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Studium Generale

Alain Kessi
Global Mobilizations - What are the protests in Prague all about?
Liquidation of the economy and new dependencies - the example of Bulgaria

It is hardly accidental that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, better known under its sobriquet 'World Bank' or short WB, are staging their next meeting in Prague. [1] After the two Bretton-Woods institutions (named after the place where they were founded in 1944) have already held a first meeting this year in Washington, they situate this event in a region in which in the past ten years they have properly wreaked havoc and muddled up the social conditions.

Answering a call by local anarchist and other groups, thousands will take to the streets in Prague on 26 September in order to protest against the meeting. Some of them will have traveled a long way to get there. This protest is part of a series of world-wide mobilizations which aim to attack and delegitimize events organized by international financial and trade organizations. In the form that has become paradigmatically known through the "Battle of Seattle", the global mobilizations started off in May 1998, when a broad protest - not only in Geneva itself but also in world-wide decentralized actions - became visible during the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. Since then, a wonderful energy, a new optimism has resulted from each international action day and has become the basis for working on preparing the next. Actions and logistics are discussed on a variety of regional and thematic e-mail lists. What seems to be a bit harder in the midst of this actionism is the common elaboration of analyses and background information.

So far, in the mobilization for Prague, little attention has been paid to the specific situation in Eastern Europe and the influence of the two Bretton-Woods institutions on the region. On the many web sites that mobilize for the protests, background texts dealing with Eastern Europe are the exception. Most of the analyses are visibly taken from earlier campaigns against structural adjustment programs (SAPs) in Asia, Africa or Latin America and are now being applied without modification to the situation in Eastern Europe.

It seems that large parts of the new wave of mobilizations take a rather anti-capitalist, anti-racist and anti-sexist stance. As a smallest common denominator this is already quite a lot. However, the rhetoric seems to be approximately the same for every summit, for every event, building on a somewhat superficial understanding of anti-imperialism. Whether the protest is directed against the WTO or against the IMF/WB, one hears more or less the same rather general criticism of transnational corporations, of the destruction of livelihoods, of the neoliberal imposing of an international staggered exploitation. The mechanisms and strategies, the concrete role of this or that institution in the international power construct, often remain only vaguely sketched.

I would like to attempt here to summarize a few thoughts specifically on the role of the IMF and the World Bank in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and to contribute, in view of the mobilizations for Prague, to a more concrete discussion - also in the hope that a more precise analysis may help in achieving a clearer demarcation from right-wing and neo-nationalist anti-globalization discourses.

Historical precedent - German Grossraumpolitik in the 30ies
Eastern and South-Eastern Europe was confronted with policies similar to those of the Bretton-Woods institutions even before the IMF and the WB were founded. In the course of the Grossraumpolitik (lit. large space policy) of the National-Socialist government of Germany the region was embedded in a gradient of geographically staggered dependency from the German center and its exploitability ensured through financial structures that prefigured almost all the aspects of the Bretton-Woods structures to come, and through a regional differentiation of the production structure. The aim here is in no way to equate the imperialism of Bretton-Woods with German National-Socialism, but to show certain clearly defined parallels between the economic and "development" tools already in the phase of subjugation without bloodshed, in the period before the Blitzkrieg campaign and the setting up of the industrial NS destruction apparatus. Only a few aspects will be mentioned here. Further details can be found in the article by Detlef Hartmann in Autonomie Nr. 14. [2]

The German project of a South-East European Grossraum as part of Greater Germany eventually failed due to the resolute resistance mainly of peasants who were to be subdued and annihilated through this first "green revolution" (soy offensive, etc.) that served as a model for the better-known "green revolution" of the 60ies under the Bretton-Woods regime. One first consequence of the technological attack was a radical redefinition of the production and trade structures in the countries under attack. With the introduction of monocultural cash-crops production the agriculture was reoriented towards export, in the case of Bulgaria especially tobacco, to the detriment of the growing of wheat for local use. This destroyed subsistence structures, which set workers free for exploitation in the industry, including agricultural monoculture industry. The introduction of technology that went along with the monoculture in agriculture led to dependency from the German industry for machines, know-how, seeds, herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers. At the same time the entire trade and processing chain, and thus also the opportunity to siphon off surplus value, came under the control of large internationally active corporations. The power relations between the German metropole and the South-East European "development countries" allowed the relative prices between the "expensive" industrial products and "cheap" raw materials and agricultural products to be fixed arbitrarily. This artificially created price difference led to the absurd situation that Germany stocked up with the raw materials and food products it needed from Eastern and South-Eastern Europe while at the same time it managed not to pay for them. On the contrary, with its long-term credit scheme it pushed the countries delivering these goods into a dependency through debt. An overview of the case of Bulgaria, where an elite shared common ideas of modernization with the German planners and where little force was used, can be found in an article by Thomas Bohn in Beiträge zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik Nr. 12. [3]

John Maynard Keynes, together with Harry White from the Roosevelt administration the main architect of Bretton-Woods, learned from the mistakes of the Nazi economists as well as from those of the early New Dealers of Roosevelt who had attempted a similar Grossraum project in Latin America, the "Panamerican Cartel", and had similarly failed to impose their project against the resistance of peasants living in subsistence. [4] The essential innovation Keynes added to the economic project of his Nazi and New-Deal role models was a facade of legitimization. At least in the eyes of Western and Northern elites, the reality of destruction through development, i.e., of the break-up of social contexts and the destruction of livelihoods by introducing new technologies, retreated into the background. Instead, the new scheme presented a humanistic responsibility of "development aid" as a pretext for intervention - the "civilized" phase of the "New Order".

Perestroika as an attack on social demands
After the first economic-technological attack, followed by an industrial war attack, of German imperialism in the 30ies and the first half of the 40ies, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe for four decades came under the influence of a different political-economic strategy of a modernization attack and of international division of labor - Stalinian state capitalism. This system, after it had shown some success in wiping out the subsistence economy and forcing workers to submit to the logic of capital accumulation, went into a deep crisis by the end of the 60ies - at about the same time as the factory regime in the Western Fordist system. The structures of legitimization that had brought the modernization program rather broad support in various countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe in the time of awakening after WWII, at least in urban milieus, had become shaky. The egalitarian ideology had come into too stark a contradiction with the party-based power structures. Some forms of resistance are reminiscent of the forms of struggle of the "autonomia operaia" in Italy: "They pretend to be paying us, and we pretend to be working." As opposed to Western capital, that fled from the successful resistance of the workers into a neoliberal deregulation and an international division of labor within the production processes themselves, the "Soviet"-Russian [5] capital lacked the necessary flexibility. Perestroika was the attempt of the "Soviet" elites to shatter the social structures that had formed and sedimented under the influence of an egalitarian legitimizing ideology and now stood in the way of an effective accumulation of capital, and to launch a renewed modernization attack. [6]

This new orientation of the "Soviet" and East European elites gave Western capital the unique opportunity to gain control over the East and South-East European economies and force them into a dependency similar to the dependency previously imposed on the so-called "Third World" - by means of institutions like Nato, the IMF, the World Bank, the EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The developments since the beginning of Perestroika, and especially over the last ten years, are characterized by common interests between local or national elites in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe and the Western imperialist structures. The Western discourse on corruption and Mafia-like structures in Eastern Europe overlooks the intricate connection between the nouveau-riche sectors of society in Eastern Europe and the economic interests of Western capital. Corruption always has an active and a passive side to it, and it is the active side that is the driving force. In this case, these are Western governments and corporations as well as the international institutions under their control. This is not to minimize the interests of the East European nouveaux riches - but these have to be seen in the context of a much broader attack by Western institutions.

Mafia? Nouveaux riches?
The Bulgarian discussion also speaks of the "Mafia", but the term bears a different connotation from that in the Western discourse. A different term, the "nouveaux riches", covers further intricacies of the semantic scope. The differences in use refer to differences between East and West and thus deserve some elaboration.

In Bulgaria the term of the Mafia is used for the hierarchical structures intricately interwoven with state institutions in which influential businesspeople have divided up certain markets among themselves, which they consistently defend against new competitors. There certainly are parallels between these Mafia structures and those of the Italian or US-American Mafia. The use of the term "Mafia" in Western Europe however is so much determined by the idea that there is a good, orderly market and an evil, Mafia-driven market that the term becomes unusable in English or German to describe the situation in Eastern Europe. In addition, the discourse on the Russian or Bulgarian Mafia always carries racist attributions and indulges in conspiracy theories that play with the fear of "foreign" influence on West European national economies.

I prefer the term "nouveaux riches", because it seems better to grasp the social process that has led to this new elite. The term "nouveaux riches" (Bulgarian: novobogatazhi; Russian: nuvorish) is in use in Bulgaria and also in Russia and designates those people who were in the right place at the right time and made a great deal of money by plundering the party assets at the beginning of the 90ies. The more literary term "parvenu" (Bulgarian: parvenyu) bears an even clearer negative connotation and designates those who obtained a social position that was not meant for them - with the slight difference that in Bulgaria the term is used from below and not by an aristocracy looking down on uprising petty-bourgeois. Unlike the nouveau-riche capitalists in the times of British industrialization who had to press their entire increase in fortune out of the workers unless they made their profit out of colonial trade, [7] the Bulgarian not-so-new elites were in a position to appropriate in no time an enormous starting capital from the party assets. This means they had the entire surplus value, the exploitation of a period of several decades immediately at their disposal - courtesy of the collapsing "Communist" Party. The tremendous speed at which this process took place may also explain why the nouveaux riches have not been able to create, other than with turbo-folk (Bulgarian: chalga), Mercedes and mobile phones, a culture and aesthetics legitimizing their class. Consequently, the public perceives them indeed as threatening and powerful, but at the same time as ridiculous.

IMF and nouveaux riches hand in hand
When at the end of the 80ies the "Communist" Party in Bulgaria decided with the "Lukanov Plan" to turn itself into a capitalist corporation of Western type and started to send young party cadres to ivy-league management schools in the United States, an entire new generation of businesspeople was formed. Upon their return, these freshly-baked professionals got the knack of massively diverting state and party money into their own pockets by means of intermediary private firms and fake or excessive invoices. This served as a starting capital that was later multiplied by embargo trade (mainly of oil, shiploads of which traveled up the Danube) with Serbia during the Yugoslav wars at the beginning of the 90ies - including by people who are close to the current government. [8] In this way a gap opened between the impoverishing population at large and the nouveau-riche elites. A phase of brutal (including physically) original accumulation was necessary for creating this social inequality, which can be seen as a necessary precondition for the Western invasion of the Bulgarian economy. Former top sportsmen (so-called bortsi, plural of borets = wrestler) united their forces with the nouveau-riche party cadres and with former secret service agents and saved their social status into the new era as bodyguards and henchmen. This openly brutal phase has come to an end insofar as in 1997 the government gave the parallel economy the opportunity to legalize their assets and businesses and the "Mafia" itself now has an interest of its own in "peace and order" and a good investment climate.

It is only through these new, aggressive and predominantly male elites [9] that the liquidation of the Bulgarian economy necessary to the Western interests (as well as for the modernizing interests of said elites) could be achieved. The Bulgarian elites were interested in the destruction of the economy insofar as they could pocket the assets of companies that were being liquidated - the IMF and other Western players insofar as the liquidation of the economy and especially of its functioning sectors was a precondition for forcing the Bulgarian economy into a lasting dependency and embed it into an international division of labor to the benefit of Western corporations. This common interest of the local elites and of the international institutions opened the door to the latter and allowed them to infiltrate their experts and from then on continuously to exert a decisive influence on the political and economic orientation of the governments.

The pressure from the IMF - which makes further credits to the government for bridging financial bottle-necks dependent on a series of conditions - to swiftly privatize state-run companies, as well as the preparatory work of the World Bank for splitting off and privatizing the profit-making departments of the companies (while loss-making departments continue to be run by the state or are shut down), imposes a completely non-transparent process of privatization and correspondingly the personal enrichment of those who sit in the right places. Due to the time pressure imposed by the IMF and the government, in many privatization deals few or no offers were sent in in answer to the call putting the company up for sale, so that persons close to the government have been able to buy the companies for next to nothing.

It is startling in what detail the agreements between the IMF and the government defines the policies of the government in all kinds of areas. Besides general principles like the balancing of the budget, they prescribe a raise in the pensionable age, plan the closure of 243 kilometers of loss-making train tracks, require the privatization of banks, abolish in the case of the IMF the duty of bank employees to maintain confidentiality, lift the ban on the export of unfermented tobacco, and stipulate the regular elaboration and publication of a series of statistics.

The politics of the IMF and the World Bank are sometimes in contradiction with each other. In the case of the state railways the IMF demands that they be subsidized by the state with at most 20 million US dollars. The World Bank on the other hand assumes that the state railway company fulfills duties of public relevance and is obliged by law to maintain the infrastructure and to continue running loss-making stretches. As a consequence they should receive 360 million US dollars in compensation by the state. Asked about this contradiction, the experts of the IMF and the World Bank shrug their shoulders. Whatever the Bulgarian State does in this case, it cannot fulfill the conditions.

Example: The liquidation of the agricultural cooperatives
In 1992/93, liquidation councils were installed by the "democratic" (blue) government in all municipalities in Bulgaria with the aim of liquidating the agricultural cooperatives (known in Bulgaria under the abbreviation TKZS - Agricultural Labor Cooperative). The party functionaries set to task to sell off the machines at give-away prices, to wangle the real-estate for themselves or acquaintances of theirs, and send the livestock - including breeding cows that had been imported just recently for serious amounts of money - to the slaughterhouse or sell them to former employees of the cooperatives through a system of vouchers. Most of the former employees have been unemployed since the liquidation. The agricultural production is but a shadow of the fruit and vegetable production formerly exported into the entire Eastern Bloc. The market-oriented breeding of livestock is now concentrated in just a few factory-like holdings. At best did some of the men find work in the new cooperatives that have been built up on the ruins of the TKZS by daring entrepreneurs. Or they herd the goats, sheep or cows of the richer inhabitants of the village. The rights and liberties the women had fought for within the state capitalist system have for the greatest part been drowned in the return to a more traditional distribution of roles.

Those who received some land (either because they or their parents had contributed their property to the TKZS or because they had earned their right through the length of their employment) and have the possibility to grow some fodder cereal on it, can afford to keep some cows or goats. Almost all however have been excluded from the directional arrow of historical time (this progress that goes along with technological attacks, but at the same time gives rise to some hope of improvement in the conditions of living) and are now caught in the cycle of seasons. They have not gone back to the type of subsistence that has been effectively destroyed by the "green revolutions" of the Nazis and the "Communists", but rather been forced into a new, extremely precarious subsistence. Most manage to feed themselves - but many do not have money to send their children to school, be it for shoes, for a shirt, for the bus or for the schoolbooks. The subsidies have been cut due to the pressure of the IMF, the TKZS have been closed upon pressure from the EU and the nouveau-riche elites, the people practice the art of survival.

Example: The health reform
The health sector has traditionally been substantially regulated and subsidized by the state. It should therefore come as no surprise that it has been one of the first worries of the IMF in all countries of Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. The free medical treatment guaranteed by the state had to be destroyed and replaced by a market-capitalist health-care system that is not accessible to most people. Concretely, in Bulgaria those who cannot afford a private doctor and depend on the state insurance are often treated in a lousy or even life-threatening way, receive heaps of obviously wrong diagnoses, have to run through half the city to find a syringe and a needle, have to find medication themselves on the black market or from abroad, are put off to a month later (if it so happens that they are still alive by then) because some medication is not on stock. Broken windows cannot be replaced, so that an ice-cold draft goes through operating rooms in the winter. Since there are not enough antiseptics to maintain hygienic conditions, in some departments it is purely and simply forbidden to receive visitors.

The shortage in public polyclinics imposed by the IMF - by tightening the screw on the budget - pushes those who can somehow get hold of the necessary funds into the private clinics and practices, and leaves the others to cope with a sometimes deadly public medical system that is but a shadow of what the state health-care used to be. Many choose not to see a doctor to begin with, since they cannot afford some and do not trust the others. This IMF strategy successfully lowers the reproduction cost and sets resources free for servicing the debt and for modernization programs.

Restructuring business practices
The common description of the economic changes sees a centrally planned business practice being replaced by a practice based on the market and on competition. This ideologically biased description has led to such absurdities as "experts" appointed by the World Bank and other Western institutions repeating for years to the address of managers of the state monopolies that they should stop "planning" and start acting on the market - only to send them, in more recent times, into planning courses, since by now the ideological preparation has progressed sufficiently that it can be admitted that planning is part and parcel of market-economic activities. Also, the transition is not so much a change from monopolies to competition, but rather a transfer of the state monopolies to Western quasi-monopolies.

A far more characteristic trait of business practices in Bulgaria before the Western modernization attack, a trait that must have caused much more headache to the international institutions than the planned economy as such, is the lack of written rules of business practices and the importance of personal relationships in making business deals. This system, sometimes described as "patriarchal" in discussions in Bulgaria, left no chance to Western corporations at the beginning of the 90ies to enter the Bulgarian market under their conditions. They were always dependent on intermediaries who not only spoke Bulgarian and were familiar with Bulgarian business practices, but who had also in long years of practice woven a net of contacts and relationships without which it was, at the time, impossible to do business in Bulgaria. It should come as no surprise that in the West European public this kind of business ethics is seen to be linked to "corruption", "clan structures", "Mafia". That is not to say that the phenomenon is unknown in the West - think of German Chancellor Kohl's "word of honor" with which he sought to put an end to the scandal around the CDU party accounts.

Within a few years the World Bank, the EBRD and the Phare program have managed to turn a situation in which Western companies had no chance into one that completely excludes Bulgarian companies. Although the World Bank and similar institutions do not contribute large loans to projects (in return, other credit institutes are likely to trust the World Bank's decision to support a project, so that the participation of the World Bank opens up much larger credit lines than just those of the bank itself), its participation is tied to the condition that a call for tenders is issued, following the guidelines of the respective institution. This is a potent instrument for eradicating the economy of relationships and for imposing an ostensibly "transparent" procedure - a procedure that in reality just favors a different set of market players. It turns out that Bulgarian companies, even those whose managers are Harvard graduates, often have the greatest difficulties not to be excluded from the bid for serious irregularities in their tender. Out of more than 40 contracts in the context of the renewal of the state railways BDZ signed in 1998, only one insignificant delivery contract was awarded to a Bulgarian company. The only chance for other Bulgarian companies to get some of the crumbs is to be chosen as a subcontractor by one of the international corporations, or to offer services to the consultants of the international institutions.

In the large state monopolies so-called PIUs (Project Implementation Units) were created, special departments with about half a dozen employees who besides Bulgarian also speak perfect English and serve as an interface between the international institutions and the Bulgarian structures still characterized by the economy of relationships. In collaboration with experts appointed by the international institutions and unofficially bought by this or that corporation, the Bulgarian PIU people develop the calls for tender, the contracts with the international institutions and, in the final phase, the actual contracts with the corporations that have won the bid. Depending on the influence of the experts, but also of the directors of the state company and the ministers in charge, who may have been promised by the competition one to two percent of the project sum (compared to about ten percent profit margin) in case of successful lobbying, the tender documents are tailor-made for one or the other corporation.

When the Bulgarian State takes up large loans in order to implement its modernization program it does not by any means follow that a real improvement of the infrastructure will be achieved (never mind to the benefit of the population at large). In the case of one of the large state monopolies the loan-financed renewal of the internal communication infrastructure will probably never function, or at least will never allow an improvement of the services provided. The fact that a director of the state company was lobbying for the consortium of Hewlett Packard and Oracle, and a minister was backing the consortium of Compaq and Informix, led to a stalemate in the tender evaluation procedure. A compromise was found in which HP/Oracle was awarded one part of the project, and Compaq/Informix was awarded another part. The solutions proposed by the two consortia are technically not compatible and will for a long time to come require the efforts of IT experts (IT = Information Technologies) to patch up the project parts into a makeshift system. At least for some Bulgarian specialists this is a chance to get a more or less well-paid job for some time. The alternative, for the state company, is to sign another contract with the two consortia, for a lot of money, for them to integrate their systems and make them compatible.

Hyperinflation is redistribution
At the beginning of 1997 the socialist government of Zhan Videnov was forced to resign by street protests - among other things the parliament building was taken by storm by protesters, which exceptionally gave Bulgaria a place on the title pages of the international media. During the last few months of this government the inflation increased greatly and reached 2000% in March (extrapolated to one year). This corresponds to redistribution on a large scale. The population at large that had been forced, especially in the years before 1989, to put away money due to the lack of consumption and luxury goods on the market, lost a large part of its savings in the process. In addition, a quarter of the Bulgarian banks were liquidated in order to put an end to a banking crisis that was driving inflation up because the deficit was covered by the National Bank by issuing banknotes. In this process another part of the savings went down the drain, even if a certain amount could be recovered from the bank by standing in line for days on end. In return, those who had come to enjoy large credits due to their connections (the so-called "credit millionaires") and had in fact thus started the banking crisis rolling profited greatly, since with the devaluation of the lev their credits shrunk to a mere fraction of their original value. In short, the hyperinflation played an important role in the expropriation of the population at large and the stabilizing of the new elites. In everyday life the effect of hyperinflation was that the prices in the shops were corrected several times a day. Immediately after receiving one's salary one had to spend it. When the new government, in collaboration with the IMF, installed a currency board and checked inflation by tying the lev to the German mark and through a restrictive monetary policy of the National Bank, the primary effect was that everyday life became easier. The intention of the government, of course, was not to relieve people of the obligation to spend their money as fast as they could. In a report one year after the introduction of the currency board, experts of the Bulgarian National Bank recapitulated the reasons for its introduction: "Bulgaria's foreign exchange reserves fell below the critical minimum which impeded normal service of the country's foreign debt." [10] The correlation between hyperinflation and the introduction of the currency board seems more complex than could be imagined at first. Anne-Marie Gulde, Senior Economist at the IWF, remarks in a report that the hyperinflation at the beginning of 1997 has "helped ensure the viability of the currency board - by reducing the real value of domestic debt, which had initially been a threat to a balanced budget, it made fiscal management without recourse to the central bank possible." [11]

Resistance against the politics of the World Bank and the IMF, or the EU and other international institutions, turns out to be difficult in Bulgaria, like in most other East or South-East European countries. The most important aspect of this is that any kind of collective organizing, even solidarity as such, have been thoroughly discredited by their ideologically charged official use in the period before 1989. Protests and resistance therefore remain on an individual level or on the level of single-issue groups reacting to a specific event. Although it becomes clear in discussions that many do understand the role of international institutions in forcing the Bulgarian society to submit to the logic of a geographically staggered exploitation, only few dare break out of the hegemonic perception that there is no alternative to embedding the Bulgarian economy into structures dominated by the West. Especially the agriculture has been so thoroughly destroyed that indeed it does not seem easy to choose a more autonomous path. Thus remains the hope to find oneself, one day, on the more comfortable end of the system of exploitation and, if it is impossible to enter the EU within reasonable time, at least to be taken off the black list of the EU and be able to travel to Western Europe without a visa. It is unlikely however that the promise of joining "the West" and the promise of prosperity that has so far kept people quiet, will indefinitely pacify those who see themselves cheated out of their future through the modernization attack. Between the pressure of the international institutions, coupled with the interests of a Bulgarian elite, and the mounting anger of the population against state politics, the government is not left with much scope for action.

But how does the wish of many East Europeans to open up to the outside, i.e., to take part in a globalization, combine with the anti-globalization rhetoric of a certain part of the international mobilizations? Would it be thinkable and worthwhile to depart from that rhetoric, taking into consideration also that it is difficult, with leftist anti-globalization slogans, to demarcate oneself from similar right-wing and nationalist discourses? In actual fact the resistance of the global mobilizations is not directed "against globalization", after all, but against those who prevent a real globalization in which each person could choose where and how they wish to live, through manifold instruments of regulation - border controls towards the outside, racist laws towards the inside, the perpetuation of trade structures favoring the industrialized countries, a mixture of military threat, war and financial and trade-based imposing of dependency.

"For a globalization of rights", protesters demanded recently in Bologna during a meeting of the OECD (Organization for Economic Collaboration and Development). With this they refer to an operaist description of class struggle that has at least the advantage of moderating a rampant defeatism in view of singular struggles lost: One and a half centuries of internationalist class struggle have pushed capital in a corner to such an extent that it had to flee into a globalization of production processes. By flexibilizing production it has largely succeeded in undermining the effectiveness of the classical Fordist struggles. At the same time capital has caught itself a global resistance movement - a movement that takes the task of globalization seriously. Such a description departs from the struggles of retreat of the nostalgics of Fordism and opens up a new perspective in which social change is not imposed only by technological attacks according to the exploitation interests of capital. A global process of resistance and of struggles grounded in the respective local conditions and relating to each other globally offers the chance to formulate one's own wishes and together to develop new social models in solidarity.

It is likely that in Prague the arrival of a large number of activists from various countries will be at the center of public attention. But it should not be forgotten that a global mobilization is effective only to the extent that it can strengthen local struggles. These local struggles will continue after 26 September, when most of the guests will have left. Until then there is an opportunity for an exchange about analyses and forms of resistance that can advance and strengthen the respective struggles - so that in Eastern Europe as well the ideological and social barriers for a broad resistance may fall.

[1] By now the protests in Prague have taken place. Despite a strong mobilization and the valuable fact that there were protests at all, the discussion started in this article about international activists being out of touch with local processes and the specifics of each summit seems more urgent than ever. (Note added 5 November 2000)
[2] Detlef Hartmann, "Völkermord gegen soziale Revolution - Das US-imperialistische System von Bretton Woods als Vollstrecker der nationalsozialistischen Neuen Ordnung" (Genocide against social revolution - The US-imperialist system of Bretton-Woods as implementor of the National-Socialist New Order), Autonomie - Materialien gegen die Fabrikgesellschaft, Neue Folge (Autonomie - Materials against the society of the factory, New Series), Nr. 14 (2nd, unmodified edition 1987). Even though in the text Hartmann describes quite precisely how the financial instruments were developed in parallel in the different imperialist countries, and which innovations were in fact introduced by the Nazi economists, the title of his article seems to step into the trap of anti-imperialist discourses of the 70ies, which daemonized US imperialism as the implementor of Nazi politics and ignored such fine differences as the Holocaust.
[3] Thomas M. Bohn, "Bulgariens Rolle im 'wirtschaftlichen' Ergänzungsraum Südosteuropa" (Bulgaria's role in the 'economic' supplementary space of South-Eastern Europe), in Beiträge zur nationalsozialistischen Gesundheits- und Sozialpolitik (Contributions on the National-Socialist Health and Social Policies) Nr. 12, "Besatzung und Bündnis - Deutsche Herrschaftsstrategien in Ost- und Südosteuropa" (Occupation and alliance - German strategies of domination in Eastern and South-Eastern Europe) (1995), pp. 111-138.
[4] Following an operaist description we could speak more generally of the resistance of the Class. This term is distinct from that of the "working class" in that it includes all antagonist, not integrable forces, including especially peasants whose self-providing way of life (subsistence), from the point of view of capital, needs to be destroyed in order to guarantee their exploitability in the first place.
[5] "Soviet" und "Soviet"-Russian is set in quotes, since after the October revolution one of the first attacks of the Bolshevists around Lenin was against the "Soviets", i.e., the councils, which were stripped of their power. From then on the "Soviet" Union had little to do with the republic of councils that social revolutionaries had been fighting for.
[6] Cf. also: Materialien für einen neuen Antiimperialismus (Materials for a new anti-imperialism) Nr. 4, "Das Ende des sowjetischen Entwicklungsmodells - Beiträge zur Geschichte der sozialen Konfrontationen mit dem sozialistischen Akkumulationskommando" (The end of the Soviet development model - Contributions to the history of social confrontations with the socialist accumulation command) (1992).
[7] Cf. Eric Hobsbawm, Industry and Empire - From 1750 to the Present Day (1968, revised and updated edition 1999).
[8] On the history of the Bulgarian nouveaux riches cf. also Alain Kessi, "Kriegsgewinnler und Embargoverlierer" (War profiteers and embargo losers), in com.une.farce 3/99, encore.une.farce; extended version of an article in Jungle World No. 29/99, 14 July 1999.
[9] On the gender polarization of society after the "change" cf. Judith Dellheim, "Lateinamerika im Osten?" (Latin America in the East?), Ost-West-Gegeninformationen (East-West Counter-Informations) Nr. 2/97, July 1997, Alternativ-sozialistisches Osteuropakomitee Graz (Alternative Socialist Eastern-Europe Committee Graz).
[10] Victor Yotzov et al., "The First Year of the Currency Board in Bulgaria", Bulgarian National Bank, Discussion Paper 1, September 1998.
[11] Anne-Marie Gulde, "The Role of the Currency Board in Bulgaria's Stabilization", Finance & Development, September 1999, Volume 36, No. 3, p. 36.