Whose hand and silent approval is behind today’s, no, not revolutions, but maidans. On Poroshenko’s directives the Ukrainian calendar now has a new holiday – the Day of the Heavenly Hundred Heroes. The Cabinet of Ministers was ordered to arrange a Maidan museum in Kiev, the exhibit was to involve the Academy of Sciences, historical and archival institutes. The institutes are tasked with gathering and systemizing the witness accounts and artefacts, which will help to incite a respect in the new generations of Ukrainian citizens for the ideals of “independence” martyrs.
There is no doubt that this “highly relevant” issue for Ukraine will be resolved.
Without caring for the hryvna exchange rates, the situation in Donbass, the IMF talks and pressure in the gas pipes, the museum will open, and schoolchildren, who will visit it on excursions, will be able to see and even touch the burnt out tire, the cobblestone from Hrushevsky Street, the wooden shield with the 14/88 numbers written on it, the anti-impact cookingpot, and how to tell a Molotov cocktail from the infamous Maidan tea by smell.
The Ukrainian unrest, which is in its first year anniversary, is different from all other coups mostly by the unbelievable off-the-scale idiocy levels. This unique, astronomically high idiocy that can’t be measured was the main reason that ultimately no amount of Brzezinskis, Soroses and Bidens will be capable of molding Ukraine into a South Vietnam, a Salvador or an Iraq.
The Maidan Epic is a page from Adolf Hitler, a page from Nikolai Gogol. They are incompatible. Sooner or later, Gogol will win.
We, however, want to talk about the mechanisms of a coup that make each new Orange Revolutions possible. This topic is, in fact, worthy of its own museum, where you would be able to see a diorama of various handmade maidans from the ousting of Iranian PM Mosaddegh as part of the Operation Ajax, in 1953, and to the recent hipster Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong.
Revolutions are always a change of social formations. The rioting bourgeoisie behead the king and abolish monarchy, the rioting proletariat kicks out the bourgeoisie…
If one group of oligarchs replaces another group of oligarchs, that is not a revolution. That is a Maidan.
So, the Great French Revolution, and the Russian February and October Revolutions are revolutions. Even Moscow’s 1991 events are a revolution in a way. Or, maybe, a counterrevolution… But Maidan… Maidan is a maidan. What made it up? Let’s list the ingredients.
1. A socio-economic crisis, which creates high level of discontent and aggravation in society.
The slowdown in global economy, the drops of price and demand on many categories of Ukraine’s export goods, Yanukovich continuing the non-liberal policy of his predecessors – all of this created the ideal foundation for the Maidan’s preparation. The glaring income disparity, the exuberant life of the few in the entourage of mass poverty. The decay of education and thinking, which stops society from answering the questions of whose fault is it that it came to this and what to do from here.
2. Differences among the crony elite.
Maidans are always palace coups, which spill unto the square. If you can’t settle your differences in the quiet corridors, then the oligarchical group, which considers itself brushed aside, takes the fight to the streets. Supplying a hundred thousand extras in a multi-million city is just as easy as hosting a rock concert.
3. Loyalty of the municipal powers.
A necessary condition. Maidans never happen in the countryside, they happen in capitals. Feeding the rallying crowd, giving them lights, warmth and bare necessities is impossible with the mayor’s cooperation. Whichever revolution you look at, be it Belgrade or Tbilisi, the key parts are always played by the capital’s mayors.
4. The involvement of nation-wide television.
A Maidan becomes a maidan ONLY after it gets on the air. Social networks and online broadcasts, cable and satellite channels can’t give the appropriate levels of mass hysteria. So every maidan begins with unique journalistic groups or their owners alone or en masse taking the side of the protesters. These people are specifically prepared, grown way before the actual maidan.
5. Shadow business and organized crime participation. The football fan factor.
In a neoliberal economy, every large city has another leader, parallel to its official one. The one who controls the flea markets, gambling, prostitution and private security firms. These nameless owners delegate militants to ensure the maidan’s safety and take part in the clashes with the police later. This is where the hard-boiled, well-built guys attacking the riot police show up from. Everything in check with the eternal struggle, known from the times of godfathers and made men. Football ultras play a similar role. Every fan group, in one way or another, is tied to the club owners. And football clubs and private security firms are usually owned by the same people.
6. The decay of armies and special services.
Way back during the first Orange Revolution, New York Times published a confession interview of SBU generals, who, as it turns out, were secretly helping Maidan win. The commercialization of the service, the lack of morals and motivation make the defense and law enforcement agencies the perfect candidates for later maidan participation. In May 2013, the Hague Court suddenly released Jovica Stanišić and Franko Simatović, generals, who were in charge of state security under Milošević. Turns out, both of them were working for the CIA during both Balkan wars. The generals were released. There was no one to speak up for Milošević, and it was a bit too late.
7. The head of state’s paralysis and lack of will.
Yanukovich is guilty mostly not in the fact that he flinched and in the last moment didn’t use force, but that he let the situation unfold at all. The nationalist underground, the oligarchical outlaws, the Fronde on TV, the decay in the law enforcement – all of it was Yanukovich’s doing one way or another. Could he have expected a different outcome? If a leader wants to comfortably live and make a living, he probably doesn’t want to play the Muammar Gaddafi or Bashar al-Assad in the last moment.
8. The presence of a coordinating external power. Nuland’s treats. Campaigning and propaganda.
The hairy hand of the State Department is at the end of the list. Just because without any of the previously mentioned factors this hand would have nothing to grab – not in Kiev, Bishkek, Cairo, Chișinău and not even in Belgrade. The external force merely gathers the pieces of the puzzle into a big picture. Makes deals with oligarchs, mayors, sends the signal to the criminals and woos the lawmen. That is the difference between the object and subject of history. Ukraine is an object. The West is the subject. Why act surprised when seeing the huge number of Western funds, corporations and secret services in Ukraine? Oh, they threw money around, hired people, incited and hounded, acted naughty, unfair and unsightly? Oh, come on!
They acted in accordance with their own defined and clear logic, devoured and digested the unused lands.
They acted like that because no one would oppose them. They acted like that because after the destruction of the Soviet Union, there was no one left who could oppose them. And, the rest is a plan, tested on dozens of states: privatization spawns oligarchs, oligarchs create corruption, corruption brings about poverty, poverty gives birth to nationalism, nationalism boils into a Maidan, the Maidan leads to a war. If it works in Latin America, why won’t it work in Ukraine? Who would stop it? Gogol? Pushkin?
The list of successful maidans organized by Americans won’t fit on the screen. Remembering the tragedy in Kiev, we should admit to ourselves – this technology can’t be beat with another technology. To beat technology, you need IDEOLOGY, which means not a maidan and not an anti-maidan, but an actual revolution. At least in people’s heads
By Konstantin Syomin, journalist, documentary, host of the “Agitprop” show on Russia 24, laureate of the DocChallenge festival, Emmy nominee.
Translated by Pavel Shamshiev.