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I Can’t Not Write
If Russia wants out of the current impasse, it can't compete at the hatred game
I need to write to my friends, my colleagues, to tell them what I think about this situation. First, I’ll explain why I must write — there are several reasons.
First of these, this situation personally tears me apart. For me, Russia and Ukraine are not two countries. They are two parts of me, or one me, rudely broken, cut into two parts. When I read about startled Europe, the USA, Canada (Slovakia, Poland, Great Britain, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries “suffering” for Ukraine), I know that all their “sympathy” and “compassion” is nothing compared to the horror and the pain that I and my two peoples are experiencing, drawn more and more into this fratricidal conflict, from which in the end only we, Russians and Ukrainians, will suffer. We are now shooting at each other and we will pay for all this for a long time to come. This is the first reason. But, I do not believe in tears, as there is little value in crying.
Now, secondly, how did we come to such a life and what led us to this abyss, to this dead-end? We have been marching in this direction since the collapse of the USSR, and we have been marching in friendly ranks all together: Europeans, Russians, Ukrainians. You can, of course, try to absolve yourself of responsibility and say that we were led there by cunning, malicious Americans, or global capital, or the world behind the scenes, or someone else. Probably, of course, someone led. But someone always wants to lead or drive someone somewhere. Why did we all march where we didn’t need to, and where we finally ended the march? I want to warn you right away — I'm not going to please anyone, adapt to anyone, or choose any master. That is not what is important. Now, we have to go against the current and try to tell the truth, as best as we understand it.
So, about our common mistakes. After the collapse of the USSR, a new political reality emerged. It arose not because Lenin did something wrong from 1917-1922. It arose because the USSR had to choose how to develop further, and in what direction the system should evolve when entering the information age. Under these conditions, she could not maintain a clumsy industrial-planned, rigidly centralized system, she could not be cut off from the world technologically, informationally and financially, she could not maintain the former cave ideology, which obviously had nothing to do with reality. And it was Moscow that started the transformation processes. They included democratization, transition to the market, information openness and inclusion in the world economic system. I repeat, in this transformation there was an urgent economic, political and technological need, connected with the development and further survival of the country in new technological conditions, no matter how nostalgic we were for the USSR.
Here is not the place to consider the question of whether this transformation was possible without the collapse of the USSR (I think, under certain conditions, it would be possible), but whatever happened, happened. The ruling communist elites could not agree on who would be in charge in the context of impending privatization and, in order not to squabble, they quickly and quietly divided the spheres of control. About what would happen to the people later — how these pieces of a rigidly centralized economy and politics, which have suddenly turned into “independent national states” in one night, populated by an essentially single, albeit multinational people, will develop and interact — none of the elites, of course, worried. And robbery and discord began under the guise of democratization, privatization and market reforms. This happened everywhere. Of course, in encouraging people who are still united by a common cultural past and family ties to rise against each other in bloody conflicts, all methods fit. The best method, of course, is the use of “holy feelings of national pride.” National pride is generally a powerful thing, especially if one’s eyes fill with blood and they feel a drive to “waste” someone.
And this drive to “waste” is felt more and more, because the economy, cut up and pulled apart offshore, does not leave much hope for a normal, well-fed life. But, this drive is not directed at those who pulled the country apart. Instead, it is directed at the ukri, vatniki, moskoli, chebureks, and others who are allowed to kill and be killed and even behind the scenes or openly (this is different everywhere) encouraged. It isn’t only their greedy privatizers who are encouraging them. Other characters who are happy to join the process of duping and playing loved ones against each other in bloody conflicts. Don’t forget, cockroaches come running in droves to where there is a lot of garbage, where the house is neglected, where everyone is just littering and no one is ready to stop eating with their hands and start talking to each other, negotiate and put things in order. No matter how fashionable it is now in some “patriotic circles” in Russia to lay the blame on the Americans, on their militaristic elite, and more broadly on the “greedy Europeans” (I'll talk about them later), who invade, wedge into our rifts and pump weapons and conflicts tearing us apart like information bombs, I’ll say a banal thing. We do not have to put up with this.
If you squabble with each other about property and can’t just sit down and agree, why should you be surprised that others are not averse to taking advantage of this? Why did you decide that they would think more of you, than you would of yourselves? The number one lesson for Russia from the past thirty years is that if you want to be traded with, to be respected and recognized in the world, if you want to be strong, first of all, do not neglect economically, politically and culturally your closest surroundings.
In pursuit of real dollars, we, as two countries, neglected this wisdom of our ancestors and forgot about it. And now we’re paying for it at the highest price, with the blood of Russian and Ukrainian boys in a fratricidal war. It’s difficult to realize this when the rockets are already firing and compassionate patriots and democrats are pumping us full of weapons from all sides, but it’s necessary. There is no other way.
Now, about our European and American “brothers and sisters.” I put these words in quotation marks, but in fact, ordinary people all over the world really are our brothers and sisters. Even from our personal lives, we know that it is a simple thing to turn friends into enemies. I ask the question, is this beneficial for Russia? And I answer, no, it’s not profitable. So, we turn on our brains and think not about how to justify love for fellow citizens by inciting hatred of others, but how to make Russian and Ukrainian people united by a sense of respect (which is actually the main condition for political success). Don’t confuse respect with squeamish pseudo-pity. This is all I have to write about Russians and Ukrainians, i.e. about two absolutely equal parts of myself.
And now, as promised, I’ll say a few words about Europeans and Americans. After the crisis and collapse of the eastern “socialist” pole in the Cold War, Western elites suddenly found themselves in a difficult situation, an “accidental victory.” The truth is that they didn’t want this victory at all, they felt very comfortable having a stable and predictable “enemy” that provided them with a common evil and the opportunity to pump in unlimited amounts of excess funds into military production that is absolutely unnecessary for people to live, while receiving huge profits. And then suddenly, like snow falling on one’s head - there was an unexpected “victory.” Actually, there was no victory, of course, the USSR simply began to transform, and rebuild in accordance with the challenges of the time and the need for development. But any restructuring is always a temporary weakening, a child is born weak, but if “weak” initially small human beings were not born, the human race would not have the strength to survive. And although Zbignew Brzezinski immediately, rather nervously, suggested that this transformation of the USSR be attributed to the United States as a victory in the Cold War, all the same, a feeling of general anxiety and confusion did not leave the “sudden winners.” What to do with all the Sovietologists now, all those Centers for the Study of the Enemy, the experts in the Russian language? Why are there still so many weapons? Most importantly, how can European allies be rallied around the United States, if the USSR is disintegrating, and Russia is becoming an open market democracy?
After a short period of confusion, petty corruption, and feeding of the remaining pieces of what was left of the USSR to the post-Soviet elite and the oligarchy, an idea was pulled out of the dusty bag of “civilizational theories” to justify a new conflict based on an “insurmountable difference” of civilizational values. From another, no less dusty bag, neoliberalism was taken out as the main condition for democratization and modernization, and an alternative to socialization.
But the main focus, the greatest geopolitical doodad for restoring the slogan of nationalism came in the form of Russophobia, which was necessary to rally Europe around the US military-industrial complex, and was connected with the development and promotion of the slogan of nationalism in the post-Soviet space. What are the global advantages of Russophobia? Firstly, because it is not Nazism. If you hate Jews on ethnic grounds, you are a Nazi, but if you hate Russians on ethnic grounds, you are a supporter of democracy, humanism and human rights. This is very convenient and vice versa if you are a supporter of democracy, humanism and human rights, you are obliged to hate Russians as genetic enemies of humanism (Tolstoy and Dostoevsky are an unfortunate exception, and they are not completely Russian, besides, they are not particularly read in the West), democracy and human rights. In the name of these same great European values, the extermination of these sub-humans from sub-civilization can also be allowed.
When I write about this, I hear a wave of hissing. Are you justifying a special operation, a war, with all these words? I answer directly and bluntly: no, I do not justify and do not accept. Do you accept a crusade against “vatniki” in the name of humanism and democracy? Are you accepting pouring oil on this burning fire? If not, why is the question not being raised about measures to stop NATO’s military escalation in Europe, to use the contradictions between Ukraine and Russia to push them to intensify the conflict. Why, instead of calls for pan-European negotiations to ensure our pan-European security “in the name of humanism,” are they pumping up military equipment and inciting hatred under the slogans of defending freedom and democracy? Who benefits from setting Ukraine against Russia, Russia against Ukraine, Europe against Russia? Certainly not Europe, not Russia and not Ukraine. But someone who does not fight, who does not send his children to be slaughtered, who will not swallow radioactive dust, is the one who will be the happy owner of this political “Oscar for Humanism and Democracy.”
I am absolutely sure that Russia will not succeed in ensuring its security, in overcoming the conflict in Ukraine in Donetsk and Luhansk, and with the task given to them by all of the people who really want to resolve this conflict and prevent a slide into disaster, by competing in the game of Russophobia, Europhobia, or Ukrainophobia. Instead, Russia can only succeed if it takes steps in the exact opposite direction. It must sit down at the negotiating table in Europe and look for ways out of the impasse into which we have been driven, and have all gone together.