It’s amazing how this blog has barely reached its one year anniversary and yet so much has changed. In the first few months of this year, historic events have come and gone in rapid succession. With this rapid pace of changes, I start to think about things I wrote when I began this blog, or even things I wrote a few months ago, and I’m staggered how much I have changed with the times.
So long ago I described Putin as a rational man who didn’t really take those ridiculous, revanchist ideas seriously. He lived in the real world, where global economic integration is undisputed fact, while demagogic pseudo-intellectuals were paid to spread that idiotic pablum to the masses so as to garner their support. In the last month alone we have seen that this might not be the case. Putin may actually buy into the propaganda. It’s not that difficult to believe; after all in that fantasy he is at the top and unassailable, and he’s not really forced to confront the reality of every day life for most Russians. If you live in a palace it’s entirely possible to retreat into fantasy and ignore the crumbling foundations underneath.
Then Maidan appeared and I have to admit I was worried in the beginning. I was upset when the nationalist thugs won, getting unsuspecting, naive people to chant their nationalist slogans. I was worried about the anti-socialist character of these rallies, so dangerous in a country which has suffered so much economically as Ukraine. I knew the new masters would reach their tentacles into the schools and media so that they could spread their backward, early-20th century fairy tale ideology while oligarchs continued to rape the country. In spite of all that, there was a glimmer of hope, hope that the nationalists would finally be forced into a position when all eyes were on them and they were expected to deliver. When they inevitably failed, they would be out of excuses. No more blaming Russia and no more claiming that ex-Communists in the government are responsible. It would not have solved all of Ukraine’s problems with capitalism but it could have led to the final exorcism of Banderaism from Ukrainian politics. That could have happened, but instead Russia jumped in and fucked things up far beyond recognition. The Banderites live to carry on their pointless rivalry with Moscow and Moscow is happy to play their game. Russia destroyed Ukraine’s hope and has stiffened the spines of the Banderites.
More recently, I supported a Ukrainian organization called Borotba because their material and some of their members assured me that this organization was opposed both to Ukrainian nationalism and Russian chauvinism and neo-imperialism. Then as the conflict in East Ukraine quickly degenerated from a local uprising demanding federalization to a Russian land-grab led by armed, unelected Russian citizens whose ideology differed little in essence than that of the Ukrainian nationalists of Maidan. Borotba took a weak, opportunist line on the conflict and I might as well say here that I have no faith in that organization, nor have I for some time. Ukraine needed a real leftist, revolutionary organization and it wasn’t there. That’s why Ukraine has been lost in a conflict between two brands of fascists.
I have always strove to maintain some kind of consistency in my beliefs. Paradoxically this need for consistency and an aversion to glaring contradictions and the cognitive dissonance they bring has at certain points in my life forced me to jettison a falsified ideology and seek answers elsewhere. Is that inconsistent? When accused of inconsistency, John Maynard Keynes famously replied, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?” That’s a pretty good rule of thumb to go by in life. For it is better to change one’s mind, even totally repudiating your past beliefs, than to persist in being wrong all your life. Unfortunately I’m afraid it is that sort of consistency, continually doubling down to save face, which is all too admired in Western cultures, Russia being included this time.
Of course I could just go back and delete those posts which don’t fall in line with what I understand today, but then I’d be like RT, wiping its headline about the Ukrainian military trying to shoot down Putin’s plane. A blog is something like a journal that changes as the author does. It’s a living thing. In a memoir it’s all too easy to revise everything, intentionally or otherwise, so that it falls in line with your current point of view. There’s a weaker part of me that wishes I had known what I know now years ago. So much confusion, angst, broken relationships, and embarrassment could have been avoided. My non-existent biography would look so much better. But the more mature part of my mind always reminds me that what I know I learned through trial and error. Victorious commanders learn little; defeat is education. If only we could celebrate being wrong some time. Wouldn’t it be great to hear the words “I was wrong” coming from people like George W. Bush or Dick Cheney? Even more relevant for these days, wouldn’t it sound great coming from Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin?