Political philosopher: Ukraine is a disoriented country

Author : Natalia Vlashchenko

Respondent : Mikhail Minakov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Mykhailo Minakov on the post-Soviet legacy, Ukrainian political trends, social changes, and political ideologies in Ukraine
14:26, 7 November 2016

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Vlaschenko: Today our guest is a political philosopher, professor at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, Mykhailo Minakov. Good evening, Mr. Minakov. You said that we have not been able to build a new reality, and still are in the post-Soviet world. Is it so?

Minakov: Yes. I believe that the Soviet Union had not died in 1991 - it has evolved, it has become 12 or more countries. And when you travel, talk with people in Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Kyrgyzstan, you know that the Soviet Union just bought 12 new destinies. In fact, even more, because in Estonia these elements are visible too. The decommunization that today we are facing, brought us closer to the pre-perestroika Soviet Union, much closer. This motif is a single monopoly on ideology has become so dominant that I understand that the Soviet Union is not over.

What could be the consequences of this?

- We do not go into the future, we are always spinning around, go in cycles, and life goes away from us. The Soviet Union, with all the pros and cons, was the historic area – the history was made by this people. We are tired of this mission, and post-Soviet period would have to bring some sort of relief - a normal life, liberal values, to economic freedom, political freedom, opportunity to build a republic. But instead, we have become the laboratory of the history. We have practiced the worst, darkest ideology events. How to build the most unfortunate country that even the losers will contest in second place? - This is our case. Colleagues from VoxUkraine recently published an article that considering the economic decisions that led to the creation of today's Ukraine. But I would have talked about political, and social decisions that we made here such unsuccessful. As for me, such critical decisions are, for example, the creation of a presidential republic.

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But de jure, we are not a presidential republic?

The Soviet Union ends with the creation of authoritarian institution. For Gorbachev, it was necessary to go out of control of collective authority, party. In the new, post-Soviet conditions, this institute acquired new features. It was a source of danger to the public. This source, and today, after Independence, after the restoration of parliamentary-presidential constitution was suddenly a source of danger for the citizens, for freedom. This is one example. Another example is privatization. If we take a list of 93-94 years - it was implemented by only 20-22%. Everything else in the management of the clans. De jure belongs allegedly state income actually received a small group of families. Real decommunization was the ban of the Communist Party, and we did it. Create the private sector - we did it.

The push for any development is when the civil society and elites formulate for themselves the concept of further development.

We are disoriented country. Once Yuri Andrukhovych has published a collection of essays called "Disorientation of the place". For him, the disorientation meant that we cease to be the east. He believed that we automatically become the West. It turned out there - we are not the west and east.

Ukraine cannot be influenced from outside. Moscow still has illusions that it can affect Ukraine - no, experience shows that it is impossible. I work very closely with policy makers in Washington and in Brussels, and they believe in it.

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Do you think that talk of external control - is mythology?

Of course. It is a substitute of some political religion - a lot of them. We were in a dystopia. We are a loose horizontal community that drive us, guide us, help the development - there is no point. There are points to exploit us: the president, AP, clan structures. And such a position that would have brought us together and led to the modernizing, to modernize - social, political, economic – there is no such point. Therefore, we are trying to take off whenever a revolutionary society, young leaders, not young, and take a step forward. There is the potential, and this is the only opportunity to jerk forward, but the first time in the early '90s, the breakthrough has led to the emergence and strengthening of clan structure, the second time the clans again failed to reproduce, and the third time the clans have shown that they are evolutionarily more than any institution that we have created with the 91-year.

How can we get back to normal parliamentary republic?

The parliamentary model in the post-Soviet world was implemented in Estonia - a successful variant, and in Moldova - unsuccessful one. We need to take into account both of these experiences. After any revolution, there is not only a breakthrough, not only the uprising. The clan structures, which were in the late 90's, and today, in 2016 - are just incomparable. They become more complicated, and it is harder and harder to fight with them. They create a volunteer network, volunteer battalions that serve them, the media. They are able to adapt quickly.

 My analytical group has done research in the Ukraine in 2012. We were amazed that the word democracy did not sound at all. By 2012, the ninth year we have forgotten about it. Today's and civil society and the political class are extremely liberal. But respect for pluralism, respect for diversity of cultural, social, economic is not possible. Everyone is trying to build a monopoly, take all the power itself.

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One of the biggest problems is completely destroyed security system.

We have a few pictures of the world. The Carnegie Foundation has hired me and my colleagues to ensure that we conduct ongoing monitoring of the reforms taking place in the country, and published in English for the global audience. It was a very successful project. These were public materials, we are accountable to the whole community that can show what is happening in Ukraine. So, security is still changed. We have become safer in terms of opportunities to contain separatism, to stop the coup. I would not say that there is no consolidation or concentration of power. But it happens again, by abnormal, pyramidal principle. After the political crisis this year, by April-May, a group of people control all the power centers. They are president, his entourage and some balancing of his figures. Groups of Yatsenyuk or Avakov are two small, but, nevertheless, there is a counterbalance to Vinnitsa group. But it is narrowing. It is quite possible that next year we will enter the pyramid, which controls everything, and with one person or group of people.

Which dangers does it mean for us?

The number of errors primarily. The fewer people involved in making the decision, the greater management errors are. But there is intelligent authoritarian system - Putin. It has existed for a long time, successfully manipulating the population, the economy. They built a very powerful pyramid, which controls the oligarchs. This is one clan, which suddenly began to control everything. Naturally, the grassroots regions, local authorities are separate clans. But they are built into the pyramid, are competing with each other for the federal budget. And they are very successful in this regard. There minimized clan war among themselves. Since when Khodorkovsky was brought under control, all the oligarchs were still removed and understand the limits of their authority; when NTV was destroyed, media understand the boundary; war with Georgia showed that the army was strong. And the emperor can go into the shadows, to appoint a successor, then come back, and this pyramid rules. It is very smart. Now there was a rotation of management, human resources. My group is just now engaged in the study of new people - we could not anticipate that they will come to power. Unpredictable - it is also an interesting part of this clever authoritarian system. But in any case, extremely large number of errors.

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What tools would be relevant in the 21st century to the policy has been successful?

Kant becomes more modern thinker for us. In one of the treatises, he wrote about the possibility to build a constitutional state and a republic for the devils, for beings who have no conscience. It is, in principle, what should be done in Ukraine.

- There were times when, and in China and in the Russian Empire the virtue was the main word for bureaucrats and politicians. There were codes of ethics for the behavior. But this person's ability to resist the temptation has not changed. I can judge: there are a number of temptations, and when I had the opportunity to become a deputy or get a high position in the ministry, I refused. I refuse from a million, and how about 20 million? Are there limits? I would rather help with smart good advice to Ukrainian politicians.

We can trace who is used by the official Russian propaganda machine. The fashion for Dostoyevsky, the philosopher Ilyin, is back. Is there a danger in Ukraine today? Just another sign with the other names on the banner?

Of course. We have a dark figure of Dontsov, radical, who reads nationalism, ethno-nationalism in a new manner. Of course, there has become more "brown" in Ukraine. In general, the colors of the political spectrum have become extremely scarce. For the Browns, we just do not have enough strong left-wing parties. In a country with social and economic injustice, we have no left.

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Do we have the right?

Do we have a hope for the Liberals. And we have the right and pseudo-rights who use nationalist rhetoric, excite tribal sentiment in others. Look what have happened between the Roma and the Bulgarian community. It is scary - and yet it has become the norm.

Media is pedaling issues of criminals nationalities threads – is it a task or it accidentally happens?

This is the result of a long process of de-modernization that Ukraine is experiencing. We have become extremely clerical, it is more and more difficult to survive, small traditional communities are becoming increasingly important for us to survive, to succeed. We compete in these communities, and therefore all forms of hatred, intolerance are manifested here. We are trying to become more modern, and for some 18 months we were honestly doing the reforms. But time of the reforms ran out, and now there is establishment of the power of one of the two groups. The reaction occurs when one pyramid wins. But we are close.

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What is "Ukraine" project today? Does it really exist? What about the human rights and freedoms in the country?

No. And, unfortunately, the revolution did not lead to greater freedoms. Today we have three projects that are fighting each other. First - it is Ukraine of Euromaidan, European Ukraine, and liberal. With human rights and freedoms. There combatant Ukraine - this is another project that is to be built as a disciplinary society, economy disciplinary conquering any enemy. There is a third project, which originated in the war between the European and belligerent Ukraine and which becomes dominant - it is Ukraine as a closed joint stock company.

What does higher justice mean for Ukraine?

I think that the higher justice is a republic, which separated branch and where the center is subject to grassroots groups, communities, local community: strong vigilante, which can control the center with its parliament, the courts and the executive branch (with limited powers). Pyramids just does not work in Ukraine.

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