If you want to understand what’s wrong with Ukraine’s ‘European choice’ read its president’s recent article 'We believe in Europe'
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
The article was published by Politico on July 6, that is, soon after Brexit and Poroshenko’s visit to Brussels, and on the eve of the visit to Kiev by US Secretary of State John Kerry and the NATO summit in Warsaw.
The article is 800 words long of which 265 (roughly 1/3) are sentences where the words ‘faith’, ‘believe’, ‘inspiration’, ‘sin’ are hackneyed to death.
Putting these sentences together:
“Brexit is, above all, a crisis of faith.
“In a crisis of faith, those who have faith are part of the solution, not the problem. Nowhere in Europe will you see as much faith in the EU as you do in Ukraine.
“So, where is Ukraine wavering between in and out, faith and fear, inspiration and blindness? Ukraine is part of Europe, deeply aware of its own sins - and wanting to move forward. Despite war, despite Europe's crisis of faith, no price is too high for Ukraine to become a better nation.
“Those who want to exit from the EU are not visionaries, but people who long for more power and less responsibility.
“It is the association agreement with the EU that guides Ukrainian efforts to put their home in order, thus making Europe safer and better itself. Europe's real strength is its ability to inspire change in others. We have to say this loudly and with pride, to revive the European spirit.
“We strongly believe that highlighting the EU’s success stories like trade association agreements or visa liberalization for countries that have faith in Europe is the proper response to those who spread fear, despair and hatred in our common home.
“We believe in Europe. We will faithfully stick with Europe. Those who believe in a united Europe must pull together. Because today's choice is not between East and West. It is between those who have faith and those who don't.
“It's time for those who have faith in the European project to take the lead.”
Poroshenko’s article in Politico is a more of a sermon by a Southern Baptist preacher to his herd seized by doubt than a statement by a political leader.
Now, every mono- or polytheistic religion by definition is founded on a belief in a Supernatural Being(s) that does not require empirical confirmation.
However, Ukraine’s God – the European Union – is a very mundane institution that has accumulated a lot of empirical data on its achievements and failures.
The British revolt against loss of sovereignty to Eurocrats, bankrupted Greece, and debt crises that keep even Spain and Italy on the brink, deindustrialization of the smaller states of Eastern Europe, depopulation of the Baltic states, beggars from Southern Europe (not to mention Arab and African migrants) visible at every corner in the cities and towns of Northern Europe, the corruption and obscenely opulent lifestyles of the European bureaucracy – all these evoke the fate that awaits a country like Ukraine in the European Union.
But if you deify the EU, it makes no difference either to the leaders or common folk. Religion, as Karl Marx put it, is the opium of the people.
Every religion’s scriptures are full of allegories and parables open to interpretation. But the European Association Agreement is a highly technical document which explains in painful detail what Ukraine could expect, namely the destruction of its current economic structure which, for better or worse feeds its citizens, and putting in place something new that will benefit roughly 15 per cent of the population, making the rest either serfs or simply redundant.
All the empirical evidence points in this direction. My relatives in a big village in southern Ukraine who four or five years ago were happy to get gas heat for their homes for the first time, are returning to firewood because they can’t afford to pay the rising gas rates. Yet if you see the aforementioned agreement as Scripture, you will expect divine European pensions and salaries.
Faith is one non-material substance that people are ready to kill and die for. When Poroshenko says that “Despite war, despite Europe's crisis of faith, no price is too high for Ukrainians to become a better nation”, he means it.
This would explain why thousands of martyrs and heretics were sacrificed on the altar of the God in Brussels. It would also explain why the Ukrainians sacrificed the integrity of their state for the sake of a Euro-integration agreement, despite compelling historical evidence that no strong nation like Russia could tolerate the disruption of the geopolitical balance at its borders. Remember the forceful US reaction to regime change in their backyard island of Cuba: it did not hesitate to bring the world to the brink during the Cuban missile crisis.
But the fundamentalists are immune to reason.
Yet, every faith sooner or later fails a reality check. When the Ukrainians discover that their Brussels clergy are lazy, incompetent, greedy, self-serving and opportunistic, I foresee a strong Protestant movement, a new split in Ukrainian society between European loyalists and those professing the American Dream, who will fight to become the US’s 51st state.
This post first appeared on Russia Insider
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