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|This is what happens when Capitalism is given too much free reign - fascism
and communism borne out of anger at the ruling, rich elite.
Fascism-Nazism are pan-European ideologies, let's not kid ourselves, and Greece could not be left out of this phenomenon. Fascism has remained dormant for 35 odd years, simply because the Greek elites squandered billions of many on populist policies and handouts. When your belly is full, you can always claim to be a patriot and a socialist.
It is the same in Ukraine. It all depends whose history you have been taught.
Real anger and the correct cause, the globalised banks that take money from the poor and give to the rich. If only they could drop the racism. Or is that being exaggerated because they are anti-banking.
The words Fascism is thrown about a lot at the moment when it should be reserved for the true fascists that are in government across the western world.
As Mussolini said Fascism is the coming together of corporations and the state.
|The problem with this way of seeing the world, to paraphrase Dr. Johnson, is that it isn’t
even wrong. Any visitor to eastern Europe and Eurasia knows that discussions with politicians
and average citizens frequently involve a history lesson: about Romania’s Latin heritage, about
Bulgaria as a historically tolerant land, or about the Serbs’ medieval defense of Christendom.
Yet that fact cannot really explain why southeast Europe developed as it did in the 1990s, nor
why the wars of the Yugoslav succession continued to proliferate, nor why the violence that attended
some parts of Eurasia’s transition from Soviet communism was absent in others. Many people in
many places feel strongly about their histories and their identities. Not all of them end up like
Kosovo and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Our thinking about the nature of politics, social mobilization, and political violence in the postcommunist world has been afflicted by what might be called an intensive cliophilia—an obsessive concern with finding explanations for contemporary political troubles in the distant and troubled past. Cliophilia (from Clio, the Greek muse of history) has tended to define the basic problems of interest to social scientists, the categories of analysis, and the contours of scholarly discussion. The public at large—of which scholars, too, are a part—is a history-friendly world. Readers and writers have a normal and healthy interest in the past and in ways of behaving, dressing, speaking, and thinking that seem curious and exotic today. But in the study of eastern Europe and Eurasia, we have too often relied on facile historical explanations for phenomena that are surprising, disconcerting, or otherwise difficult to explain. If those phenomena touch on neuralgic issues such as death, identity, and revenge, we seem all the more prone to believe that history, somehow, holds the key.
...First, history is an unreliable guide to the present, even to — perhaps especially to — those social phenomena that wrap themselves in its mantle. The purveyors of nationalism and the entrepreneurs of large-scale social violence frequently use the past as a source of rhetoric and a way of marketing their cause to potential constituents and patrons. It is easy for scholars to take these entrepreneurs at their word and to uncritically incorporate their own accounts into scholarly analysis
...When political elites choose to manipulate the present through their own self-serving manipulation of the past, they come up against the same constraints as any other political actor: the hurdles to collective action, the scarcity of resources, and the competing interests that swirl within the communities they are seeking to mobilize. The challenge for analysts is to distinguish clever marketing—of region, religion, identity, or historical grievance—from real causation.
The problems of overcoming, working through, or erasing historical experience are apparent in the region’s art and literature and also as a matter of high politics. Lustration laws that seek to rid government of individuals with ties to the old regime, state commissions charged with uncovering and prosecuting the crimes of the communist past, projects for new school textbooks that treat the communist period as a historical fact, the renovation of state museums to include exhibits on communism or ignore the period altogether—all have been issues of major public debate and political wrangling from the Czech Republic to Central Asia. The panoply of archival documents on this period will not be fully available until perhaps 2019, given the thirty-year rule in force in most states. There is thus a long way to go before the traumatic past of this region ceases to be a subject of widespread public and political concern. Making sense of history is itself part of the political game.
Charles King, Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the
End of Eastern Europe, 179
The end of communism seemed to usher in a period of an era of "extreme neoliberal expansion" (aka Triumphal march of neoliberalism) that pitted nations, ethnic groups, and violent movements against one another, from the wars in the Balkans and Caucasus to the apparent upsurge in nationalist mobilization throughout the region. As a fighter against neoliberal globalization far right forces became an attractive countervailing force. A large swat of European population now directly or indirectly is leaning to elements of far right nationalism, as it presuppose strong state is seen as that only strong enough force able to fight neoliberal expansion of international monopolies, their invasion into national turf and stealing resources for pennies on the dollar, while mercilessly pushing population into abject poverty. This process of neoliberal globalization which is pushed by both the EU and the USA elite as the major beneficiaries of neoliberal globalization and neoliberalism in general. Here is one telling comment:
Praedor , June 1, 2016 at 5:37 pm
So Richard Cohen now fears American voters because of Trump.
Well, on Diane Reem today (NPR) was a discussion on why fascist parties are growing in Europe. Both Cohen and the clowns on NPR missed the forest for the trees. The reason Trump and Sanders are doing well in the US while fascists are doing well in Europe is the same reason: neoliberalism has gutted, or is in the process of gutting, societies.
Workers and other formerly "safe" white collar workers are seeing their job security, income security, retirement security all go up in smoke. Neoliberals are trying to snip and cut labor protections, healthcare, environmental regulations all for corporate profit. In Europe this is all in addition to a massive refugee crisis itself brought on by neoliberalism (neocon foreign policy is required for neoliberal social policy, they go hand-in-hand). The US and NATO destabilize countries with the intent of stealing their resources and protecting their markets, cause massive refugee flows which strain social structures in Europe (which falls right into the hands of the gutters and cutters of neoliberalism). Of course the people will lean fascist.
In the US we don't have the refugees, but the neoliberalism is further along and more damaging. There's no mystery here or in Europe, just the natural effects of governments failing to represent real people in favor of useless eater rich.
Make the people into commodities, endanger their washes and job security, impose austerity, and tale in floods of refugees. Of COURSE Europeans stay leaning fascist.
Due to allergy to neoliberalism in most European societies, former "loser nationalisms" crushed after WWII because of their collaboration with Nazi state now got the second chance, and they used it. Historians have dealt mainly with the nationalist ideologies that are able to create credible narratives of national belonging, appeal to the masses, build states, and then get those states recognized by other countries.
But there was a second powerful factor that worked exclusively in xUSSR block space: the collapse of the USSR lifted several "loser nationalisms" -- suppressed after WWII nationalist movements, which sided with Nazi Germany during WWII -- from obscurity and put them in power of former Soviet republics and some other Eastern European countries.
Nationalism became an important for the state in post Soviet republics in a political sense as a powerful unifying nation force. For justifying the sovereignty ideology. Usually nationalism is the force that led to creation of nation state, but in case of dissolution of the USSR the carriage was put before the horse: it paradoxically needed to be created by the state itself in order to replace internationalist ideology of the USSR and preserve newly acquired sovereignty. That's why Yanukovich supported Svoboda and essentially dig his own grave:
Nationalism, in modern history, movement in which the nation-state is regarded as paramount for the realization of social, economic, and cultural aspirations of a people. Nationalism is characterized principally by a feeling of community among a people, based on common descent, language, and religion. Before the 18th century, when nationalism emerged as a distinctive movement, states usually were based on religious or dynastic ties; citizens owed loyalty to their church or ruling family. Concerned with clan, tribe, village, or province, people rarely extended their interests nationwide.
And newly independent states, while not very successful in economics (to put it mildly), were very successful in this particular mission. This triumph of tribal ideology the core of which is “the existence of linguistic and cultural affiliations between members of tribal community” occurred in most xUSSR states which received statehood due to dissolution of the USSR, without violent liberation struggle for independence. Thus, in this post Soviet space we can observer an interesting historical phenomena: the new brand of nationalism, the nationalism which emerged as dominant ideology based on the existence of the nation-state, not vise versa as in most "older" nation states. As this nationalism is weak, it needed "sponsors" and found them mainly in the USA (with their classic "divide and conqure" policy and pathological hate of the US elite for Russia) and Germany. Calculating the odds of backlash against neoliberalism and the possibility to isolate and economically damage Russia, the USA elite choose to support of nationalism after 1991. much like earlier they created political Islam in Afganistan, the USA helped to create nationalist movements in all post-Soviet republics, including Russia itself (in a way, Putin is a product of the US policies toward Russia).
But there was an interesting nuance, at least of the beginning of this marriage created in hell: strong anti-Russian sentiment of those nationalist movement essentially emasculated in them the idea of priority of national interests and they often acted as fifth column of neoliberal globalization (note the stress on integration with EU put by Ukrainian nationalists, without questions on what conditions and what will be the role of Ukraine within the EU -- just dirt poor source of commodities, a "neoliberal banana republic" under EU tutelage, much like Bulgaria, or something better).
In return for state sponsorship, nationalists successfully provoked interethnic violence which flourished after the dissolution of the USSR. Quite contrary to the narrative of "captive nations" getting freedom, if we follow standard Western ideology. Since early 1990s, more that a half dozen small wars raged across the region, armed conflicts that we might term collectively "The Wars of the Soviet succession".
Among them the most notable are Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Chechnya, Tajikistan, and Ukraine civil was in Donbass region (which is sold by Ukrainian nationalists as Russian aggression, but is more complex then that -- it is partially a natural reaction on the attempt of colonization of Eastern Ukraine by Western Ukraine). In all of those conflicts there were three keys players:
Actually nationalism was used as a potent force to undermine the USSR long before dissolution of the Soviet Union and inciting, financing and organizing nationalist sentiments was one of the key strategy of the USA and its allies in the region as a variation of classic "divide and conquer " strategy. As well as a method of preparation to the war with the USSR ( foia.cia.gov )
Since independence and establishment of ruling neoliberal oligarchy in xUSSR republics, national identities were manipulated by political elites in order to suppress social protest and to channel it into scapegoats. Most nationalist movements naturally used Russians as a convenient scapegoat for economic difficulties and broken promises with which they came (or more correctly were brought) to power. In case of Ukraine, Russians as the scapegoats were intrinsic to the particular (Western Ukrainian) brand on nationalism. For them Russians are "Moskals". This particular form of ethnic conflict took various forms from pretty mild discrimination and suppression of Russian language, to full scale civil war.
From early on Ukrainian authorities moved to take over educational and cultural institutions and mold them in nationalist fashion. To promote "independence from Moscow" polytechnics were upgraded to universities. Historically Kiev-Mogila Academy became the base of creating new generation of Ukrainian nationalists, along with universities in Western Ukraine. New “Academies of Science” were established. New national festivals were inaugurated. History curricula were redesigned to highlight the particular nationality of the region as the indigenous inhabitants of their territory (which in some cases is not supported by historical evidence) and to strengthen the connection between earlier forms of statehood and the current states.
Previous instances of statehood, no matter how tenuous, were marshaled to serve the cause of legitimizing the current state: university reading rooms devoted to Marxist propaganda were instantly converted to glorification of "Cossack" past and Ukrainian hetmans (with the same staff, which changed their colors from Marxism to Ukrainian nationalism overnight :-), Western foundations like Soros also played important role: they selected and tried to promote only those who adhere to extreme nationalism, no matter if there were others more qualified for particular position. Grant, foreign trips and other perks were bestowed on those who promote far right nationalist views.
Feeling the scent of money as well as their own increased importance for the state, local intellectuals also started intensive work to discover cultural or historical heroes around which semiofficial cults, useful for sovereignty of Ukraine, could be built.
In Western Ukraine, Stepan Bandera became such a symbol, despite that fact that he was far from optimal choice for the Eastern Ukraine. On January 22, 2010 the first openly nationalistic president of Ukraine, Viktor Yushchenko (which was brought to power with the help of the USA) honored Stepan Bandera by posthumously bestowing on him the highest state honor, “Hero of Ukraine.” But such gestures, along with "forced Ukrainization" of everything including first names of citizens (when former Nikolai was renamed into Mykola on the first occasion when he needed to changed or prolong internal or foreign passport) and last names changed to from "skya" to "tska", alienated the considerable part of Eastern Ukrainian population which viewed this as an attempt of colonization (which in reality was exectly this, although in pretty mild form).
Here is how Stepan Bandera was described in History News Network :
As an uncompromising leader of the militant, terrorist branch of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), Bandera became a Nazi collaborator who lived with his deputies under German protection after World War II began. In preparation for the attack on the USSR, the Nazis recruited Bandera’s followers to act as Ukrainian-speaking policemen and to serve in two Ukrainian volunteer army battalions. By working with the Nazis, Bandera hoped to free Ukraine from Soviet rule and establish his own government there. An independent Ukraine, Bandera promised, would remain friendly to Germany.\Historian Karel Berkhoff, among others, has shown that Bandera, his deputies, and the Nazis shared a key obsession, namely the notion that the Jews in Ukraine were behind Communism and Stalinist imperialism and must be destroyed. “The Jews of the Soviet Union,” read a Banderist statement, “are the most loyal supporters of the Bolshevik Regime and the vanguard of Muscovite imperialism in the Ukraine.” When the Germans invaded the USSR in June 1941 and captured the East Galician capital of Lvov, Bandera’s lieutenants issued a declaration of independence in his name. They further promised to work closely with Hitler, then helped to launch a pogrom that killed four thousand Lvov Jews in a few days, using weapons ranging from guns to metal poles. “We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet,” a Banderist pamphlet proclaimed to Ukrainian Jews.
The Germans intended to keep Ukraine for themselves. They arrested Bandera for his intransigence on the issue of independence, but released him in 1944 when it appeared that his popularity with Ukrainians might help stem the Soviet advance. But whatever their disappointment with the Germans, the Banderists never disagreed with their Jewish policy in Ukraine, which eventually killed over 1.5 million Ukrainian Jews.
This is a truth that many in Ukraine, particularly in its western parts, deny. In his book Erased (2007), Omer Bartov discusses the large bronze statue of Bandera that stands in a park in the east Galician town of Drohobych, most of whose 15,000 Jews were murdered. The park stands on the site of the town’s former Jewish ghetto, but there is not so much as a plaque in the park to memorialize the Jewish dead. This and other examples like it make a condemnation of Yushchenko’s step necessary.
But the rest of the story, much of which is revealed in CIA records released in 2007, reveals irony in Yushchenko’s award. After the war Bandera lived in Munich. British intelligence used him to help run agents into Ukraine to gather intelligence and to help the Ukrainian underground against the Soviets. The CIA used some of Bandera’s former cronies for similar reasons, but never used Bandera himself, owing to Bandera’s infatuation with his own legend. “Bandera,” said one CIA report from 1948, “is by nature a political intransigent of great personal ambition [who] has…opposed all political organizations in the emigration which favor a representative form of government in the Ukraine, as opposed to a mono-party, OUN/Bandera regime.”
Children who were born after the USSR dissolved are now young adults. All of them were schooled in the view that the xUUSR republics they inhabit not only represent ancient nations, but also have been forged in the crucible of war and sacrifice in the fight against Russian aggressors. In other way Russophobia became an integral part of the national doctrine. As strange as they may sound, arguments used by Ukrainian officialdom were almost identical to the equally tendentious arguments used to justify to promote nationalist legends and identity in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Georgia. In these instances, there were rational reasons for the particular narrative strategies that intellectuals and academics pursued in brainwashing the public, and especially young people. Yet the net result was not the one the originators expected. Especially in Ukraine.
Official and open support of nationalism by the neoliberal post-Soviet states on former USSR territory created its own self-sustained growth of far right nationalism sentiments, with far right groups easily recruiting (often unemployed or semi-employed) young men and women. In case of Ukraine that led to indoctrination of considerable number of young people into Ukrainian nationalism legend. Those people, organized in Western Ukrainian region in para-military formations (which later get the nickname of Right Sector), become the storm troopers that allow Maydan to succeed in February 2014. Essentially channeling social protest against high unemployment and low standards of living on post-soviet republics into "color revolution" channels. Richard Hofstadter opened his 1963 Herbert Spencer Lecture at Oxford with these prescient words (Hofstadter on the American right) that are perfectly applicable to Ukrainian situation:
Although American political life has rarely been touched by the most acute varieties of class conflict, it has served again and again as an arena for uncommonly angry minds. Today this fact is most evident on the extreme right wing, which has shown, particularly in the Goldwater movement. how much political leverage can he got out of the animosities and passions of a small minority.
Behind such movements there is a style of mind, not always right-wing in its affiliations, that has a long and varied history. I call it the paranoid style simply because no other word adequately evokes the qualities of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy that I have in mind. (3)
The same concerns against "suicidal nationalism" George Bush Senior expressed in his famous "Chicken Kiev" speech. When the genie of far right nationalism is out of the bottle it is very difficult to control and it can became powerful, self-sustained and pretty destructive force for the state that have spent so much efforts (and money) to achieve that effect (as Victor Yanukovich, who did a lot to make Right Sector a viable political force, felt by his own skin, when he was almost shot during attempts to escape during Kiev coupe d'état of February 22).
In other words is very difficult or impossible to put genie of far right nationalism back in the bottle as Ukrainian neoliberal elite found out in late 2014, Schooling children in openly far right nationalistic fashion, while does tremendously strengthen the sovereignty of the country, creates its own dynamics which leads to the conflict between rapidly getting power nationalist movement which at some point became self-sustained, and corrupt neoliberal oligarchy that rules the country.
Ukrainian neoliberal elite ruled the country in their own interests, ignoring the plight of countrymen, and stealing as much resources as they can. Channeling those money into Western banks (in classic traditions of neocolonialism). Huge sovereign debt accumulated by neoliberal elite, essentially converting the state into "debt slave" of IMF and Western banks, also does not increase political stability. This fundamental conflict of politically weakened and discredited neoliberal elite and growing far right nationalist movement can well lead to the destruction of the state iether via collapse of economy or via secession of some parts of the country, or both.
On the surface, the relationship between Russian speaking population of Ukraine and Ukrainian nationalists had little in common with that between Moldovans and Transnistrians. However, the pattern of events in Ukraine closely paralleled those in Moldova. Like Russians in Moldova, after the coup of 2014, Russian speaking population of Ukraine demanded greater local autonomy, and a say in the politics of Kiev government. At the beginning their demands were pretty mild (and very far from real secessionism) and centered around the status of Russian language in the region and the republic as whole. All they got from Transitional government of Yatsenyuk and Turchinov is the direct attempt to suppress them with military force which led to a brutal, prolonged civil war as Russia came to help for Donbass region.
After Ukrainian coup d'état of February 2014 (and no one except Victoria Nuland can rationally explain why it was needed, because corrupt and clueless Yanukovich was already "fully cooked", and would lose power in the next election in any case) and after Donbass events Ukraine now fashion several paramilitary groups (with some might called "death squads"), which openly display Nazi symbols. In the central Europe, no less.
That suggest an interesting and very complex question "to what extent [...] the contemporary European far right movement are linked to classical fascism". The key problem here is to define what are immutable elements of classical fascism, as there is a spectrum of "shades of gray" here, present in any authoritarian movement (movements with a strong charismatic leader and military-style top-down hierarchy) that still does not make the matching element too convincing for the verdict -- yea this is the neofascism. Also there are some prejudices toward neofascism ideology that are not true.
For example, as one reviewer of the book Fascism and Neofascism Critical Writings on the Radical Right in Europe noted
"contrary to common perception, the Nazi movement was not repressive towards sex. In fact, it sneered at Christian morality much the same way that modern libertines and leftists do, and favored both premarital and extramarital sex. Attempts were made to discredit the Catholic Church by accusing priests in general of being homosexuals (sound familiar?).
Much as modern feminists and other humanists, the Nazis accused Christianity of having a dislike for the human body and for showing disrespect towards women. This was supposed to be a carryover of "the Oriental attitude towards women."
Similarly, the hate toward particular ethnic or racial group was never absolute: among Nazi Germany fascist brass there were small number of Jews. Whether somebody in high status was classified to be a Jew of not, was essentially not the matter of nationality, but the matter of political influence and connections. As somebody from Nazi high leadership openly declared "I and only I can determine who is a Jew and who is not". Also Italian fascism was quite different from German and first of all in the level of exclusion of other ethnical groups as well as the level of Social Darwinism adopted.
Still neofascism is closely linked to ethnic violence and the use of terror against opponents. Both were used as a tool to ensure the sovereignty and integrity of the state. Against secessionists neofascist regimes were especially brutal.
Also there are complex economic incentives (after all "the war is racket") that push ethnic violence forward in far right regimes like Provisional Government of Yatsenyuk-Turchinov, which actually unleashed the civil war in the Russian speaking Donbass region, instead of patiently negotiating demands of those region for higher cultural authonomy, and later Poroshenko, who continued it.
That does not mean that Russia did not play a role, first encouraging the rebellion by implicit promise to incorporate the region into Russian Federation like Crimea, and then letting them to hang dry. Inflow of volunteers and equipment from Russia had followed. In other words, Russia actions served as a catalyst for brutal and meaningless civil war. There are no good guys in this case. All five major players (the USA, EU, Kiev government, Russia, and Donetsk separatists) were to a large extent irrational. The only country which benefitted from the new mess was the USA, because it managed to weaken Russia, but that came at a price of a wave of anti-American sentiments in Russia, which make rapprochement more difficult and crashing Russia economically more dangerous. But all US neocons, who dominate US foreign policy think tanks and State Department, care is their own profits and they were grely increased, as the come from military industrial complex.
The first who noticed this trend of escalation of conflict between Eastern and Western Ukraine from sporadic acts of ethnic violence to civil war in Ukraine with EuroMaydan events as the Rubicon, were Israeli authors, who probably were more sensitive to this trend. And as a counter reaction growth of Russian nationalism trends in Eastern Ukraine. For example here is a relevant quote from the analysis of the situation the day before the coup d'état by Dr. Inna Rogatchi (Arutz Sheva, February 21, 2014):
The most worrisome and largely overseen factor of the ongoing Ukrainian tragedy, to me, is the mighty Neo-Nazi presence among the opposition hard-core militants from ultra-right nationalistic parties and movements. The threat posed by those forces should be not under-estimated, especially in the context of rapidly rising ultra-national forces all over Europe, the current. new ugly ‘fashion’.
... ... ...
“I have been six times in Ukraine during the last two months, what a tragedy is going on there”, - a senior European politician told me recently. I asked him : “Have you noticed the activities of ultra-right radicals there? Have you heard what they are proclaiming and under which slogans they are ‘fighting for democracy’, so to say?”.“Yes, that Svoboda ( Freedom) party, I know, it is a nightmare, by the way”. “Well, it is not what I would attest to as ‘by the way’", I replied, and asked my friend further on:
“That nightmare is just one of the parties of that direction in Ukraine; do you know how many violent racist movements in Ukraine are operating today? Sixteen more in additional to the Freedom party plus seven more of an extreme-radical character, making it twenty three in total. Do you know that together with 10,44% of the seats in the current Ukrainian parliament occupied by Freedom party, those 23 more parties would cover at least 20% of the population of that huge country of 45,5 million?”
... ... ...
Racial Hatred As Yeast for Riots
It is crucial to realise that sheer and ugly racism has become the yeast of the Ukrainian riots – from both sides, it is important to note. Why are none of the European and Western world leaders not pointing in that vital direction? Why is it being overlooked once again?
My close friend living in Ukraine wrote me a few days ago on how her West-based fiancée is very nervous about the situation and ‘is praying that democracy will win in Ukraine’ – “Poor naive man”, writes my Ukrainian friend. If things continue to unfold the way they are unfolding now, all of Europe will become poor and ridden by race-based hatred and it may happen soon.
Neo-Nazis as ‘Freedom Fighters’
Little more than a year ago, in Autumn 2012, the ultra-right nationalist, fervently and openly anti-Semitic Freedom party received over 10% of the seats in the Ukrainian parliament and now has a solid 37 seats in the 450-member governing body. Just over a year since the legitimisation of that party, which initially proudly called itself a National-Socialist party, the protests in Ukraine have turned into bloody riots and are very close to civil war.
Since the very beginning, a heavily racist element has been present in the rhetoric of the protests. Why did nobody in the West react adequately to these non-stop proclamations of hatred and calls for violence? Why did nobody speak about it in plain language, not once? If any of the MPs of almost any of the Western countries – except Hungary, obviously - would allow him or herself to imitate a pale shadow of the speeches which were repeatedly heard from the podium of the Ukrainian parliament, the speeches produced by the Freedom party MPs, that Western parliamentarian would find him or herself in jail instantly.
... ... ...
The Right Sector of Armed Debauchers
People who are following the situation in Ukraine, know that the notorious Freedom party looks almost like church choir boys in comparison with 23 more ultra-right radical organizations in Ukraine, several of them recently united into the Right Sector Alliance comprised of highly aggressive militants. The current reality is that those thousands of militants are well equipped with weapons and ammunition and are determined to run the war, according to their leader’s repeated statements. It is those people who have happily taken responsibility for multiple acts of arson, increasing daily terror and limitless violence. It is those people who beat severely a newly appointed official in Volyn, put him on his knees, hand-cuffed him publicly in the city square, and brought his family to stand in front of him. Those people call themselves fighters for freedom. Is this the definition of freedom with which the European leaders are happy?
These are not ‘separate accidental cases’ as we are hearing in some official comments. This is the position and practice of the absolutely real, serious, large, well organized and well prepared sector of the Ukrainian protesters, and this truth shall be realised and acted upon without delay.
There is no secret concerning the real political agenda and programs of ultra-nationalist parties in Ukraine – there is nothing close to European values and goals there. One just should open existing documents and hear what the representatives of those parties proclaim daily. They are sharply anti-European, and highly racist. They have nothing to do with the values and practices of the civilized world. Why are the European leaders embracing such forces so indiscriminately?..
Ethnic violence is connected with the belief that neofascist movements share with classic fascism -- the belief in the necessity of hierarchical (authoritarian) world with the dominant and subordinate groups, as well as ethos of masculine violence. It is deeply rooted in European culture (in this sense the desire of Ukrainian elite to join Europe can be viewed as pretty sincere) and as Adorno noted that "totality" in the term "totalitarism" is a mode of domination that lies implicit in the Enlightenment drive to de-mythologize the world.
In this sense "totalitarism" in not unique to fascism and communism. It is also is inherent in neoliberal version of "consumer capitalism", which, as such, represent a potent background for emerging neofascist groups and movements. For example, fascist myths were the means of constituting identity and as such are not that different from mass advertizing (building brand). That also explains deep similarities of Hollywood and Nazi films. At the same time, new radical right movements and groups are clearly distinct from fascist of the past. While fascism emerged partially as a reaction to brutalities and injustices of WWI, new radical right is in large part the result of unease with the neoliberalism. Several members of Western European far right groups fight in Donbass with Donbass militia as they consider Kiev junta to be Washington's puppets promoting its globalization agenda. At the same time several members of Western white supremacist groups fight with Kiev junta para-military formations (death squads) which openly brandish Nazi symbols.
All neofascist movements are using "invented historical context" or myths as a powerful means for making sense of human differences and organizing societies. Nationalism, based on however fictive concept of national identity, is a powerful mean of organizing the society along of axis of domination and subordination, inclusion and exclusion. Racism and nationalism while not the same things are closely linked together. In a sense any political system that operate on the base of nationality of race is neofascism in its essence. That includes Israel and Baltic states. In this sense neither the USA nor Russia can be classified as neofascist regimes became they do not adhere to the concept of "ingenious nationality" or white race supremacy. That does not exclude existence of groups that adhere to this mythology inside those countries.
In this sense Ukrainian nationalism (despite different history) is not that different from Polish and Finnish nationalism, which also use Russophobia as the cornerstone of national identity. Or Baltic nationalism which also has many similarities to Ukrainian nationalism, although unlike Ukrainian nationalism which uses Russophobia mainly as a philosophical justification of its existence and in current form is mainly against Russian culture, not so much about Russians as an ethnic group, it definitely treats Russians as a hostile ethnic group (and not only within Russia proper) in the style called "Baltic Apartheid". So while Ukraine nationalists try to assimilate Russians and turn them into Ukrainians, Baltic states mainly rejects Russians and try to segregate them or push them out.
It is extremely interesting that football fans, skinheads and hooligans, who often were utilized as a foot solders of any rebellion were mobilized by far right groups during EuroMaydan events. Behaviors once deemed antisocial and vandalistic were harnessed in the service of the nationalist discourse and the members of those fringe groups served as a part of storm troopers for the coup d'état of February 22, 2014. Ultimately, like in Serbia before, unruly football hooligans were recruited into paramilitary formations that played important role in civil war in Donbass (like Serbia paramilitary formation in wars of Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo) and committed the most horrendous crimes against civil population.
Yet mechanisms via which the chaos of war become transformed into networks of profit were pretty mundane. In this sense Ukraine provides a textbook instance of profit extraction using "disaster capitalism" model. Under neoliberalism the key mechanism is "debt enslavement" of the nation as a whole, as a civil war is perfect instrument for that. In a way Ukrainian nationalists played the role of Trojan horse of neoliberal penetration in Ukraine, which were substantial under Yanukovich regime but become total under Provisional government, which essentially (especially Yatsenyuk) represented interests of transactional capital, not those of Ukrainian people, despite being an argent nationalist. This paradox of far right nationalists being a storm troopers of transnational capital is not unique to Ukraine and represents another paradox. Of course, one can argue that Yatsenyuk was essentially an artificial political figure created on money from foreign sponsors for this particular purpose, but the tendency to such behaviour exists in other, less odious members of Ukrainian political Olympus.
After Maydan the standard of living of Ukrainian population dropped more then in half, while national currency depreciated 300% (from 8.3 to 25 per dollar). Many Ukrainian pensioneers are forced to exist on less a dollar a day. Again this is in central Europe in resources rich country with educated population. Such is the power of neoliberalism.
Ukrainian events definitely correlated with Ukrainian people disillusionment of the neoliberalism as a specific form of crony capitalism to which Yanukovich regime firmly belong, with it level of corruption (which West condemned and widely used to achieve its globalization goals). Corruption like civil war is a perfect instrument for debt enslavement of the nation. In a way marginalization of extreme right from 1945 to 1991 was more exception then a rule. Western societies, especially European, tend to self-generate powerful extreme right movements. In a few states neofascists have chances of coming to power (Ukraine EuroMaidan events of 2014 and the coupe of February 22, 2014 actually is not a good example, as events here were externally driven, externally financed, and externally supported).
In any case, with crisis on neoliberalism which started in full force in 2008, nationalism became the only viable alternative of channeling protest for many people in Europe. Exactly like in 30th of the XX century. With the major different that communism is now discredited and no longer can compete for the minds of people. Nationalism as ancient tribal feeling remained viable and still can attract people en mass.
At the same time, Ukraine EuroMaidan color revolution (like previously Arab spring revolutions, which later tuned in "Arab autumn" of mass refugees migration into Europe) demonstrates a very interesting and novel strategy of color revolution: usage of far right forces generally hostile to neoliberalism to topple the current neoliberal government that does not fit the desirable for the USA and /or EU regime and install a another neoliberal comprador regime, more suitable for the current geopolitical or economic goals of USA and EU in the country. In other words far-right are used as storm troopers of color revolution, which then might bury them, as their nationalism does not fit well into neoliberal world order. "The Moor has done his duty. The Moor can go." In German it sounds: "Der Mohr hat seine Schuldigkeit getan. Der Mohr kann gehen". In Ukraine this burial process was partially accomplished via civil war on South East.
The most radical and the most dangerous to neoliberals far right elements, who came to power due to Maidan were organized into "territorial units" such as Azov battalion and send to fight and die in the civil war with South East confederates. As of 2015, this mechanism provided that many of those most radical and militant far right elements, who participated in EuroMaydan events, and who now represents danger to neoliberal establishment which came to power, probably were already killed. Exterminated like unwanted pests. This strategy looks like a variation of the classic mechanism, which is reflected in famous quote "Revolutions eat its own children":
“The moor has done his duty, the moor can go,” says a character in Friedrich von Schiller’s play, Fiesco’s Conspiracy at Genoa. Anyone who has read about the history of major revolutions will come to the same conclusion: The initial revolutionaries are all being destroyed by the latter-day power takers.
The former are the foot soldiers-turned cannon fodder, the cogs of the revolution, the latter are the new leaders. Once the cogs have done their work, they can be dispensed with (The Moors Can Go)"
At the same time far right elements were not just useful tools of EuroMaidan trained in Polish and Estonian camps for the US and EU money for the specific one-time "toppling" agenda. They ensure the link of Ukraine to EU and first of all Germany. But while they did perform the task assigned to them by Nuland and Co extremely well, those forces have agenda of their own. They wanted power and resent the fact the a new faction of the old and well know Ukrainian neoliberal gang (which includes Poroshenko, Yatsenyuk and Turchinov) hijacked the power from them. And to acquire and maintain power they do not shy from terror actions, as Odessa Massacre of May 2, 2014 demonstrated to the whole Ukraine. They openly viewed neoliberal gang as betrayers of the Ukrainian nation, which actually they were. I doubt that Yatsenyuk slept well during his days as a Prime Minister. In one episode when a car with Yatsenyuk and Timoshenko, who was just released from prison was stopped by Right Sector patrol, frightened Yatsenyuk like a sheep mumbled "We understand", "We understand" after stern warnings of Right Sector militiamen. It was clear that is afraid about his own physical safety at this moment.
Success of far right parties in Ukraine is not an isolated event. They were another sign that both Eastern and Western Europe are experiencing a new and important cultural and political development: the emergence of a new breed, new generation, of far right extremist movements. I would call it European Far Right Renaissance. Here is the definition of neofascism from Encyclopedia Britannica
neofascism, political philosophy and movement that arose in Europe in the decades following World War II. Like earlier fascist movements, neofascism advocated extreme nationalism, opposed liberal individualism, attacked Marxist and other left-wing ideologies, indulged in racist and xenophobic scapegoating, and promoted populist right-wing economic programs.
Unlike the fascists, however, neofascists placed more blame for their countries’ problems on non-European immigrants than on leftists and Jews, displayed little interest in taking lebensraum (German: “living space”) through the military conquest of other states, and made concerted efforts to portray themselves as democratic and “mainstream.” The National Front in France, led by Jean-Marie Le Pen, and the Liberal-Democratic Party in Russia, led by Vladimir Zhirinovsky, are often cited as neofascist.
These are strong indications of the replay of the resurgence of far right political forces in Europe similar to what took place in 30th of the last century. This time instead of Great Depression the trigger was Great Recession and the reaction to extremes of neoliberalism with its dominance of globalized banking.
Communism with its utopia idea of "Paradise on Earth" and universal equality as an ultimate goal along with excesses committed in the USSR and other countries in fighting "the enemies of the people" and brutally suppressing any political dissent, even when it does not have the goals of overthrowing the existing social order, became too discredited to represent the vanguard of forces for the fight with neoliberal domination of globalized financial oligarchy. Interests of which are often represented by the USA, which paradoxically Ukrainian nationalist love so much. But far right forces were able to reorganize and provide attractive agenda to recruit young people and considerable chunk of middle class. In many European countries, they already became a viable political force.
This emergence of far right as an anti-neoliberalism force led to the paradoxical situation when many of Le Pen's votes come from former Red strongholds. In other words like in 20th and 30th the working class is, for very understandable reasons, is turning to nationalism as an antidote to casino capitalism enforced by the USA. So like in 30th of the last century, the USA neoliberal empire is the main precondition for resurgence of far right forces. As Slavoj Žižek noted:
The Ukrainian nationalist right is one instance of what is going on today from the Balkans to Scandinavia, from the US to Israel, from central Africa to India: ethnic and religious passions are exploding, and Enlightenment values receding.
These passions have always been there, lurking; what’s new is the outright shamelessness of their display.
... ... ...
One of the signs of this regression is a request often heard on the new European right for a more "balanced" view of the two "extremisms", the right and the left. We are repeatedly told that one should treat the extreme left (communism) the same way that Europe after the second world war treated the extreme right (the defeated fascists)
But in reality there is no balance here: the equation of fascism and communism secretly privileges fascism. Thus the right are heard to argue that fascism copied communism: before becoming a fascist, Mussolini was a socialist; Hitler, too, was a National Socialist; concentration camps and genocidal violence were features of the Soviet Union a decade before Nazis resorted to them; the annihilation of the Jews has a clear precedent in the annihilation of the class enemy, etc.
The point of these arguments is to assert that a moderate fascism was a justified response to the communist threat (a point made long ago by Ernst Nolte in his defence of Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism). In Slovenia, the right is advocating the rehabilitation of the anti-communist Home Guard which fought the partisans during the second world war: they made the difficult choice to collaborate with the Nazis in order to thwart the much greater evil of communism.
Among other condition that favor resurgence of such groups we can name such features of neoliberal regimes (which now dominate the continent) as blatant lies of MSM which discredit them in eyes of public opinion, as demographic pressures from immigrant labor, social dislocation due to dismantling of social security state, and economic pressures inherent in "dog eat dog" capitalism and outsourcing to lower wage countries advocated by neoliberalism. In many ways neoliberalism represents a perfect environment for nurturing neofascist movements.
In many ways neoliberalism represents a perfect environment for nurturing neofascist movements, especially in the xUSSR space.
Now, the next day in The Financial Times they did an interview with Singapore’s prime minister, Lee. And the prime minister, Lee, said, I think you–to the Financial Times interviewer,
“I think you should have thought of that before encouraging the demonstrators on the Maidan.” I think some people – meaning the U.S. – didn’t think through all the consequences. Can you take responsibility for the consequences? And when it comes to grief, will you be there? You can’t be there, since you have so many other interests to protect.
The social pressures that exist now in neoliberal society are similar to pressures that existed after Great Depression, but their are exacerbated by the level of recklessness of the US elite which now does not have any major opponent on the globe.
|The social pressures that exist now in neoliberal society are similar to pressures that existed after Great Depression, but their are exacerbated by the level of recklessness of the US elite which now does not have any major opponent on the globe.|
Fall of "first generation" fascist regimes did not destroy the movement which acquired strong roots in neoliberal societies across the globe.
|They use the same ideas of dominance of particular ethnic group, scapegoat in form of another ethnic group, glorification of state, using violence against opponents, limitations on civil rights in the name of giving the state more power to protect the populace from "destructive elements" within the society and external aggressors. They are viewed people as the only viable defense again neoliberal globalization|
At the same time new far right are somewhat different from classic far right nationalists of the past in one major way: the criteria of belonging is no longer ethnicity per se (although some elements, for example anti-Semitism and Russophobia, remained), but "cultural affiliation" and first of all the language. In other words, they are not fascists, they are Neo-fascism. In a way, Ukraine is the first European state where members of a Neo-fascist Party (Svoboda -- Freedom) were included in the government after putsch of February 22.
All that means that the rise of Ukrainian far right forces is not a unique and isolated phenomenon. It is reflection of processes which in different form take place in many other, almost all European, and especially Eastern European (Poland, Hungary). Far right organizations that first crystallized around football ultras and skinheads are European-wide phenomenon. See for example https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gG-2HdFdvkY. Also as one Guardian commenter put it:
ocixem2 -> diabolus
The rise in nationalistic sentiment may be lamentable, but it is understandable. It arises because Europe is ruled by an unelected, supranational technocratic elite which could care less whether everyday Europeans live or die.
As Hannah Arendt noted in The Origins of Totalitarianism:
The Rights of Man, after all, had been defined as "inalienable" because they were supposed to be independent of all governments; but it turned out that the moment human beings lacked their own government and had to fall back upon their minimum rights, no authority was left to protect them and no institution willing to guarantee them.
This process also includes Russia although level of suppression of nationalism and especially neo-fascism in Russia is probably one of the highest among European countries.
And it goes without saying that all major EU counties experience dramatic rise of far right forces too. That includes Germany, France, Sweden as well as usual suspects Hungary, Poland and Baltic states (Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia). The whole story of the EU since the Maastricht Treaty and the establishment of the Euro was about neoliberal conversion similar to the USA conversion. And this conversion destroyed standards of living of lower middle class, especially small merchants, across southern Europe. Now the Southern Europe have had enough and are going to send nationalists to the European Parliament (The Guardian, May 14, 2014):
This new wave of nationalism is different then the previous wave which arose in the beginning of XX century and which led to establishment of "classic" fascist regimes. It can be called "cultural nationalism" where not ethnicity, but cultural identity was put in the center of the nationalistic doctrine.
In France, Denmark and Finland, rightwing nationalist and racist parties are set to win more than 20% of the vote – with Geert Wilders' Muslim-baiting Freedom party not far behind in the Netherlands. So is the virulently anti-Roma and anti-Semitic Jobbik in Hungary, while the neo-Nazi Golden Dawn party in Greece is on the way to winning its first Euro seats.
|New flavor of nationalism that is now spreading over Europe can be called "cultural nationalism" where not ethnicity, but cultural identity was put in the center of the nationalistic doctrine. For "cultural nationalism" a common identity is based more on acceptance for the language and the culture than on the racial solidarity (although it dies not exclude xenophobia).|
For "cultural nationalism" a common identity is based more on acceptance for the language and the culture than on the racial solidarity (although it dies not exclude xenophobia). Due to the power of the USA and general alliance with the West, fewer of this movements and parties are openly anti-Semitic and if they are anti-Semitic then the stress is on refusal of Jews to accept the national culture, the charge similar to the change of "country less cosmopolitans" trials in the USSR in late 40th of the last century.
Ukrainian fascists love the Russia-hammering NATO, but detest the Russia-accommodating and supra-nationalistic EU.
And they aren’t alone. Fascism — and anti-EU sentiment — pervade parts of Europe that never felt Stalin’s wrath. In the last elections for the European Parliament, “eurosceptics” and xenophobic ultra-nationalists scored significant gains, led by Marine Le Pen, whose National Front took 25% of the French seats.
A lot of it has to do with the equivocal track record of globalized neo-liberal capitalism in the last decade. We’re all Pikettyists now, and it seems that among the most important outcomes of neo-liberalism are income inequality and oligarchs.
It is anathema to liberal democrats, but it should be acknowledged that fascism is catching on, largely as a result of a growing perception that neo-liberalism and globalization are failing to deliver the economic and social goods to a lot of people.
Democracy is seen as the plaything of oligarchs who manipulate the current system to secure and expand their wealth and power; liberal constitutions with their guarantees of minority rights appear to be recipes for national impotence. Transnational free markets in capital and goods breed local austerity, unemployment, and poverty. Democratic governments seem to follow the free market playbook, get into problems they can’t handle, and surrender their sovereignty to committees of Euro-financiers.
Fascism, with its exaltation of the particular, the emotional, and the undemocratic provides an impregnable ideological and political bulwark against these outside forces.
Fascism has become an important element in the politics of resistance: a force that obstructs imposition of the norms of globalization, and an ideology that justifies the protection of local local interests against the demands of liberal democracy, transnational capital, and property and minority rights.
Maybe it’s neo-liberalism, not fascism, that is facing a crisis of legitimacy and acceptance.
So the idea that fascism can be treated as a delusional artifact of the 20th century and the challenge of fascism to the neo-liberal order can be ignored is, itself, wishful thinking.
... ... ...
For some, resentment will, inevitably, congeal around nationalism and the perception that fascist resistance, defiantly militant, uncompromising, and irrational, racial and undemocratic, exclusionary and brutal, is the best instrument to achieve local identity and agency—power– in an ever bigger, more dangerous, and less responsive continental order.
New generation of nationalist movements and far right groups widely use Internet and have well established Web presence including such social sites as Facebook and Google++. They also establish cross-border links with similar parties. For example Ukrainian far-right group have links not only with Germany far right (which is natural for them), but paradoxically also with Polish far-right with which they theoretically should be bitter enemies and sometimes even with Russian neo-liberals (several of them visited EuroMaidan in "support missions") and far-right groups (despite the fact that Russian culture and by extension people are official cultural enemy of Ukrainian nationalism).
And it should be stressed that other then neoliberalism (neoliberal globalization) cultural nationalism does not have viable opponent among social movement and current ideologies. No matter how inconsistent, or even absurd are its claim it does attract people.
|It should be stressed that other then neoliberalism (neoliberal globalization) cultural nationalism does not have viable opponent among social movement and current ideologies. No matter how inconsistent, or even absurd are its claim it does attract people.|
And it might well be that some European countries have forgotten the danger they represent way too quickly:
annette83 -> diabolus
Have you already forgotten 1940s, and Volyn massacre when Ukrainian nationalists (UPA party) drew up a plan to exterminate all the Poles, Jews and Russians? Among the leaders were Stepan Bandera, Klim Kavur for example.. And in the process murdered thousands of WOMEN, CHILDREN in Poland, just like Hitler did? The Poles seem to have forgotten that too soon....
And today Ukrainians even have monuments to Bandera, Kavur and some other people in charge of mass murders in that period.
And today's Svoboda party in Ukraine in the successor of the UPA.
Why are European politicians still keeping silent about all of that??
If Europe stops supporting the Americans with their promotion of fascism in Ukraine and Europe, this fascist movement in Ukraine will just stop, piano piano. If not, it can get really ugly in here.
It is difficult to tell when far right nationalistic group get brown color. Litmus text is the creation of paramilitary group (death squads, stormtroopers, etc) for repression of opponents and adoption of terror as a legitimate methods of struggle for power. Those paramilitary group exists outside law, the key interpreter of which became the party not the counts. Another telling sign is the creation of concentration camps.
To these regimes, art and literature should serve the national interest or they had no right to
Here are six more characteristics found in Umberto Eco's "Eternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt," from New York Review of Books, 22 June 1995, pp.12-15.
The story of 20th and 30th repeats again. Like in the past, far right groups are nurtured by both government and part of the business as the most adequate response to the challenging and poorly controlled political situation at home. As Helena Smith reported about Greece (The Observer, [Jun 09, 2014):
It has been a bad week for democracy in Athens. All around this great Greek city, the politics of hate now lurk. On Friday I got a taste of it in the tiny Italian-style cafe I frequent off Syntagma Square.
It arrived in the form of two middle-aged men, both supporters of the neo-fascist Golden Dawn – and, by their own account, the holders of university degrees, well-travelled and well-informed. Over espressos, they began to engage in an animated discussion about all that is wrong with Greece.
The first, a self-described businessman decked out in designer suit, brogues and silk tie, blamed the country's economic collapse on malfeasance, corruption and uncontrolled immigration. "The only way to teach our filthy politicians is to bring in Golden Dawn," he trilled, his eyes locked in a fierce glare. "These gentlemen are patriots, proud Greek nationalists, and they know how to deal with the scum, the foreigners who never pay taxes, who steal our jobs, who have taken over our streets."
What makes Ukrainian experience more interesting is the Ukrainian far right forces are classic case of forces brought to the front stage and openly supported by the government. They were covertly supported by all Ukrainian governments, but, especially, by pro-US "democratic" Yushchenko regime, since 1991 as a way to create "Ukrainian national identity". This is when they got open state support and Yushchenko even dared to bestow the title of hero of Ukraine to the leader of Ukrainian nationalists in WWII Stepan Bandera, who is guilty of serious crimes such an ethnic cleansing against Polish citizens and Jews.
Viktor Yushchenko, the president produced by the last American-supported Ukrainian uprising, the “Orange Revolution,” put the full weight of the ideological apparatus of the Ukrainian state into reinventing the history of Ukrainian complicity with Nazism into a “national liberation” mythology.
But paradoxically it was not Yushchenko, but Yanukovich regime and its financial and logistical support which essentially launch Svoboda into mainstream. As CounterPunch noted (The Durability of Ukrainian Fascism):
Ukrainian nationalists turned largely toward fascism, specifically toward a concept of “integral nationalism” that, in the absence of an acceptable national government, manifested itself in a national will residing in the spirit of its adherents, not expressed by the state or restrained by its laws, but embodied by a charismatic leader and exercised through his organization, whose legitimacy supersedes that of the state and whose commitment to violence makes it a law unto itself.
That leader, at least for many Ukrainians of the fascist persuasion, was Stepan Bandera. The organization, his OUN-B faction.
This state of affairs persists in today’s successor to the OUN-B, Pravy Sektor, with its fascist trappings, leader cult, and paramilitary arm. The “mainstreaming” of the second major fascist grouping, Svoboda, looks more like a strategic repackaging in order to strive for greater electoral success by hiding its fascist antecedents.
So, unfortunately for apologists for the current Kyiv regime, the correct description of these two groups is not “nationalist” or “ultranationalist”; it is “fascist”.
Fatally, the Ukrainian government has turned to fascist nationalism and heroes in order to forge a post-Soviet, essentially Ukrainian, identity for the post-1991 state
Typically nationalist are strong advocates of local industries and local ownership. They are anti-globalization force, par excellence. The unique feature of EuroMaydan national-socialist revolution was that Ukrainian nationalists essentially let a fox guard the hen -- after the victory they gave up the complete political power to pro-western neoliberals. the reason for that that they did not feel themselves as an independent political movement and were keenly aware about "sponsors" and those sponsors wishes.
In other works they make the bet on multinational and neoliberal superpower (the USA) to obtain power without understanding the consequences of such a move for the country and for the people of Ukraine. So unique feature of Ukrainian nationalism which make them more common with Chilean nationalism then with other European flavors of nationalism is that from day one of thier victory they essentially sold the country to multinationals by allied with neoliberal fifth column within the country.
As the result economy went into tailspin and GDP dropped approximately 20% from a year ago. A stunning achievement.
In Western MSM the 17.6% year on year GDP drop in Ukraine is mentioned as a just a number without any context. But during the Great Depression the US GDP contracted "only" 25%. In any given year of that depression it did not drop 17%. Also, in the case of Ukraine, it has already underwent its first Great Depression, which was worse than the US depression during the 1990s. So we are looking at The Second Great Depression in Ukraine. This is the meaning of this 17.6 drop. Ukrainian pensioners are brought by brave Western neocons with the help of local fifth column to the real starvation level. This is an important story and yet Western MSM ignore it, much like they ignore now flight MH17 after inconvenient facts surfaced.
Instead we have overoptimistic "confidence enhancing" forecasts from Moody’s, the World Bank, the IMF, and other western agencies. Which are pure political fluff. when in reality we need to state that USA neocons (see Nulandgate) destroyed the Ukraine economics and plunge the country into another Great Depression, converting the country to yet another debt slave nation.
Paradoxically, large part, if not the majority of Ukrainian far right groups, at least superficially, are pro-EU. They are pro-EU without understanding what EU will bring to the county multinationals and first of all German and US multinationals. And the last thing multinationals are concerned about is wellbeing of the Ukrainian people, which according to nationalist doctrine should the top priority. It is less paradoxical then it sounds if we assume that the cultural affinity with Germany is the key to the new Ukranian nationalism.
Ukrainian nationalists cultural identity is based on strong, fanatic rejection of all things Russian demonstrating a perfect example of Narcissism of small differences -- the tendency to exaggerate the dissimilarities of those who resemble us in an effort to buttress our own self-regard...
An excellent discussion of why this is the case and why they are nurtured by the US government was provided in the article Charge of the Right Brigade: Ukraine and the Dynamics of Capitalist Insurrection from The Polemicist blog (March 19, 2014). I recommend to read this excellent analysis in full, but here is a (large) relevant quote:
To pretend that the ex-post-facto parliamentary maneuvers that ratified the result of this insurrection actually confer some kind of retroactive constitutional legitimacy on it is ludicrous. As Nicolai Petro points out, these actions were taken by “a Parliament that rules without any representation from the majority party – since most of the deputies of the east and the south of the country are afraid to set foot in Parliament… [and] all across the country, headquarters of parties are being sacked by their opponents,” by a parliament that outlawed the only effective remaining opposition party (the Communists) and that “consolidate[ed] the powers of the speaker of the Parliament and the acting president in a single individual, giving him greater powers than allowed under any Ukrainian constitution,” in a context where “Vigilante militias routinely attack and disperse public gatherings they disapprove of.”25 Please, let’s recognize these parliamentary acts as what they are – the ratification of an insurrection, in defiance of the extant constitutional order. Call them the first steps in a new, post-insurrection constitutional order if you want, but recognize the radical break they represent.
And why not call this what it is? Isn’t that what revolutionary change is all about – a radical break with the old order? To reprise what I said in a previous post on Egypt: An electoral process can be a thin facade of democracy and, effectively, a tool of disempowerment, justifying militant extra-electoral politics, or even insurrection. A serious revolutionary conjuncture, a real break into a new social order, usually involves both. It’s an unapologetic, forceful, seizure of power that seeks to be definitive and irreversible. (Of course, not every insurrection is a revolution, or even a step forward, but let’s leave that aside for the moment.)
As someone who accepts the revolutionary socialist argument, I do not object to extra-legal, extra-parliamentary, insurrectionary politics per se. And guess what? All the self-proclaimed liberal, conservative, moderate, non-violent, constitutional, parliamentary democratic thinkers, politicians and commentators who are proudly and loudly supporting what happened in Ukraine also do not object to extra-legal, extra-parliamentary, insurrectionary politics per se – they just don’t want to admit it. Like me, they will support an insurrection, depending on what it’s about. Unlike me, they will pretend it wasn’t really an insurrection at all, just another, maybe somewhat “messy,” but fundamentally non-violent, constitutionally-authorized transition within the rules of bourgeois parliamentary democracy. And that’s because, as the man said: We wouldn’t permit that in any Western capital, no matter how righteous the cause.
It’s quite amusing, until it gets sickening, to watch American leaders—who cling to the notion that a thin, corrupt, disempowering electoral process legitimizes them — embrace the forceful overthrow of a democratically-elected leader in a functioning parliamentary democracy while insisting they are doing no such thing.
Let’s recognize that virtually nobody really supports or opposes what happened in Ukraine, or anywhere else, because it was an insurrection, but because of what kind of insurrection it was – what it’s explicit and implicit socio-political objective was, what different kind of society and polity it was moving toward creating. And let’s recognize that the US would denounce, and help to crush, any insurrection, no matter how popular or righteous the cause, in which leftist forces played anything close to the prominent fighting role that right-wing, neo-fascist forced played in this one. If revolutionary anarcho-syndicalists had been the vanguard of the Maidan, Yanukovych would have been America’s “democratic” hero.
As for “democracy” (along with “nonviolent,” one of the most dishonestly abused words in the American political vocabulary), it certainly does not just mean having an election. It means power to the people. Neither Ukrainian oligarchs, nor the EU-IMF neo-liberal “technocrats,” nor the American government, nor NATO, want that. They have too much to lose.
It was a right-wing, imperialist insurrection, powered by fascist groups and permeated with fascist ideology.
The overthrow of Yanukovych was an insurrection accomplished by a political movement that was driven by popular socio-economic discontent and thoroughly imbued by “ultranationalist”—i.e., neo-fascist—ideology.
It was decidedly not a revolution, in the strong sense of the word. A revolutionary insurrection marks the beginning of a change in the social order. This movement did not, will not, and, given its foundations, could not, establish a popular government that will create anything like more widespread prosperity and deeper democracy, let alone a new social order.
It was a regime change, fuelled by popular discontent, powered by neo-fascist militants, and surreptitiously managed by American intelligence diplomats, with Ukrainian oligarchs maneuvering for ultimate control behind the scenes—factions that have different, sometimes internally contradictory, agendas. It will create a government that will be controlled by and benefit some Ukrainian oligarchs at the expense of others, that will benefit European and American capitalism at the (acknowledged, indeed promised!) cost of austerity and immiseration for Ukrainian working people, and that will benefit American and NATO plans for an ever-tightening military encirclement of Russia at the expense of possible war and perpetual tension for Ukraine.
The only possibility for a more serious, “revolutionary” break from neo-liberal standards of oligarchic-imperial rule in the near future would come from the neo-fascist groups, who indeed imagine themselves to have a radically different agenda. But guess what? Faced with any popular uprising against its policies, from the right or the left, the new neo-liberal, Euro-facing, Russia-hating, America-loving, Ukrainian government, and its international supporters, will trot out the bourgeois democratic principles that its leaders, of course, never really contravened, and insist, Berkut (by any other name) and all: We won’t permit that in our democratic, European capital, no matter how righteous the cause.
Is there anybody who honestly doubts any of this?
Brendan O’Neill makes the point quite nicely:
For what we have in Ukraine is not revolution, but regime change …As for the word ‘revolution’ … its deployment in Ukraine takes its bastardisation to a new low: there has of course been no replacement of one social order by another in Ukraine, or even the installment of a people’s government; instead various long-established parties in parliament, some of which are deeply unpopular among certain constituencies in Ukraine, are forming an interim government. Revolutionary? Hardly.
The Western debate and coverage … has certainly made externally generated regime change seem revolutionary, and the Western-assisted anti-democratic removal of an elected leader seem like an act of people’s democracy. It has exposed a severe dearth of independent critical thinking among the Western commentariat. …
The truth of what has happened in Ukraine is this: the EU and Washington have effectively brought about regime change, replacing an elected pro-Russian regime with an unelected, still-being-formed new government that is more amenable to the institutions of the West.26
Regarding the “fascism” question, Max Blumenthal’s Alternet piece, and Per Anders Rudling’s detailed scholarly study are indispensable sources. Rudling understates considerably, when he says: “The far-right tradition is particularly strong in western Ukraine.” The fascist currents in the Kiev movement are undeniable. They are represented in the parliament by the Svoboda (Freedom) Party (originally called the Social National Party). In December, 2012, the European Parliament condemned Svoboda for its “racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic views,” and urged other Ukrainian parties “not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party.”27
As Blumenthal notes, Svoboda’s leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, defines his mission as freeing his country from the “Muscovite-Jewish mafia.” His deputy, Yuriy Mykhalchyshyn founded a think tank named after a historical figure he admires greatly: The Joseph Goebbels Political Research Center. Svoboda’s – and, unfortunately, much of western Ukraine’s – “nationalism” is embodied in the revered figure of Stepan Bandera, a World War II-era Nazi collaborator who led the pro-fascist Organization of Ukrainian (OUN), which helped to form a Ukrainian division of the Waffen SS to fight with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. From 1942-1944, Yaroslav Stetsko, the “Prime Minister” of ONU-B (Bandera’s wing), who supported “bringing German methods of exterminating Jewry to Ukraine,” oversaw the killing of “more than 90,000 Poles and thousands of Jews” in western Ukraine. Banderists in Lvov circulated a pamphlet telling the city’s Jews: "We will lay your heads at Hitler’s feet.”28
After the war, Bandera’s Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) continued its fascist campaign for “a totalitarian, ethnically pure Europe,” engaging in a futile armed struggle against the Soviet Union, until KGB agents assassinated him in Munich in 1959. Nothing “neo” about this Nazi.
Viktor Yushchenko, the president produced by the last American-supported Ukrainian uprising, the “Orange Revolution,” put the full weight of the ideological apparatus of the Ukrainian state into reinventing the history of Ukrainian complicity with Nazism into a “national liberation” mythology. He “tasked a set of nationalistically minded historians” into “disseminating a sanitized, edifyingly patriotic version of the history of the ‘Ukrainian national liberation movement,’ the leaders of which were presented in iconographic form as heroic and saintly ﬁgures, martyrs of the nation.”
Thus, in 2010, against the protestation of the European Parliament—which he accused of having a “historical complex” — Yushchenko awarded Stepan Bandera the title of "Hero of Ukraine."29 As Rudling notes: “There was little protest from intellectuals who identify themselves as liberals.” It was the government of big, bad Yanukovych that later annulled the award.
And thus, still satisfied by their political research, Svoboda led a 15,000-person march in honor of Bandera in Kiev on January 1st of this year, with chants of “Ukraine above all” and “Bandera, come and bring order!” 30
Now, as a result of the insurrection, Svoboda, which won about 10% of the vote in the last election, has effectively muscled the much larger (34% of the last vote) Party of the Regions out of parliament, and seeks nationally to outlaw it and the Communist Party (13% of the vote), whose leader’s house was burned down. With the help of its Right Sector allies, these parties have already been banned in a number of regions. Svoboda now holds “key leadership positions in the parliament and law enforcement, four ministerial portfolios in the new government [including Prosecutor General and Deputy Prime Minister] and several appointed governorships.” Svoboda’s co-fouder, Andriy Parubiy, is head of the National Security & Defense Council of the new, democratic, government of Ukraine.31
So, fourteen months after denouncing Svoboda for its “racism, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” European governments are gushing over the new “democracy” in Ukraine over which Svoboda presides. And, as the BBC reports: “Inside the columned central hall of Kiev's city council, an activist base of operations, hung a giant banner with a Celtic cross, a symbol of ‘white power,’ and an American confederate flag….and an immense portrait of Stepan Bandera.”32Keep in mind, too, Rudling’s point that the whole Banderist “national liberation” narrative “was well received in western Ukraine but was received coldly or met open hostility in the eastern and southern parts of the country.”
As Svoboda represents fascism in the parliament, Right Sector (Pravy Sektor) represented fascism in the maidan, and continues to do so with its intimidating tactics in the streets and administrative offices of Kiev and the regions, as well as from its new positions in government. Right Sector is a confederation of far-right groups such as Patriots of Ukraine, the Social-National Assembly, White Hammer, Stepan Bandera’s Trident, and the Ukrainian National Assembly-Ukrainian People's Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO). Their favorite ensign is the wolfsangel--a favorite, too, of the Waffen SS--which was on display all over the maidan:
As Ukrainian journalist Oleg Shynkarenko points out, Right Sector leader, Dmytro Yarosh defines the group's creed thusly: “We are against degeneration and totalitarian liberalism, but we support traditional morals and family values, against the cult of profit and depravity.” Right Sector’s websites rail against the “liberal homodictatorship” of modern Western society.33 Blumenthal points out that Right Sector is: “linked to a constellation of international neo-fascist parties,” and “through the Alliance of European National Movements (AEMN), Right Sector is promising to lead its army of aimless, disillusioned young men on ‘a great European Reconquest’.” In some ways, the neo-fascist right does want power to the people—just the morally and ethnically pure people.
BBC did a decent report on the “Neo-Nazi threat in new Ukraine.” Again, maybe not so “neo.” The reporter, Gabriel Gatehouse, interviews Svoboda and Right Sector militants, meets a group called C14 (apparently an armed wing of Svoboda) under a portrait of Lenin in the Communist Party headquarters they had taken over, and shows two Svoboda MPs displaying “14” and “88” tokens. These numbers, which are often displayed in combination, and which appeared in graffiti throughout the maidan, have special fascist significance: “14” stands for from the Fourteen Words coined by an American white supremacist: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for White children” (there’s an alternate version, about “the White Aryan woman”); “88” represents a double of the eighth letter of the Latin alphabet, HH, for Heil Hitler. [I cannot make this stuff up.]
Yes, it depends what you’re fighting for.
My favorite is this 2½-minute tidbit from a young Right Sector gentleman, explaining the group’s, and his, affinity for “National Socialist themes,” and assuring his interviewer that they want a society that’s just “a little bit like” that “under Hitler”:
The leader of the Right Sector, Dmytro Yarosh, is now the deputy head of the National Security Council, and is running for President, of Ukraine’s new, democratic, government.
You might also take a look at this video, where Right Sector leader Aleksandr Muzychko roughs up a local prosecutor to show him who’s the boss now, and threatens to have him lynched: “Shut the fuck up, you bitch! Your fucking time is over… If you think I am goodie because I’ve come without my rifle, you are gravely mistaken. I’ve come with a pistol. There are a few choice videos of Muzychko, who is also identified as a member of the "Wiking" unit of the Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian People’s Self-Defense (UNA-UNSO), another post-Banderist right-wing paramilitary group.
So there’s no question that fascists were part of the insurrection, and there is no question that they were crucial to its success. As Oleg Shynkarenko insists, the scenes of fighting resistance and advance were led by Right Sector and allied groups:[I]t was the far right that first started to talk back to Yanukovych in his own language. They were the first to throw Molotov cocktails and stones at police and to mount real and well-fortified barricades. They were amongst those who burned two military troop carriers that attacked the barricades on February 18. The Euromaidan won thanks to the resoluteness of people who were ready to fight rather than to negotiate in parliament when any negotiation became pointless.Nicolai Petro agrees, and points out the political ramifications:I ascribe a much greater role to the Right Sector…the spearhead of the revolution. … [T]he actual coup was accomplished thanks to the armed intervention of extreme nationalists, led by the Right Sector. And the fact that they were so instrumental in accomplishing this change of power has put them in the driver’s seat. From now on, whatever political decisions are arrived at will really be at the sufferance of the Right Sector.Let’s be clear, also, that these neo-fascist groups not only fought and defeated Yanokovych’s police, they attacked and drove away any political group from the left that tried to establish a presence in the maidan. The fascists made sure they controlled the radical politics of the square. Sascha, a member of AntiFascist Action Ukraine, a group that monitors and fights fascism in Ukraine, recounts in an interview published in mid-February:A group of 100 anarchists tried to arrange their own self-defense group, different Anarchist groups came together for a meeting on the Maidan. While they were meeting a group of Nazis came in a larger group, they had axes and baseball bats and sticks, helmets, they said it was their territory. They called the Anarchists things like Jews, blacks, Communists.n’t even any Communists, that was just an insult. The Anarchists weren’t expecting this and they left. People with other political views can’t stay in certain places, they aren’t tolerated.34And Mira, of the same group, adds:One of the worst things is that Pravy has this official structure. They are coordinated. You need passes to go certain places. They have the power to give or not give people permission to be active. We’re trying to be active but we have to avoid Nazis, and I’m not going to ask a Nazi for permission!...Early on a Stalinist tent was attacked by Nazis. One was sent to the hospital. Another student spoke out against fascism and he was attacked.Pravy Sektor got too much attention after the first violence, the media gave them popularity and they started to think they’re cool guys. Pravy existed before but now it’s growing and attracting a lot of new people.Ilya Budraitskis, a Russian Socialist who came to the maidan in January, tells us how the “ultranationalists” brutalized and evicted everyone from leftish Europhiles to anarchists:Another part of the left repetitively tried to join the movement, even after they were repetitively kicked out of it. Some of the “euro-enthusiastic” leftists came to Maidan in November with red (instead of blue) flag of the EU, with banners for free healthcare and education, and with feminist slogans. They were brutally attacked by Nazis. Then there was an episode when the far-right attacked the tent of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine near the Maidan. A man on the stage said that there were some “provocateurs” and said that “men know what to do”; as a result, a mob of Nazis has broken ribs of the trade union activists, tore their tent with knives and stolen their property. The victims hadn’t been doing anything “leftist” per se, but they were members of the left movement, known to their political adversaries, and that was enough….[T]here is also another group of people who are often confused with the radical left. …who call themselves anarchists but actually have a very conservative political agenda full of machismo and xenophobia. After the protests have begun, they shifted to the right dramatically; they reached truce with the nazi groups and showered Molotov cocktails at the police together. Eventually, they parted ways with left movement finally.A week ago they, together with some actual leftists who wanted to “act”, decided to form an “anarchist sotnia [defense unit]” in the Maidan self-defence. In order to do that, they were prepared to give an oath to [Svoboda leader] Andriy Parubiy. But when they formed their ranks to do this, they were met by approximately 150 Svoboda fighters with baseball bats and axes. The fascists accused them of being racially impure and politically irrelevant and forced them out of Maidan.35So much for Professor Snyder’s agora.
Of course, the great majority of the people in the square are not fascists, but, for all the reasons of history and ideology discussed above, a lot of people in western Ukraine are susceptible to their charms. As Denis, from Kiev Autonomous Workers Union says: “[I]n the long run the rightist political hegemony is being reinforced,” because “That’s what happens when you don’t have a developed left movement and your liberals are too corrupt and ugly!” Here’s how he describes the rightward political momentum on the maidan:[Far right] ideology has really become more acceptable in the mainstream (which had initially been leaning to the right!). ... Of course, most protesters really say they want political pluralism, bourgeois democracy. … But at the same time the crowd at the Maidan revives some deeply buried pre-modern, medieval social practices like whipping post, lynching, reinforced traditional gender roles. This scary readiness to slip into barbarism is born from the general disenchantment with parliamentary politics and the ubiquitous nationalist mythology about the golden past, imposed in schools and media.The original Euromaidan agenda in November was a right liberal one, standing for the EU, “economic liberties” and bourgeois democracy. But even then the issues of multiculturalism, LGBT rights, workers’ rights and freedoms were severely repressed by the politically conscious far-right activists … [whose] political programme had always included critique of the EU’s “liberal fascism”. … The attackers didn’t represent the majority of protesters, but the majority was very susceptible to their political agenda which they had been aggressively pushing through…[P]eople are new to politics, they just “know” they are rightists and nationalists. And therefore they trust the more politically experienced leaders to express their views and formulate their programme for them. It just so happens that those leaders are nationalists or even Nazis. And they shift the centre of the political discourse even further to the right.But, first of all, their ideas are welcome among the apolitical crowd; second of all, they are very well organized, and also people love their “radicalism”. An average Ukrainian worker hates the police and the government but he will never fight them openly and risk his comfort. So he or she welcomes a “vanguard” which is ready to fight on their behalf; especially if that vanguard shares “good” patriotic values….And since the basic “common sense” had long ago been established on the nationalist fundamental assumptions, the radicalization goes only further in that direction.36As we all know, fascists don’t have to be a majority to determine outcomes, and their power to do so can increase very quickly under favorable conditions. Perhaps the most telling, and disturbing remark of the leftists cited in these interviews was this, from Sascha of AntiFascist Action Ukraine, a couple of weeks before the head of Right Sector became deputy head of the National Security and Defense Council: “If Pravy [Right Sector] has positions in a new government that would be really dangerous but that isn’t possible, they aren’t powerful enough.”
Oh, yes they are. Consider the stunning turn of events we have just witnessed: “the ascension of a genuinely fascist mass movement into the corridors of power” in a European country for the first time since WWII, greeted with a stunning non-chalance—nay, embraced as an exemplar of democracy—by the Western liberal democracies. University of Ottawa political scientist Ivan Katchanovski specifies: “The paramilitary right sector has de facto power at least in some Western Ukrainian regions,” and “The far right in Ukraine has now achieved the level of representation and influence that is unparalleled in Europe.”37
Then imagine, please, Professor Katchanovski’s last sentence with “left” substituted for “right,” and consider how unthinkable it is that any American government would be so welcoming of such a “democratic” outcome. The United States and its allied liberal democracies are, in other words, willing to accommodate very hard swings to the right in order to secure and/or extend the neo-liberal capitalist, and US/NATO imperialist, order, but will abide not an inch of movement toward resistance from the left—no matter how righteous or democratic the cause.
Selection of Stepan Bandera as a symbol of new Ukrainian nationalism is not without problems. Actually it is an attempt to suppress Zaporozhian Cossacks (or more "pro-Russian" and more anti-western" "Dnepropetrovsk" flavor of Ukrainian nationalism, with Reply of the Zaporozhian Cossacks as the symbol of defiance on any imperial rule and long history of war with Poland and Ottoman empire) and enforce Galicia nationalism as the only politically correct version. Here are some considerations about this by Nicolas Kozloff (Ukraine Still Failing on World War II )
Judging from events, Ukraine has even now failed to come to terms with the legacy of the Second World War. Recently, spectators in Kiev were graced with a divisive sight: outside parliament, protesters clashed with police after legislators failed to support a bill recognizing the Ukrainian Insurgent Army or UPA. The bill in parliament would have restored "historical justice" and paid respect to the group. The UPA was a military offshoot of a group associated with Ukrainian nationalist Stepan Bandera, a historical figure who continues to stir controversy. Indeed, Bandera sought to make Ukraine into a one-party fascist dictatorship free of other ethnic minorities. Within the historical context of the 1930s this primarily meant forcible removal of Poles from Ukrainian territory.
During World War II, the UPA emerged as a nationalist guerrilla outfit which battled Soviet, Polish, and Czech forces in the name of independence. However, at one stage during the conflict the UPA also cooperated with the Nazis. Indeed, when Germans entered the western Ukrainian city of Lviv in June, 1941 Bandera's nationalists joined Nazi Einsatzgruppen in carrying out pogroms against the Jews. By war's end, it was said that both organizations which had been led by Bandera, that is to say the UPA as well as the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), engaged in atrocities against Poles, Jews and others.
A Divisive Debate
In light of such history, one might think the UPA would have little place in modern day Ukraine. Yet rightists are not easily dismissed: reportedly between 8,000-10,000 people showed up for the Kiev protest, which at one point turned violent as militants threw smoke and flash-bang devices at the authorities. Somewhat ominously, Ukrainian television showed protesters brandishing banners of the right wing Svoboda Party, which seeks historical recognition for the UPA. In the midst of war against Russian separatists in the east, some members of Svoboda have embraced Bandera, who was eventually killed by the KGB, as a nationalist figure.
It's unclear what other Ukrainians makes of such foolishness, yet there's some indication that mainstream political figures are hedging their bets. Beset by a serious military challenge in the form of Kremlin-backed Russian separatists, President Petro Poroshenko has stated that the "timing is good" to define the status of the UPA and the politician even signed a decree establishing a "Day of Ukrainian Defenders" on October 14. The date is significant as it marks the anniversary of the UPA's formation [somewhat problematically, October 14th also marks the "Day of Ukrainian Cossacks"]. While Poroshenko has admitted that granting historical recognition to the UPA is divisive, he remarked on Twitter "UPA soldiers - an example of heroism and patriotism to Ukraine."
Coming to Terms with History
To this day, Ukraine continues to wrestle with its wartime past. In Kiev's Museum of the Great Patriotic War, visitors are greeted with displays of Soviet military insignias and medals awarded to courageous fighters who battled Nazi Germany. Travel outside the capital and one hears similar stories of valor. Pereyaslav, a town located some 60 miles south of Kiev, was once a flourishing home to Jewish culture. During World War II, however, local Jews were subjected to atrocities. Tsylya Meirovna Gechtman, a local historian, says the Germans executed members of her family. Fortunately, she adds, some local Ukrainians hid Jewish peasants from the Nazis.
How does one square such history with the decidedly mixed legacy of Bandera? To be sure, Bandera collaborated with the Nazis though he was also later imprisoned in a German concentration camp. Indeed, Ukrainian nationalist goals were not identical to the Third Reich's. While Bandera's followers were responsible for murdering Jews, their ideology wasn't entirely anti-Semitic but rather pro-Ukrainian. That is to say, they wanted their opponents out of the way and saw many local Jews as pro-Soviet. Some Bandera veterans survive even to this day, which makes it doubly confounding for many to come to terms with history.
Sifting Through Bandera Legacy
Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on the European far-right and a research fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, says history textbooks from central or western Ukraine make no mention of the fact that members of Bandera's movement were involved in the Holocaust or pogroms in Lviv. Rather, he adds, Bandera is blandly described as a national liberation fighter. On the other hand, Shekhovtsov adds,
"Bandera has been glorified not because he was an anti-Semite but because he was a nationalist figure who fought against Soviet influence. When people glorify him, it doesn't mean that they are aware of this dark history or even endorse anti Semitism."
Josef Zissels is General Council Chairman of the Euro-Asian Jewish Congress in Kiev's Podil neighborhood, a former Jewish quarter. He says the majority of the UPA did not take part in anti-Jewish executions. Mostly, he says, it was the Germans who committed atrocities along with local police units comprised of many different ethnic groups including Ukrainians, Belarussians, Russians and even some Muslims. "There's almost no connection between Bandera and present day Ukraine," Zissels remarks matter-of-factly.
Denis Pilash, a leftist political activist, is more concerned about Bandera's historical legacy and links to present day politics. To be sure, he concedes, Bandera served time in a concentration camp and did not coordinate wartime atrocities directly. However, Pilash adds, "when you highlight the fact that Bandera was imprisoned, this serves to ignore" other inconvenient truths. Whether he was a fascist, an "integral nationalist," or "proto-fascist," Bandera was a far right totalitarian figure who opposed sharing political power with Poles, Russians and Jews.
It is dispiriting, Pilash says, that many young Ukrainians still look upon Bandera as a national hero. In general, he says, there's a consensus in the wider society that Ukrainian nationalism has always been emancipating. What you wind up with, Pilash says, is a "very ethno-centric view" of the past which doesn't help to promote the notion of a truly multi-ethnic society. "Many people," he says, "including liberals, whitewash the history of the OUN. If you say Bandera is a fascist today, people think you are some kind of Moscow propagandist."
Bandera's Current Relevance
So just how much of a concern is the cult of Bandera? To be sure, rightist political parties such as Svoboda have recently fared poorly at the polls. Nevertheless, mainstream political circles seem unwilling to take on the nationalist right and Bandera symbolism. Indeed, during Maidan protests against the government of Viktor Yanukovych, UPA flags were clearly visible and demonstrators embraced a UPA battle cry which has now been stripped of its fascist connotations. In Lviv meanwhile, a local speakeasy features waiters dressed in olive partisan uniforms and UPA insignias.
Enmeshed in a deadly struggle with Russian separatists, many Ukrainians are seeking to fashion their own nationalist ethos. While that is somewhat understandable, Bandera is a poor model. Seventy years after the end of World War II, Ukrainians must eschew such symbols and look elsewhere in the search for a national identity.
Nikolas Kozloff is a New York-based author and journalist who recently conducted a research trip to Kiev. For a full archive of his pieces dealing with Ukraine, click here.
At the same time I think "split country" is not the word that correctly describes the situation in Ukraine after February 22, 2014. My impression is that now Ukraine is occupied by Western Ukraine. All those Right Sector militants on Kiev streets create real pressure on those who disagree with them and see the country future differently. It is nothing short of occupation regime.
But far right ideology was never a uniform ideology it is usually a patch-work of contradictory elements from several ideologies. It is a pretty complex phenomenon and while this set of individuals usually consists of "double high authoritarians" like previous Nationalistic movements, and they can well be embarked on a destructive path like their predecessors did, they are more inclusive that is suggested by the caricatures. For example Ukrainian nationalist Yarosh, the leader of Right Sector, openly cooperates and enjoy financial support of Jewish oligarch Kolomoysky in Dnepropetrovsk.
Ukrainian far right also interact with Catholicism in an unusual way with some Uniat priests playing the role of firebrand agitators. The priests of the Uniat church were openly involved in EuroMaidan events. In their extremism they openly competed with secular Svoboda leaders. Sometimes they even manage to exceed the speeches of "secular" far right leaders in xenophobia. One priest was even caught storing bullet proof vests for radicals.
Right Sector Extremists in a typical nationalism socialism way reject ambiguity and strongly believe that there is one right answer to any question, which they possess. Moreover they believe that all another views and answers are not only wrong but also evil and as such need to be exterminated. If this sound like views of Bush II this is not accidental. For them compromise is not the natural phenomenon of political life but something common to betrayal, a sign of moral weakness. As a result all "other" politicians are viewed as cowardly and treasonous. This is especially typical of Ukrainian far right which tend to display really "paranoid" style of political discourse.
That does not mean that all of them are paranoiacs in a clinical sense (although some definitely are), but general personal tendency to view opponents as enemies and events in term of conspiracy is very strong. For them negative events does not simply happen due to accident, incompetency, or external for country pressures, they are always the result of activity of some evil group, a conspiracy again their beloved nation.
Moreover some of those groups are not opposed to the idea of constitutional democracy. At the same time, while in principle they might support constitutional democracy" extremists does not feel bound themselves by the democratic rules of the game. And if they accidently do, this adherence to the rules is mostly based on tactical advantages then principle. Since they regard opponents as enemies for them constrain does not exist and they can use violence or "extralegal" dirty tricks directly both against "evil regime" and opponents in order to achieve their objectives.
So despite their use of Nazi-paraphernalia and lauding the "achievements" of Third Reich we probably should avoid the terms of neo-Nazi and neo-fascist as too emotion-laden and too narrow to capture the real collection of individuals and ideas in those movements.
One of the most important publications, kind of 101 on far right forces in Ukraine that is freely available on Internet is How Right-Wing Nationalism Rose to Influence in Ukraine by Per Anders Rudling
Per Anders Rudling is an associate professor of the Department of History at Lund University, specializing on nationalism, the Holocaust, and the far right in the Polish-Ukrainian-Belarusian borderlands. He is the author of the forthcoming book "The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931," which will appear with University of Pittsburgh Press in July. Dr. Rudling recieved his Ph.D. in history at the University of Alberta (Edmonton, Canada), 2009, and his post-doc at University of Greifswald, Germany. He also has an MA in Russian from Uppsala University (1998), and an MA in History from San Diego State University (2003).
TranscriptJESSICA DESVARIEUX, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Jessica Desvarieux in Baltimore.
We're continuing our discussion about the role of nationalism and right-wing parties in the Ukrainian popular protests and the transitional government.With us again to discuss what led to the rise of the right wing is our guest Per Rudling. Per is an associate professor of the Department of History at Lund University concentrating on nationalism and the far right in the Polish-Ukrainian-Belarussian borderlands.
Thank you for joining us, Per.
PER ANDERS RUDLING, PhD, ASSOC. PROF., LUND UNIV., SWEDEN: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: So, Per, let's pick it up where we left off. You were discussing the crushing of Ukrainian nationalism by the Soviets in about year 1951, 1952. What exactly happened?
RUDLING: Well, the war--unlike in Western Europe, the war in Eastern Europe, in, partially, Eastern Europe, the Baltics but primarily in Western Ukraine, did not end in 1945. A very harsh insurgency continued for several years, roughly up until the early--1952, 1953, when the Ukrainian insurgent army, led by the Bandera wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, carried out an armed resistance against the collectivization, against the imposition of Soviet rule in this part of Ukraine. And the Soviets responded extremely brutally by deporting entire villages carrying out collective punishment. Roughly 150,000 people were being killed by the Soviets as they returned and imposed their draconian control of its territory. And the UPA in turn used an escalation of violence also against civilians who collaborated with the Soviet authorities. Here you also have several tens of thousands of Ukrainians, primarily, being killed by the OUN and UPA, up until 1952, '53.
But roughly at the time Stalin died in 1953, the insurgency was crushed. And, of course, there was a liberalization of policy under Khrushchev after 1956. So Ukrainian nationalism, per se, was, well, pretty much stamped out in Ukraine.
In the West, however, you had several hundred thousand so-called displaced persons and refugees from Western Ukraine which stayed in the West after the war, and many of these have been in one way or another involved with the German authorities as they retreated westwards. And they, of course, many of them, many of those from Eastern Ukraine were forcibly repatriated. But those who had been Polish citizens before 1939, they could stay in the West, and many of them emigrated to Canada and the United States, and there they built their communities. And among these postwar emigrates, the by far largest political party there was the Bandera wing of the OUN, and they came to dominate much of--or take over much of the political discourse in the Ukrainian diaspora over the course of 1950s and '60s. And they developed a parallel historiography that's sort of set up as a counterweight to the Soviets' influence, and they took upon themselves to carry the sort of Ukrainian spirit [incompr.] carry out--either carrying out the national cause in the United States and in Canada. And they developed a counter-history to the Soviet narrative. They [incompr.] other far-right groups, and what's been the group of the OUN was supported for many years by the United States, through the--by the CIA, primarily, through covert action programs. And they developed their institutions. They developed their book printing. And in Canada, with the rise of official multiculturalism after 1971, there was support for bilingual education for Ukrainian schools and so on, and they developed their own textbooks and their own narratives.
When the Soviet Union collapsed after 1990, these narratives were re-exported to Ukraine proper from diaspora. As the Soviet textbooks were discarded, there was a complete narrative of World War II, of the famine of 1932-33, of the Bandera movements as national heroes, and it was re-exported to Ukraine. And Ukraine is different in that sense from the Baltic states, all three of which had their heads of state from the diaspora. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, all of the American and Canadian heads of state, in Ukraine, the old nomenklatura, the old communist leaders were still in power, more or less. They dropped, of course, the communist rhetoric and became nationalists instead. So they adopted much of this discourse glorifying the OUN, glorifying the Ukrainian insurgent army. And that became sort of a powerful narrative, at least in Western Ukraine.
When Viktor Yushchenko came to power after the so-called Orange Revolution in 2005, he decided to make this narrative sort of a new founding myth for post-Soviet Ukraine and elevated Stepan Bandera to an hero of Ukraine, elevated Roman Shukhevych, the leader of UPA, as national heroes. And also he endorsed a narration which presented the famine of 1932-33 as a deliberate act of genocide against Ukrainian people, and he greatly inflated the number of victims. He called it the Holodomor, and the Holodomor narrative came on a regular basis. With it they claim 7 million or even 10 million. So even though most historical demographers, they agree that the extra, surplus death due to famine was 2.6-3.9 million deaths, the Yushchenko government claimed over 10 million death, being killed, people being killed in the famine.
So this became sort of a national narrative. It was not very successful, because Ukraine is a very divided society. Ukraine is a young state. The current borders came about in 1954, when the Crimea was added to Ukrainian S.S.R. Western Ukraine was added through the Molotov-Ribbentrop Treaty in 1939. Zakarpattia, Transcarpathia, of the [incompr.] was added all in 1945. So this is a divided country in many ways, primarily Russian-speaking in the east, Ukrainian-speaking in the west, and sort of mixed in the center.
So Yushchenko was trying to build a new narrative based upon Bandera and the Bandera cult, but this didn't really work out, because people in Eastern Ukraine tended to see the Bandera movements as fascist, as traitors, and Soviet notions lingered quite strong. And so it polarized Ukraine further.
And what's more seriously, it also alienated Ukraine's closest supporters within European Union, 'cause even the Bandera was sort of used as a symbol to mark distance to Russia. Most of the people that Bandera actually killed were not Russians -- the major victims were Poles and Jews. So the cult of the OUN and UPA brought a lot of concern in Poland, and the Polish parliament has defined the OUN mass murders of the Poles as ethnic cleansings with a hallmark of genocide.
So this is--the policy has been very clumsy.
But from this--well, Yushchenko was voted out of office in 2010 in a larger, fair, free election. He got, like, roughly 5 percent of the vote [incompr.] 95 percent voted against him. And Yanukovych came to power. And Yanukovych's regime was very corrupt and continued this policy of polarization, be based [incompr.] different perspective [incompr.] based [incompr.] having your electoral base in the east.
DESVARIEUX: Per, I want to stop you for a moment, and I want to talk about--if we could just go back a bit and discuss the rise of the right-wing nationalism and put that in context of the Orange Revolution before we even get to speaking about Yanukovych.
RUDLING: Well, in the Orange Revolution, Yushchenko was a moderate nationalist, and he won this--he prevailed in this Orange Revolution together with a socialist ally and an ally of Tymoshenko's party.
But Orange Revolution turned out to be a huge disappointment from any of the people involved. Corruption wasn't uprooted overnight, and in fact, Yushchenko spent most of his time in office squabbling with his prime minister, Tymoshenko, and in the end he made sure that--well, he really made sure that she wasn't elected president, but instead his rival from 2004, Yanukovych, became his successor.
So under Yanukovych what happened then was that Yanukovych continued his policy of polarization. He gave Svoboda, which was a party which got less than 1 percent support nationwide, disproportional representation in national media, primarily on TV, which was controlled by his government and by various oligarchs affiliated with his regime. And so Svoboda became very prominent in mass media.
And Yanukovych may have been calculating on--of course, this is very hard to know exactly what goes on in a non-transparent political system like that in Ukraine, but there are indications the elite was supporting Svoboda as a way to polarize the country, and then, in a runoff election in 2015, had it come to that, that it will be a runoff between Yanukovych and Svoboda, in which Yanukovych, even though he was quite unpopular towards -- in the second half of his tenure, would actually prevail over Svoboda.
DESVARIEUX: Per, so wait. Am I understanding you correctly is that Yanukovych actually helped boost up Svoboda, who was essentially the group behind his ouster, in a sense, is did he sort of create a monster that eventually would come after him?
RUDLING: Essentially, yes. I mean, that's one of the most depressing aspects of his legacy, that he exercised selective justice. He put Tymoshenko, a sort of a moderate nationalist, in jail. Well, maybe she belonged in jail. Few other people, people in Ukrainian political leadership, are not corrupt. The problem was, of course, that this was selective justice by a president and by a supreme court which was no less corrupt than Tymoshenko herself.
So he went after moderate nationalists and gave the far right disproportionate attention in the media.
DESVARIEUX: But the far right, who's behind them? I mean, they have to have some sort of money and power and influence. Who are the oligarchs supporting them?
RUDLING: Well, they are an ideological party in a political landscape which is rather non-ideological. Tymoshenko and Klitschko are not particularly ideologically driven. They're sort of middle-of-the-road candidates and very adaptable.
Svoboda is based in the far west, and there they have a very strong position. In Lviv, the largest Western Ukrainian city, I believe they got roughly around 40 percent of the vote. So they have a majority in the local county administration. And they have similar situations in Ivano-Frankivsk and Ternopil, that is, in Halychyna, Galicia, the part of Ukraine which used to be part of Austria-Hungary before 1920 and has quite a different history than the rest of Ukraine.
So it's based regionally. And these regions in the far west are also one of the poorer regions.
So the heavily industrialized east, that's where a lot of the financial interests are. And in many ways Svoboda could be used as a sort of a bogeyman to mobilize the Yanukovych electorate. And clearly now, once Yanukovych is gone, Russia's continued its policy of referring to the entire opposition as fascist or Banderites, even though--and I think this is very important to point out--this was genuine broad popular uprising against a regime which was immensely corrupt. According to Transparency International, Ukraine is on place 141 out of the world states. That means it's divided 141 place with Nigeria and the Central African Republic. That is, Ukraine is not only the most corrupt country in Europe; it's one of the most corrupt countries in the world. And it got worse under Yanukovych.
DESVARIEUX: Per, I want to pivot and talk about the role of any sort of liberal or left-leaning groups there in Ukraine. Do you know of any? Have they ever attempted to sort of contest this nationalist groups, people with political power, if they be Yanukovych, who is more on, like, the Russian side? I mean, what about more liberal left-leaning organizations?
RUDLING: There are left-leaning organizations, and they took part in the protests. I have good friends of mine who actually traveled from Sweden and traveled from United States to be in the Maidan and to help the opposition, and they are, I assure you, far from fascists. So if you have--you know, Ukraine is divided, but it's hard to have the exact numbers. But roughly 60 percent supported the protests. Forty percent were against. Of those 60 percent who supported the protests, say Svoboda were roughly one-third of the protest. The bulk of them were supporters of Yatsenyuk and Klitschko or non-party activists which wanted Ukraine to get closer to European Union, that were tired of the corruption which was rampant under Yanukovych. And now the Russian media is stereotyping the entire--this broad protest movement as fascists, which is quite directly wrong. But there is a hard right within this movement.
And I think, you know, it should be possible to keep two problems in mind at the same time. On the one hand, yes, Russia is instrumentalizing this, discrediting opposition they don't like. On the other hand, there is indeed a hard right within these protests, which I think liberally minded--from perspective of--liberal-democratic perspective, it would make sense to keep an eye on them. And also I think that's the best way of helping Ukrainians' democratic transformation, identifying not only Putin and Yanukovych, which should be identified as major problems and obstacles to democratic development in Ukraine, but also the far right.
There are several problems here, and I think any sensible analyst should sort of, like, look at them both. One doesn't exclude the other.
DESVARIEUX: Alright. Per Rudling, thank you so much for joining us.
RUDLING: Thank you.
DESVARIEUX: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.====
Russian Leftieneoconbuster -> Russian Leftie
What is missed in this interview is that the Fascist elements, being a radical minority, are becoming de facto an integral part of the ruling regime and are top-down becoming the commanders of army and police.
The current Ukrainian regime is also on the verge in legalizing fascist paramilitary forces and giving them an official place in the power structure.Russian Leftie -> Russian Leftie
He also made one false statement:
"And now the Russian media is stereotyping the entire--this broad protest movement as fascists, which is quite directly wrong."
I watch RT and Ria Novosti every day and they don't say that.
This is basically what they say:
This was a Coup sponsored by US-NATO (CIA's NGOS). Violent Nationalist elements occupied by force most government's building and by using Molotov cocktails, Guns, Baseball bats and Sniper rifles removed by force the elected president.
You can't ignore the Geostrategic point of view:
Their idea is to encircle even more Russia, with military bases, this time in Ukraine as a future NATO member.
-Obama praises Ukrainian coup leader:-
Valentyn Nalyvaichenko , the current director of the Security Service of Ukraine (Ukrainian version of KGB/FSB), meeting with Yarosh and other fascists at the paramilitary camp in 2012. 
Also, Nalyvaichenko is known to be a big-time CIA friend .
Right in the video he salutes the fascists with the known Ukrainian Nazi salute («Слава Украине» — «Героям Слава») .Reiner Wilhelms
Thanks for this interview, but thanks to Russian Leftie's comments, as well. One thing for sure, no country needs the neo-liberal/IMF agenda of the US and the EU.
NoDifference -> Reiner Wilhelms
This was very helpful to understand a lot more about what is going on. I noticed also that a documentary that I myself had found trustworthy and that I advertised as such in a post about two weeks ago, isn't so trustworthy anymore after I followed this interview. It was the following documentary, found on youtube:
Between Hitler and Stalin: Ukraine in World War II (58 minutes)
made by the The Ukrainian Canadian Research & Documentation Centre, Toronto, Dec 2012
I will have to watch it again with some more caution, and noting what Ruling said about the narratives that "were re-exported to Ukraine proper from diaspora." This movie is likely to be part of that narrative, and may be quite biased.
Maybe Anders Rudling could respond to this? I wish to know what's true and what is lies.Han • 11 days ago
You are very wise to see this. The way the media -- both the MSM and the alternative Media -- have continually changed their narratives of the story as it has unfolded. I don't necessarily fault all of them for this, because it is important to re-evaluate when new information is introduced.
At the beginning, all I was hearing was a sort of reductionist view that said that there was a push and pull going on between Ukranians who wanted to be closer to the west (EU) versus those who wanted to join Mother Russia (or something to that effect). It sounded like maybe the US was working it with the help of maybe Germany or France to sort of "pull" Ukraine into the western sphere, thereby thwarting the cruel and terrible Putin.
Now, I realize that Putin is not free of incrimination. He has taken his country far right, neoliberal, with all the classic trappings (and rhetoric) of capitalism. And whenever I watch/listen to RT, I do listen through a very thick filter. Ukraine is still very much in the sphere of Russian influence, despite the fall of the Soviet Union and despite the failure of the CIS to become a viable supranational governing agency. So, while I like RT's reporting, there is (at least to me) very opinionated questioning of guests when it comes to US domestic policy (I am talking about RT America, and the corresponding website). Not that I disagree with RT's opinionated narrators, but I think they do their otherwise great network a disservice by engaging in the same kind of slant as many of their MSM competitors. In sum, I admit to a bit of skepticism about RT's reporting in that I fear they are telling me what I might LIKE to hear, further skewing my views of the situation, in this case, in the Ukraine.
Now, toss in the Crimea breakoff and the scuffle that it is creating, and you get a very complex and complicated situation. It is not as simple as a question of whether Ukraine should go with the West or with Russia, but rather, an issue of petty nationalism that could explode into a powderkeg that could result in a tragedy no less than what we witnessed (or didn't, thanks to our poor media then) in the 1990s in the Balkans. Crimeans want to be with Russia, western Ukrainian (Svoboda) forces want to establish an ethnically-cleansed state based on a mythology that Hitler would applaud, and Kiev is left with a vulnerable government that could topple any moment if the Fascists were to rise up and proceed with a full coup (they are certainly positioned to pull it off). Frankly, I am confused still as to what the desires and goals of eastern Ukraine proper (sans Crimea) really want. I know eastern Ukrainians speak Russian and perhaps identify with Russian culture, but I don't sense that with certainty based on the reports coming in from here and RT.
Thank goodness for TRNN, though. At least I am not still stuck in the original, reductionist narrative I was given just a few weeks ago. It is a complex situation with a lot of different pieces at work. TRNN is helping to create a much more nuanced, even if very confusing, picture of events in Ukraine.QLineOrientalist
Well, we understand that many people in Ukraine who supported the coup are not fascist and they are just tired of the corruption. But here's what. It's not really important that many Western Ukrainians are moderate. The important thing is that the fascists are very strong and are supported by the USA. The new government is controlled by the USA and it will do all it can to provoke Russia and hurt its interests in every possible way.
The fascists will have to be kept under control. To make them happy, the government in Kiev will attack the Russian-speaking population more and more. Their language will be excluded from the public sphere, their schools will be closed, they will suffer from job discrimination etc. This is what happened in the Baltics. The wise historian knows this but it's not really all that important to him. After all, he is in Sweden and he will just keep smiling smugly just as he and the likes of him did watching the fascist regimes in the Baltics.
- P.S. The Swedes who took part in the coup in a foreign country should be caught and shot. They are just bored with their nice lives in Sweden and are looking for trouble at other people's expense. Better still, they should be kept in a Ukrainian prison for ten years. Then they will learn what life is about.
- P.P.S. Last but not least - Jessica is very good at her job. She's very intelligent and professional, I hope that people at TRNN realise how lucky they are to have her. Thank you, Jessica! I hope you stay at TRNN for a long long time.erpiu -> QLineOrientalist
Nicely done. Per is able to expose the far right in the Ukrainian movement without being used to demonize the Ukrainian movement. Particularly interested that he picked up on the use Yanukovich made of the far right, which I had only heard from the much-maligned Timothy Snyder, and which I had suspected was some sort of conspiracy theory.
I hope TRNN will take a fresh look at the Ukrainian popular movement and move away from portraying them as some kind of Western conspiracy against poor Vladimir Putin.Russian Leftie -> QLineOrientalist
yes, because in fact the usa invested 5billion in ukr just to strengthen the country's mother-theresianists...
PS. adolf and the nazis had serious popular support (37% of the vote in 1932) and many legitimate grievances...
PPS. the interview does not clarify who bullied the ukr parliament into turning coats and voting for the "miraculous transition" via coup d'etat. That grandmothers and bleedinghearts made cookies in Maidan for months does not tell us anything about the role/power/prospects of the ukr neonazis and what the USA and the poland/baltic states axis are plotting.
PPPS. snyder likes to mention LGTB/etc presence in Maidan, foggy bottom's yats' mixed ukr/jew ancestry, etc (e.g., in his democracynow appearances), and rudling mentions here his leftist friends who joined the Maidan crowd, but neither discusses "who beats up whom" in kiev's streets. Snyder is deeply dishonest and obfuscates intentionally; but per rudling is just naive i believe.Reiner Wilhelms -> Russian Leftie
Not to say that the protesters at the Maidan didn't have any genuine grievances, but what about the situation in Transcarpatia ? Is it "Western conspiracy against poor Vladimir Putin" as well?
One of their prominent politicians, who was a supporter of Maidan and overthrowing of Yanucovich, is talking about "Creating another Crimea in the West of Ukraine" .
Hungarians are outraged by attempted prohibition of their newspapers and their most popular political party.
I think that you are wrong in the simplicity of your arguments. This is not Western Truth against Russian Lies and vice versa. As this German politician said it best : "Eastern and Western Ukraine are naturally pulled in the different directions. There is no one leader in Ukraine that can represent both of them". I'd add that their only mutual grievance is the poor economic situation in Ukraine.QLineOrientalist -> Reiner Wilhelms
Here is the transcription of the youtube video of Gregor Gysi's speech in the German Bundestag (parliament):
Gysi is a member of Die Linke (The Left) in Germany, his background is from the former socialist party of East Germany where he became early on a leader for the reforms that Gorbachev was inspiring there.
I think his speech is a very good and fair critique of the hypocracy of the EU's politics and of Merkel's role in what I see as two imperialists (the big one who has been winning and another who has been loosing and who wants to have a comeback) are trying to pick Ukraine apart and risk confrontations that could lead to war. Yet he is not defending Putin either, and is against the separation of Crimea.
He recounts the story of the original demand for dissolving both NATO and Warshaw Pact, which the West didn't accept. So Warshaw Pact was dissolved and NATO was converted from a defense alliance into an alliance for intervention, which was followed by a rapid expansion of NATO directed towards Russia, and the decision to station missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic.QLineOrientalist -> Russian Leftie
Just to be clear, I agree that NATO has played an irresponsible role. Planting missiles in Poland and the Czech republic to allegedly county Iran was a particularly gross case of this.Cand'n Ukrainian
I agree that it's not a case of Western truth against Russian lies.
I just don't think it's a case of Russian truth against Western lies, which so many "anti-imperialists" think.
Jessica's probing into the historical background was well done. However, the monetary success of the current oligarths was not explained. The leaders are wealthy - where did their money come from? Were they not part of Yanukovich's corruption practices?
Really informative look at the history of the far right in western Ukraine. One thing I would like to hear Per talk about is what role he thinks the EU has to play in this. He didn't really have much to say about this or at least he didn't have time. Timothy Snyder has done his best to downplay the influence of Svoboda and the far right militias in the Maidan while exaggerating how inclusive it was (eg. not mentioning that 40% of the country were opposed to it) despite supposedly being an expert on these movements. His belief seems to be that closer integration with the EU would somehow weaken the growth of the far right, even though he is the first to point out that the largest far right movements are already in the EU. The EU's attempts to impose economic reforms in Greece has clearly had a role in the relatively recent rapid growth of Golden Dawn. The anti-immigrant, islamophobic politics of governments and parties across the EU has led to the broad growth of the far right in country after country. Per is honest about the role of the far right so I think it would be interesting to hear his thoughts on this question.
erpiuGabrielWhite -> erpiu
very good change from the fact-free "opinion" that one gets on main-stream TV and from the ethnic-harmony/politics that moscow state university and nicolai petro have served us here so far, but...
i) rudling forgets to tell us who got how much of the usa's 5-billion ukr "democracy investment". Groups defending mother Theresa and his bleedingheart friends who flew in to Maidan?
maybe he just forgot to discuss these moneys, but jessica should have been prepared to ask where the moneys went and for which specific events/interventions by whom they became critical.
ii) the soviet's "brutal" repression after 1945 that pers says was inflicted on "defenseless populations" is true but he obfuscates the whole story (and are his ultra-exact figures really reliable? that happened behind the curtain after all):
per himself and the whitewasher of holocaust-helpers, t.snyder, have described in detail how in 1941-45 these wonderful "defenseless populations" massacred tens of thousands of jews and poles (not ruskies) in veritable non-stop orgies of cruelty (of course beautifully reciprocated --when not initiated-- by oh-so-so catholic polish clerico-fascists (who btw had been enslaving/expropriating/brutalizing the locals in both polish-occupied bielorussia and ukr until 1939/41; remember: in 1940 polish bishops would write to rome that the nazi 1939 invasion+jewish killings showed that poland's jewish problem "was solvable!" so jew killing and harassing is interconfessional in the area; that's why so many eastern jews joined the commies).
in other words, in 1945 the soviets were "reacting" to an epidemics of paramilitarily organized crime by "defenseless populations" that had the worst possible history and nastiest possible paramilitary expertise/culture.
Therefore the deportation of these "defenseless populations" was much more humane than trying to suffocate them in situ by accepting to fight the civil war that the west was trying to start in the area and that it would fight "to the last white-ukranian".
pers should indeed have mentioned the west's provocations/infiltrations in newly sovietized ukr areas (read wikipedia on the special commandos of former nazi-collaborators that flew in from the uk "all expenses covered").
PS. and jessica should start reading wikipedia before interviewing super-experts like per.Mark Mason
Where did he use the term "defenseless populations"? Is it in the other clip? He's very clear in this clip that the the Nationalist movement was brutal.spktruth200
Professor Rudling does not understand that the so-called centrist Fatherland Party of Tymoshenko and Yatsenyuk are exploiting, using the Far Right elements to do the dirty work, to exercise violence.WaveRunnerMN
Let us not forget that John McCain took retired Israeli commandoes to the Ukraine. the US had already spent $5B in Ukraine as was announced by Victoria Nyland in DC. That's not counting the one billion we just gave them. To think the US hasn't been conducting illegal activities in the Ukraine is naïve. This is also about Oil, as the right wing in US are pushing the State Dept to support the XL piplelines so they can send that oil to Europe in their attempt to crush the economy of Russia.
Thank for posting this and making it available ...with explanations and historical background.
Rudling is excellent, excellent, excellent. Finally the nuances of the Ukraine are being presented. It is really no different than the beginnings of any country, including the US
In this country there were a huge number of people who wanted to stay with Great Britain.
I suspect that in time it will all be resolved, and a great new country will come on the world scene. Long live the Ukraine!
Another seminal source for understanding far right problem in Ukraine is Russ Bellant's interview a Seven Decades of Nazi Collaboration America’s Dirty Little Ukraine Secret(and his book Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party Domestic fascist networks and their effect on U.S).
Here is a large except:
As the Ukrainian crisis has unfolded over the past few weeks, it’s hard for Americans not to see Vladimir Putin as the big villain. But the history of the region is a history of competing villains vying against one another; and one school of villains – the Nazis – have a long history of engagement with the US, mostly below the radar, but occasionally exposed, as they were by Russ Bellant in his book Old Nazis, The New Right And The Republican Party (South End Press, 1991). Bellant’s exposure of Nazi leaders from German allies in the 1988 Bush presidential campaign was the driving force in the announced resignation of nine individuals, two of them from the Ukraine, which is why he was the logical choice to turn to illuminate the scattered mentions of Nazi and fascist elements amongst the Ukrainian nationalists, which somehow never seems to warrant further comment or explanation. Of course most Ukranians aren’t Nazis or fascists – all the more reason to illuminate those who would hide their true natures in the shadows…or even behind the momentary glare of the spotlight.
Your book, Old Nazis, the New Right, and the Republican Party exposed the deep involvement in the Republican Party of Nazi elements from Central and Eastern Europe, including Ukrainian, dating back to World War II and even before. As the Ukrainian crisis unfolded in the last few weeks there have been scattered mentions of a fascist or neo-fascist element, but somehow that never seems to warrant further comment or explanation. I can’t think of anyone better to shed light on what’s not being said about that element. The danger of Russian belligerence is increasingly obvious, but this unexamined fascist element poses dangers of its own. What can you tell us about this element and those dangers?
The element has a long history, of a long record that speaks for itself, when that record is actually known and elaborated on. The key organization in the coup that took place here recently was the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists [OUN], or a specific branch of it known as the Banderas [OUN-B]. They’re the group behind the Svoboda party, which got a number of key positions in the new interim regime. The OUN goes back to the 1920s, when they split off from other groups, and, especially in the 1930s began a campaign of assassinating and otherwise terrorizing people who didn’t agree with them.
As World War II approached, they made an alliance with the Nazi powers, they formed several military formations, so that when Germany invaded the Soviet Union in June 1941, they had several battalions that went into the main city at the time, where their base was, Lvov, or Lwow, it has a variety of spellings [also 'Lviv']. They went in, and there’s a documented history of them participating in the identification and rounding up Jews in that city, and assisting in executing several thousand citizens almost immediately. There were also involved in liquidating Polish group populations in other parts of Ukraine during the war.
Without getting deeply involved in that whole history, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists to this day defend their wartime role, they were backers of forming the 14th Waffen SS Division, which was the all-Ukrainian division that became an armed element on behalf of the Germans, and under overall German control. They helped encourage its formation, and after the war, right at the end of the war, it was called the First Ukrainian division and they still glorify that history of that SS division, and they have a veterans organization, that obviously doesn’t have too many of members left but they formed a veterans division of that.
If you look insignia being worn in Kiev in the street demonstrations and marches to the SS division insignia still being worn. In fact I was looking at photographs last night of it and there was a whole formation marching, not with 14th Division, but with the Second Division, it was a large division that did major battle around the Ukraine, and these marchers were wearing the insignia on the armbands of the Second Division.
So this is a very clear record, and the OUN, even in its postwar publications has called for ethno-genetically pure Ukrainian territory, which of course is simply calling for purging Jews, and Poles, and Russians from what they consider Ukrainian territory. Also, current leaders of Svoboda have made blatantly anti-Semitic remarks that call for getting rid of Muscovite Jews and so forth. They use this very coarse threatening language that anybody knowing the history of World War II would tremble at. If they were living here, it would seem like they would start worrying about it.
Obviously these people don’t hold monopoly power in Ukraine, but they stepped up and the United States has been behind the Svoboda party and these Ukrainian nationalists. In fact the US connections to them go back to World War II and the United States has had a long-standing tie to the OUN, through the intelligence agencies, initially military intelligence, and later the CIA.
Your book discusses a central figure in the OUN, Yaroslav Stetsko, who was politically active for decades here in America. What can you tell us about his history?
Yaroslav Stetsko was the number two leader of the OUN during World War II and thereafter. In 1959, Stefan Bandera, who was head of the OUN, was killed and that’s when Stetsko assumed the leadership. Stetsko in 1941 was the guy who actually marched into Lvov with the German army June 30, 1941 and the OUN issued a proclamation at that time under his name praising and calling for glory to the German leader Adolf Hitler and how they’re going to march arm in arm for the Ukraine and so forth. After the war, he was part of the key leadership that got picked up by the Americans.
There’s a number of accounts I’ve seen, at least three credible up reports, on how they were in the displaced person camp, the Allied forces set up displaced persons camp and picked up tens of thousands of these former allies of Hitler from countries all over the East, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania – there weren’t Polish collaborators I think most people know the Germans heavily persecuted and murdered millions of Polish residents – but Bulgaria, Romania, Croatia, and so forth, Belorussia. They had them in these camps they built and organized them, where the Ukrainians were assassinating their Ukrainian nationalist rival so that they would be the undisputed leaders of Ukrainian nationalist movement, so they would get the sponsorship of the United States to continue their political operation, and they were successful in that regard. So when Bandera was out of the picture, Stetsko became the undisputed leader of Ukrainian nationalists.
The Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists in 1943 under German sponsorship organized a multinational force to fight on behalf of the retreating German army. After the battle of Stalingrad in ’43 the Germans felt a heightened need to get more allies, and so the Romanian Iron Guard, the Hungarian Arrow Cross, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists and others with military formations in place to assist came together and formed the united front called the Committee of Subjugated Nations and again worked on behalf of of the German military. In 1946, they renamed it the Anti-Bolshevik Bloc of Nations, ABN. Stetsko was the leader of that until he died in 1986.
I mention this in part because the OUN tries to say well during the war we fought the Germans and the communists. The fact of the matter is that they were the leadership of this whole multinational alliance on behalf of the German the last two years of the war and in the war thereafter. All the postwar leaders of the unrepentant Nazi allies were all under the leadership of Yaroslav Stetsko.
What happened when Stetsko, and others like him from other German allied forces came to the United States?
In the United States, when they came, his groups organized ‘captive nations’ committees, they became, supposedly, the representatives of people who are being oppressed in Eastern Europe, the Baltic countries, by the Soviet. But they were, in fact, being given an uncritical blank check to represent the voices of all these nations that were part of the Warsaw Pact when in fact they represented the most extreme elements of each of the national communities.
The Captive Nations Committee in Washington DC for instance was run by the person who headed the Ukrainian organization of nationalists, that was true in a number of places. In my hometown area near Detroit as well, they played a major role. In the early 50s, when they were resettled in the United States, there was at least 10,000 of them that were resettled, when you look at all the nationalities. They became politically active through the Republican national committee, because it was really the Eisenhower administration that made the policy decision in the early 1950s, and brought them in. They set up these campaign organizations, every four years they would mobilize for the Republican candidate, whoever it would be, and some of them like Richard Nixon, in 1960, actually had close direct ties to some of the leaders like the Romanian Iron Guard, and some of these other groups.
When Richard Nixon ran for president in 1968, he made a promise to these leaders that they would if he won the presidency he would make them the ethnic outreach arm of the Republican National Committee on a permanent basis, so they wouldn’t be a quadrennial presence, but a continuing presence in the Republican Party. And he made that promise through a guy named Laszlo Pasztor, who served five years in prison after World War II for crimes against humanity. He was prosecuted in 1946 by non-Communist government that actually had control of Hungary at the time. There was a period from ’45 to ’48 when the Hungarian Communist Party didn’t run Hungary. They were the ones who prosecuted him. He had served as a liaison between the Hungarian Nazi party and Berlin; he served in the Berlin embassy of the Hungarian Arrow Cross movement. This is the guy that got picked to organize all the ethnic groups, and the only people that got brought in were the Nazi collaborators.
They didn’t have a Russian affiliate because they hated all Russians of all political stripes. There were no African Americans or Jewish affiliates either. It was just composed of these elements, and for a while they had a German affiliate but some exposure of the Nazi character of the German affiliate caused it to be quietly removed, but other [Nazi] elements were retained.
Your book was researched and published in the 1980s. What was happening by that point in time, after these groups had been established for more than a decade?
I went to their meetings in the 1980s, and they put out material that really make clear who they were there 1984, one of their 1984 booklets praised the pro-Nazi Ustashi regime in Croatia, and these Ustashi killed an estimated 750,000 people and burned them alive in their own camp in Croatia. And here they are praising the founding of this regime, and acknowledging that it was associated with the Nazis, and it was signed by the chairman of the Republican National Committee. You couldn’t make this stuff up. It was just crazy.
I interviewed the Kossack guy, he showed me his pension from service in the SS in World War II, and how he was affiliated with free Nazi groups in the United States, and he was just very unrepentant. These are the umbrellas that were called ‘Captive Nations Committees’ by these people that Stetsko was over, and was part of, too. The Reagan White House brought him in, and promoted him as a major leader and did a big dinner – [UN Ambassador] Jeane Kirkpatrick was part of it, George Bush as Vice President, of course Reagan – and Stetsko was held up as a great leader., And proclamations were issued on his behalf.
When Bush was running for president in 1988, Bush Senior, he came to these basically one of the leading locations of the Ukrainian nationalists in North America, which is in just outside of Detroit, a suburb of Detroit to their cultural center, and one of their foremost leaders in the world is headquartered out of their, at the time, he got Bush to come there and they denounced the OSI and Bush just shook his head, he wouldn’t say anything about it.
The OSI was the Offices of Special Investigations, it was investigating the presence of Nazi war criminals in the United States, and deporting those that were found to have lied on their history when they applied to come into the United States after the war. They had deported a number of people from all over the United States. They had a lot of open investigations, and all these émigré Nazis were trying to bring all the political pressure they could to stop these investigations, including the Ukrainian nationalists ones.
So they denounced them, the OSI investigations, in front of Bush, Bush nodded his head, but he wouldn’t say anything because he didn’t want to sound like he was sympathetic to the Nazi war criminals, but at the same time he didn’t want to offend his hosts by disputing the issue with them. So, the issue of World War II was still being played out over four decades later, in the politics of the presidency, and unfortunately Bush and Reagan continued to be on the side that we tried to defeat in World War II.
... ... ...
What’s happened since you wrote your book, and most of the World War II generation died off? What have the OUN and its allies been up to since then that we should be aware of?
Once the OUN got sponsored by the American security establishment intelligence agencies, they were embedded in a variety of ways in Europe as well, like Radio Free Europe which is headquartered in Munich. A lot of these groups, in the ABN were headquartered in Munich under the sponsorship of Radio Free Europe. From there they ran various kinds of operations where they were trying to do work inside the Warsaw Pact countries. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, a number of them moved back into the Ukraine as well as the other respective countries, and began setting up operations there, and organizing political parties. They reconstituted the veterans group of the Waffen SS, they held marches in the 1990s in the Ukraine, and organized political parties, in alliance with the United States, and became part of what was called the Orange Revolution in 2004, when they won the election there.
The prime minister was closely allied with them. They worked with the new government to get veterans benefits for the Ukrainian SS division veterans, and they started establishing the statues and memorials and museums for Stepan Bandera, who was the leader of the OUN, and who I should say was despised by other Ukrainian nationalists because of their methods, because they were extreme and violent toward other rival Ukrainian nationalist groups as well. So Bandera wasn’t a universal hero, but this group was so influential, in part because of its US connections, that if you go online and you Google ‘Lviv’ and the word ‘Bandera’ you’ll see monuments and statues and large posters and banners of Bandera’s likeness and large monuments permanent erected monuments on behalf of Bandera so they made this guy like he’s the George Washington of the Ukraine.
That government was in power until 2010, when there was another election, and a new regime was elected with a lot of support from the East. Ukrainian nationalist groupings around the Orange Revolution were sharply divided against each other, and there was rampant corruption, and people voted them out. The United States was very aggressive in trying to keep the nationalists in power, but they lost the election. The United States was spending money through the National Endowment for Democracy, which was pumping money into various Ukrainian organizations, and they were doing the same thing in Russia and many other countries around the world as well. We’re talking about many millions of dollars a year to affect the politics of these countries.
When the occupations came in Independence Square in Kiev late last year, you can see Svoboda’s supporters and you can hear their leaders in the parliament making blatant anti-semitic remarks. The leader of the Svoboda party went to Germany to protest the prosecution of John Demjanjuk, who was the Ukrainian who was settled in the United States, who was implicated as a concentration camp guard in the killing of innocent people. The German courts found him guilty and Svoboda leadership went to Germany to complain about convicting this guy. The reason they said they didn’t want any Ukrainian tainted with it because they live a lie that no Ukrainian had anything to do with the German Nazi regime, when history betrays them, and their own affiliations betray them. But they don’t like that being out there publicly, so they always protest their innocence of any Ukrainian being charged with anything, regardless of what the evidence is.
Your book was an important revelation but was not alone. Your book notes that Jack Anderson reported on the pro-Nazi backgrounds of some of the ethnic advisors as far back as 1971, yet when your report came out almost two decades later, everyone responded with shock, surprise, and even denial. What lessons should we draw from this history of buried history? And how should it influence our thinking about the unfolding crisis in the Ukraine?
I don’t believe it’s ever too late to become familiarized and educated about the history of this phenomenon both the wartime history and our postwar collaboration with these folks. There were a number of exposés written about the émigré Nazis. There was a 1979 book called Wanted and it did a number of case stories of these people being brought in to the United States, including the Trifa story. Christopher Simpson did a book called Blowback that discussed the policy decisions, it’s an incredible book. He’s a professor at American University and he did years of research through the Freedom of Information Act and archives, and got the policy documents under which the decisions were made to bring these folks together, and not just into the United States but to deploy them around the world.
Like my book, it didn’t get the attention it deserved. The New York Times book reviewer was negative toward the book. There are people that really don’t want to touch this stuff. There’s a lot of people who don’t want it touched. I think it’s really important for people who believe in openness and transparency and democratic values, who don’t want to see hate groups come back to power in other parts of the world to know what happened.
There’s not very many Americans that really even know that the Waffen SS was a multinational force. That’s been kind of kept out of the received history. Otherwise people would know that there were Ukrainian Nazis, Hungarian Nazis, Latvian Nazis, and they were all involved in the mass murder of their fellow citizens, if they were Jewish, or even if they were co-nationalists that were on the other side of the issue of the war. They were just mass murderers, across Eastern Europe. And that history, those facts aren’t even well-known. A lot of people didn’t even know this phenomenon even existed.
I think all Americans have a responsibility to know what their government is doing in the foreign policy in Europe as well as elsewhere around the world, as well as Latin America as well as Africa. Since our policy was to uphold apartheid in South Africa why weren’t Americans challenging that more? They began challenging that in the 80s, but the apartheid regime was run by the Nazi party. They were allied with Germany in World War II, they were the Nationalist party and they took power in 1948 and the United States backed that for decades. We backed the death squads in Latin America, even though they massacred tens of thousands of people – 30,000 people in Chile alone. Americans aren’t being attentive to what their government is doing abroad, even though it’s been doing done with their tax dollars and in their name, and I think we just have a general responsibility.
I went to these meetings, I went to these conferences, I went over a period of years. I met with them directly, most of the people I wrote about, I met with them personally or in group meetings. People can’t afford to do that on their own, timewise, but there’s enough literature out there they can read and pursue it, they will get enough enough of a handle to get what the real picture is, to demand change. I’m not totally partisan in this, but I think the Republican Party was extreme on this, but the Democrats folded and didn’t challenge this when they knew it was going on.
There is an old Roman poet that once said truth does not say one thing and wisdom another. I’m a believer in that. Tell the truth and wisdom will follow.
Infographics: structure of Right sector
The Ukrainian nationalism of the 19th and early 20th centuries had been largely liberal or socialist, combining Ukrainian national consciousness with patriotism and humanist values. In contrast, the nationalists who emerged in Galicia following the First World War, much as in the rest of Europe, adopted the form of nationalism known as Integral nationalism.
According to this ideology, the nation was held to be of the highest absolute value, more important than social class, regions, the individual, religion, etc. To this end, OUN members were urged to "force their way into all areas of national life" such as institutions, societies, villages and families. Politics was seen as a Darwinian struggle between nations for survival, rendering conflict unavoidable and justifying any means that would lead to the victory of one's nation over that of others.
n this context willpower was seen as more important than reason, and warfare was glorified as an expression of national vitality. Integral nationalism became a powerful force in much of Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.
The OUN's conceptualization of this idea was particular in several ways. Because Ukraine was stateless and surrounded by more powerful neighbors, the emphasis on force and warfare was to be expressed in acts of terrorism rather than open warfare, and illegality was glorified. Because Ukrainians did not have a state to glorify or serve, the emphasise was placed on a "pure" national language and culture rather than a State. There was a strain of fantastic romanticism, in which the unsophisticated Ukrainian rejection of reason was more spontaneous and genuine than the cynical rejection of reason by German or Italian integral nationalists.
Romanticism and nationalism of the deed
Dmytro Dontsov claimed that the 20th century would witness the "twilight of the gods to whom the nineteenth century prayed" and that a new man must be created, with the "fire of fanatical commitment" and the "iron force of enthusiasm", and that the only way forward was through "the organization of a new violence." This new doctrine was the chynnyi natsionalizm – the "nationalism of the deed". To dramatize and spread such views, OUN literature mythologized the cult of struggle, sacrifice, and emphasized national heroes.
The OUN, particularly Bandera, held a romantic view of the Ukrainian peasantry, glorified the peasants as carriers of Ukrainian culture and linked them with the deeds and exploits of the Ukrainian Cossacks from previous centuries. The OUN believed that a goal of professional revolutionaries was, through revolutionary acts, to awaken the masses. In this aspect the OUN had much in common with 19th-century Russian 
Treatment of non-Ukrainians
According to Timothy Snyder the OUN wanted to create a Ukrainian state consisting of Ukrainian territories; its first congress in 1929 resolved that "Only the complete removal of all occupiers from Ukrainian lands will allow for the general development of the Ukrainian Nation within its own state." OUN's "Ten Commandments" stated: "Aspire to expand the strength, riches, and size of the Ukrainian State even by means of enslaving foreigners."
The nation was to be unified under a single party led by a hierarchy of proven fighters. At the top was to be a Supreme Leader, or Vozhd. In some respects the OUN's creed was similar to that of other eastern European, radical right-wing agrarian movements, such as Romania's Legion of the Archangel Michael, Croatia's Ustashe, Hungary's Arrow Cross Party, and similar groups in Slovakia and Poland. There were, however, significant differences within the OUN regarding the extent of its totalitarianism. The more moderate leaders living in exile admired some facets of Benito Mussolini's fascism but condemned Nazism while the younger more radical members based within Ukraine admired the fascist ideas and methods as practiced by the Nazis. The faction based abroad supported rapprochement with the Ukrainian Catholic Church while the younger radicals were anti-clerical and felt that not considering the Nation to be the Absolute was a sign of weakness.
The two factions of the OUN each had their own understanding of the nature of the leader. The Melnyk faction considered the leader to be the director of the Provid and in its writings emphasized a military subordination to the hierarchical superiors of the Provid. It was more autocratic than totalitarian. The Bandera faction, in contrast, emphasized complete submission to the will of the supreme leader.
At a party congress in August 1943, the OUN-B rejected much of its fascistic ideology in favor of a social democratic model, while maintaining its hierarchical structure. This change could be attributed in part to the influence of the leadership of Roman Shukhevych, the new leader of UPA, who was more focused on military matters rather than on ideology and was more receptive to different ideological themes than were the fanatical OUN-B political leaders, and was interested in gaining and maintaining the support of deserters or others from Eastern Ukraine. During this party congress, the OUN-B backed off its commitment to private ownership of land, increased worker participation in management of industry, equality for women, free health services and pensions for the elderly, and free education. Some points in the program referred to the rights of national minorities and guaranteed freedom of speech, religion, and the press and rejected the official status of any doctrine.
Nevertheless, the authoritarian elements were not discarded completely and were reflected in continued insistence on the "heroic spirit" and "social solidarity, friendship and discipline."
In exile, the OUN's ideology was focused on opposition to communism.
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