Nationalism from the Left

The Bulgarian Communist Party during the Second World War and the Early Post-War Years


'Nationalism from the Left' analyses the case of the BCP as a Marxist institution which increasingly adopted and adapted nationalism; it contributes to the examination of the relatively underresearched field of communist national propaganda, as only in the last decade, have researchers become interested in this topic. It explains the reasons for this and provides evidence of the Party’s nationalism across a number of spheres of political life: domestic and foreign policy, school text books, historiography, festivities and symbols. Thus, the Marxist nationalist discourse of the BCP was all-encompassing. In contrast to many works on national communist parties, 'Nationalism from the Left' identifies many international parallels and presents an historical introduction to the reconciliation of Marxism and nationalism.
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Biographical Note

Yannis Sygkelos, Ph.D. (2006) in Balkan history and Politics, Kingston University, is a member of the academic staff of DEI, Thessaloniki. He has published articles on Balkan history and politics in a range of journals.

Review Quotes

"Sygkelos’s meticulous reconstruction of the national rhetoric [...] is refreshing and ingenious. [...] this is an illuminating study of the functions of national language in communist ideology and practice."
Theodora Dragostinova, The Ohio State University. In: Slavic Review, Vol. 71, No. 3 (Fall 2012), pp. 680-681.

Table of contents

0.1 The ‘archaeology’ of Marxist nationalism

Chapter 1
Marxist nationalism as evolved by the BCP up to 1944
1.1 Regional dynamics and the BCP before and during World War Two
1.2 Elements of the national(ist) discourse of the Bulgarian communist leadership
1.2.a The anti-imperialist theory
1.2.b Patriotism and internationalism
1.2.c Binary divisions
1.3 The Partisan movement
1.3.a Objectives and apparatuses of the partisan movement
1.3.b Use of commemoration and anniversaries
1.3.c Partisan songs
1.3.d Word and symbols
1.3.e Key elements of the nationalist discourse of the resistance movement

Chapter 2
The nationalist discourse in domestic politics
2.1 The political spectrum in post-war Bulgaria
2.2 Disadvantages and advantages of the BCP
2.3 Communist tactics
2.4 Self-presentation of the BCP as national party
2.5 Nation, people, state, and Party
2.6 National enemies
2.7 The ethnic ‘other’

Chapter 3
The nationalist discourse with regard to the international arena
3.1 Binary divisions
3.2 The nation and its friends at the international level
3.2.a Socialist patriotism and proletarian internationalism
3.2.b The anti-imperialist idea and the Cominform
3.2.c The Soviet Union
3.2.d Pan-Slavism
3.2.e Non-Slav socialist friends
3.3 The nation and its enemies on the international level
3.3 a The past and the present worst enemy of the Slav peoples
3.3.b Neighbouring enemy nations of Bulgaria
3.4 National questions
3.4.a The Thracian question
3.4.b The Macedonian question

Chapter 4
Flagging nationhood: Bulgarian communist (re)construction of the national past
4.1(Re)construction of the past: institutional framework
4.2 A peculiar Marxist version of history-writing
4.3 An outline of how the Bulgarian communists narrated the past of Bulgaria
--- Bulgarian lands since prehistory
--- Presentation of origin
--- Byzantine times
--- Cyril and Methodius
--- Survival of the nation under the Ottoman yoke (14th-18th century)
--- National liberation movement against the Turkish Yoke (circa 1860-1878)
--- National integration: Eastern Rumelia-Macedonia (1885-1913)
--- Bulgaria as a semi-colonial country (inter-war years)
--- Second World War – Resistance movement – 9 September 1944

Chapter 5
Flagging nationhood: events and symbols
5.1 Celebrating the Bulgarian nation in the late 1940s
5.2 Anniversaries and commemorations of plainly national character
5.3 Anniversaries and commemorations of national and international character
5.4 Anniversaries and commemorations of a largely socialist character
5.5 National symbols
5.5.a The national emblem
5.5.b The national flag

Marxist nationalism
Why nationalism?

Appendix one: Political Parties
Appendix two: Figures
Appendix three: Tables


All those interested in Bulgarian history, Central and Eastern European post-war history, communism, nationalism, discourse and symbol analysts, researchers of historiography. It can also be used in teaching.


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