Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Those dreadful Communists......


HUNGARY: NOVEMBER 2009
A woman sits bolt upright in the middle of the night. She jumps out of bed and rushes to the bathroom to look in the medicine cabinet. Then, she runs into the kitchen and opens the refrigerator. Finally, she dashes to the window and looks out into the street. Relieved, she returns to the bedroom. Her husband asks, "What's wrong with you?" "I had a terrible nightmare", she says, "I dreamed we could still afford to buy medicine, that the refrigerator was absolutely full, and that the streets were safe and clean. I also dreamed that you had a job, that we could afford to pay our gas and electricity bills and the Hungarian national football team was one of the best in the world.

"How is that a nightmare?" asks her husband. The woman shakes her head, "I thought the communists were back in power."


A Magyarised version of this great Bulgarian joke told by Maria Todorova.
Hat tip: Olching.

8 comments:

Eastern Europe Watch said...

It's a brilliant piece and just this evening in Sofia I was invited out for a meal and a drink by a student of mine who extravagantly paid for a full meal,a bottle of wine, two glasses of oozo and 4 beers.

He told me that his father and mother used to work in the circus. They were gymnasts who were proud of their great talents. He himself is a wrestler who now has to work as a bouncer at a Sofia nightclub.

He told me that after 1990 everything went wrong. That 'democracy' meant little to people like his parents who had paid money into their pensions for 36 years.

Overnight they found it meant nothing anymore. From having a decent income ( he had retired early due to having worn out his joints ) he found that people like him no longer mattered.

He now lives off a pension of 200 leva a month, about a 100 pounds. I make about 700 in my current job. I can't see how it is possible for ordinary people to live here. The average wage is 450 leva a month.

This is just over 200 pounds. I spent 32 leva yesterday on some minor articles from Billa. Clearly I have to avoid Western supermarkets.

I hate them anyway, but as i get used to the Cyrillic alphabet I know I will shop elsewhere.

Meanwhile Borrisov, the PM has made it quite clear that no matter about Bulgaria's finances, it will continue to support the NATO effort in Afghanistan.

The Bulgarian defence minister has admitted they can't actually afford the NATO mission. As Novinite revealed on Nov 6th,

"Bulgaria is not going to reduce the number of its troops in Afghanistan despite the financial difficulties of its Defense Ministry.

Defense Minister, Nikolay Mladenov, said he hoped that additional funds could be allocated to the Ministry’s budget in 2010. Despite the fact that the Defense Ministry will have to adopt austerity measures, it most likely not going to have to cut down on its Afghanistan contingent.

Mladenov and his team are currently working on a report on the financial troubles of their institution.

The Minister said he was worried by the reduced funding for Bulgaria’s military missions and military representatives abroad.

In his words, the idea for setting up a Bulgarian military field hospital in Afghanistan will not be realized soon since that is “a very expensive exercise that we cannot afford.”

http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=109703

Neil Clark said...

thanks, Karl. good to hear from you.
your student and his family are the 'forgotten people'- for western neoliberals penning their oped pieces about the 'liberation' of people from 'communist tyranny' in 1989 they don't exist.
but as you say, although the govts in eastern europe have no money for pensions, they do have enough for 'defence' commitments. The US's hold over countries such as Bulgaria is greater than the Soviet Union's was- even the SU didn't pressurise Warsaw Pact members to send troops to Afghanistan to help the Red Army fight the US backed rebels in the 1980s.
What really annoys me is reading ignorant propaganda pieces from neoliberals who clearly spent haven't much time, if any, in eastern europe since 1989- like this very simplistic piece by Boris Johnson.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/columnists/borisjohnson/6483804/Forget-Guy-Fawkes---remember-remember-the-Ninth-of-November-for-the-fall-of-the-Berlin-Wall.html.

Anyone who has spent any sizable period in eastern europe since 1989, or who has lived there, knows that Johnson's line is total bullshit and that far from being 'liberated' the people of eastern europe are, in so many ways, worse off than they were 20 years ago.

all best and keep up the great work,
Neil

Elmo Lindström said...

I want to apologise on behalf of my post in the last thread.

I agree with you about the need for good public services, a decent old-age pension system and the importance of job creation as a measure of how well a certain economic system is performing.

I was just criticizing the Social Insurance system that we have here in Sweden and how it does more harm than good to the people that it was intended to help. I wanted to know your opinion on the situation in Sweden with regards to immigration and welfare.

I know that you are probably a busy person so I don't mind if you can't reply.

Neil Clark said...

Hi Elmo,
many thanks for your comments, there's no need to apologise!

re welfare/employment issues- i think it is far better for a state to employ a full employment policy as the countries in eastern europe did prior to 1989. it is better for everyone if people are working rather than living on welfare. Unemployment is a tragedy for the individual concerned and for society. I would like to see the state guarantee employment for everyone who is physically able to work. I think this is what the left should be pushing for- not tolerating a system of high unemployment which is cushioned by welfare payments.
re immigration, I think it's a tragedy that, due to the impact of harsh neoliberal economic policies, millions of people around the world are being forced to emigrate for economic reasons. A completely open door, unrestricted immigration policy benefits global capital as it leads to a downward impact on wages, which is why the left should be wary of supporting it. I think the left should support sensible non-racist immigration policies as the Socialist Party of the NL has done.
As I wrote last year:

The SP see the 'free movement of labour' as part of the neoliberal globalist package - something which benefits big business but not ordinary people. Their opposition to immigration is not based on racism - as tends to be the case with the BNP and other far-right parties in Europe - but on their socialist ideology.
http://www.thefirstpost.co.uk/45957,news-comment,news-politics,dutch-socialists-champion-the-left-wing-case-against-immigration

Elmo Lindström said...

Neil Clark, thanks for your reply.

You are right that everybody should have the right to work.

If I were elected as prime minister of Sweden one of my criteria for reform would be that the government be an employer of last resort for those able to work but who cannot find a job elsewhere.

"Public Works" programs are an example of where the government has directly created jobs when there is an economic downturn. This would be preferable to lots of people having to depend on welfare payments for a living.

Also you are right that global economic injustice is the main reason that people are moving to other countries. I hope that one day all countries in the world can become economically prosperous so that having to migrate elsewhere is unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Is that the same mag where you got caught for plagiarism?

Neil Clark said...

elmo, many thanks.

'anonymous'- er, no.
i have never been 'caught for plagiarism', but a certain obsessional and extremely vindictive individual who has been attempting to 'destroy' my career for the past four years because I committed the 'crime' of criticially reviewing his pro-war book accused me of plagiarism- as he has accused me of many other things in the past four years.

you were exposed as an obsessional crank with your comments on this thread (and elsewhere), yet still you keep on digging.
http://neilclark66.blogspot.com/2009/09/serbias-democrats-turn-draconian.html

Gregor said...

@Neil
Entirely agree with your comment. Re welfare it is a sign of how biased our media is that they imply that it is the right that supports the work ethic when our unemployment figures are largely thanks to Thatcherism.

Secondly, it seems to me that the left have become blinded to the fact that immigration is a privilege and that whilst bigotry towards immigrants is nasty, bigotry towards the host country is equally so. I thought about this concerning the case of the immigrant woman who was given over £4,000 pounds for her 8 year campaign to press the nation that was kind enough to accommodate her to change its cherished customs:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/03/italy-classroom-crucifixes-human-rights?CMP=AFCYAH


Over 80% of Italians want crucifixes to stay in their schools yet the ‘democratic’ EU ignores them. Yet, I bet she will become a celebrity for the new ‘left’. I always thought that ‘human rights’ were protecting people from being beaten and wrongly imprisoned (which happens to EU poster boy Saakashvilli’s opponents). Yet apparently it is a ‘human right’ to force your adopted country to change its customs.

As it is, I think that the EU has achieved SOME good things and Europe has a fairly unified cultural identity that should be emphasised. Yet when it acts as a dictatorship to enfranchise whingers at the expense of the majority, it will probably fall spectacularly and encourage insular nationalism throughout the continent.