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Saturday, March 24, 2007




Coalition of National ImpUnity v. National RescYu Committee
Ya Paranoid About Lu; Ty Optimistic About Yu

A duel of press conferences held in rapid succession on Friday had Ukraine’s heavyweights speak their minds.

Yanukovych took pains to impress us with something so pompous that even shamans of “guided democracy” like Putin would puke at it. Speaking before an audience of some 579 accredited reporters, Yanukovych unveiled a smoking pot of plans that included the following:

  • Keeping Lutsenko off the streets of Kyiv for the sake of “peace and stability”
  • Rebranding the Anticrisis Coalition to that of National Unity (read: ImpUnity)
  • Buying a 2/3 constitutional majority stake in the Rada (read: prostitutional majority)
  • Using that majority to make Russian a second official language
Having digested the best of Donbas cuisine, we tuned our stomachs to a different set of ingredients. Tymo went about her business by:
  • Appealing to the President’s better self and offering herself as an alter ego
  • Citing legal technicalities for Yu to disband the Rada, adding that he has no other choice
  • Maintaining a positive emphasis and rekindling the spirit of Maidan
  • Announcing the re-establishment of Maidan’s National Rescue Committee
At a time when the Coalition of National ImpUnity puts talk shows off the air and disenfranchises millions of Ukrainians, the President has no right to be a bystander. This country is getting ripe for a rescue operation.

13 comments:

David said...

I have a book, "Gandi and Beyond" by David Cortright. It is a practical analysis of the lives/teachings of Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr and Cesar Chavez and others.

The main 2 mechanisms of change are: Conversion and Accomodation. I think accomodation/compromise is inevitable, but conversion is vital. We need to move some people to break off of their addiction to power and parlay it into constraints on the rest.

Here's a paragraph on the success of MLKjr's Birmingham campaign.

"By focusing on limited objectives, applying pressure on the economic power structure, and maintaining organizational unity, King and his colleagues exerted effective control over the campaign. Their expectations that Conner(the local sheriff) would overreact were fulfilled, and they effectively used the media to expose the brutality of segregation to world opinion. The Birmingham campaign inspired increased activism and nonviolent protest across the South. In the three months that followed, according to gov't figures, more than 750 demonstrations occurred in 186 cities, with 15,000 arrests. Perhaps the most important lesson of Birmingham is that ordinary people have poer and can sometimes effectively organize themselves to change the course of history. The Birmingham campaign was a dramatic victory, brought about by the heroic sacrifice of thousands of local citizens and by the development and implementation of wise strategy."

"In 'The Strategy of Social Protest', sociologist William Gamson demonstrates that political effectiveness depends on ' the willingness to break rules and use non-institutional means...to use disruption as a strategy of influence.' Scholars argue..that protest is more likely to succeed when it disrupts the normal functioning of society...the most useful way to think about effectiveness of protest is to examine the disruptive effects...A movement can disrupt the functioning of society without resorting to violence, eg(boycotts, mass marches, civil disobedience, strikes) without violence.

Unfortunately, it goes on to describe how even some people using violence can give the authorities the means of smearing a movement and otherwise weakening it.

It is critical to by dignified suffering to attract sympathy and political support.

Taras said...

Good point. In oppressed countries, protesters who commit acts of violence provide the regime with the ammo to destroy the entire movement. In more or less democratic countries, protesters that promote their cause through violence turn the wider audience off.

The Civil Rights Movement would not have gone too far if guided by a militant strategy. I read about this ten years ago. (“Civil Rights: The 1960's Freedom Struggle” by Rhoda Lois Blumberg, “Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story” by Martin Luther King Jr, and “Martin Luther King, Jr: A Documentary, Montgomery to Memphis” by Flip Schulke:)

However, there’s one more thing I’d like to mention. In Europe, they do resort to non-peaceful tactics to protect their rights and freedoms — and quite successfully so. The prospect of mass protests involving violence and vandalism has their governments thinking carefully and behaving properly.

Our government is nowhere near that. Without glorifying violence in any way, I’d say a political deterrent of that kind would be great for our country. But Ukrainians haven’t earned it yet. They’d rather watch the news than make the news. (They once got their asses up, and it didn’t work out right. So why try harder?)

In Ukraine, we need to start believing that we can have a second shot at it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean shooting anybody, except in self-defense.

David said...

Taras: In Europe, they do resort to non-peaceful tactics to protect their rights and freedoms — and quite successfully so. The prospect of mass protests involving violence and vandalism has their governments thinking carefully and behaving properly.

dlw: Yes, but I think that such violent protests cause ideological polarization, which is not healthy for the democratic compromises between different interests that all gov'ts need to make.

I wouldn't idealize the US or EU political-economic systems... The key part, to me, seems to be more about changing peoples' habits, of both oligarchs, politicians and the common person.

Taras:Our government is nowhere near that. Without glorifying violence in any way, I’d say a political deterrent of that kind would be great for our country.

dlw: I'd think the absence of violence and respect for others property wouldn't dilute the deterrent effect too much... Static rights for "the people" often are not very efficient, they often result in too high of unemployment and welfare systems that do not promote a proper work ethic.

Taras: But Ukrainians haven’t earned it yet. They’d rather watch the news than make the news. (They once got their asses up, and it didn’t work out right. So why try harder?)

dlw: Well, it's more a matter of changing hearts and habits. People need to translate their love of country into a selflessness that acts even when they don't have 100% clarity on who's right or wrong or what the outcomes will be.

dlw:In Ukraine, we need to start believing that we can have a second shot at it. And it doesn’t necessarily mean shooting anybody, except in self-defense.

dlw: I say not even in self-defense. Remember, they will have control of the media and be able to spin any acts of violence on your behalf.

It's hard no doubt, but "no better love can anyone have than to lay down their life for their friends." We need to move people into opposition to the use of violence, not meet violence with violence. Only the state, properly legally disciplined and restrained, shd have the right to use violence.

dlw

Anonymous said...

14 more BYuT deputies are considering going over to the "НЕ" coalition.

David said...

I'd say that the EU strategy that employs violence tends to maintain the status quo and focus on accomodation, while giving up on conversion, to use the language of Cortright.

I believe conversion, not per se to our own ideological position, but to one that enables better ongoing peaceful compromises between intere$t$ is critical. One of the historic diffs between the US and EU is that our political parties have been more ideologically dynamic and accomodating to each other.

Things have gone bad in the past thirty year some years and the Cold War was not healthy for our democracy but it did have certain significant advantages over EU political systems, which I believe ultimately reflect the fact that Christianity(or faith that makes us love our opponents) was more vibrant in the US.

dlw

Taras said...

Thanks to the Orange Revolution, they don’t have as tight a grip on the media as they would like to have. Their Big Brother portfolio includes outlets in eastern Ukraine, a bunch of low-rate nationwide channels, and, partially, state television. It is there that most of the brainwashing in this country takes place. But then again, we have the internet, which acts as the great equalizer.

I am not propagating violence per se. (Nor am I packing my bags for Babyn Yar, or Kolyma, or Kosovo either. As bad as your political system may be — and I know it has plenty of faults — I still would love to swap democracies and welfare states with you;)

What I was trying to say — in a worldly sense — is this: When the hearts and minds of your opponents are hard to reach, your preparedness to kick their asses — hopefully, without actually having to do so — can have a positive societal and civilizational impact.

On both sides of the Atlantic, deterrence cost billions of dollars, but it saved billions of lives on this planet.

On the one hand, had Uncle Sam not gotten the bomb first, you Americans would have participated in a "baby barbecue." On the other hand, had Uncle Joe failed to get the bomb before Uncle Sam had a stockpile and a determination to use it, the same thing would have happened to us Ukrainians.

Sounds gory, but it’s true. In either scenario, you and I would probably never be born.

Ukrainian protest culture knows very few incidents of violence. In fact, it also knows very few protests, given the scale of injustice being done.

The hearts and minds of Ukrainians may have different rhythms and may operate on different wavelengths. But they should learn to stand up for themselves. They need to manage their government instead of having their government manage them. They need to break free from the stupor of passivity, from the YanuChernoCo yoke.

“No taxation without representation.” “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” They need to put these proverbs to good use.

Taras said...

The more BYuTies and NSNUzers turn their backs on voters, the less sense it makes to keep this shop in business — and the stronger the moral obligation for the President to intervene.

This Saturday, we’re holding a warm-up rally at Maidan. They say Yushch has finally made up his mind. I pray it’s not just another false hope.

David said...

"When the hearts and minds of your opponents are hard to reach, your preparedness to kick their asses — hopefully, without actually having to do so — can have a positive societal and civilizational impact. "

dlw:I'd put it that nat'l self-defense is a legit means of constraining human sinfulness.

I don't see this as applicable for protestors. We are called to change the hearts and minds of our opponents through righteous dignified suffering. If we tolerate the use of violence by other protestors, we will fall into the trap that will allow the authorities to excuse themselves for responding in kind.

The Cold War analogy is a bad one for the situation within Ukraine. I also believe that the only reason the US accepted the use of nuclear weapons on Japan is because we were at war and the Japanese had a policy of all out fighting to the death.

If Joe had not gotten nukes, there is no guarantee that the US people would have approved of our gov'ts use of nukes on the USSR. The Cold War was a time of fear for us too, but we had dissident movements(many of which were squelched by Joe McCarthy's witchhunt in the fifties.).

anyways, I have told others about the Maidan sequel. I and others will be praying for you all.

dlw

Taras said...

Thank you, David. I’m not 100 percent sure it’s the real thing, but we’re holding our breath.

Back to our history class, I don’t believe that Truman and Eisenhower would have put the issue of preventive strikes on a referendum. And even if they had done so, McCarthy would have seen to it that the American people didn’t say no.

One can hardly argue that the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not contain a clear sign of US military supremacy. And who would argue that if the Soviet Union had enjoyed a lead in WMD technology, it would not have tested its arsenal on Washington and New York?

But let me assure you that here in Kyiv we do not intend to go nuclear on Yanukovych. There's a high probability that his hotshots at Interior will be deterred by Defense and the SBU. (Yushch is still Commander-in-Chief.)

The Orange Revolution remains one of the few bloodless regime changes in history. And I think it sets the standard.

DLW said...

Back to our history class, I don’t believe that Truman and Eisenhower would have put the issue of preventive strikes on a referendum. And even if they had done so, McCarthy would have seen to it that the American people didn’t say no.

dlw: If we had had nukes and the USSR didn't, why would we need them for preventive strikes? What wd we be trying to prevent, an attack on the US? It seems to me that expansion of the USSR empire wd be stunted severely by a lack of nukes. I am not sure we'd have been as fearful and prone to the depredations of McCarthy if the USSR had not had nukes.

Taras:One can hardly argue that the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not contain a clear sign of US military supremacy. And who would argue that if the Soviet Union had enjoyed a lead in WMD technology, it would not have tested its arsenal on Washington and New York?

dlw: No doubt, but the US was not the SU. There's a hell of a diff in using nukes in a limited manner to end a war and initiating a conflict via nukes.

T:But let me assure you that here in Kyiv we do not intend to go nuclear on Yanukovych. There's a high probability that his hotshots at Interior will be deterred by Defense and the SBU. (Yushch is still Commander-in-Chief.)

dlw:I'm very glad to hear that.

T:The Orange Revolution remains one of the few bloodless regime changes in history. And I think it sets the standard.

dlw: Yup, which is why it is critical that those engaged in its sequel or what-not reiterate a commitment to dignified suffering without the use of violence. Malcom X did not advance the rights of African-Americans anywhere as much as MLKjr did and Gandhi's vision fell to the wayside as his countrymen in what is now India, Pakistan and Burma forsook nonviolence.

dlw

Taras said...

It’s a sunny Friday afternoon, and Kyiv keeps cool. So far, everything’s quiet. At 1400 hrs, the PRU fields its people downtown. We’ll have our field day tomorrow.

I’ve greatly enjoyed our “Back to the Future” forum! Having bookwormed my way through a stockpile of Cold War literatures at the American Library here in Kyiv, I’ve only had a few chances to discuss them with Americans.

As far as I know, at the twilight of his career, Malcolm X adopted a less militant worldview. However, I do agree that he wasn’t the right guy for the job. (Martin Luther King was.)

I will never be convinced that a totalitarian and threshold USSR could have bought insurance against preventive strikes by a democratic US sometime in the 50s-60s. Much less do I believe that hosting the UN headquarters would have made a threshold US exempt from annihilation by a full-fledged Soviet arsenal.

And the sad thing is, in both cases, our conversation would never take place:) There would be no Internet, and there would be no us. Thank God, we’ve made it through the Cold War peacefully. And we don’t need a hot one in Kyiv:)

David said...

Well it certainly is true that our countries came very close to nuclear war and so I understand the belief that if one had had nukes, while the other remained at the threshhold, that the other would have nuclear attacked.

Its pretty damn scary. And I'm with this jibjab in expressing fear of the coming of a nuclear attack on the US...(It's not their best ever, but it's still good...)

dlw

Taras said...

Last night, ChernoCo won a court injunction that bans rallies at Maidan. The opposition is appealing. But whatever the outcome, it appears that neither the Orange ones nor the Blues ones will be bound by it. We’ll be there, rain or shine:)

I’m having trouble downloading the link you gave me. (I’ll try later.)