The article focuses on the brief history of Bulgarian samizdat and its attempts to challenge the regime through written discourse as well as on two forms of oral discursive resistance: the Seminar, a mode of discourse rather than any organized and rigid structure, and the group Synthesis, a more coherent formation that had a longer and more turbulent history. I explore the uniqueness of Bulgarian late Communist culture that, unlike its Soviet bloc counterparts, was never truly dissident in character. I seek to reveal why Bulgarian intelligentsia proved incapable of creating the kind of alternative samizdat literature that appeared in other former Communist countries.

While it appears questionable that such semiofficial formations as samizdat, the Seminar, or Synthesis brought down the totalitarian system in Bulgaria, the resistance that they offered played a role in Communism's breakdown. The article's main goal is thus to elucidate the peculiar nature of this resistance—to explicate the role of discourse in undermining the political order. Why did the end of totalitarian terror in Bulgaria take a theoretical turn? Is it fair to say that the breakdown of the regime was discursive? If so, how can we explain the enigma of a large political machine demolished by discourse? The article discusses the premise that what made possible the termination of a regime by theory (if this is what happened) was the very structure of the regime as total discursive control. It explores the hypothesis that, since totalitarianism was a purely linguistic phenomenon, a linguistic act would be the most efficient means to subvert and finally destroy it.

The text of this article is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.