Macedonia and Bulgarian National Nihilism
Ivan Alexandrov


History is primarily based on authenticated historic facts and documents. Consider the question of Vrhovism in the MLM. The so-called Vrhovists, named after the Vrhovnia-Makedono-Odrinski Komitet (VMOK), almost entirely (>90%) came from Macedonia and the Adrianople district. They can only be classed as Bulgarian patriots because the BrotherHoods controlled by the Supreme Committee sought national unification as their main goal. They cannot be classified as fascists, since their philosophy has nothing in common with fascism, which was historically recognized two decades later! There were periods of complete cooperation between the Supreme Committee and IMRO [14]. For example, both Vrhovist and Centralist forces jointly took action during the Ilinden-Prebrazhenski [15] rebellion which commenced later in the Seres district on Krstovden (Day of the Cross, 14th Sept). Even during times when relations between the two groups were quite strained the organization in Bulgaria continued to support the movement in Macedonia.

The Vrhovists however never betrayed the national concept. The main charge against them is that they were instruments of the Bulgarian Monarchy, yet no historic evidence is available which supports this thesis. In reality the criticism of VMOK relates to their aspirations to unite Macedonia with Bulgaria. However was this such an outrage when many IMRO members also shared this same goal? All this is clearly shown by its active participation in the wars for the Bulgarian national cause and the self-dissolution of the organization. The question whether unification might occur through initial autonomy or directly would have depended on the prevailing historic circumstances. It can only be regretted that there were periods of marked disagreement between the Vrhovists and Centralists. These are the particularly sad consequences of this violent struggle within the MLM which led to the well known fratricides. It is therefore quite inappropriate and politically damaging to continue to use the terms Vrhovist and Vrhovism when in truth we want to say "nationalist", "chauvinist", "reactionary", "fascist" or "fascism". We should all be aware of these blatant errors on our own part which continue to assist the foreign falsifiers of our history.

When we consider the policy of national unification, this was the first priority of the Bulgarian state, which may be literally interpreted as the ruling-class leadership. At that time there was no alternate State or political party which could accomplish this task. Therefore it is inappropriate to malign the ruling-class and King for efforts directed at national unification. What we should criticise is their failure to realize or secure the opportunities for unification when they were available.


No Balkan State except for Bulgaria had ethnico-historic rights to Macedonia and the other lands. We may still comprehend a great deal from the subsequent harsh historic reality. Our population in Macedonia could only feel the national freedom to speak, sing, pray and study in its native Bulgarian language while the Bulgarian army controlled the territory. Today only the Bulgarians in the Pirin region of Macedonia protect their nationality, that is in Bulgaria. In the other regions the Bulgarian population were and still are subjected to a systematic state-sponsored program of denationalization, more aptly termed "cultural genocide".

It is regrettable that many times we declare the concept of unification as Greater-Bulgarian chauvinism. However, consider that Bulgaria's most revered revolutionaries Georgi Rakovsky (1821-67), Liuben Karavelov (1834-79), Vasil Levski and Hristo Botev as well as Dame Gruev (1871-1906) and Gotse Delchev (1872-1902) all worked for the unity of the Bulgarian lands, but nobody labels them as chauvinists. To the contrary we emphasise their genuine patriotism. Dame Gruev and his colleagues created IMRO for the sole purpose of saving the Bulgarian people from the influence of the foreign religio-cultural and armed propaganda. But today those Macedonian revolutionaries of the Right-Wing and of IMRO after WWI we label as Greater-Bulgarian chauvinists. Even our own Bulgarian citizens who recount the historic reality are often referred to as Mihailovists. Similarly in Yugoslavia, any Bulgarian-Macedonian who confesses a Bulgarian consciousness is instantly discredited and persecuted as a Mihailovist.

When we proclaim the historic truth and expose the manifestations of foreign nationalism and chauvinism against the Bulgarian people, it is not and cannot be considered an example of Bulgarian chauvinism. If there was a movement for unification of Bulgaria with lands where a foreign population predominated and where the Bulgarian people were a distinct minority then this could be called a manifestation of Bulgarian chauvinism. This "chauvinism" could be accomplished in several deceptive ways: first, by falsifying the population statistics so that the Bulgarians became the majority; second, by claiming other ethnicities as Bulgarians so that the latter predominate; third, by simply proclaiming the foreign native population as Bulgarian. In truth this is exactly how the Serbian and Greek chauvinists acted against the Bulgarians in Macedonia, as they proclaimed them Serbs and Greeks respectively. Now if the just process had in reality occurred, then it would have been argued such a Bulgaria represented not an United Bulgaria but a Greater Bulgaria.

If we examine the works of Ivan Vazov such as "Who are You?" (Pa Shta Si Ti?), "Drunkness in Belgrade" (Pianstvo v Beigrad) and many others we find repeated in rhythmic speech and rhyme the same historic truth we are discussing today. Yet this


so-called Greater Bulgarian chauvinism occurred during the epoch of the Socialist "personality cult". Even today we still have not erased these inconsistent attitudes. We need to realize that the historic truth and the Left terminology describing it are quite contradictory. Similarly, the attempts at national unification should never be demeaned by expressions such as Greater Bulgarian chauvinism. We must cease to regard the concept of an United Bulgaria as something negative, simply because of the views of a narrow-minded clique who saw it as such and applied labels like Greater Bulgaria to conceal their own political intentions. Exarchist Bulgaria, Greater Bulgaria, the Bulgaria outlined at the Conference of Istanbul (1876) and San Stefano Bulgaria (1878) in truth all signify an United Bulgaria.

The question became complex when certain of the ethnic Bulgarian lands during the last decades (since the Liberation or after the wars) underwent a significant change in their original ethnic distribution. The territories concerned are Morava, North Dobrudja, East and West Thrace and in particular Aegean Macedonia. We must realize that if a state has a strategy to hinder the natural (unforced) integration of its scattered minority in another State, a process which mainly occurs through mixed marriages, then this is also a manifestation of chauvinism. Voluntary assimilation is a global process. However we should not be apathetic and silent if 1½-2 million of our people, wherever they reside, are subjected to numerous forms of forced denationalization and assimilation. Our response to such a situation is not and cannot be a manifestation of nationalism or chauvinism. We must strive to understand and rationalize these happenings in a holistic and rational manner. Instead of the latter approach, even now we still preach sectarian dogmatism, national nihilism and indulge in foreign-worship (cosmopolitanism).

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14. Founded 3nd November 1893 in Salonika, that is within Ottoman Macedonia, by Dame Gruev, Ivan Hadzhinikolov, Andon Dimitrov, Hristo Tatarchev, Petur Poparsov and Hristo Batandzhiev. Dr Tatarchev was elected as the first President of the group which initially referred to itself as "Macedonian Revolutionary Organization" (Makedonska revoliutsionna organizatsiia). The organization was first officially known (1897) as the "Bulgarian-Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization" (Bulgarsko-Makedonsko-Odrinsko revoliutsionna organizatsiia). The title was changed in 1902 to "Secret Macedonian-Adrianople Revolutionary Organization" (Taina Makedonska-Odrinska revoliutsionna organizatsiia). After 1905 sources also referred to it as the now familiar IMRO (Vutrehsnata Makedonska revoliutsionna organizatsiia). The aim of IMRO, explicitly defined within its 1897 statutes, was to "gain full political autonomy for Macedonia and the Adrianople Vilayet". Membership however was limited by the statutes to

"any Bulgarian, irrespective of sex, who has not compromised himself in the eyes of the community ... and who promises to be of service in some way to the revolutionary cause of liberation"

In 1902 Gotse Delchev revised the statutes, which he and Giorche Petrov had written in 1897. This was an attempt to make IMRO a more ethnically representative organization. Therefore the title was changed to SMARO and the first article now read

"The aim of SMARO Is to unite in one whole, all discontented elements in Macedonia and the Adrianople area, irrespective of nationality, to win full political autonomy for these two provinces through revolution"

However it is uncertain whether these new amendments were ever ratified.

15. The rebellion actually commenced on 2nd August (St. Elijah's Day or Ilinden) 1903 in the village of Smilevo, near the city of Bitolia. In Adrianople the revolt was called the Preobrazhenski Uprising. The late commencement of action (September) in the Seres district was due to the initial reluctance by local IMRO activists, led by Yane Sandanski, to take part. In all IMRO lost at least 994 men, while the Turkish dead reached 5,328. Some 4,694 Christian noncombatants were also killed. The revolt lasted to about 19th November 1903.