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Bulgarian Economic Thought since 1989: - page 9 / 22

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to the pre-communist achievements owing to the closeness in time would have resulted in a few benefits (especially when dealing with practical issues); however, unfortunately, this was not realised. Third, both these periods significantly impacted the emergence of extreme anti-state, liberal, and even anarchistic outlooks25). This is explained with the help of the fact that the defeat the Ottoman system of state and state power became evident with the collapse of the power of the state in principle (Black, 1943, 520); their views inevitably contradicted the need for administration and governance of state affairs. Therefore, for example, in 1982, Konstantin Stoilov (18531901) stated, “…Bulgarian people had evolved political habits under Ottoman rule which made the application of a democratic form of government very difficult. For several generations a spirit of disregard for government and revolt against the government had prevailed” (Black, 1943, 519).

A similar explanation may also be provided for the emergence of extremely liberal outlooks, which however did not appear instantly, but in the mid-1990s as a response to the slow reforms and totalitarian past (a number of publications of the Institute for Market Economy, a few members of the Bulgarian Hayek Society, etc. deserve a mention here), which gradually disappeared and gave way to a period of pragmatism that eventually led to the emergence of populism and nationalism as seen today (see Krastev, 2007).

Therefore, much like Bulgarian history, past knowledge was an unrealised, impossible, and under certain circumstances, a detrimental anchor for the formation of economic knowledge in Bulgaria after 1989. As a result, the channel of knowledge obtained from overseas was the only other channel of information and therefore became the basic channel.

In the past, i.e., after liberation, concepts essentially found their way into the country only after the collapse of the “empires.” Despite some penetration of European concepts into the Balkan countries within the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, the economic and social knowledge of the Balkan countries stood somewhat in isolation and lacked any significant achievements, and it is only after these countries were liberated that any developments were noticed (Psalidopoulos and Theocarakis, 2009; Black, 1943). With respect to the socialist period, hardly any Western concepts could make their way into these countries owing to censorship and party control. Unlike their Polish, Hungarian, or Czech counterparts, the possibilities of Bulgarian scholars receiving Western grants or travelling and communicating with their Western counterparts were rather limited (see Ford Foundation, Wagener, 1998, 20). The few Bulgarian scholars who did get such opportunities were considered to be the most loyal and ideologized party members; however, subsequently when the secret archives were opened, these members appeared to have been collaborating with the Communist secret services.

The economic knowledge and models of thought obtained from overseas sources acquired almost monopolist significance in both teaching and research, as well as in the conduct of economic policy. The basic instruments of this influence were the international financial institutions (primarily IMF and World Bank)26), which as Wagener has appropriately articulated are the “monsters of conditionality.” In reality, foreign debt servicing and requirements in terms of new financing, technical assistance, etc. became important conditions for penetrating economic thought through a number of national and supranational banks, investment funds, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) etc. During in the initial years, numerous grants were extended under various forms and from different sources, which allowed numerous Bulgarians to specialise and study in Europe, USA, and Japan (see Dimitrov, 2002). A number of Bulgarian scholars seized the opportunity to study

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