Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Baby Steps

I was on holiday when the Ukrainian protestors won and evicted their government, so I've only been catching snippets of news and opinion on the matter.  You're hardly pushed to find comment on Ukraine elsewhere, so I thought I'd be helpful by looking at some interesting trends that I spotted in the UK reaction to events in Kiev.

First up, it's great to see so many people recognising that governments tend to spout windy bullshit when they're up to no good.  The many protestations of Yanukovitch and Putin et al have fallen on deaf ears in the UK, where folk with an interest in politics seem to have realised that e.g. the Ukrainian government, while democratically elected, is also an agglomeration of vested interests that is perfectly content to spout nonsense if it benefits it to do so.  Further, people seem to have spotted that the Russian government is not a benign entity, and that it is actually spectacularly dishonest and self-aggrandising about events occurring in their own and other countries.

This is excellent news for the UK, where we have a tendency to blithely assume that our own government's interest in other nations' crises is generally humanitarian rather than utterly pragmatic and cynical, so I hope to see similar reactions whenever our own politicians start yet another round of mendacious boiling and bleating about events in this or other parts of the world.

It's perhaps unfortunate that so many folk who perceptively noticed that the Ukrainian and Russian governments are truthless, self-serving, elite enterprises, have utterly failed to apply the same lessons to other involved parties and governments, but let's not try to run before we can walk, eh?

Secondly, it's also great to see pundits and people generally coming to the realisation that powerful countries are highly opportunistic and constantly try to bend other nations to their will, in order to extract profit and power.

Again, it's unfortunate that people who so smartly spotted Vladimir Putin pulling an empire-preserving fast one in Ukraine seem oblivious to the notion that e.g. the UK or the US are not wholly disinterested observers lusting after nothing but human freedom but you know, baby steps isn't it, baby steps.

It's been great to see public acknowledgement that protest groups inevitably attract highly unpleasant loonies, and that this doesn't invalidate their cause.  The Ukrainian opposition did appear to have a significant Nazi problem, but we collectively seem to have cut the protesters lots of slack by charitably realising that they can't control absolutely everyone who wants to join in.

This could have beneficial repercussions in the UK, where any group that dares to organise against e.g. war or corporate shenanigans can expect to be instantly cudgeled to death the second that a single member posts something idiotic on Facebook.

And let's also acknowledge how great it is that it's now accepted that media organisations regularly and unquestioningly repeat official propaganda as fact.  This scepticism only applies to Russia Today at present, but fingers crossed that this realisation will have knock-on effects for popular attitudes towards the UK's own absurd, oft-stenographic press.

Other helpful lessons - folk noticing that pundits and politicians use crises to push their previously-existing agendas*;  that large-scale and even violent protests against governments are not inherently fascist**, and that the police and armed forces are not always there to assist the citizenry***.

If there's a minor disappointment to come out of our collective response to events in Ukraine, it's that nobody has smelt a rat when folk who have spent months lauding the democraticity of a violent protest movement overthrowing an elected government are now stamping their feet and commanding Ukrainians of a secessionary bent not to break up their nation.  This is regrettable, but not wholly unexpected, since such people basically could not give a flying one for any democratic actions that don't suit them, but again - baby steps, baby steps.

*This one after Seumas Milne pointed out that the protesters weren't all sweetness and light, and that the Russians weren't the only foreigners seeking to influence the situation in Kiev to their own advantage.  Lots of LOLs after that one, although precious little in the way of people pointing out anything he'd said that was actually, you know, wrong. 

**Recall the student protests a couple of years back, when there were many loud wails and screeches about fascist mobs striving to impose their will upon a democratic entity and so on.

***Although the chances of this notion catching on in the UK are somewhere between jack and shit.


ejh said...

You read that Mark Ames piece?

flyingrodent said...

I did - it made a lot of fairly straightforward points that badly needed making, IMO.

Anyone interested, see here http://pando.com/2014/02/24/everything-you-know-about-ukraine-is-wrong/