Latest Articles


23.04.2014
Nadia Urbinati

Between hegemony and mistrust

Representative democracy in the Internet era

Iceland's crowd-sourced constitution and the impact of Beppe Grillo's blog on Italian politics reveal how "Internet democracy" has opened a new phase of democratic innovation. The relationship between citizens and politicians may never be the same again. [Italian version added] [ more ]

23.04.2014
Ouidyane Elouardaoui

Behind the scenes of pan-Arabism

23.04.2014
Judy Radul

Marquee Moon

18.04.2014
William E Scheuerman

Civil disobedience for an age of total surveillance

New Issues


23.04.2014

Glänta | 4/2013

TV
23.04.2014

Arena | 2/2014

Velpellarnas vakuum
18.04.2014

Mittelweg 36 | 2/2014

Von Walden Pond nach Waikiki Beach

Eurozine Review


09.04.2014
Eurozine Review

Whoever shoots first loses

"Krytyka" says the protests in Ukraine should make the EU realize it has a global mission; "Prostory" documents the Maidan; "Osteuropa" warns it's high time to focus on the Polish extreme Right; "New Eastern Europe" locates the last frontier of Kundera's Central Europe; "Free Speech Debate" says hate speech bans have no place in fully fledged democracies; "Spilne" anticipates a socialist moment in the western system; "Merkur" analyses the capitalist persona: from civilizing force to the root of all evil; "Kulturos barai" ponders how to survive technology; "Revolver Revue" refuses to forget the Jews lost to the Nazis but erased under Czech communism; and "Dilema veche" asks who's afraid of Romanians and Bulgarians?

26.03.2014
Eurozine Review

Breaking the anthropic cocoon

12.03.2014
Eurozine Review

When TV regimes kick in

26.02.2014
Eurozine Review

Goodbye Gutenberg Galaxy!

12.02.2014
Eurozine Review

The new wretched of the earth



http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2011-05-02-newsitem-en.html
http://mitpress.mit.edu/0262025248
http://www.eurozine.com/about/who-we-are/contact.html
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2009-12-02-newsitem-en.html

My Eurozine


If you want to be kept up to date, you can subscribe to Eurozine's rss-newsfeed or our Newsletter.

Articles
Share |


Blindspots

On international support for Euromaidan

Leading academics signed an open letter supporting the Euromaidan protests and European values at the turn of 2014. One might have expected a more critical and nuanced position of them, writes Volodymyr Ishchenko. For they ignore the role of the far right in the Ukrainian public sphere at their peril.

Recently a number of internationally recognized scholars and public intellectuals signed a letter in full support of the Euromaidan protests, backing "Ukrainian society" against the "Ukrainian government". Zygmunt Bauman, Ulrich Beck, Craig Calhoun, Claus Offe, Saskia Sassen, Charles Taylor, Michel Wieviorka, Slavoj Zizek and many others celebrated the "legal" and "peaceful" protests embodying, as they claimed, "the best European values". They demanded a "Marshall-like plan" for Ukraine, and expressed the hope that, if welcomed into the EU, Ukrainians would help to build "a new Europe and a fairer world".

Leader of the Ukrainian party "Svoboda" Oleh Tyahnybok speaks to protesters during the rally of the opposition on Independence Square in Kyiv on 5 December 2013. Next to him on the left: Vitali Klitschko of the UDAR party. Photo: jbor. Source: Shutterstock


Unfortunately, the letter shows an unacceptable level of simplification and misrepresentation of the very contradictory nature of the Ukrainian protests, which have exhibited very dangerous trends that will only be given greater legitimacy if they go unrecognized by such esteemed academics.

Ukraine in focus




This article is part of the Focal Point Ukraine in focus.

Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive that cover the background to today's situation in Ukraine. [ more ]
There is little doubt that Viktor Yanukovych's rule is corrupt. It stands for the interests of the wealthiest in Ukraine's highly unequal society and is responsible for the brutal suppression of the oppositional protests. The majority of protesting Ukrainians coming to the rallies hope for a just, fair and democratic society even if naively connecting this hope to an idealized "Europe".

Yet Euromaidan is not a conflict between the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian society as a whole. Just before the protests began, Ukrainian society was almost evenly split between the proponents and opponents of the EU Association Agreement. In early November, the EU and the Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia each had the support of roughly 40 per cent of Ukrainian citizens while, at the same time, many citizens supported both agreements simultaneously and others rejected both of them.[1] Even after the instances of police brutality against the Euromaidan protesters, various polls have shown that between 40 and 50 per cent disapprove of the Euromaidan protesters.[2] The support for Euromaidan is heavily concentrated in the western and central Ukrainian regions, while Ukrainians living in the east and the south of the country, where heavy industry is concentrated, overwhelmingly disapprove of the protests. They are justifiably worried about the consequences for their jobs and well-being in the face of both the increased competition accompanying free trade with the EU and the severing of economic links with former Soviet countries. They reject not democracy but the structural adjustment and austerity measures that come with IMF credit, which are not all that different to those that recently prompted protests involving even larger numbers of protesters on the streets of various cities in the EU. To present the position of just one half of the population as that of Ukrainian society as a whole while silencing the voice of the other half is a misleading and undemocratic exercise of the discursive power legitimized by high academic statuses.

Demonstrators direct a hose at militia ranged outside Kyiv City Hall, 11 December 2013. Photo: Smerus (David Conway). Source: Wikipedia


Although Ukrainian riot police actions were undeniably brutal and the Ukrainian government has so far failed to punish all those responsible for the violent dispersal of the protest camp on 30 November, the Euromaidan protesters themselves were not entirely peaceful either. Occupying the Kyiv City Hall building was not legal and neither was the dismantling of the Lenin monument, an act of vandalism of which the majority of Kyiv inhabitants disapproved. For several hours on 1 December 2013, protesters violently stormed the unarmed police line near the presidential administration building, until they were finally attacked by the riot police, resulting in the bloodiest street confrontation in the history of independent Ukraine, with more than 300 people injured.[3] Despite the popular version blaming the violence on "provocateurs", numerous investigations show that the overwhelming majority of attackers hailed from the far right and neo-Nazi militants belonging to the so-called "rightwing sector", which unites various nationalist groups participating in Euromaidan.[4]

Surprisingly, the open letter signed by established academics, many of whom are mainly politically progressive, ignores the extent of far-right involvement in the Ukrainian protests. One of the major forces at Euromaidan is the far-right xenophobic party "Svoboda" ("Freedom"). They are dominant among the volunteering guards of the protest camp and are the vanguard of the most radical street actions, such as the occupation of the administrative buildings in central Kyiv. Before 2004, "Svoboda" was known as the Social-National Party of Ukraine and used the Nazi "Wolfsangel" symbol. The party leader Oleh Tiahnybok is still known for his anti-Semitic speech. Even after re-branding, Svoboda has been seeking cooperation with neo-Nazi and neo-fascist European parties such as the NDP in Germany and Forza nuova in Italy.[5] Its rank-and-file militants are frequently involved in street violence and hate crimes against migrants and political opponents.[6]

At Euromaidan, particularly, far-right attackers assaulted a left-wing student group attempting to bring social-economic and gender equality issues to the protest.[7] Several days later, a far-right mob beat and seriously injured two trade union activists, accusing them of being "communists".[8] Slogans previously connected with far-right subculture, such as "Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!", "Glory to the nation! Death to enemies!", "Ukraine above all!" (an adaptation of Deutschland über alles) have now become mainstream among the protestors.[9] On 1 January 2014, "Svoboda" organized a torchlit march to celebrate the birthday of Stepan Bandera – the leader of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists, which for a certain period collaborated with Nazis, participated in the Holocaust and was responsible for the genocide of Poles in western Ukraine. To keep quiet about this dark side of Euromaidan, presenting it as a model of "civic maturity" and "the best of European values", only serves to legitimize xenophobes and neo-fascists and helps them to win hegemony within Ukrainian civil society.

Certainly Euromaidan cannot be reduced to the fascist riot that the hostile Russian media frequently presents it as. The level of civic self-organization in the protest camp is impressive and the mass rallies are gathering hundreds of thousands of people who are not involved in any political parties or even civic organizations but who are hoping for fundamental change in the name of the European Dream. However, the only political representation that the protests have to call upon are Ukraine's three main opposition parties: one of them is the far-right "Svoboda", the other two (led by Arseniy Yatseniuk and Vitali Klitchko) are full of people who have already discredited themselves when in power after the "Orange revolution", and are connected to certain Ukrainian oligarchs. They have neither the intention, nor the ability to bring about socio-economic reform of the Ukrainian model of oligarchic neoliberal capitalism. If Euromaidan succeeds, these very parties, and no one else, will come to power. To ignore this fact and to celebrate blindly, without proper analysis, any old alternative to the current regime, corrupt and brutal as it is, is politically irresponsible.

Ukrainian progressive grassroots movements and civic organizations do really need international support in defence of the social-economic rights of impoverished Ukrainian citizens and in building genuine political representation from below. But pathetic and superficial words about "European values" and naive castle-in-the-air proposals for a "Marshall-like plan" for Ukraine at a time when the EU is willing but unable to help Greece and other southern European economies in crisis will not help these movements and organizations in any way. From celebrated intellectuals and academics one would have expected a critical and nuanced position, raising and examining all these important, albeit unpleasant, issues. Remaining silent on them will only provide discredited politicians and the Ukrainian far right with more legitimacy in their struggle for power.

 



Published 2014-01-10


Original in English
First published in LeftEast, 7 January 2014 (this is an edited version of that text)

Contributed by Spilne
© Volodymyr Ishchenko
© Eurozine
 

Focal points     click for more

Ukraine in focus

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
Ten years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine is in the throes of yet another major struggle. Eurozine provides commentary on events as they unfold and further articles from the archive providing background to the situation in today's Ukraine. [more]

The ends of democracy

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/democracy.html
At a time when the global pull of democracy has never been stronger, the crisis of democracy has become acute. Eurozine has collected articles that make the problems of democracy so tangible that one starts to wonder if it has a future at all, as well as those that return to the very basis of the principle of democracy. [more]

Russia in global dialogue

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In the two decades after the end of the Cold War, intellectual interaction between Russia and Europe has intensified. It has not, however, prompted a common conversation. The focal point "Russia in global dialogue" seeks to fuel debate on democracy, society and the legacy of empire. [more]

Hungary

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
In recent years, Hungary has been a constant concern for anyone interested in European politics. We have collected articles published in Eurozine on recent developments in Hungary and broader issues relating to Hungarian politics, history and culture. [more]

The public sphere in the making

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/publicsphere.html
The public sphere is not something given; it is made - over and over again. But which actors are involved and what roles do they play? Is there a difference between an intellectual and an expert? And in which media or public space does the debate take place? [more]

The EU: Broken or just broke?

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/focalpoints/eurocrisis.html
Brought on by the global economic recession, the eurocrisis has been exacerbated by serious faults built into the monetary union. Contributors discuss whether the EU is not only broke, but also broken -- and if so, whether Europe's leaders are up to the task of fixing it. [more]

Time to Talk     click for more

Time to Talk, a network of European Houses of Debate, has partnered up with Eurozine to launch a new online platform. Here you can watch video highlights from all TTT events, anytime, anywhere.
Robert Skidelsky
The Eurozone crisis: A Keynesian response

http://www.eurozine.com/timetotalk/the-eurozone-crisis-a-keynesian-response/
Political economist and Keynes biographer Robert Skidelsky explains the reasons for the failure of the current anti-crisis policy and how Europe can start to grow again. Listen to the full debate organized by Krytyka Polityczna. [more]

Support Eurozine     click for more

If you appreciate Eurozine's work and would like to support our contribution to the establishment of a European public sphere, see information about making a donation.

Vacancies at Eurozine     click for more

There are currently no positions available.

Editor's choice     click for more

Marcus Rediker
Ghosts on the waterfront

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2012-07-27-rediker-en.html
Historian Marcus Rediker describes the sailing ship as linchpin of the emergent transatlantic economic order and instrument of terror for slaves transported from Africa, going on to discuss European harbour cities' role in the slave trade and their responsibilities in reckoning with its moral legacy. [more]

Literature     click for more

Olga Tokarczuk
A finger pointing at the moon

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2014-01-16-tokarczuk-en.html
Our language is our literary destiny, writes Olga Tokarczuk. And "minority" languages provide a special kind of sanctuary too, inaccessible to the rest of the world. But, there again, language is at its most powerful when it reaches beyond itself and starts to create an alternative world. [more]

Piotr Kiezun, Jaroslaw Kuisz
Literary perspectives special: Witold Gombrowicz

http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2013-08-16-kuisz-en.html
The recent publication of the private diary of Witold Gombrowicz provides unparalleled insight into the life of one of Poland's great twentieth-century novelists and dramatists. But this is not literature. Instead: here he is, completely naked. [more]

Literary perspectives
The re-transnationalization of literary criticism

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/literaryperspectives.html
Eurozine's series of essays aims to provide an overview of diverse literary landscapes in Europe. Covered so far: Croatia, Sweden, Austria, Estonia, Ukraine, Northern Ireland, Slovenia, the Netherlands and Hungary. [more]

Debate series     click for more

Europe talks to Europe

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/europetalkstoeurope.html
Nationalism in Belgium might be different from nationalism in Ukraine, but if we want to understand the current European crisis and how to overcome it we need to take both into account. The debate series "Europe talks to Europe" is an attempt to turn European intellectual debate into a two-way street. [more]

Conferences     click for more

Eurozine emerged from an informal network dating back to 1983. Since then, European cultural magazines have met annually in European cities to exchange ideas and experiences. Around 100 journals from almost every European country are now regularly involved in these meetings.
Making a difference. Opinion, debate and activism in the public sphere
The 25th European Meeting of Cultural Journals
Oslo, 29 November - 2 December 2013

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/oslo2013.html
Under the heading "Making a difference. Opinion, debate and activism in the public sphere", the 2013 Eurozine conference focused on cultural and intellectual debate and the production of the public sphere. [more]

Multimedia     click for more

http://www.eurozine.com/comp/multimedia.html
Multimedia section including videos of past Eurozine conferences in Vilnius (2009) and Sibiu (2007). [more]


powered by publick.net