Monday, April 03, 2006

Whose Revolution Was It?

I am not given permission to name names, so I will not. Nor can I give the background information on either of these fellows, so you will just have to take my word for it that these are the words of credible characters that had something to do with the pre-OR, OR and post-OR politics. They are words that came up in the course of conversations last fall in Ukraine about the role of people's power and foreign governments in the making of the OR:

To paraphrase one guy:

“It is ridiculous, these people who think that the OR was orchestrated by US money. Some US NGOs are. . .terribly inefficient and ineffective. Do you know where a lot of that money (State Department money that was supposed to be channeled to election efforst in Ukraine) went that was supposed to help Ukrainians? To the salaries and lifestyles of the Americans working in the NGOs and living there in Kyiv! They were also disorganized. These guys could never have been responsible for pulling off a revolution. . .”

Translation: If there was a Western conspiracy behind the OR, it was carried out in a haphazard and disorganized manner in which a lot of the money for revolution was lost on bureaucracy and spent on lifestyles, and which succeeded in spite of itself. At least, that's the story according to this one fellow.

I can’t believe I never posted about this. It just came up in a conversation that I was having tonight with one of my favorite debaters, my Tato. I brought it up as a point of agreement between us, the right wing father and left wing son.

Something someone else had to say also came up tonight:

“You know the American movie the Matrix? Ok, we can say this: the OR did not escape the matrix (of global capitalism) but extended it. There is no doubt about that and I am critical of it because of this, too (like the Western Left wing critics). However, I must also say that I demonstrated and that the joy I felt there, in the streets with the masses of Ukrainians, is inexplicable. It is important that the OR happened for Ukrainians, for our culture and heritage, even if there are the negative aspects (that are formidable).”

If Ukrainians with progressive Left sympathies can have a nuanced and sophisticated analysis of what happened in their country, why can’t the Left in the West as well?

Then to conclude with a quote from Petro Hrytsak, son of one of Ukraine's more prominent historians, Yaroslav Hrytsak:

"It (the OR) was, in addition to the coming of age of a Ukrainian civil society, also the true coming of age of a Ukrainian youth culture."

2 comments:

The Ranger said...

Truer words were never spoken. I tell and have told all of my friends in Ukraina that the Americans living abroad are not smart enough to pull off anything like that. It is funny to hear someone else say and have those thoughts.

Leopolis said...

Like the Matrix, the Western press was living in a virtual state of information. On the ground is always different from what you see on TV.

Lately, I've been reading some horrible гавно about the OR. The sources are a few Guardian articles. G. W. Bush is mentioned more than Tymoshenko, or the Ukrainian people.

The problem is fundamental: how do you explain to people who did not experience the OR firsthand that it had little to do with Yushchenko and everything to do with the Ukrainian people? Without this basic understanding, the arguement revolves around state actors vs. state actors (i.e. Europe vs. Russia) as opposed to internal forces. Even supporters of Ya were active participants in the OR. But how can we convey this to the commentariat whose knowledge is based upon ideas of international relations rather than domestic forces?

It's nearly impossible at this stage.