17 February 2017

Vadym Novynskyi. A Member of the Ukrainian Parliament — on global changes and how Ukraine should adapt to live in peace and prosperity

The world as we know it is changing dramatically — the last time such changes took place was probably a quarter of a century ago when the established alliances and blocs of states were collapsing, borders were changing and new countries were being created. We are now once again witnessing a change in the world order and trends: instead of a liberal democracy the world is turning to conservative values — albeit with a touch of militant populism.

The starting point for this new trend was not Donald Trump's victory in the US elections. Even before Trump it was apparent that conservatism was gradually becoming a prevailing trend: there was Orban in Hungary, Duda and Kaczynski in Poland, Erdogan in Turkey, Brexit in the UK, and statements about "the end of the welfare state" by Willem-Alexander, King of the Netherlands. The Presidential elections in France are still to come, where, most likely, Gaullists or nationalists will win (that is either conservatives or ultra-conservatives), as well as elections to the German Bundestag that could also throw up some surprises. In these circumstances, there was nothing unusual about Trump's victory, nor was it beyond the scope of the world process: this victory just deprived the supporters of the old, liberal-democratic model of the world of their main stronghold. That is why we are seeing one of the main ideologists of the "open society", George Soros, fervently trying to build opposition to Trump.

If Hillary Clinton had won the elections in the United States, it would not have stopped the new trend. Her victory would have only slightly slowed down what was already advancing: the world has got tired of excessive liberalism, which has already lost its constructive beginning and has turned into a movement for "openness for its own sake". All the movements for the rights of sexual minorities, huge grants allocated for degenerative forms of art, attempts to depersonalize society, debates about "tolerance" and "multiculturalism" will lead to distorted consequences. An increase in the number of suicides in seemingly prosperous countries, such as Sweden, Switzerland and Norway. The mass proliferation of different quasi-religious groups — against a backdrop of the closure of churches in Europe, and the conversion of churches into shops and hotels. Destruction of the concept of family. Devaluation of the sovereignty of states and establishment of the cult of supranational unions. A striking example is the new mythology about "the prospects of the European Union and hopelessness of national states in Europe"...

When somebody says that Trump is the consequence of some "mental fracture" in American society, I want to argue: no, on the contrary, Trump is just evidence of a gradual recovery of society. Trump is a harbinger of a return to traditional values. His Gettysburg Address made in October 2016 (similar to the Gettysburg Speech by Abraham Lincoln) emphasised a number of really important points: the US needs to deal with its internal political processes and not to impose its own style around the world; it is necessary to limit the number of migrants, to create new jobs, to restore production in the country, to reduce the number of taxes, to overcome the influence of parasitizing groups – "Washington lobbyists" and to win back its former glory.

For people like Soros, this program is equal to death: it would deprive him and his fellow thinkers of influence on the decision-making processes in the White House, as well as limited opportunities for expansion in the world. "To be busy with arrangements in their own house instead of going with their own charter to someone else's monastery," – this is how Trump's position could be rephrased.

That is why Soros revolted against the apparent prospects of his concepts' failure. In his debate with Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, Trump said: "The two ... Senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III". Yet, then the meaning of what has been going on in the world in recent years, particularly in the Middle East and in Ukraine, is lost. (Remember how the Ukrainian media and pro-government politicians praised McCain and Graham as almost the main lobbyists of Ukrainian interests in Washington?)

"We do not know exactly what is happening in Ukraine," summed up the new US President. And this is a wake-up call for the Ukrainian elite that over the last three years have become accustomed to being under the auspices of the American administration. The Ukrainian government has encountered a major problem – a lack of its own subjectivity. It always happens to regimes that are based on external support. And it is an obvious fact that a certain version of the African-Latin American society model of the 1970s has been built in Ukraine. A country with corruption, an overextended military budget (a large part of which does not reach its intended purpose), a country whose economy depends on the IMF and the foreign policy on the US Department of State, a country whose ordinary citizens live in shocking poverty, with persecution of the opposition and free media, with state propaganda, with high crime rates and attempts to replace the canonical Church with different sects (like the cult of voodoo introduced by dictator Duvalier as the official religion in Haiti to replace Christianity) – such a country cannot be called “European”.

So, where is the way out?

The way out is in the union of active and responsible citizens who continue to believe in their country, who see their future here and do not think about emigration.

Before I became a citizen of Ukraine, I thought about the fate of the country, which has long been in a state of internal strife and civil war, losing perspective as a result. The individualism of Ukrainian politicians, a tendency to ego-centrism and the struggle for personal glory invariably lead to one thing: Vygovsky was dethroned by Teteria, Teteria was deposed by Briukhovetsky, and Briukhovetsky was overthrown by Doroshenko. This often happened through the use of external forces and corruption (an example of that is Mazepa who bought his hetmanship from Prince Golitsyn). Yet, this leapfrog against the background of the world's major changes (think: the "Ruin of Ukraine" coincided with the Golden Age in Europe, times of Louis XIV, the Glorious Revolution in England, the development of Prussia, the Tsardom of Muscovy, Sweden) doomed the Ukrainian Cossack elite to a marginal existence. The world was moving forward, while the Ukrainian hetmen were engaged in clarifying their main issue: whose power is above all power? Global changes – the gradual triumph of conservatism over demo-liberalism, the weakening of US influence in Eastern Europe, the failure of European integration as some new ideological paradigm for the post-Soviet space, the vacuum in relations between Ukraine and Russia — these create the preconditions for the start of internal changes in Ukrainian society.

The new state policy should rely on the three pillars on which all the diplomatic, economic and socio-political activities of our country should be based. The first pillar is economic pragmatism coming from the interests of the Ukrainian people. It is neither the IMF nor Western donors who should dictate a line of conduct to us, but only the interests of the people. Economic pragmatism is a way to minimize the pressure of the state on business. It means the solidarity of all strata of society and social responsibility of business, a struggle for new markets, including the Russian market and CIS regional markets that are currently closed to us. The slogan "Enrich yourselves!" that in the 1920s brought The Soviet Union from ruin and starvation to a new era of prosperity, should become the slogan of today.

Second, is the political realism that dictates to Ukraine the need to prioritise the issues of consolidating society, finding a way out of the crisis, restructuring the system, including the adoption of a new Constitution of Ukraine (by the way, the Opposition Bloc, was the first among the political parties of Ukraine to develop its own version of the Basic Law), the solution of pressing issues with our neighbours through political negotiations, and most importantly, the realisation of peace and compromise in the East of the country. Peace should become a fundamental principle for further development. The country should move away from its wartime footing, trust should be reinstated in the relations between citizens (which will be extremely difficult to do). Citizens must realise that the main enemy of Ukraine is not Russia, but rather the narrow-mindedness and pettiness of the elite, unprofessionalism of policy and decision makers, internal strife, inability to set specific goals and lack of critical thinking.

Third, is a sound conservatism. Respect for traditions, history, the canonical Church, languages ​​and cultures of all peoples living in Ukraine – this is the cornerstone. Meddling in this area, including attempts to form a schism in the Church, by politicians to create an artificial puppet Church, to impose new heroes in the guise of Bandera and Shukhevych, to trample on the memory of those who who fought in the Second World War, to turn history upside down, prescribing the language of communication and filmmaking, - this is the path to a dead end, it is extremism.

These three components should definitely become the basis for the unification process of the citizens of Ukraine, the basis for a new political movement.

A remarkable Ukrainian poet of the sixties, Vasyl Symonenko, in his poem dedicated to Ukraine said: "Let the United States and Russia be silent when I speak with you!". We must learn to speak with Ukraine without looking back at what was dictated from Washington or Moscow, from Brussels or any other political centre. Yes, we should keep up with the global mainstream and follow the spirit of the time, be up-to-date and progressive. However, this does not mean that we should repeat the mistakes of the authorities, swimming with the stream, not having our own "I", and relying on the chance (hit or miss): "Maybe Clinton will win!", "Maybe Russia will fall apart!", "Perhaps, we will be given a one billion dollar loan!".

The world is changing. It is time for Ukraine to change itself. To change for the better. I believe that reason will finally prevail over emotions.

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