I’m working on a bigger piece today, but since it will take a while I just wanted to get a couple things out there.
You know those annoying sites that expect you to pay to read something on the internet? Arrogant bastards the lot of them. Today, however, I discovered a WSJ article which manages to provide some entertainment just above the cutoff which demands your submission. Check it out:
“Russia’s assault on Ukraine over the past year has made it clear that President Vladimir Putin is out to reassemble as much of the former Soviet Union as he can, having once called its collapse “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
Is that clear? Then why isn’t he annexing the Donbas territories occupied by the rebels and his forces? That is conceivably the closest he can get to reassembling the former Soviet Union. As is often the best evidence for this overused cliche, he cites the infamous “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century” quote.
Now to be sure, Putin’s quote is idiotic in some ways, considering how the USSR collapsed in the 20th century and there were a few other geopolitical catastrophes that happened in that same century. Catastrophes which, incidentally, claimed far more lives and caused far more destruction than the collapse of the USSR. That being said, there certainly were massive negative aspects of the collapse of the USSR which Westerners often don’t acknowledge, one of them being Putin and his system.
Looking back (and I might be changing my opinion on this matter), I think this was another example of Putin speaking to his base. The clue, which I wouldn’t have paid as much attention to when I first heard of the quote, is the word “geopolitical.” Putin’s speaking to those vatniks whose lament about the loss of the Soviet Union is tied to the loss of perceived Russian power, insofar as the USSR gradually turned from an internationalist movement into a sort of neo-Russian empire. Apart from cheap food prices and “stability,” these people have no desire to repair or construct a socialist society. That this was the case in the 70’s and 80’s is in fact the reason why the USSR collapsed in the first place, but they aren’t aware of this because they put all the blame on America and Gorbachev, even if they were the ones dealing on the black market, avoiding work, and stealing from their workplaces.
What the base wants is to be feared. They want the right to force their language on all former Soviet territories and dictate the history of the people in those countries. They’re happy to live in shit so long as they are sure some Ukrainian or Caucasians have it worse. They get upset whenever they see those people striving for something better.
This is all very tragic because this worldview actually rejects almost everything positive the USSR ever contributed. You don’t see these people fighting to save and advance science in Russia, for example. No, let’s just build more churches and “spiritual patriotic education centers!” Never mind the fact that Russia is currently the only country with the capability of putting humans into space, meaning the would actually have a head-start in this cutting-edge scientific endeavor…
Anyway, this is turning into a rant so let me say this: No, Putin is not trying to restore the Soviet Union. He’s doing exactly what any capitalist regional power would do, only in a more heavy-handed fashion due to the fact that he’s guided by the bankrupt, long-obsolete theory of geopolitics.
As for Bulgaria, which the article is about, they ought to think twice about accepting help from Russia. All you have to do is deviate just a little to go from “brother people” to “filthy whores of the West.”
And now for some good news!
Recently I saw this excellent article that was shared by Maxim from Hromadske.tv. It’s about a tendency that I’ve been referring to as “Little Russia,” mainly because I know the people responsible for this tendency hate that term even more. The author calls it “Ukrainian exceptionalism.” I might not agree with all the points 100%, but what I really like is how the author pointed out this:
“Likewise, among Ukraine’s friends abroad there is precious little tolerance for views that dissent from the dominant party line that Ukraine’s current government is the best it has ever had, and that the West must provide not only political and financial support, but also supply it with lethal weapons to fight the Russians in Donbas.”
I’m not going to argue over the question of providing weapons to Ukraine, but I highlight that quote because it points out that many of the most hysterical “defenders” of Ukraine in fact live abroad. Probably the worst among them are the “Ukrainian” diaspora. I put that in quotes because many of them are several generations removed, can’t speak a sentence of Ukrainian, and in any cases have never set foot in Ukrainian. Even if by some DNA test you could prove that I have no Ukrainian heritage, I’d still be more Ukrainian than them in a practical sense, AKA the sense that actually matters.
Also I like how it critiques the idiotic line about how “Ukraine has the right to define its heroes.” Okay then, who is Ukraine? Why should people whose movements or organizations never garnered the support of more than a fraction of the Ukrainian populace be enshrined as untouchable heroes? Of course many of these types, sensing that you’re talking about Bandera, Shukhevych, etc. will say something like, “Oh no, most of us don’t even care about that! You’re really exaggerating the popularity of those organizations!” Bullshit. Watch what happens if you say anything bad about them, in particular if you say they don’t deserve to be Ukrainian heroes. If they’re not such a big deal, those Saturn V explosions of butt-fury wouldn’t occur.
Lastly, there’s a famous saying that is generally rendered: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” This applies to history of nations as well. Just as Russia’s “political scientists” and experts can concoct explanations as to why the independence of Ukraine and the Baltic states is illegitimate, how the transfer of the Crimea to the Ukrainian SSR was illegal, how the reunification of Germany was an “annexation,” how MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian Buk SAM and/or a Su-25, or how the moon landing was faked, Ukrainian and diaspora intellectuals can concoct their fairy tales about the Ukrainian Insurgent Army’s heroic campaign against the German occupiers, also known as the partisan war the Germans some how forgot to document. They can also weave taller tales about how the UPA saved Jews as opposed to killed them, how the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and Bandera had nothing to do with the pogroms of 1941 and subsequent mass killings of Jews, and how the Poles of Volyn were actually armed and thus the ethnic cleansing campaign of 1943 was actually a symmetrical war as opposed to deliberate genocide. They, like their Russian counterparts, can fell acres of forests to print tens of thousands of tomes “proving” all that, but the rest of the world doesn’t need to bow to Ukrainian history any more than it needs to bow to Russian history. History entails criticism. Nations that prefer to construct a soothing fantasy narrative will, in the long run, fall behind if not fail.
That’s all from me at the moment. It’s definitely worth the read.