Thursday, September 08, 2005

Reaction to Tymoshenko's Dismissal

I wrote this last night, then hesitated a bit to post to it with the thought that maybe I was being too one-sided in my frustration. But today my frustration is stronger; and it just got a boost by my reading of this from Roman Kupchinsky at RFE.

So, yesterday's thoughts:

I am back in Riga for a while, so the aftershock of today's bombshell from Ukraine just hit me. Here are my initial thoughts:

To begin with, I do not buy the myth that is kind-of circulating in blogland of Yushchenko's nobiltiy in this case, as though he has nobly been acting as father to all these quarelling, bad children. He, too, did not start things off so well: Did he not create the post that Poroshenko occupied? Did he not create too many redundancies between posts of his presidential administration and the prime minister's government? Is he not thusly responsible himself in some ways for the bickering, and also by not being forceful enough earlier? Did he do anything to reign-in Mr Poroshenko as he overstepped his legitimate sphere of authority (read Kuzio here for suggestions on how Poroshenko has done so)? Yushchenko is taking decisive action far too late to be acting in any saintly way (and that he acted lately is the reason why he has had to act so severely by dismissing the whole lot of them), and for us to be thinking about him in any saintly way. And why fire the whole government and appoint in its place a former Kuchma-era politico when recent accusations of corruption were aimed primarily at members of Yushchenko's own presidential administration (read Kuzio and Kupchinsky again)? And other reasons why Poroshenko smells bad: He defended Zvarych. Oh, but wait, so did Yushchenko. But so did Tymoshenko, too (right now, I am thinking that she was actually playing along with the team on this issue. . but .maybe I am thinking so foolishly, maybe blindly). Hm. Anyway, Poroshenko also took off to negotiate on his own in Moscow, like his buddy Lytvyn did. Hm. And why isn't Gongadze solved? Does it maybe have anything to do with Poroshenko once having had pledged to remain loyal to Kuchma's administration?

Some have suggested that this is all just a coldly calculated election ploy. Some have commented that while Tymoshenko is more popular than Yushchenko, her popularity is supposed to increase now that she can fashion herself as a victim, and this will bode well for the reform government in the spring elections. But what kind of reforms are we talking about, once and for all? Reforms of a neoliberal, laissez-faire, American-styled capitalism kind, or of a more more populist, and to my mind balanced, kind? This is the chore issue. There were two ideologies of reform in the orange government; on the one side were mostly people in Yushchenko's administration, the market guys. Then there was Tymoshenko's populism. Poroshenko is closer to Yushchenko. So I don't at all buy the story that this really was calculated to help strengthen Tymoshenko's position. It is about consolidating a single ideology of reform. And guess whose is probably out of the picture now? My confidence in Yushchenko is the most severely shaken with this. Read Kuzio
here for more (same article as other 2xs) .

And one more thing. Yushchenko says he wants them both to come back and work with him, both Tymoshenko and Poroshenko: yeah right! It is clear, at least to my mind, that this is mostly about marginalizing not the person but what she represents: populist-based reform. He is telling Tymoshenko, I think, that we will continue to work together if you give up your populist fantasies (I don't think they are fantasies, but I think that Yushchenko and Poroshenko think that they are) and get on with pure neoliberal reform. I will have to write a more detailed thought on this. But my initial reaction is that this is about ending the bickering by consolidating a government of people who all agree with Yushchenko's, and Poroshenko's, more neoliberal, market-liberalization reform orientation.

It was necessary for Yushchenko to finally take a side on this matter. There are two theories of reform, and both sides were getting in each other's way. Yushchenko now can not pretend to be a populist. He is, once and for all to my mind, purely a free market ideologue, or a market liberal, or just plain liberal in the classic sense of the word.

To my mind, what Ukraine needs right now is not radical capitalism but a more balanced one; it needs Keynesian theories and State assistance of the New Deal type that the Reaganites and Thatcherites and Milton Friedmanites and Thomas Friedmanites and the whole lot of US neocons and the worldwide class of neoliberals detest.


Anonymous said...

Thanks, you really have some interesting stuff on your site. keep at it.


stefan said...

Thanx for the compliment, "cialis". . .is this a link to a site of your own? If so, please send again, as I was not able to navigate to your page by clicking on "cialis" . . .

stefan said...

Also, I want to respond to an old comment here earlier, from Yosyf. . .

Sorry about not responding to your question and compliment from a few weeks back until now. I have been in rural parts of Ukraine, and it takes a lot of effort and patience to read news and emails off the internet and then write emails in small town computer clubs; thus I have not had adequate time to respond. . .

You asked about ongoing issues of intolerance, especially anti-Semitism and anti-GLBT hysteria in Ukraine. In short, I share your concern that both remain huge problems in Ukraine. Intolerance of difference remains far too great a feature of contemporary Ukrainian culture.

That being said, I always want to qualify my remarks when discussing these matters in regard to Ukraine and Ukrainians, in the following way: As Ukrainians often get singled out as uniquely intolerant, as supposedly being intolerant in a fashion more virulent and vicious than nearly anywhere else in Europe, I want to assert here that Ukrainians are not different from others as regards the virulence of their intolerance. Unfortunately, there are still a lot of places in Europe, and not just the former Soviet republics, where people remain disturbingly intolerant. There also remain lots of places in Europe that are disturbingly isolated from the rest of the world, and that also remain poor--not disturbingly poor as in truely third world countries, but still poor. But I know you already know all of this, so why am I preaching. . .I do get the feeling that things are improving in Ukraine as Ukrainian society becomes less isolated; and as people's satisfaction with their lives increases in hand with the increase of equality between social classes.

You asked specifically about Kyiv being rumored a particularly happening town for gay night life. Well, I am not so sure about that, but I can tell you that there are a number of allegedly gay night clubs in Kyiv. But of course, attitudes in Kyiv are better than in smaller towns and in the countryside. Nonetheless, I am certain that the same kind of anti-gay hysteria would break out in Kyiv in reaction to any gay-pride parade as did in Riga.

Machismo reigns supreme, as does massive gender inequality, and a lot of that gets mixed in with all other prejudice; i.e., phallologocentrism.

Anonymous said...

"why fire the whole government"
In dismissing the PM, he would also have to dismiss the Cabinet which she chose as PM.

stefan said...

Yes, it is the basics of parlaimentary politics that the cabinet has to go when the PM is sacked. What I meant, then, was why fire Tymoshenko when the accusations of corruption involved mostly people in Yushchenko's administration? I also wonder why Yushchenko made her PM in the first place if he so strongly disagreed with her ideas of how to reform, and if he would so frequently differ to others, like Poroshenko. Did they have some agreement that she would behave like a good liberal that she betrayed? Did he hope to cash in on her popularity? People are blaming her too much for what went wrong; she was never free to just work.

I don't mean to say that she was perfect. The price control on gas was questionable, but also not 100% an error (Ukrainians will have to suffer for a period if they want to break Russian neo-imperial, economic control, and in pursuit of a more independent energy strategy). But all the announcements and re-announcements about reprivatizations can not be be blamed solely on her. Yushchenko has one notion of reprivat., she another. . .

But perhaps she was wrong in pursuing a seperate agenda of reform from the one supported by her boss. Perhaps she was opportunist in this way, pursuing her populist agenda for reform in defiance of Yushchenko's wishes. At least now there will be a more coherent overall government and policy(no tension between the presidential administration and PM's government). It is just that I was in support of the populist agenda, as are most Ukrainians, it seems. Bandyty syditymut v tjurmakh (The Bandits will sit in jail). Yushchenko has forgotten about making amends with the past. He just wants to sweep it all under the rug. "Stability" v. real change. What Ukraine needs instead, I believe, some kind of Truth and Reconciliation period, before the stability of the market for foriegn investors becomes the primary concern.