Ukraine: how to break the vicious cycle of history?

Author : Oleksandr Zinchenko

Source : 112 Ukraine

We close our centurial Gestalt and remind Europe about Europe - expert
14:24, 22 August 2016

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Nothing can be done with my memory; everything that has happened during the 25 years of independence was overshadowed by Maidan. We do not realize what has happened. The largest non-violent rallies of the world took place in Ukraine. Maybe, there were more people in Tiananmen Square, Beijing. The other demonstrations, like Salt March, Restoring Honor rally, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Velvet Revolution in Prague, and Cairo Tahrir, were smaller in scale. Maidan became the Rubicon between eras and tectonic shift in Ukrainian consciousness. Today, we close the Gestalts that have not been closed a century ago. What happened hundred years ago? The Ukrainian revolution. Then the problems were very similar. The young republic was forced to start from scratch. It was necessary to create the national government, parliament, independent banking, financial institutions, and the army. The proclamation of independence of the Ukrainian People’s Republic and Bolshevik aggression were almost simultaneous. The situation repeated in late February 2014. In both cases, the Ukrainian army had to be rebuild almost from scratch.

Now we are trying to modernize the system of government, to make the ministries more flexible and efficient. And then, all the institutions had to be created from scratch, without a well-trained staff. Elections to the Constituent Assembly showed that Kyiv remained the imperial enclave. Ukraine was called the country without a capital. In addition, Ukraine faced a powerful post-colonial syndrome; the people did not trust the state institutions. Contemporary Ukrainians did not close this Gestalt. The level of trust in public institutions is still very low. The problem of trust is the key issue of Ukrainian society.

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February 20, 2015 I returned from Requiem for the Heroes of Heaven Hundreds. It was a very sad and moving ceremony. When President Poroshenko appeared at the stage, a few people started shouting "Shame!" The British people have not cried “Shame!” to Churchill in 1940. The war continued for another 5 years. However, Britain won.

Ukrainians have lost their trust. We do not know how to give credibility to others. For example, if you look at the dynamics of confidence to four presidents, trust to Kuchma (during his second term), Yushchenko, Yanukovych, and Poroshenko was unstable after the first 100 days of their presidency.  Most of the slogans with which politicians come to power, require time to be implemented. However, Ukrainians usually have high expectations of politicians. The other problem is presumption of distrust in politicians.

The Revolution of Dignity gave birth to the new type of actors, the volunteers. They quickly gained the absolute confidence among the Ukrainians. There is a high probability that their activities would increase the confidence. But this process might take some 100 years or more.

Actually, we have closed another Gestalt: the Ukrainians have shifted from the passive faith in the Messiah to the realization of civic responsibility.  Everything needs its time. You need some six years to grow the garden. And 25 years are not enough to “bring up” the nation.

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Implementation of the reforms requires some special knowledge and skills. Polish students had the opportunity to go to study abroad. Balcerowicz is a Fulbright graduate. Did Ukrainians have such opportunities in Soviet times? No. In fact, today’s generation is the first one that has been educated abroad. Balcerowicz had much more comfortable positions than Ukraine has today. He did not have to create the banking system, to implement the national payment system. Ukraine also had to transform the proletarian into the private farmer.

The memory of the past is one of the elements of national identity. A national identity is one of the foundations of national unity. During the 25 years of Independence, we have reinterpreted many previous stories of our national life. For example, most Ukrainians of different regions and age groups consider Holodomor as genocide against Ukrainian nation. Some 10 years ago, this issue has not been raised. After Maidan, national identity came in first place. Patriotic feelings increased more than four times! Maidan has provoked a tectonic shift in relation to the past, and in relation to the national identity. We are changing slowly but confidently. Experience of Maidan means fighting for our own subjectivity. We gradually learn to self-organization, solidarity, and trust.

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Timothy Snyder said that “more Ukrainians were killed fighting the Wehrmacht than American, British, and French soldiers—combined.” More than 15 million people were killed by the two totalitarian systems that came to Ukrainian lands in the twentieth century. And we always reveal from the ashes.

First time in many years, we are trying to experience our common European past. What did Yanukovych mean for Ukraine? He played the role of a catalyst for change and caused the largest non-violent civil resistance in the world history. All these events helped Ukrainians to recover from inferiority complex and believe in themselves. "I am a drop in the ocean," was one of the most popular slogan of Maidan. When these drops act jointly, together they are a political tsunami. This is how the “force of the forceless” work. And this is the answer to the question, why Europe needs Ukraine.

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Today we witness the processes when politicians and media do not tell the truth. ​​25 years of tabloiding of the media and politics of the North Atlantic world. Collapse of the "Evil Empire" created the illusion of the world’s secure peace and turned it into the world of consumerism. Recently, The Independent wrote that “Racism and xenophobia are real problems in Ukraine, but so is government transparency. Over the summer there were large anti-government protests in Kyiv and such civil unrest has hurt its reputation.” There are different ways to interpret Ukrainian racism and xenophobia, but the fact is that Yanukovych ran away. This is one of many examples where the free media use the totalitarian propaganda methods, they manipulate the context, exaggerate or diminishing the importance of facts and sometimes directly falsify them.

Media and politicians have realized that lie in the new environment does not create reputational losses. The success of those who support Brexit would be impossible without “lying campaign.” Trump as a political phenomenon would be just unthinkable in the world of truth. everything is possible only in the "world after the truth." And this the world after Yanukovych and Putin. Maybe Ukraine’s mission is to restore the world of truth?

We remind the United Europe its roots and its basic values. This is why Europe needs the Ukrainians. Our problem is very local - to save Europe from the madness "of the world after the truth." 

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