Don’t listen to this video by Neil De Grasse Tyson if your eyes are prone to sweating. It is not particularly optimism-inducing.
Fuck Putin and all other warmongers, fascists, and fascism-enablers everywhere.
One of the resident Russofascists has derided the above-mentioned phrase as militant nationalism and thus inherently baddy bad bad. Which baffled me immensely.
I am not fond of nationalism in any shape or form, militant or otherwise. However, we live in a world where most people have some national identity, usually centered around culture – language, art, history, and, sometimes, military power. That is an undeniable fact and nations, despite being social constructs, are undeniably also real entities. And trying to deny a nation a right to exist and engaging in behaviors toward ending its existence is internationally recognized as genocide. Which is arguably doubly baddy bad bad.
Pointing to the usage of the phrase in history and finding some unsavory groups that have used it is historically interesting, but I would argue that it is not particularly relevant to the actual context in which the phrase is being used. There are many phrases throughout history that were used by unsavory groups and it is silly to try and discredit a word or a phrase because it was used at some point in history by for example fascists. For example it is daft beyond measure when Republicans try to discredit the word socialism because Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei contains it, and it is equally daft to try and discredit the phrase Слава Україні! because Bandera was using it.
When it comes to words, context always matters. So lets look at the context in which the phrase Слава Україні! is currently used and how much sense opposing its use because “militant nationalism bad” makes.
One of the given reasons for the current Russian invasion of Ukraine is that the Ukrainian nation does not exist, Ukrainians are just misguided Russians. Unlike other given reasons, this one is probably honestly believed by Putin and his closest circle, possibly even by a lot of Russians at large. And since Ukrainians are really Russians they need either to accept this or to be killed
In other words, the goal of the invasion is the annexation of the Ukrainian state and either assimilation or genocide of the Ukrainian people. Thus the war did not start as opposition to Ukrainian militant nationalism – Ukraine never posed any militant threat to Russia and Russia (Putin) knows it – it started as a result of Russian aggressive militant nationalism. And that is the context in which the phrase is currently used – to bolster and acknowledge the resolve and bravery of the Ukrainian people when faced with genocide.
Opposing the phrase because “militant nationalism bad” thus makes no sense, definitively not without opposing the Russian aggression too. Without Russian meddling in Ukrainian affairs and without the centuries-long history of Russian genocides (yes, plural, Russians did perform multiple genocides in a few centuries, some more successful than others) there would be no need for militant Ukrainian nationalism. Without Russia constantly threatening Ukraine, the most aggressive demonstration of Ukrainian nationalism would probably be shouting at sports stadiums, like with most nationalisms in current Europe. It is Russia who inserted the need for militancy. It is Russia who unilaterally started the conflict, and it is also Russia who can unilaterally stop it.
Thus I, although I deeply dislike nationalism, say Слава Україні! and I will keep saying it until Russia stops the genocide and lets the Ukrainian people live in peace, choose their allies and decide their own affairs.
There is a looooong Russian history of ethnic cleansing. They are a bit subler about it, perhaps, than the USA used to be and certainly subtler than Hitler was. It is a Russian thing to displace by force people from somewhere to somewhere else far of, where some of them might survive and eventually some of their descendants might come back a generation later. In the meantime, the land acquires a significant Russian population. That is one of the reasons why Crimea is “Russian”, and why there are significant Russian minorities in the Baltic states. And Putin now hones this old fine Russian art to its most finest.
It was so even before the “partial” mobilization and even more so now – the people who are most likely to be drafted into the military and sent into the meat grinder are ethnic minorities from Russian colonies.
Yes, you read that right. I wrote colonies. People seem not to realize that while Spain and Portugal were busy colonizing South America, the USA were genociding Indians and everybody else was busy dividing among themselves Africa, the Middle East, the Pacific, and southern Asia, Russia has quietly run their conquest, and colonization in Siberia. Siberia is not Russian territory occupied by Russians. It is a vast landmass occupied by dozens of different nations, both large-ish and small. Some of the smaller nations (some are counting just a few thousand people by now) are supposed to be exempted from military drafts, but the “partial” mobilization is trying to sweep them up even so (there is no such thing as a rule of law in a totalitarian regime ruled by an autocratic despot).
In a sense, Russia and the USA are the only empires that kept hold of most of their ill-gotten territories. In part maybe because their colonies cover a continuous surface of most of a continent, which makes it easier to kill off, displace or keep a hold on the local population – an uprising next door is easier to quell than an uprising half a globe away.
Putin is now not only attempting to expand the empire and to genocide Ukrainians – who are luckily giving him a hard time with it – but he also is doing his best to weaken the other nations in the Russian Federation whilst doing so. It might be just a coincidence, he might just be trying to avoid sending people from around Moscow and St. Petersburg, whom he needs to hold onto power and whose support might be shaken if their relatives start returning home in bags or not at all. But it might be deliberate too. Either way, he is really trying to be efficacious at this genocide stuff, what a chap!
I still don’t get how anyone who thinks of themselves being a leftist can support him though. I thought that leftists are supposed to be for the unlucky, the poor, the dispossessed etc. Supporting an autocrat juggling genocides for fun seems at odds with that.
War is ugly. War is messy. In a war, there always are and will be innocent lives destroyed, civilians killed, civilian infrastructure damaged. Hitting an occasional hospital or a school is inevitable even if the soldiers are trying their best to not do so. Hitting several hospitals and schools already indicates either callous disregard with regard to what you are shooting at or gross incompetence and really poor aim/intel.
The Russians have so far managed to hit nearly two dozen health care buildings and several hundred schools. And these are only those that were confirmed with pictorial evidence, the real number undoubtedly will be higher.
The tankies very much like to argue that the Russian military is doing their best to not hit civilian targets, that they are indeed showing “remarkable restraint” in this regard and not “carpet bombing Ukraine like NATO would”.
Well, if this is really is the best that the Russian military can do, if they really, really, really hard trying to not hit any civilian targets, then there is only one conclusion possible – that the Russian military is incompetent, half the time does not know what they are shooting at and the other half keep missing.
I personally do not think that the Russian military is that grossly incompetent. I think that the Russian top brass and the tankies are just lying about that “remarkable” restraint.
When a tankie complained on Pharyngula -click- it was instantly funny – in a sad, sad way – but it was made even funnier – in an even more sad way – later on when this particular tankie openly condoned the current Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Tankie”, just like “TERF” is not a meaningless slur whose only purpose is to offend and insult. It is a descriptive term whose negative connotations stem entirely from context, i.e. from the repulsive, disgusting, and, frankly, downright evil attitudes of the person being described as such. If you are being offended by being called either of those two terms, the remedy is easy – stop displaying attitudes that fit the definition of the term.
True, “Tankie” originally meant leftists who supported the use of military force by the USSR government to quell popular reforms in Hungary and Czechoslovakia in the 50s and 60s of the last century. The reforms were simply deemed not in alignment with what USSR wanted so a military intervention was called in. Even though the Czechoslovakian Prague Spring was being entirely peaceful and democratic and above all socialist right until the tanks rolled in. Dubček was simply not the right kind of socialist for the authoritarian regime that had all the answers and did not need to reconsider anything, ever.
Applying the term to people who support current Russia’s use of tanks to subjugate a country when the will of its people strays from what Russia’s government thinks is in alignment with its interests is just logical evolution of its use.
And when a cheerleader for a brutal totalitarian regime invokes Orwell to criticize the spontaneous use of a term that aptly describes people cheering for a brutal totalitarian regime, it is just beyond ironic.
I have checked on one Ukrainian YouTuber whose videos I have occasionally enjoyed, although I was not a subscriber. Here is his extensive take on the conflict, accompanied with some first-hand information about the “not targeting civilian targets” lie, the “NATO expansion is the problem” canard, “denazification” misinformation, the victim-blaming, whataboutism, and others. For example – Russian tanks are shown to fire into apartment buildings. That is not an imprecise airstrike, that is a deliberate war crime.
I did not enjoy this video at all, but I watched it all all the same.
Content warning: war, violence, explosions. Video cannot be embedded thus -click-.
Video has hard-coded English subtitles. I do understand enough Ukrainian to confirm that they are correct.
These are the stages so far:
And just for not very funny fun, here is what I expect the next stages to be:
There are other narratives in the brewing, mind you:
I really do wonder where these will evolve, but I think I can make a guess – more troops, including conscripts and reservists, will be sent to the “not war”. And if Putin wins, some of the fallen and the survivors will be posthumously rewarded with “war hero” medals for their participation in this “not war”.
Why can I make such predictions? Because there is a narrative that has evolved to its final form in the past to be seen, and that is the annexation of Crimea:
The Russian top brass might be right about some of their counterpoints to the western narrative o the events, but they have lied so often and so blatantly that at this point even reading only their “side of the story” should anyone make deeply suspicious of trusting them. Alas, many people who are heavily emotionally invested in believing lies will continue to believe said lies even after the liar themselves admits they were lying (viz. Trumpists and similar).
If this is the “best to not kill civilians” that the Russian army is doing, then they are grossly incompetent. Over 1170 civilians dead in Mariupol, a maternity ward bombed to rubble. People are being put in mass graves because mortuaries are full. Those humanitarian corridors that were agreed? Don’t work, Russians keep shelling them with mortars.
Please note that I am not linking to anglophone media, nor is this particular medium controlled by Murdoch at all.
Further, what I did not know they only allow people to flee to Russia. Yeah, that’s right, a violent occupier allows the occupied people to escape only to the occupier’s territory.
I feel sick.
Wow. Just. Wow.
I know that the internet discussions are years being infested by pro-Russian trolls who are doing their best to disrupt any discourse, but I did not expect this. I have probably missed something, but I was taken completely by surprise when a long-time commenter on FtB went full fascist apologia. And these comments were the straw that broke the camel’s back for me and I have to respond:
So first (paragraph) thing first – why should anyone believe anything that Russia’s top brass are saying at this point? One does not need to go too far back to demonstrate that they are absolutely unashamedly lying about anything with a straight face. These are their statements as they recently evolved:
And I could go on much further with the blatant lies. There are even videos where Russian diplomats lie even when confronted with actual evidence of their lies.
These things are not a matter of opinion, these are facts on public record over just a few recent weeks. I mean, how fucking broken must your moral compass and your reasoning capabilities be to believe anything that Putin and his stooges say at this point? Sure, they might say the truth occasionally, just like a broken clock shows the right time twice a day.
I am sure that the Ukrainian side also lies for propaganda and after the war ends, if there still are historians, it will take them a lot of work to untangle where the actual truth lies. But right now any Russian in a position of power in the current regime is so trustworthy that when they wish you a “Good Morning” you should assume it’s night until proven otherwise with independent evidence.
The second paragraph flies in the face of actual pictorial and video evidence of residential areas being deliberately shelled and bombed. Further, I have a friend who worked with unguided earth-to-earth rocket launchers similar to the BM-30 Смерч that Russians are using in Kyiv. No matter what the current Russian propaganda says, those are not precision weapons for a precision striking of military targets, especially not in urban warfare. Those are scorched-earth weapons designed to stomp an area into nothing but craters and rubble. Using them on a military airport or convoy or some barracks in the countryside could be legitimate military use (as far as the word legitimate can be applied). Using them in a crowded city is a deliberate war crime intended to kill and terrorize civilians.
Sure, Russians say otherwise, but if anyone is inclined to believe them, I refer back to the first point.
Now for the last paragraph which actually got my blood boiling.
I do not like using rape in analogies because I have seen it used by dudebros to trivialize issues they deem unimportant and to trivialize rape at the same time, but in this particular case, I think the analogy is apt – saying this is analogous to blaming a rape victim for injuries because they did not submit to the rapist without a fight.
So let me stress this point – Ukrainian soldiers and civilians are not dying because Zelenskyy will not or cannot surrender, they are dying because Putin invaded Ukraine and is too power-hungry, too arrogant, and too proud to stop. In any conflict, it is the assailant who bears all the moral responsibility for damages incurred on the assaulted, never the other way around.
Further, this stinks of “ifonlysm“. The current conflict shows a striking resemblance to what has happened just before WW2, so we can actually look at what might have happened ifonly Ukraine gave Luhansk and Donetsk to Russia willingly and ifonly Zelensky went into exile and left Putin to install back his puppet Yanukovich. So let us do it.
The Sudeten Germans did face some discrimination in Czechoslovakia, there is absolutely no doubt about it. It could be argued that it was less than the discrimination Czechs and Slovaks faced in the former Austria-Hungary, but it was still discrimination and the Sudeten Germans did not like it. Solving such societal issues takes time and patience, with the occasional strike or civil disobedience thrown into the mix to wake politicians from their stupor and complacency, but they can be solved peacefully as long as you do not believe in quick fixes, which do not exist.
Hitler’s Germany did however offer a quick fix. With his guidance, instead of working to reach mutual agreements on a way to equality, the SdP fomented animosity between Germans and Czechs and always escalated demands to a level they knew cannot be reasonably met. At first, SdP lied about their connection with the Nazis. Then they lied about their intent to secede Sudeten from Czechoslovakia. Then they lied about receiving military support from Germany and forming paramilitary Sudetendeutsches Freikorps. Then they lied about said paramilitary performing terrorist actions within Czechoslovakia, intentionally provoking a forceful response from the Czechoslovakian government.
And then international powers that be decided to give them what they said they wanted and without consulting the Czechoslovakian government, they gave Sudeten to Germany. Not many people actually know that this was immediately followed by the Sudetendeutsches Freikorps actually escalating, not stopping, the violence. Most people probably do know that this did not stop Hitler from eventually annexing all of Czechoslovakia, directly governing Bohemia, and installing a puppet fascist regime in Slovakia, killing and enslaving scores of thousands of innocent civilians even when they did not even try and put up a fight.
This is because when a tyrant says they want this or that or they will have to resort to violence, they are always lying. Their stated goals are only seeking plausible deniability, a fig-leaf casus belli in order to expand their power. Violence is the goal because being able to inflict it without consequences demonstrates the tyrants’ power. And once they think they can get away with it, they stop bothering even with that pretense.
So no, ifonly Zelenskyy or Ukraine did or did not do this or that would probably have very little impact on what Putin would do. Ukrainian people were not given a choice between forceful invasion and peaceful lives, they were given a choice between forceful invasion and submitting to being second-class citizens licking Putin’s boot while it is crushing their necks nevertheless. Blaming them for putting up a fight is blaming the victim, pure and simple.
In case you are wondering why Putin is so hell-bent on capturing Kyiv, here is a very, very short summary for you.
Kyiv is not only the capital of the current Ukraine. That in itself would still make it a very important military target, but still not worth the fervor with which it is being attacked.
I grew up as a child with Slavic fairytales and Slavic mythology. And many of those fairytales and myths are centered around Kievan Rus’. A lot of literature that young Slavic people, especially East Slavic, read during their formational years are thus centered around this city. It is, in a very real sense, the cradle of East Slavic culture.
None of that of course excuses current atrocities being perpetrated by Путiн хуйло, but it does explain why he is throwing so many other people’s lives away in order to capture the city asap. If he succeeds – and I fear that is only a matter of time, alas – his propaganda could – and would – play it up way beyond and above its strategic importance.
This article might be misunderstood as an apologia for racism or a misdirection, so I must start it with a statement:
Please do not mistake an explanation for an excuse.
There is a lot of racism towards non-white people in all of Europe. It is strong in the Slavic nations and it is indeed very strong in Poland, which is currently ruled by a racist covert clerical-fascist party (which luckily does not have overwhelming majority support yet I might add). This does no doubt play a significant role in Poland’s willingness to accept Ukrainian refugees readily, whilst it was refusing Syrians staunchly for the last few years. A policy that I find abhorrent and which should never be in place. Czechia is guilty of the same thing and I oppose that too. I criticize my own government for this and I shall continue to do so.
However, that is most definitively not the sole reason and it might not even be the main reason in this particular case. In my opinion, the main reason here is not that Ukrainian refugees are white, but that the aggressor they are fleeing is Russia and the refugees are Slavs.
There is a lot of panslavic sentiment still floating around (I have written about it before). Slavic people do have a shared identity and they do feel some connection with each other. One of the reasons for that apart from some intelligibility of our languages is that most Slavic nations were oppressed minorities pretty much everywhere for several hundred years, many gaining independence from an oppressive regime only very recently.
But wait, you might say, aren’t Russians Slavs? Yes, they are.
And they are probably the single exception to the rule since they were mostly the oppressors, certainly for the last few hundred years. Poles do not like Russians specifically that much. Russia played for example no insignificant role in destabilizing and partitioning the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in a way that eerily resembles current events in Ukraine. And they did not rule their part of Poland exactly kindly afterward either.
Poles and Ukrainians thus share not only a generic common Slavic identity but also a relatively recent common history. They were both compatriots and allies as well as enemies and rivals in that history, but not very recently and those differences pale with one thing they have common very recently indeed – a ruthless oppressor, Russia. Ukrainians did not forget the Holodomor, Poles did not forget the Katyn massacre and both definitively remember the forty-something years of being dictated what to even think from Moscow afterward.
It is all of course much more complicated than I can ever hope to describe in a short blog post even if I knew everything there is to know about it. And motivations on an individual level always vary wildly. It definitively is not as simple as “Poles think brown people bad, white people good”, although a lot of (not only) Poles are no doubt like that.
I got very confused and indeed even angry with a comment written on Pharyngula. Not with the commenter, who I do not think has any malicious intent, but with the contents of the comment which make no sense to me and sound downright typically American ignorant.
I mean, what the fuck is the difference between Russian Empire, USSR, and a pan-Slavic state that Putin rules with an iron fist?
The Russian Empire was a multi-national country in which Russians with Tzar at the throne wielded nearly absolute power and ruled over all of East-Slavs and some non-Slavic nations with an iron fist. Some West and Southern Slavs had the “fortune” of being ruled over by Austrians and Ottomans.
The USSR was a multi-national country in which Russians with the Communist Party wielded nearly absolute power and ruled over all of East and West-Slavs and some non-Slavic nations with an iron fist. Some Southern Slavs had the “fortune” of being ruled over by a separate Communist totalitarian regime of their own.
So saying that Putin does not want to revive USSR or the Russian Empire is true in about the same sense as saying that Nazis don’t exist no more, ya know, since the term refers to members of a political party that only existed in Germany in the 1930-40s. Technically the comment is accurate, practically it is meaningless. And such quibbling over distinctions without a difference at a time like this pisses me off.
Putin most emphatically DOES want a Russian Empire with him as the ruler. It does not matter what anyone says, his actions speak louder than anyone’s words. Minutiae of differences between the former Russian Empire, the former USSR, and Putin’s recent goals are irrelevant and pale when the similarities are considered.
Whenever I look at the comment section under an article or video about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, whether in CZ or EN, there is a visible presence of people who either outright say that Russia is right to this or who say that it is not wrong to do it because… Whatabout Iraq? Whatabout Afghanistan? Whatabout Grenada? Whatabout Whatever?
This is a classic Soviet-era propaganda tool, trying to divert the attention from an injustice being done by the USSR to similar injustices being done by the USA. The old adage that two wrongs do not make a right applies. There is no moral difference between the USA invading another country and/or sending in mercenaries trying to overthrow a democratically elected government because it threatens US financial interests and/or egos of its leaders and Russia invading another country and/or sending in mercenaries to overthrow a democratically elected government because it threatens its financial interests and/or egos of its leaders. They are both bad.
Then there is also a not insignificant number of people who engage in what I would call ifonlysm. Ifonly Ukraine did not try to join the EU. Ifonly Ukraine did not have right-wing extremists. Ifonly Ukraine did not have a “coup” against Yanukovich. Ifonly Russia got an iron-clad guarantee that NATO won’t expand no more even if a country’s people wish to do so.
As someone living in Central Europe in a country that was very often right at the center of any big conflict in Europe from The Thirty Years’ War through Napoleonic wars, WWI, and WWII right up to The Cold War, I very much do not appreciate this rhetoric. Because if history teaches us anything, it teaches us that this is not how any of this works. Appeasing Putin would not stop this invasion, it would only change the timescale and the pretext under which it is done.
Autocrats do not try to gain power for rational reasons and the reasons they say are not the real reasons. The truth is that autocrats want power for power’s sake. Some go the way of amassing useless billions in wealth, some go the way of hijacking the state apparatus to become dictators, some do both. But just as there is no billionaire who cannot be corrupt because “he has amassed enough wealth”, there is no dictator who does not want to expand their area of influence because the “empire is big enough”. The billionaires hoard wealth until the economy collapses and goes into recession, the autocrats hoard power until the state apparatus collapses and a revolution happens. The only limits on what an autocrat can achieve are those imposed on them from the outside.
Putin has now made it clear that he wants to restore the former USSR sphere of influence. And although he did not use such words, it essentially means he wants to build a Russian Empire with him being its Tzar for life. He does not need it. His country does not need it. There is no rational reason to try to pursue such a goal except an insatiable lust for power. And the keyword here is insatiable.