How "Ukrainity" Was Created
Author: Alexander Nosovich
02.10.2015 // Photo: iamruss.ru
Ukrainian nationalism is a phenomenon, which is deeply archaic, alien to progress and common human culture, with its only goal being to divide a united nation by using the ethnographic peculiarities of the Southern part of Russia to artificially create a separate "Ukrainian nation". This is something the founding fathers of Ukrainity discussed in their private letters to one another and even in open print. The patriarchs of the Ukrainian national-political movement brilliantly predicted today’s events: everything that was discussed by the marginal Ukrainophils in the second half of the 19th century and early 20th century is now happening in Ukraine on a nationwide scale.
“We are barbarians, our dreams and aspirations, in actuality, are pathetic…earlier we wasted Polish culture, now we are ready to waste the Russian, and if we could, we would have wasted common human culture.” Wrote renowned Ukrainian author, ethnographer and philologist Panteleimon Kulish in his letter to Galician Ukrainophil L. Barvitskiy. “We” is for Ukrainophils, actors of the Ukrainian national movement. Panteleimon Kulish was one of the most active Ukrainophils: he created the Ukrainian alphabet, the “kulishovka”. Along with Taras Shevchenko, Nikolai Kostomarov and Mikhail Grushevskiy, he can be called one of the founding fathers of Ukraine. Ukraine as a separate entity, created by a special people.
Within the Ukrainophil movement, Kulish ended up as an outcast among his peers. The creator of “kulishovka” which was the foundation of the written Ukrainian language, was shunned by his comrades: this happened after the writer and scientist wrote the three tomes History of the Reunification of Rus.
There Kulish stated that genuine civilization and high culture were brought to Ukraine by Rzeczpospolita and the Russian Empire, while the local rural culture was weak and archaic. Creating a new nation on its base, as he and his comrades were attempting to, was a fight for the “victory of barbarism over civilization.”
The archaic and barbaric essence of Ukrainity is declared by one of the main ideologists of the Ukrainian national movement! And he is not alone in this: many others from the national intelligentsia of the 19th century shared an understanding that the point of what they were doing was to devise a new culture from Malorussian local ethnographic peculiarities. This culture would be opposed to common human culture and, most importantly, opposed to Russian culture.
“Mingling in the common Russian intellectual and political interests, living in the wealth of Russian literature with its vast selection of common Russian themes and common human contents, the Malorussian intelligentsia, according to the Ukrainophil professor, is forced to bend over backwards, so to speak, in order to fit under the low bar of rural Ukrainian literature” wrote Russian scientist and publicist Sergey Schegolev in his book Modern Ukrainity (1914). Schegolev found these statements not among those opposed, but those in favor of the Mazepa ideology. According to it, the attempts to forge a new nation from millions of dim and ignorant South-Russian peasants were being carried out by a group of high-brow humanitarians, national romantics: “The Ukr. Khata. journal talked of this three years ago, that the Ukrainian nation is being made from 30 million slaves and a bunch of Don Quixotes”
The Ukrainity phenomenon is the refusal to consider oneself part of a whole and not take pride in the enormous contribution that the Ukrainian people made to this whole.
In modern Ukraine, it is frowned upon talking about Ukrainian rulers or co-rulers of Russia: starting with the Razumovsky brothers and ending with Khrushev and Brezhnev. How could Ukrainians be in the head of the metropolis, if Ukraine, according to the current ideology, was always a colony, and right now is fighting its neighbor’s “imperial ambitions”? A similar question arises with literature: all of Ukrainity is based on Taras Shevchenko’s cult following, who wrote in the “mother tongue of moiva”, while names like Gogol, Korolenko and especially Bulgakov, who mocked the Ukrainian movement in his books and in life, are doomed to oblivion. The same oblivion is given to physicists, design engineers and cosmonauts who worked in Ukraine during the Soviet period: they were moving humanity forward as part of the Soviet project, alongside the Russians. However, Vyacheslav Chernovol and Leonid Kravchuk, who did nothing for humanity, but who headed the movement for Ukraine leaving the USSR are now the moral compass of the Ukrainian nation.
A hundred years ago, when Ukrainity was its forging process, this was obvious and was just as confusing to the thinking contemporaries as it is now. “In creating Russian culture, Kievan Rus took no less part than the Northerners” said Maxim Gorky in 1913 when he was surprised by the Ukrainian separatist movement, whose members were in denial of themselves.
If, as part of whole, a united all-Russian culture, Ukrainians aided progress and development, then Ukrainian nationalism built upon the opposition to Russian culture can only aid in the archaization and degradation of the country that adopts it as its ruling ideology.
And this degradation was predicted a whole hundred years back. “By its internal contents the Ukrainian movement is not the least bit progressive; it is only opposing the state unity of Russia and hostile towards Russian culture, and thus, the inevitable destiny of Ukrainity – to be in unending opposition to the Russian government, while Russia exists, even if just a tenth of it.” writes Sergey Schegolev “The Ukrainophil bossing would hold Southern Russian cultural and economic development for decades and would be way worse than polonization for the South-Western region”.
That is exactly what is happening to the modern Ukrainian economy.
“Ukrainophil bossing” got the country to the point where economy ministry officials in vyshyvankas declare that the country doesn’t need the rocket and space sector, shipbuilding, aircraft construction, scientific bureaus and design bureaus.
Let’s have a hamlet instead. With mud-walled huts, sunflowers an’ daisies, porkers an’ chicks. With a portrait of Taras Shevchenko on the wall and the yellow-blue flag on the roof.
It would not be that bad if all of the archaization was only within economy and social infrastructure. It is truly terrifying that this new barbarism would affect personal relationships. And again, Ukrainian writings from a century ago clearly show that it might get to that. “If we are discussing Ukraine, then we must use one word – hate for its enemies. The resurrection of Ukraine is synonymous to the hate of your Moscow wife, your Russian children, to your Russian mother and father. To love Ukraine means to sacrifice your Russian relatives.” wrote Ukrainian Khata in 1913. This is exactly what is happening now: how many stories did we get about a Kievan son rejecting his Donetsk mother because she turned out to be a “vatnik” who supported the “separs”?
“Reading the Ukrainian press, you can see that hatred of everything “Russian” is considered a solid virtue among the supporters of the Ukrainian party” wrote Sergey Schegolev in 1914. Only one thing left to add, reading Ukrainian press today, you can see the exact same thing. Hatred burned people in Odessa, hatred makes people fight in the Donbass, hatred is the fuel which powers Ukrainian nationalism.
Translated by: Pavel Shamshiev.
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