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Misunderstanding democracy
by Thanos Kalamidas
2014-02-23 11:28:18
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There is absolutely do doubt that the distance that separates Ukraine from democracy is huge and it has been so for decades. However it was democracy that motivated the country’s independence from the Soviet Union, it was democracy that motivated the orange revolution against a corrupted government in the end of 2004 and it is democracy that motivates the thousands protestors nowadays against the corrupted Viktor Yushchenko, president of the country and former leader of the orange revolution. Or that’s what they say.

So what’s going on with this democracy in the name of which everything goes so wrong? And why while more information starts coming from Ukraine it looks like it is not exactly democracy what some of the organizers of those demonstrations looking for. At least not democracy as we understand the concept.


If there is actually something wrong is with the way people perceive and understand the meaning of word democracy, with our western sensitivity to the word democracy and the fact that most of the former soviet democracies think that anything before the communist rein was democracy. Plus and especially in Ukraine’s case a lot of responsibility falls outside the Ukrainian boarders.

These people in the beginning thought that escaping from the Soviet Union and adopting a western style democracy they would become Germans overnight. They would all find themselves with a new Mercedes-Benz outside their houses, huge colour plasma TVs and German-marks-trees in the back garden. Nothing like that happened; on the contrary independence from the Soviet Union didn’t break ties with Russia, just changed name. And in top of that unemployment came, inflation came, poverty hit badly and a leadership no different form the last ones since it was part of the till then establishment.

Then came the orange revolution and again the same story only this time a Chrysler had replaced the Mercedes-Benz, McDonald’s the plasma screen and dollar-trees the German-marks-trees. What had change this time it was the outside involvement. The pro-democracy support from abroad. The headlines in the international media inviting Ukrainians to good old capitalism and the promises that the west will stand by them.

Of course nothing like that happened. The Ukrainians were left with a rotten orange revolution, with a bankrupt country, with huge unemployment and poverty. A leadership which was worst than the former ones. The leaders of the orange revolution proved champions of nepotism and corruption. And on top of that, nothing changed with Russia’s dependency, it just that they had a new name now, Czar Putin.

And again the Ukrainian people took the streets and the last few months violence escalated so much that we started counting daily dead. And again the Ukrainian people are screaming democracy but they are dreaming Chryslers and Mercedes-Benz, plasma TVs and McDonald’s, dollar and euro-trees. And this time the promises didn’t limit to headlines that have also send representatives. McCain, the former American presidential candidate was there joining the crowns, – from his hotel’s safety of course – to do what? To promise what?

Why Catherine Ashton, the EU representative doesn’t make clear to these people that a commercial pact between EU and Ukraine doesn’t mean EU membership. Doesn’t mean open boarders and thousands of Ukrainians looking for jobs in Germany, France and Britain. Why nobody explains to these people that there is no exchange for democracy and profit comes with hard work in a democratic environment?

And what are the motives of every McCain to give promises he cannot keep, intentionally manipulating and misleading a whole nation just to satisfy his anti-communist agenda that has become an anti-Putin crusade? Bottom line, who’s worst for the Ukrainians? The corrupted Yushchenko with his Russian grip or the unprincipled – the better word in his case would have fascist – McCain? And if that’s the way McCain and Ashton understand democracy what’s the message the Ukrainians get. Furthermore their unethical and misleading involvement will manage to give Ukraine another equally corrupted government in the wait of another revolution after a few years.

But for most of it, it’s all in the surface because coming back to the McCains of this world who run to Kiev there is another question we seem to avoid. Why the McCains of this world found an easy ground in Ukraine and they didn’t feel the same way when the Greeks were demonstrating for the austerity measures and the German colonization in the south? Perhaps this is where we should look for the answers. A look at Estonia for example might help.

Estonia is another former soviet democracy that found democracy and actually thanks to the German-Finnish pressure they are not even full members of the EU but also members of the Euro-zone. A country that prides to escaped communism and warships the men and women who enslaved her for centuries before with monuments and museums. From the one side to the other. A constant witch-hunt of communism and anything communist. Even the word communism is becoming illegal and Marx was the representative of evil on earth. Anything Russian is evil even if that means suppressing inhumanly and against human rights despite the fact that the Russian minority covers 8% of the population and in some areas the population is only Russian speaking. What about Poland or Hungary where anybody’s connection – even the lighter one – with the communist parties while the Soviet era means collective responsibility for all the family.

The last decade especially we are all talking about the rise of neo-Nazism and fascism in Europe focusing in central Europe and the euro-zone missing that neo-Nazism and fascism thrives in East Europe and most of the mainstream parties cover in their lines neo-Nazi and fascist ideas and practices.

So when we look in Ukraine perhaps we should look more carefully and beyond the surface. And probably most of the people in the streets want democracy even in this twisted way where democracy is adjoined with a Mercedes-Benz but the people who empower these east European revolutions might use democracy as a cover for their real motives and there is no room for democracy there. Just like the McCains of this world.

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Emanuel Paparella2014-02-23 19:11:02
Indeed Thanos, the issue was never between Mc Cain and Putin but between the Ukrainian people choice between democracy and a democratic society (the EU) and Russian authoritarianism. As you correctly hint at, it is an enormous fallacy to conceive of a strong sense of heritage and tradition as mutually exclusive to democratic government and social justice. That is a dualism promoted by those who are out to split the Ukrainian people and other eastern European people and promote civil wars. They hope to return to the good old days of the cold war and somehow gain back what they think they have lost from the ensuing chaos. That fallacy ought to be exposed for what it is, on both sides of the dividing political line.

Leah Sellers2014-02-23 21:05:22
Hello Brother Thanos,
So, true dear Sir, and well drawn out.
Too many Folks think that Capitalism is Democracy. It is not. Nor is Capitalism all about Free Trade. It is Globalized and Politicized Superiority-complexed,monopolistic, Corporationally suppressive and oppressive Thuggery-Buggery. Nor has Communism ever been True Commun-ism. It has been the bits and parts of Commun-ism that tight-reined and oppressive Autocratic, Totalitarian Oligarchies and Dictatorships would allow to exist. Socialism, in my opinion, is the more Healthy median Answer and Application constantly struggling with the complexities of Democracy, Communism and Capitalism.
The Ukraine, like the rest of the Human World Realities, is still Evolving, but less slowly Now, due to our Connective Technologies. Stillness, after Eruptive Activity, is an Imperative for Wise Decision-Making. And Thoughtful Stillness in a World that is addicted to Speed, constant Dis-tractions and Movement is a difficult Balancing Treasure/Tool to Sustain and Maintain.

Lawrence Nannery2014-02-24 04:06:17
I strongly agree with everything you say here!!
I will send you a long letter explaining why and I have much to say.
Thank you.

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