RE: Ukraine’s ‘crusade against communism’

Yatsenyuk wrote a guest piece in Washington Post, and what immediately jumps to mind is this:

Less visible, but just as important, is Ukraine’s war against the Soviet past and the legacy of corruption and misrule that has held us back for so many years.

Maybe this is just me conflating the two, but yes, this, again, supports my opinion that no, Ukrainian government’s newfound crusade against communism (nevermind that USSR was never communist, just varying degrees of state capitalist) is, in fact, less about pandering to nationalists and more about the fact that Soviet legacy is seen as a symbol of Ukraine’s past failures. Failures to shake away the bonds of its Soviet past, and the vestigial Soviet system that fostered corruption and misrule Yatsenyuk writes about. It is hard to describe the sovok mentality pervasive in the former Soviet Union for people unfamiliar with life in the former Soviet Union, but sovok (literally ‘little shovel’) is the Soviet Union’s prime legacy. Soviet Union was a place where you got a hundred rubles no matter what you did (and mostly for doing nothing at all), where you took away a little something from your workplace on a regular basis, and where you did not, actually, have any choice in the matter. More importantly, sovok is the creation of the USSR’s enormous bureaucracy, which was arguably necessary to get something done under a planned economy, but which is a hurdle in a freer market economy: and it exploits these hurdles ruthlessly, which is why business chafes under certificates, permits and bribes – yes, bribes. For all the power a bureaucrat yields, he’s entitled to a meager salary of about 2000 UAH at present. 2000 UAH is nowhere near enough to live on. How do you expect such people not to take bribes? How do you expect teachers and doctors not to take bribes, if they don’t get paid much more than your average bureaucrat? How do you expect factory workers not to vote for the local strongman if that local strongman is the owner of the factory these workers work in?

This is the prime legacy of the Soviet past. This is also the reason why Ukraine can’t get anything done. It can’t, like Atlas, shrug the hordes of bureaucrats and budget workers off its shoulders, it can’t leave behind Ukraine’s outdated pension system (which is why I get mad every time someone mentions ‘Yatsenyuk’s hardon for austerity’). This is why half the fucking economy, including the hyper-profitable IT sector, is in the shadow, because it has to deal with a zillion permits and certificates from every single Department of Redundancy Department there is in this country. This is why socks and underwear have to go through a zillion ministries (Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Social Policy, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Silly Walks, the list goes on) before they can get procured, and they have to do that because MPs are either bought by local strongmen or care more about their own enrichment than the country. And an MP is easily bought, because 6800 UAH a month do not pay an MP’s bills.

Yes, yes, you say, but why demolish ISO Standard Lenin Statues, rename streets, ban red flags and hammer-n-sickles, and so on? How will it solve Ukraine’s problems? The answer is, of course, that it won’t. I’m not sure how to solve Ukraine’s problems, because if I were, I won’t be sitting at home writing this.

But they will serve as a sign. A sign of commitment. An ISO Standard Lenin Statue (standing before an ISO Standard Soviet Governmental Building on an ISO Standard Soviet Small Town Square for bonus points) is more than a sacred cow and rally point for local vatniks or pensioners (themselves carriers of the sovok mentality). It is more than a sign of Ukraine’s independence being crushed, back in 1920. Rather, it is a sign of how things will never change. How things will always be the same. How business will chafe under countless permits and certificates, how bureaucrats will take bribes, how doctors and teachers will take bribes, how factory workers will be serfs to local strongmen, how pensioners will vote for 200 UAH and a box of buckwheat, how MPs will stay bought by local strongmen, how police will abuse their powers, how half the fucking economy will stay in the shadow, while the other half is completely controlled by local strongmen and feudal lords, and how this will never ever change.

Toppling down an ISO Standard Lenin Statue is not a statement of anti-communism; rather, it is a sign of commitment. A sign of commitment to change. A statement that things will never again be the same.

I say, then, let us topple that Lenin once and for all.

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RE: Ukraine’s ‘crusade against communism’

10 thoughts on “RE: Ukraine’s ‘crusade against communism’

  1. It’s dangerous to put so much effort into superficial signs and gestures instead of real, lasting changes. Even this act of removing the Soviet legacy is in itself really similar to the Soviet way of thinking. It was passed without opposition or public debate, it is tied to people who re-write history, it enforces a historical narrative via the state. Just below the surface one could say it is very Soviet indeed. What is more, it can be used to tar any opponent of oligarchs with the label of Communist, and basically make neo-liberal right wing politics the only acceptable ideas in future political discourse.

    In a way things aren’t changing at all.

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    1. Sohryu_L says:

      As I wrote a zillion times on this blog, real lasting changes take time and are not readily apparent. Most of Ukraine things that ‘reforms’ equal ‘larger salaries and pensions’, which is not what ‘reform’ means at all. A toppled Lenin is not reform, it’s a sign that things won’t be the same.

      I wrote a zillion times about the historical narrative and about the oligarchs, but I’ll refrain for pursuing that train of thought, it makes me feel like a Putinist.

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      1. Sohryu_L says:

        The government is busy creating a different narrative than ALWAYS UPA ALL THE TIME. Which is what I wrote about.

        Maybe I should write about other Ukranian independence fighters. Soviet historiography is about as hard on Grushevsky, Petlyura and Skoropandsky.

        P.S. It’s the Mazepa family coat of arms.

        Yeah, THAT Mazepa. It is not a particularly widespread family name.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Sohryu_L says:

        There’s also the fact it’s my mother’s surname. And my grandfather’s surname.

        So there.

        Russians also get buttmad over Petlyura for some reason (although, of course, Petlyura has nothing on Bandera and DMYTRO YAROSH KING OF UKRAINE).

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’m actually surprised that Petlyura is even revered considering his sell-out to Poland. That’s what’s so funny about this cult of independence fighters. Pretty much every major figure bargained independence away to someone else, either wittingly or unwittingly.

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      4. Sohryu_L says:

        Them’s the breaks it seems. Khmelnytsky was more or less seeking a benefactor in his shitfight against Poland, and back then Muscovy wasn’t Ukraine’s archenemy it is now.

        Petlyura isn’t so much revered as all Ukrainians were branded ‘Petlyurites’ if they disagreed with the Soviet line back before WWII. In the XVIII Century, these people were called Mazepintsy. An unoriginal trend if I ever saw one.

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