Entitlement: Why I hate Bandera supporters

I’ve often said that Moscow’s propaganda feeds off of deficiencies in the Western media. Were it not for a small kernel of truth, Russia’s foreign language propaganda would appear as ridiculous as its domestic incarnation, and thus it would be utterly worthless.  And what do you know, turns out I happened across a great example of just such a deficiency.

AFP was reporting on a recent parade in Ukraine in honor of nationalist leader Stepan Bandera. Yes, that actually happens. No photoshop. Before taking a look at some of the highlights, I do want to say that I was happy to learn that Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko did not endorse or attend this event. That said, let’s get on with it.

Thousands of Ukrainian nationalists held a torchlight procession across Kiev on Thursday in honour of a 1940s anti-Soviet insurgent branded by Moscow as a Nazi collaborator whom Europe must reject.

Actually Bandera is branded by the historical record as a Nazi collaborator, not just by Moscow. Bandera apologists, which occasionally include non-nationalists, often like to point out his temporary incarceration by the Germans in response to the declaration of an independent Ukrainian state. All this means, however, is that he was stupid and trusting.

Some wore World War II-era army uniforms while others draped themselves in the red and black nationalist flags and chanted “Ukraine belongs to Ukrainians” and “Bandera will return and restore order”.

Hmmm…I wonder which World War II-era uniforms they were wearing. I’m guessing something of a grey-green hue.

“The Kremlin is afraid of Bandera because he symbolises the very idea of a completely independent Ukraine,” Lidia Ushiy said while holding up a portrait of the far-right icon at the head of the march.

Nonsense. The Kremlin cultivates and propagates reactionary ideas which are more or less identical to those of Bandera and modern Ukrainian nationalists. Plus it loves Bandera and the Ukrainian nationalists because by alienating certain segments of Ukraine’s population, it makes them into willing collaborators for Moscow.  What would Russia have been able to do in the Crimea or Donbass had the nationalist aspect of Maidan been rejected in favor of a multiethnic, multilingual, but ultimately united and independent Ukraine? Insisting on uniformity excludes people and weakens a country.

Bandera is a mythical but immensely divisive figure in Ukraine whom some compare to Cuba’s Che Guevara.

I suppose you could compare him to Che Guevara, you know, if you’re stupid.

Bandera was the ideological patron of resistance fighters who fought alongside invading German forces during World War II.

Right here the author admits that these fighters collaborated with the Germans, but earlier they made it seem like this is just Moscow’s idea.

The Ukrainian famine of the 1930s that was created by Soviet collective farming had turned many against Moscow and in favour of any foreign presence that could help fend off Kremlin rule.

Sorry but this just isn’t true, and even some of the Ukrainian nationalists of that era admitted this. For one thing, the area in which Bandera’s movement was most popular was not part of Ukraine when that famine occurred.  The vast majority of Ukrainians supported the Soviet government, a fact born out just by comparing numbers of collaborators with numbers of Ukrainians in the Red Army,  pro-Soviet partisans, people killed by the UPA or Axis forces, etc.  Everybody tends to remember the famine, and specifically that famine, while totally forgetting that the Soviet government brought a lot of other things like universal healthcare, literacy, industrialization, etc.  Does my pointing that out shock or horrify you? Well I hope you’re not American or British in that case.

The reason why I cannot stand Bandera apologia is that its proponents present this man as a hero when he was in reality nothing but a shitbag who brought nothing positive to Ukraine. There are some people who want to impose an ideological orthodoxy on all Ukrainians and people of Ukrainian descent. Just as American conservatives insist that you must buy into their delusional version of events so as to be considered a “real American,” a “real Ukrainian” must adhere to one narrow version of history where the USSR was an “illegal occupation” and Bandera was a hero. You can choose any political values you like, so long as they are right of center to extreme right. There’s this sense of entitlement where these people, once a tiny minority, appropriate the right to define what Ukrainian means and what politics the country should have. I also get pissed when I see that the same kind of nationalist rhetoric and rehabilitation of reactionary figures is generally condemned when it happens in Russia, but it’s tolerated or whitewashed when it happens in Ukraine or some Baltic country.

Ukraine’s independence doesn’t rest on Stepan Bandera.  Bandera was nothing more than one of two bald guys who have tormented Ukraine, the other being Vladimir Putin, of course.  If Russia wishes to remain in a past that never actually existed, they will suffer the consequences of this. In fact in many ways they already are. If Ukraine doesn’t want to share this fate, Bandera should be chucked in the dustbin of history. His ideas and movement were put to the test, and the majority of Ukrainians rejected him. When the USSR had so severely degenerated ideologically, socially, and economically to a point where it no longer held any more benefit for Ukrainians, they rejected that. There’s only one faction besides the Ukrainian nationalists who wish to make Ukrainian synonymous with Bandera supporter, and that is the Kremlin.

"Real Ukrainians love Bandera!"

“Real Ukrainians love Bandera!”

"Real Ukrainians love Bandera!"

“Real Ukrainians love Bandera!”

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24 thoughts on “Entitlement: Why I hate Bandera supporters

      1. Jim Kovpak Post author

        IRONY DEFINED:

        Guy says “learn history.” Recommends Youtube video, Wikipedia.

        I’m quite familiar with the time-honored efforts of Ukrainian nationalist pseudointellectuals to whitewash the OUN/UPA’s history. I’ll stick with my more scholarly sources, thank you very much.

      2. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Here’s an even larger amount of scholarly sources from John-Paul Himka, who incidentally signed a petition in support of Euromaidan stating that while the signatories were concerned about far right elements in the protest, they believed the movement should not have been characterized as a fascist-dominated one, and that they were concerned about the efforts of Russian propaganda to do so. So you know- Good luck claiming this academic is just a Kremlin-paid hack.

        http://ualberta.academia.edu/JohnPaulHimka

      3. Jim Kovpak Post author

        Yeah you made a mistake thinking that all us Westerners are ignorant of this history. Bandera was worthless. Ukraine must exterminate the rat before it takes on the bear.

        Massive collection of modern research on UPA/OUN/Bandera. Yeah, it’s no Youtube or Wikipedia, but I’m just one guy right?

        http://ualberta.academia.edu/JohnPaulHimka

      4. Jim Kovpak Post author

        So Himka is an “agent” now. I’d say you sound like a vatnik; there’s really no fundamental difference between you guys and them, just flags and mythical heroes.

        If Himka is an “agent,” then please tell us an agent of whom? Also why did he sign a petition in favor of Maidan if he’s an “agent?” Furthermore, he’s by no means the only source I have cited on this topic, as you can clearly see in this thread. You’re the one who relies on sources like Youtube and Wikipedia because you’re too goddamned ignorant to understand how history works.

      5. Jim Kovpak Post author

        “Don’t study academic papers from recognized historians around the world! Watch a Youtube video and read a website which can be edited anonymously!”

      6. balelins

        marxist himka is far from “recognized historians”, his interpretations are very controversial. i’m familiar with this topic from first hand witneses, not youtube 😉 sadly in ester europe we have suffered from sovjets/russian imperalists for long time, and their atrocities, cynical falsification on history may be hard to understand for others. you are very lucky to not have scars from those events in your family.

      7. Jim Kovpak Post author

        You personally witnessed the life of Stepan Bandera and the events in Western Ukraine in 1941-1954? That sounds plausible.

        You haven’t managed to provide one coherent argument here, but I thank you for showing how laughable the nationalist movement is. We need more case studies.

      8. Jim Kovpak Post author

        See folks, what the nationalist tries to do is claim that because his history is so deep and mysterious, we Westerners just can’t understand it. Only Ukrainian academics get to write Ukrainian history. Well, not all of them, of course. Just ones who repeat the nationalist fantasy.

        Hmmm….What’s that OTHER country nearby which likes to promote this kind of unscientific approach to history. Hmmmm…It’s a really big country. The name escapes me.

        Seriously though, I’ll tell you the same thing I tell the Russian vatniks. The world does not have to suffer your national delusions. You can keep believing your fantasy all you want, but we’re moving on.

        Your movement brought Ukraine and Poland nothing but misery and destruction. You have contributed nothing positive. Please, fuck off and let our people move on to better things.

      9. balelins

        i’m not nationalist, not unkranian, not polish. your straw man attacks and self righteousness is laughable. gl!

      10. Jim Kovpak Post author

        So then you have fuck all to do with Stepan Bandera, Ukraine, Poland, etc.

        Let’s do a final tally:

        1. Your advice for “learning history” is to watch a Youtube video and read a Wikipedia page. You have yet to advance a single coherent argument in favor of Bandera or his movement.

        2. When confronted with academic evidence, you zero in on ones you don’t like and call them an “agent,” accusing them of falsifying history without giving any example or even having read their work.

        3. You claim to have somehow personally experienced these events I’m speaking about, but then you can’t explain how or when.

        I think we can safely say you have no credibility and that means it’s fuck off time.

        You’ve been given ample opportunity to make your case, you have failed spectacularly. All subsequent replies will be deleted.

  1. rkka

    “When the USSR had so severely degenerated ideologically, socially, and economically to a point where it no longer held any more benefit for Ukrainians, they rejected that. ”

    They did, or rather their political class did. The desperation of that political class, whether Blue or Orange, to retain subsidies on energy and raw materials from Russia indicates that being in the USSR in the early 1990s was of significant actual benefit for Ukrainians.

    And no one has been willing to pick up the tab for Ukraine since then.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      As is typical, you pretend like Ukraine never provided anything to Russia or the Soviet Union. Yeah, it was just the breadbasket of Russia and the USSR for decades. Not like they ever did anything.

      See this is why people hate you. You pretend like it’s such a privilege to be ruled by Moscow. You can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to live in such a relationship. Sure, they were dependent on Moscow within the USSR, as the RSFSR was clearly dependent on many of the union republics for agricultural products or intermediary goods, but did it ever occur to you that maybe these countries didn’t want to be?

      Reply
    2. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I will give you this though- it is correct to say that the impetus in most of these countries came from the political class and not grass roots. Their consent came in the form of not fighting to keep the system or the union(which in fact are two separate things). Of course this was also the case of Russia itself.

      Reply
  2. historyisfascinating

    “The truth lies somewhere down the middle” certainly applies here. I think you got a pretty good grasp of what is going on, and do not seem to be as biased toward one side or the other as most bloggers seem to be. Both Ukraine and Russia have some seriously nationalistic elements there, and that is not good for either. And the biggest problem in the USSR was maybe Stalin’s extremism, had he been more like Lenin or some of the leaders after him, maybe there would have been less nationalistic extremists in Ukraine, and the cold war may have not been so long and protracted, who knows. And Ukrainians need to just acknowledge that the UPA and Bandera were just one of the many steps toward independence, but a seriously flawed one. Admit that he went too far, just like the US did in dropping atomic bombs on civilian targets, and move on. At least we as Americans do not idolize those people who made the decisions, or those who flew the planes, even if some may think the action was necessary.
    This is all just primitive primate territorial behavior, which humans just can’t seem to overcome and get on with trying to make our lives better.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      I would say I have to agree, but people need to drop this idea that Stalin was so different from Lenin, particularly on nationality questions. He, of course, designed the nationalities policy that Lenin finally came around to. He was also a staunch defender of that policy long after Russians started to complain about it. Now of course in WWII and especially after, a lot changed, but as Erik van Ree has shown, there’s very little difference between Lenin and Stalin. Had Lenin lived longer, we’d know more about his policies in different situations, perhaps including a second world war.

      Reply
  3. A.I.Schmelzer

    One small nitpick:

    Putin is actually not a ethnic Russian nationalist. He has a number of non ethnic Russians in his administration, and his stick is “as long as you feel Russian on a civilizational level, I do not give a fuck precisely what ethnicity you are. If you oppose me, I will totally use whatever dirt I have on you, and your ethnicity (Teh Jews run Russia!!!) may be a part of that.”.
    He does not do that because he is a nice guy (he is not), but because this works, it is efficient, and it generates benefits.

    Occassionally, I wonder if Russia Today is a collossal attempt to obfuscate by stupidity, as in, making others believe that the very sophisticated and quite capable Russian leadership (talking of the “high state” here, local provincial bosses are another matter) is dumb, in order to gain benefits from people underestimating them.

    In reality, they are probably just learning (not very quickly) from the best in disinformation, the best being Fox news.

    Concerning the pluralist Ukraine, in my pov. and also in that of Richard Sakwa, Maidan was a rejection and a defeat of pluralist Ukraine. I think one can explain rationale behind Russias real actions (prevent the defeat of Donbass by the Ukrainising nationalists, but not conquer a Novorussija for them) as “keep it simmering, let the Nationalists do their dumb antics, internally smile at the impoverishing IWF reforms, and wait until pluralist Ukraine has enough, Nationalist Ukraine lost its luster and then act from a position of strength”.

    Although I think that the main crux with the Nationalist Ukraine is that they want to eliminate all of their “Soviet heritage”, “Soviet institutions” etc., without recognizing that their very borders are a Soviet institution too.

    Reply
    1. Jim Kovpak Post author

      Putin is of course not an ethnic nationalist, but of course he isn’t anything but a Putinist. In spite of this, however, the Kremlin has maintained relationships with Russian ethno-nationalism, when it is convenient to do so. Nothing sincere is done to create a more tolerant, unified society, because inter-ethnic resentment is a great way to keep people divided.

      I don’t see how Maidan was a rejection of pluralist Ukraine. As much as there are nationalists(who are not the majority, BTW) who want to impose an ideology onto the Ukrainian identity, let us not forget that they lost big at the polls. What is more, Ukraine would be a lot more pluralistic if SOMEONE hadn’t removed millions of voters from the rolls via annexation and invasion.

      Reply

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