphasizing the great achievements of Bulgaria resulted in problems and confusion rather than any real progress owing to the distance in time of the events under consideration (Stavrianos, 2000). A return

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