A Lesson From Ukraine on Revolution

When nationalist revolutionaries seized power in Ukraine in 2014, the slogan became “Glory to Ukraine!” It was, in fact, a greeting—aggressive youth barked it at police, at grocery store clerks, at strangers on the bus.

If you declared “Glory to Ukraine!” and your target woofed back “Glory to Ukraine!” your interlocutor was considered cool. If he didn’t respond, it was suspicious. If she told you to go take a hike, or that Ukraine could go to hell, well, people lost their jobs over that. People had the police called on them for refusing to respond favorably, and sometimes the police had to go through the motions, like this was some traitorous criminal who had to be investigated. And if the victim didn’t come to his senses fast enough, sometimes the secret services got involved, and the putz had to sign a confession, retraction, or improvement plan.

Whether to glorify Ukraine or not was a question as pressing to some victims as whether to go along with Black Lives Matter, or to insist that all lives matter in America, 2020.

Of course, the schools had to start teaching that the kids were always Ukrainians and that Russia had stolen their heritage, and if someone told them differently at home, well, kids, feel free to rat out your parents for the motherland. That didn’t happen very often, but the fear was real enough, so parents avoided talking politics while their children were awake.

Essentially all humanities and social sciences students and diploma-holders backed the new regime and its Ukrainist ideology. And of course, big business was on board—all the oligarchs were either Ukrainist from the start, or came around very quickly.

Few in the trades, engineering, or small business were into it. At the outset, even the military was not into it for the most part, but they needed to get paid. In fact, the army was so unreliable that the new regime had to found a “national guard” of vetted partisan loyalists to spearhead offensives and perform “filtration” duties in areas retaken from the Donbass rebels.

On the home front, wild mobs and masked-men-in-the-night shut down all open dissent in the capital within a matter of weeks and in some other major cities within two months. Mostly, it was small-scale—harassment, vandalism, a few broken noses or jaws, a few shots, a body here and a body there. The police acted like it wasn’t happening, not because they agreed with it, but because that’s what was expected of them. But it wasn’t enough. Half the country felt like it was slipping away at the grassroots level, and not just the Russian-targeted Donbass.

Something had to be done, so something was done. The coup de grace was the busing of soccer hooligan gangs (in the notorious British model) from Kiev to Odessa to confront local oppositionists.

Up to that point, Odessa’s minority Ukrainist and majority non-Ukrainist populations had thrown insults and a few bottles at each other, but the hooligans changed the equation. With oversight from a few career fascist gang leaders, the hooligans intimidated most people out of protesting. But what’s more noteworthy is what they did to those who still dared to venture out.

A group of local demonstrators—college-aged youth—was chased into and surrounded inside a government office building, several Molotov cocktails were thrown at the main entrance, and some 40 persons seeking refuge inside were asphyxiated as the insulation or drop ceilings caught fire. Yeah, political violence and all that.

No one was prosecuted for a few years. At long last—probably on the demand of European donor states—the authorities opened a case against one fascist ringleader who was on video firing a handgun at people trying to climb out of the burning building. The video had been widely available from day one—the fat, nasty man was a celebrity to his side. He died of cancer before spending one night behind bars.

The names of those who paid for and organized the hooligan buses to Odessa are lost to history. The Democrats—ahem, the winners in the struggle for Ukraine—don’t pursue their own.

Since then, scores of statues and busts have fallen or disappeared, hundreds of streets and towns have been renamed, even one city of 1 million souls has been renamed after its own defunct soccer team, for lack of any better ideas. At first, statues were pulled down or blown off their pedestals at night, without official sanction, but without any investigation or consequences. Eventually, municipalities got involved and sent crews to finish the rest. Only after that did the street and town names start to change.

 You can see the order; it’s shaping up to be the same here—first, they come for the statues, then they want to change the proper nouns. It has made no one’s life better, though.

It has all been to remove the Russian heritage. The funny thing is that most of the cities were founded by Russians. The entire southeastern half of the country was a barren waste picked bare by Crimean Tatar slavers until the czars and empresses moved in during the 1700s. Before that happened, the region had been known by a horrific name—chistoe pole, “the clean field.”

Vast numbers of Slavic girls and young women driven off from this land (and often from further north in Russia proper) changed the appearance of Anatolian Turks from Asiatic to European. Their fathers and brothers were worked to death in galleys and mines. The old and infirm were simply killed upon capture. Russian arms put an end to this centuries-long fiasco, which in raw numbers likely matched the transatlantic slave trade (don’t believe the ludicrous figures on Wikipedia.) You won’t see this in modern Ukrainian school textbooks.

Oh, and let’s not forget the kneeling. With the war against the rebels not going well, activists in Ukrainist regions would find out when army coffins were to be delivered for burial, then get a crowd together and have everyone kneel along the road to the cemetery when word came in that the body wagon was approaching. No salute or hand-over-heart or patriotic songs, just grotesque, silent kneeling. Kaepernick is a Slavic name, after all.

And yet, Ukraine 2014 and thereafter is not quite America 2020. In the new Ukraine, salvation was absolute. If you embraced the glory, then, in almost all cases, you had nothing to apologize for, no inherent guilt to whip yourself over. Everything was forgiven; your potential accusers simply found another target or boogeyman.

Non-Ukrainist politicos who were not central to the old regime, not high enough in those former ranks, changed their stripes overnight and continued their careers. And the kids in the Russian half of the country were not taught to feel guilty, or that they owed something to descendants of the Ukro-aborigines who were said to have inhabited those parts in antiquity. No, they all simply became Ukrainians, and that was that.

Meanwhile, those who had come to power on the back of “Glory to Ukraine!” stole likely over $1 billion in foreign aid, squirreling it away somewhere. Through “Glory to Ukraine!” they sent thousands of young men to die fighting Russians and Russian-backed rebels, keeping the public in a war psychosis to distract from the ever-worsening standard of living. In short, they got theirs.

What did the majority get? A failed state and a pauper’s existence. And not surprisingly, the useful fascists from the revolution days—the guys who had stormed the government buildings in Kiev—have been killed off, imprisoned for rape or drugs or whatever their vice, or at best, they have lost their sponsors or their shakedown rackets and have been forced to find real jobs, sometimes as guest workers in Russia. They were expendable. Today, it is as if they never existed.

If we allow the Democrats to win this year on the backs of chaos and Black Lives Matter, we might not all be pauperized overnight; but let me tell you, they will put a lid on this nonsense if it suits them. If it suits them, all the statues everywhere will be removed within days by municipal crews, quietly, no drama, and you won’t ever see those useful white idiots from Black Lives Matter anymore. All the Democrat mayors will get the memo that these runts are no longer en vogue, and the police will be allowed to do their jobs, and it will hardly make the news.

Furthermore, it will be as if black people no longer exist. You won’t hear anything about their problems, because with the Democrats in charge of everything, there can be no problems. 

Alternately, it may be all you hear about—but if Ukraine’s experience is any guide, I doubt it.

About Jacob Dreizin

Jacob Dreizin is an immigrant, a U.S. Army veteran with two master’s degrees, a long-time Washington, D.C. area resident, and a family man. He has previously written for several websites, notably the American Thinker. As a U.S. government employee, Dreizen enjoys his First Amendment rights and does not speak for his employer in any way.

Photo: Giles Clarke/Getty Images

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