Fear Was Here, Now It Has Taken the Format of a Pandemic
If, instead of well-scared, you get a well-outraged society, it will be news
Mr. Babikyan, an Austrian politician, has recently spoken in his national parliament about the coronavirus hysteria, saying, ignorance is the new reality. This reminds me of Orwell's “1984” postulates: "War is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is power." Will it be exaggerated if we compare them to today's reality in Bulgaria?
It is not an exaggeration. Obviously ignorance is power, otherwise it would not be in power today.
It's not new.
- Of course, but in the past Bulgarian societies have always found the strength to push up the more enlightened. If we go back to those years when the National Assembly took place on a meadow - even then the Bulgarians found a way to send there those who had read and studied more so as to be the head of society. It is as if this ability of society had been lost.
Is fear today a factor that contributes to the placement of ignorance and produces political results?
- Fear is one of the factors. But I am not convinced it will lead to major political changes. Over the last 40-50 days I’ve got fed up with listening to comments that the world will no longer be the same, that people will become better, wiser, that they will cherish true values more. I don't think mentality changes so fast.
And if we talk about the so-called new pandemic order, which is quite convenient for political use?
It's really convenient. The question is to what extent will society allow it to survive. The problem is that quality of life was like the one before the pandemic. Fear for the workplace, for the future. We remember that there were areas in the country where if you are not a GERB member, you cannot enroll your child in kindergarten. Fear has been always here, now it has taken the format of a pandemic. The human being always moves between fear and dreams and seeks balance.
Is it possible a well-frightened majority which takes political decisions on behalf of the whole society to be formed?
- If a well-outraged majority appears, it will be news. Because many people have suffered: unemployment has skyrocketed, businesses have gone bankrupt, it has become clear that the state is a stepmother for some and a mother for others, aid goes first to cronies. Let me be convinced that a rich football club, casino or urban mobility center are the most in need. It makes no sense looking at other countries, it’s painful to get a loan of BGN 1500, let alone state grants.
In contrast, we receive gratuitous briefings in abundant quantities. What are the mantras that the situation has produced?
- In addition to fears and naive complacency, which are equally harmful, we have tragicomic whims, typical of our folklore, about the dark role of 5G, a new world order, the conspiracy world triumvirate of Americans, Russians and Chinese, because we are the center of the world and everyone dreams to rob us. All this was covered with meaningless and contradictory orders. “Trial- and- error” is a model of governance that is exercised over all of us.
At the very beginning of the crisis, it was rumored that the time had finally come for experts to replace the trivial political presence in the media. But it turned out that the experts also became politicized, separated and quarrelled.
- They politicized in a stupid way. Experts should argue with each other, not through the media. Crisis management is a delicate matter and it is not necessary for a doctor to head a crisis headquarters. Headquarters should be run by individuals who can manage people, time and money. Together with professional experts.
From the point of view of PR science and practice, how do you comment on the jokes that quarantine gave birth to and spread through the Prime Minister: fats, turkeys, down pillows, morons sleeping till noon, who, by the way, became "morons" because they lost their jobs. As if the folk style triumphs again?
- This is a long-standing style of Borisov. He had previously given us the qualification of human material and he still considers the deputies to be idlers. This is a clear sign of his attitude towards people, the lack of respect for those who have chosen you, who pay for your salary and who have entrusted you with their money management. No European prime minister would afford it unless he intends to resign in five minutes. In our country, however, it is a norm. Which expresses contempt ...
Does this mean that Bulgarian society is masochistic or do the reasons lie in the century-old urge for self-survival?
- It seems fear is greater than dignity. However, there are other factors. The oligarchy is behind the government and we have a party partner in power - formally it is not there, but it secretly mates with formations of opposing views. Their concepts and meaning have long been shifted. After you have seized justice, the financial system, media - all this tips the scales in your favor. All you need from now on is a Tsvetanov ... That's how far we've come. And over the past 30 years, we have had enlightenments of more democratic and balanced governments. We missed the moment of imposing justice, there should have been a moral sentence for the murderers in the concentration camps, on the subject of State Security, in the export of capital, in the mob fighting period, in the bankruptcy of banks and pyramids and in the CCB affair. People in BG simply do not believe that something can be achieved with education, work, perseverance, talent.
In what state will the political forces come out of the quarantine? The version is that Borisov will earn new bonus points from the "firm hand" during the state of emergency.
- I don’t believe it. The fact is that most state leaders earn bonuses from their rule during the crisis. But now the "day after ..." comes - the hard long day that lasts much more than 24 hours. People and companies will try to stand up for months. And Borissov does not know how to help in such a situation. When a rating is inflated like a balloon in an accident, then it drops rapidly with the same intensity.
Do you see a meaningful and visionary political alternative for upcoming elections?
- As for the BSP and the parliamentary forces - no! But processes are emerging in society that are bubbling beneath the surface. On the field of populism Borisov was a "broad" player, but Slavi Trifonov and Maya Manolova will grab this space from him. I hope that a centrist-right alternative will emerge, initiated by free people who insist on keeping their civic self-confidence and dignity. The configuration can change very quickly. Let's remember - only days before the quarantine, doctors and nurses protested 24/7 under the windows of the Council of Ministers and the Ministry of Health. And then they suddenly became national heroes - because of them, being on the front line. The medics themselves know what a mockery at their work is.
Wasn't it symptomatic for Professor Mutafchiyski saying that now is not the time for science?
It's always time for science, now and ever. But how many people supported the protests of BAS? Have we forgotten Dyankov's "synod old men"? This is the attitude towards scientists in Bulgaria.
Which is the word that will replace "fear" tomorrow?
- They are two - work and action!