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Warm wind from Ukraine

It has been sunny days, warm like midsummer. On Friday evening we sat drinking tea with my customer, and they had a TV open. On TV there was a weather map, showing how the warm air is coming from The Black Sea area. Well, today it was elections - in EU for Members of European Parliament, and in Ukraine for the president. After casting my own vote I stayed in the voting place, and when the voting was closed, we counted the votes. Together with the other personnel we talked that the turnout was rather low, as it tends to be in EU elections. We felt that it is not very healthy if the turnout is constantly under 50% - but maybe it is that people feel that their personal vote has no effect in the big workings of EU machinery... And at the same time in Ukraine the presidential elections seem like crucial step in the road to stability, so the turnout is likely to be high. When I returned back home I poured myself a shot of vintage rum which I got from an ukrainian friend. I thought that the warm air I feel on my face has travelled all the way from Ukraine, and we all breathe this same air, we sisters and brothers on this planet. So I raised my glass for Peace, Freedom, Justice and for The People of Ukraine. The sky was heavy with clouds, it was a thunder storm rising.

When Yanokovych fled, I celebrated the people of Ukraine for standing up against corruption, cleptocracy and injustice. As I think that the ultimate mandate for power comes from people, and if the rulers lose their support, they ought to step down - otherwise there will be riots and unrest. So, I was hoping that Russia doesn't intervene and Ukraine is allowed to seek stability and to fight corruption, to be a free country trading both with Russia and EU. Alas, I was bit too optimistic. There would be a lot to think and to say about the situation of Ukraine, and I'm not an expert in world politics, so I try to choose just a topic or two.

I feel bit uneasy about how discussion about Ukraine often drifts to a discussion about global power politics. Suddenly, the views and hopes and actions of ordinary people of Ukraine are reduced to mere chess pieces on a board, and the game is played by NATO and Russia. From this point of view, NATO is often seen as an agressor, using military power to change regimes and to secure resources for Western consumption. So, as NATO is against Russia, and Yanukovych was an ally of Russia, sure it must be that Maidan unrest was a NATO operation - one more move in the global game, aiming to weaken Russia and to expand the Western Empire. This view accepts that the world is about empires expanding and fighting over territory. Ukraine used to be part of the USSR, and Kreml would like to keep it so - but if Ukraine wants to ally with The West, it is seen as losing territory. Oh well. I don't doubt that the different secret services have some activity in nearly all the unrest around the world, but looking at what happened in Maidan I simply don't believe that it was mostly organized by anyone. I might be naive but I do believe that there are such things as self-organized grass-root movements. People demonstrating because they feel so, not because someone else is pulling the strings behind the scenes. Also, especially from Finnish point of view - what is wrong with a neutral country located in between The West and Russia? During the times of Cold War we were such a country, and played our role in the negotiations between USA and USSR. Why couldn't Ukraine do the same - being just an independent country and not clearly a part of Western or Russian empire? (This is the one thing I just don't understand in the big strategy of mr. Putin. If he wants to stop NATO expanding, and if he wants Russia to be surrounded by friendly states, then his actions in Ukraine have been counter-productive for his own goals. I think he has been sending a loud and clear signal to all the areas located next to Russia: "If you don't want to be controlled by The Kreml, then join NATO as soon as possible, as otherwise we are both able and willing to walk over your territory just like that.")

Closely related to this is the general philosophical question concerning the legal order and justice. Some people say that no matter how dislikable he was, Yanokovych still was a legally elected president. And people should respect the authority of the current leader, and calmly wait for the next elections no matter what - a mass demonstration turning to a riot and a coup is in itself a bad thing, unlawful and bound to stir more violence and unrest. Therefore people should always stay away from rioting. Well, this could be described as a traditional view, which puts a lot of value to respecting the authorities. This respect brings peace and stability, and the ordinary people should go with the established structures and hierarchies of the society. In the old times the rulers justified their authority by saying, for example, that their power and status is given by The God, and therefore the ordinary people can't and shouldn't rise against the authority of the leader. In a bit more modern version of this model it is the abstact values of "stability and lawfulness" which provide the mandate for power. Well, but I and many others believe in the democratic model, where the ultimate mandate for power comes from the people and nowhere else. If the ruler loses the support of the people, then the ruler must step down. The goverments and rulers are elected to do a job for the common good - and if they don't perform well in the job, they are replaced by someone else. As the people are the employers of the those in power.

And it indeed seems that views on Ukraine are circling around this kind of basic questions. Our news cited a popular Russian contemporary philospher, Aleksandr Dugin, who says that what happens in Ukraine is a global confrontation. On the one side there is a liberal civilization, and on the other side there is a conservative civilization. The liberal civilization is characterized by business, seafaring and bribery - USA being the super power of liberal civilization, aiming at world dominance. But opposed to this there is the conservative cilizition, with values like heroism, controlling territory, warfare and violence. USA wants to see a world where they are the dominant players, and Russia wants to promote a world order with many strong players. Oh well, let's try to take a closer look at this.

First, it makes me think that it is inaccurate to define this as a conflict between The East and The West. As far as I can understand, there is some kind of a "cultural war" of liberalism and conservatism inside the Western countries, too. For example, I have understood that in USA there is a strong support for values like heroism and warfare - if American interests or honor is violated anywhere, The USAm military should strike back immediately, with a destructive force. Anything less is seen as a sign of weakness. Is this an example of Western liberal civilization? I don't think so - to me this seems like a classical case of traditional and conservative civilization. Values like : "If you challenge my honour, you challenge me to a duel, and we fight this duel to the death, and I know that I will win. And no-one should interfere with our duel." Whereas the liberals in USA would be more open to negotiations, playing by the global rules, respecting the UN etc. Looking at the history, to me it seems that conservative mindset has been rather influential in the politics of USA as well. So when looking at USA and Russia, I don't see it as a conflict of a Liberal Civilzation and a Conservative Civilization. I see it as a traditional conflict of two conservative civilizations...

Now I think that in todays European elections conservative and even far-right parties gained more support. I mean, parties which are against gay rights (they want traditional family values), against immigration (they want traditional nationalistic pride and homogenity), against EU (they don't like to negotiate with the others, they want local leadership making uncompromised decisions). And in some cases they even are OK with using violence against gays, immigrants, foreigners - and against demonstrators, environmental activists, feminists and all other groups seen as opposing the Good Old Traditional White Male Hegemony. And equally, to me it seems that Russia is not all conservative. There are large numbers of russian people who would like to see their country as a open society with liberal values and diplomatic attitude. It is just that the conservative rulers think that in a conservative country it is so that the people should respect the authority of the leaders, and not the other way around. So they run heavy propaganda machinery to infuence the opinions, fears and hopes of their people.

Well, I don't know what to say about all this. Of course we could simply say that in democracy we have freedom of opinion, and that conservatism and liberalism are just two alternatives and people are free to choose which one they support. And philosophically speaking I think that there is no ultimate truth to be found, so we will anyway have a world with multiple world views. So should I just let people believe in what ever they feel like believing? Propably not, as I also believe that it is good to reflect on ones own views, being willing and ready to change ones opinions based on evidence, discussion and argumentation. (Already at this point we could say that strong conservatism is against that - if Tradition is seen as a value in itself, then reflection and questioning is seen as a suspicious business, and chaning ones mind is seen as a sign of alienation from the Good Tradition.)

So, if the people of Ukraine are moving from a conservative "People should always respect the authority of the leaders" to a more liberal "The mandate of power comes from the people", I see it as a part of the same cultural struggle going on in most of the countries. From this point of view, getting rid of a bad leader and electing a new president is just the first necessary step in rebuilding the country. And the process of rebuilding takes place both in the institutional level and in the minds and hearts of the people. So, all of my support and best wishedsfor the people of Ukraine - and to the people of EU. If we want a better world, we'd better to build one.

Warm wind from Ukraine, a shot of rum for Ukraine
Warm wind from Ukraine, a shot of rum for Ukraine
for Peace, Freedom, Justice and for The People of Ukraine
for Peace, Freedom, Justice and for The People of Ukraine!
A thunder storm rising
A thunder storm rising
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Comments

Hi Erkka, Ethan writing this to you.

I was wondering if you're Suomenusko or any type of paganism? I know that you guys do alot of pagan things like old music and other cool stuff like that, but I would just like to know if you guys are pagans or something cool like that.

Thank you!

Hello!

Yes we do these things, and I think we both have a sense that somehow Nature is Holy. But we don't have any clear set of spiritual beliefs. We don't go practice rituals together with other believers. I know in Finland there are groups who are actively reviving old pagan traditions, including the spiritual beliefs and rituals associated with them. Well, personally I don't feel a need to belong to any religious order - and I guess same goes for Sami. We just do the stuff we do, without thinking if it belongs to some sort of -ism or not =)

Thanks so much for answering, because I know there's alot of groups trying to revive pagan religions. Just wanted to know since it sounded pretty cool, and I hope you guys keep up the good work with your awesome blogs and UnReal World.

Thanks again!

Thanks for writing this. I enjoyed your insight.

Dude, it was pure theory about rights and power. Unfortunately this theoretical things were mixed with real dirty political tricks and profit of all this actions still goes to political leaders and millionaries. Declared values could be modern and looking good if you drinking your juice in a hood, but in real it was (and is) cover for an agressive actions from one people agains others. I hope tears and blood will stop soon, but all this modern motto's allowed some dirty politicans to open real warfare in the territory of Ukraine. And it is more hardcore then your Unreal World RPG. And i hope you have beautifull fillings for a participants not because of this.

I admit that I'm not quite sure if I can properly understand what you are saying. But everything I can understand, I also mostly agree with. I certainly do hope that tears and blood stop as soon as possible.

I'll take an example from the history of Finland. In WWII we defended our territory against Russian invasion, and finally our political leaders more or less allied with Nazi Germany to get supplies and support. War is ugly business, all in all. Toddlers might fight for a toy, but I think adults should turn to more humane and diplomatic ways of resolving disagreements... So, I don't see much glory nor heroism in real life warfare. Yet, some of my customers are veterans of war. Listening to their stories I greatly respect those individuals who just happened to face the hell. None of them wanted to start a war, yet they went defending their homeland against unjustified agression. Most of them returned wounded, either physically or mentally or both. So, for me, the best way to pay respect to our veterans is to work hard for peace, to avoid any future warfare.

And it is somewhat same how I think of situation in Ukraine. I do symphatize with most of what I saw and heard of Maidan movement, but I understand that they never were a homogenous group with clear united goals; there were many subgroups, and it might well be that I don't agree with every subgroup. Global politics and news often try to tell a simplified story, but the reality is always bit more messy and complicated. And everywhere it is so that the leaders are notorious of declaring some values and then in reality acting according to a different plan - so I'm not taking the face value of any political group talking.

And, yes, it really seems to be a common problem in most of the countries in this world - no matter what the political or economical system is, it is all too often so that the elite gain most of the profits, and the ordinary people are left surviving with what little is left. In some countries that "little" is even less than in some other countries. And this problem isn't easily solved by just toplling a goverment, as it often so goes that a new elite will replace the old one, with some of the key players just staying in the power behind the curtains.

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