These people are not harmless. They are your future masters. | News and analysis from Bulgaria | DW

Comment from Prof. Evgeniy Dainov:

There is a principle in politics: the one who spews personal insults, who uses vulgar expressions, who makes simple jokes – exactly he wants to enslave you, whatever he wrote in his election program.

Here’s what that looks like. People are creatures that live in groups – they form communities, societies, countries. Within these communities, governance can occur in two main ways: through force or through politics. In the beginning was the power. Humans imitated what they saw in other animals and formed packs led by the strongest individual. Subsequently, moving away from animals through the development of their reason, some human communities began to govern themselves not by force but by politics.

The difference between power and politics is fundamental. There is no equality in power: what the strong says is done. In politics, especially in its democratic version, citizens are equal to each other. No one commands anyone and what the majority agrees to do after general discussion is done.

For politics to happen, a certain way of conducting discussions is necessary. Since no one has the right to insult or command anyone, everyone is owed equal respect. It is no coincidence that when they invented the amazing word “civilization”, the ancient Romans built it on the word “civil”. Even then, it contains at least three meanings. First: situating the terrain of civil rather than military or commercial law. Second: governance based on (equal) civilians, not unequal military. Third: interpersonal relations based on courtesy and good manners.

What can we expect from a politician who relies on brutal talking

From these three meanings of the word “civil” derive the three principles on which our “Western” civilization stands: the rule of law, the rule of civilians and civility in communication between them. Anyone who wants to establish power management must destroy all three principles. It is easiest to start from the back, with the destruction of politeness. Brutal speaking destroys civil equality, reshaping people on the principle of master (swearing) – slave (swearing).

Therefore, two or three decades ago, modern populists began their war against civilization precisely with a campaign against polite speech in the political sphere.

Vladimir Putin was first. In 1999, still as Prime Minister, he commented on the war in Chechnya in the following way: “… and in the kenef we will crush them in the end”. For “crush” he uses “zamochim”, which is extremely crude gangster-prison slang, never before used in public speaking.

Vladimir Putin

In the years that followed, the brutal communication spread like wildfire. In Bulgaria in 2005, Volen Siderov undertook to “cleanse” the parliament of “Turks, Gypsies and non-Bulgarians”. In our country, in contrast to Russia, the protective mechanisms of democracy were able to work, and Siderov was convicted for such speeches. In Russia, they quickly went from brutal speech to brutal rule.

But also across Europe, brutal talk began to pour out from all the radical corners of politics. The leaders of Hungary and Poland hurled vulgar epithets at anyone who disagreed with them, including in the EU leadership. Their far-right imitators across the rest of Europe joined in the chorus. In our country, Boyko Borisov’s discourse set new records for vulgarity and disrespect. Not long after, dozens of Bulgarian politicians and civil servants started on this path: by 2020, the protesting citizens were already described as “plankton”, “sludge”, “tulups”, “herd”. The contagion also reached across the ocean with the inclusion in the bacchanalia of Donald Trump, who was on the verge of turning American democracy into a rule of power.

Chaos and destruction were sown so that force became the main regulator of social relations. As the sociologist Edward Shils reminds us: “… civility is an attitude and a way of acting that tries to achieve a balance between conflicting demands and conflicting interests.” Destroying civility destroys the possibility of such a balance. Henceforth, conflicts between demands and interests can only be resolved by force – that is, between non-equals.

Why it matters how candidates talk about power

Putin’s long-term hybrid war against the political language of Europe aimed not least at establishing brutal speech as a norm, which would bring to the head of individual countries populists similar to him – those who despise “civils”, consider equality to be some kind of “gender” fabrication and promise the establishment of a regime of force. After all, Putin was counting on the fact that when politics died in Europe and a regime of force was established, he, Putin, would prove to be the strongest of all. And it will conquer Europe, starting with Ukraine.

It did not, for all three of the main pillars of our civilization – the rule of law, the rule of civilians, and civility in communication – withstood the onslaught. Those politicians who still continue to say brutal and vulgar things are already shining from afar as potential rapists and allies of Putin.

Prof. Evgeny Dainov

Elections are set. Watch carefully the candidates for power in Bulgaria. Listen to the decent, the polite, the neat. Those who spew insults, spew foul language and demonstrate the shrill behavior of gang leaders – avoid them. They are not harmless. They are your future masters. They will skin you and then sell you to Putin for a handful of rubles or a bottle of gas.


This comment expresses the personal opinion of the author. It may not coincide with the positions of the Bulgarian editorial office and Deutsche Welle as a whole.

The article is in bulgaria

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