Ukrainian Disappointment..

While everyone is focused on the French elections, the Balkans, or the contreaty relaunch (in increasing order of wonkishness), it’s not going too well in the Ukraine. Back in the winter of 2004, you couldn’t move for bloggers taking sides on the Orange Revolution, but hardly anyone has noticed the progressive disappointment since.

Well, all revolutions end up eating their children, they say. But I think it’s fair to say that this one at least turned the country in a less Putin-like direction, and after all, past revolutions here have actually ended up with people eating *their* children. Recently, though, there’s been a political murder – one of Yanukovich’s backers from last time was assassinated by a sniper – and the Associated Press can no longer tell President Yuschenko from Prime Minister Yanukovich.

So, the crowds are out again, as are the tents…with the same leaders as before. Indispensable as ever, Veronica Khoklova reports, with video.

In a sense, I suppose it’s the aim of the European project these days – to shift away from snipers towards tents and blogs as a means of resolving political conflict, and in the fullness of time, to falling turnout and general apathy. Hooray! Not that there’s very much wrong with that. People who complain about the hegemony of liberal order rarely concede that it’s unlikely to kill you.

But there’s the rub. As Leszek Kolakowski put it:

The trouble with the social democratic idea is that it does not stock and does not sell any of the exciting ideological commodities which various totalitarian movements – Communist, Fascist or Leftist – offer dream-hungry youth. It is no ultimate solution for all human miseries and misfortunes. It has no prescription for the total salvation of mankind, it cannot promise the fireworks of the last revolution to settle definitely all conflicts and struggles. It has invented no miraculous devices to bring about the perfect unity of man and universal brotherhood. It believes in no easy victory over evil.

It requires, in addition to commitment to a number of basic values, hard knowledge and rational calculation, since we need to be aware of and investigate as exactly as possible the historical and economic conditions in which these values are to be implemented. It is an obstinate will to erode by inches the conditions which produce avoidable suffering, oppression, hunger, wars, racial and national hatred, insatiable greed and vindictive envy.

You could say much the same about the EU, with the rider that too many people think pretending to be the fireworks, etc, will bring in the dream-hungry youth its grinding seriousness tends to alienate. Which is, I think, what I was drivelling about in this Crooked Timber thread.

4 thoughts on “Ukrainian Disappointment..

  1. Alex, this cuts both ways. IME there are a lot of people in Eastern Europe who are tired of revolutions and who just want to live in — one hears this phrase again and again — “a normal country”.

    That the long, slow slog towards building liberal institutions in profoundly unsexy — that, I grant, no question. But don’t confuse the trip with the destination. What the EU has to offer is inspiring. Peace, prosperity, jobs, and the chance to live wherever you like… those are pretty powerful. They’re what people have revolutions *for*.

    Doug M.

  2. i wonder if that is what they are really living for. it seems to me that people are just cutting straight to the liberal utopia part and not the nuts and bolts part. they want to be american democrats, not founding fathers.
    hence the adoration of eu membership, whatever that means..
    we have 24/7 worldwide belittlement of freedom, internet censorship by the left everywhere to trivialize people like W and his “concerns” with “men” like sh who stuff thousands into holes for the socialist grandma used to work for charities in Detroit and told me she quit once she saw supposedly poor children taking sandwiches and eating just the meat while throwing the bread to the ground.
    this is the ground youre trying to plant your revolution in. its not even cool enough to be dirt, instead its a lazy weakling staring at you waiting for you to unload the free cheese.
    unfortunately it takes thousands dying for most to “get it”. After years of marx plus mtv it doesnt surprise me that ukraine cant tie its shoelaces.

  3. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Ukraine: Between Revolutions

  4. Based on looking at it as intimately as we – my wife who is Ukrainian and I – do from sources in country…well, let’s just say that NONE of the participants have covered themselves in glory.

    The Orangers have made a total hash of it and made no progress to fixing things. Then the Blue team got back in power when the public got angry over that hash. Now the Blues are trying to move Ukraine back into Russian orbit.

    The EU’s softpower isn’t being applied here. You all have decided that Ukraine isn’t worth it. That, IMNSHO, is dooming Ukraine’s experiment in democracy more than anything. Ukrainians really wanted to be part of the EU, in my experience, but were told no…so why should they care anymore?

    Those that do care have just decided they’re leaving now from what we’ve heard. can’t say that I blame them: we’re in the process of extracting family as fast as humanly, or at least US State Dept, allowable.

    BTW, the US is less than useful here. We’re still rather feared by people over the age of 40. Seriously.

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