Love under Socialism
Could love under socialism bear distinctive, idiosyncratic characteristics that distinguish it from its manifestations in other epochs and in different historical circumstances? The answer depends on one’s presumptions about whether feelings – or at least their visible traces – are historical, time-defined constructs and, hence, socially and culturally shaped concepts as well. According to the theory of social constructivism, society tends to mould, encourage or restrain emotions by deploying particular ideologies, language, cultural practices, implications, expectations and moral norms to affect how they articulated and construed. Love is no exception. The collection Love under Socialism investigates the efforts of the Bulgarian communist regime to directly apply a mechanism of psychological engineering on its citizens, and explores how such endeavours are subject to serious modification “from below”. However, changes in the official socialist paradigm occurred not only due to people’s passive resistance or (to use the French scholar Michel de Certeau’s term) “poaching” on the regime’s cultural norms and products, thus never yielding fully to the totalitarian dictate. Rechanneling of the formal discourse also became possible because of certain factors embedded in the system’s fabric itself. The authors’ objective is to outline those specific strategies and circumstances that redirect the regime’s formulation and management of love away from its initial preconception and definition. As a result, the communist system of impact breaks down, disintegrating into numerous agents – all of whom have their own interests and priorities. By either interacting with or fighting against the formal discourse, these agents contribute to the construction of the complex mosaic of everyday life under real socialism, as well as to the ambiguous situation of feelings within its fabric.