Ukrainian political culture: is Bandera closer than La Marseillaise?

Author : Anatoliy Ulyanov

Source : 112 Ukraine

Ukrainian nationalism remains an artificial, purely regional phenomenon - Anatoliy Ulyanov
14:38, 20 May 2016

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We often hear that the Ukrainians are still not sufficiently mature for humanism; that Ukrainian culture is deeply conservative and Bandera [controversial leader of the Ukrainian nationalist - Ed.]  is closer than "La Marseillaise." Is it true?

Despite the fact that both Ukrainian Maidans [Orange revolution and Revolution of Dignity – Ed.] were conservative revolutions, each of them began under the progressive flag: it is the motive of the fraternity with Europe (rather than nationalism) mobilized masses of Ukrainian citizens. However, then comes some disappointment, and the hysterical right canalize these masses right to Cossack archaic. And yet, it is important to secure that the igniter of the Ukrainian revolution is European and therefore humanistic impulse. This suggests that Ukraine has something that breaks to the progress. This is something you need to recognize, preserve and enhance.

As the Kremlin's propaganda, Ukrainian nationalists are trying to convince us all that their ideology permeates the entire Ukrainian society completely, and it is a political consensus. This is not true. Yes, Ukrainian culture is conservative. Yes, the war promotes the right hysteria. However, Ukrainian nationalism was and remains an artificial, purely regional phenomenon. The life of this dinosaur is supported, on the one hand, by the Ukrainian oligarchs, as well as their beneficiaries in the West and in Russia. On the other, by quite specific methods of dealing with opponents. The far rights do not participate in the small talks, and integrate their ideology by the alternative means of violence: bullying, censorship, and beatings. All the progressive forces of Ukrainian society – be it Maidan, critical art, or new political leaders that came to unite for change - are immediately displaced by a belligerent minority.

I try not to close my eyes to the conservatism of Ukrainian society, but I argue that nationalism is the same political occupier of Ukraine, as well as the Russian imperialists in Crimea and in the East. Both of them thrive from the absence of a unifying identity and progressive political project.

Related: War is a natural life environment for the far rights

Maidan is a symptom showing that the Ukrainians respond to the call of humanity. The problem is that this responsiveness is not represented in politics – Ukrainian party landscape is flooded with extremely conservative overdue. Oligarchy, charming with its knowledge of English, half-Christian-have-not-homophobes from "Democratic Alliance," the pro-Russian separatists and “pocket boys” of US imperialism in the face of somebody like Nayem and Leshchenko. All this may seem attractive only against the background of nerd thieves in power, like, we have seen something worse. It is time not to choose "the lesser evil," and raise the bar of our political aspirations.

Nationalist minority has destroyed the country, and now pulls it back in the 19th century, imposing Ukrainian identity of archaic “rednecks.” In order to realize the initial impetus to the Maidan, Ukrainian man needs to get rid of his nationalist parasites and colonial thinking. Ukrainian must understand that for all external players, be it Russia or the West, he is a bargaining chip. The freedom and the future of Ukraine is inside Ukrainian.

Related: European puzzle: Putin and far-right groups (part 2)

Getting rid of the Russian octopus requires the consolidation of all parts of the Ukrainian society. The consolidation, which is impossible as long as politics is dominated by right-wing Khmer Rouge, telling about “separatists” in the East. Eliminating the effect of the Kremlin requires overcoming ethnic division, the blame for which lies entirely on nationalists, causing strife in a multicultural Ukrainian society and paving way for Russian tanks.

Related: What's common between Chechnya, Ukrainian PM, and far-rights

To overcome the current crisis the Ukrainian people must abandon the nationalist project, and find subjectivity based on humanism: different cultures and equal rights under the guise of colorful, highly political nation. In practical terms, this requires a grouping of Ukrainian humanists into a single revolutionary party; cultivation of humanistic layer in the Ukrainian society; effective prevention of abuse of the right in order not to trample sprouts of humanism out of the gat.

Related: Far-right party renaissance during Ukraine's local elections

Related: Far-right march in Kyiv: 21 cases of keeping weapons and foreign bodies

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