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Mon May 12, 2014, 10:05 AM

Cognitive Dissonance is Cognitivey: Ukraine Edition (Stalin, Bandera, Maidan and Russian separatism)

Ever since the height of the Euromaidan protests, skeptics and opponents of that movement and the interim Ukrainian government that resulted from that movement have feverishly attempted to paint supporters as "ultranationalists", "fascists" and even "neo-Nazi", with the argument for the latter category dating back to historical events from World War II.

The main basis for such claims lies in the fact that a couple of ultranationalist parties--Svoboda and Right Sector--were participants in the Euromaidan protests, and Svoboda is a minority party within the governing coalition and has three of its members currently sitting in the 21-seat Ukrainian cabinet. Despite the clear minority status of these organizations, opponents of the interim government have clearly attempted to paint Svoboda and Right Sector the face of the events in Ukraine this year, from the Euromaidan protests that ultimately resulted in former President Victor Yanukovych leaving the country and a new interim government taking control until scheduled elections at the end of this month, to the annexation of the Crimean territory by Russia after a questionable plebiscite, to the Ukrainian military's crackdown on armed pro-Russian militants in the Eastern portion of the country, to deadly riots in cities such as Odessa.

One of the most repeated talking points of those taking the "fascist"/"neo-Nazi" position is the fact that there has been the use of the image of controversial World War II-era political figure Stepan Bandera, mainly by those in the far-right parties like Svoboda and Right Sector. And there is no doubt that Bandera is a highly polarizing figure. Proponents paint him as someone who was first and foremost a Ukrainian nationalist who antagonized and irritated both the Soviets and Nazi Germans alike. On the other hand, opponents believe Bandara was in part complicit for Nazi atrocities committed on Ukrainian soil. Whether or not Bandera was personally responsible for brutal ethnic violence between Ukrainians and Poles during World War II is still a highly charged topic of debate by those in the region. Despite the unsettled view on Bandera's ultimate legacy, there is no doubt he is a lightning rod and extremely divisive figure.

That all being said, for all those critics of Maidan and the interim government who have expressed such righteous indignation over the use of Bandera's visage and other items perceived to be "fascist" or "neo-Nazi", there is a complete silence towards opponents of the interim government who have chosen to glorify symbols of the defunct Soviet Union and Soviet figures such as Lenin and even Stalin. It is high time that such cognitive dissonance be addressed.

Let us be blunt: the Soviet Union was a horrifically brutal, authoritarian, oppressive and imperialistic bastard of a nation pretty much from its inception. There was nothing ever good about it. I understand that for some western adherents to Marxist economic theory, there is a hesitancy to criticize the Soviet Union because it claimed to be a socialist, communist and Marxist society.(I myself have nothing against Marxist economic theory in general; while I'm not a subscriber myself, I do value its ability to identify very real problems of economic disparities and exploitation of the working class.)

But let's not kid ourselves: in the end, the Soviet Union was never really about Marxism, Communism or Socialism. It was really nothing more than an attempt to reboot the rapidly dying Russian Empire and desperately hold onto land seized by Moscow over the centuries. The divine right of the Tsar was no longer cutting it; those in power in Moscow needed a new populist vehicle to use as wrapping paper over the same old package of shit that was Russian Imperialism, and communism fit the bill perfectly. And the new Soviet bosses were just as brutal as the old Tsarist ones: severely restricting basic civil liberties and persecuting, deporting and murdering millions of its own people.

That is why people should be shocked and highly disturbed when they see pro-Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine flying the Hammer and Sickle and parading around pictures of Josef Stalin, one of the most brutal despots ever to hold power in any nation. The gut reaction that many Ukrainians have to the Hammer and Sickle is very similar to how African-Americans view the Confederate Battle Flag. It is a symbol of oppression. Soviet police wearing Hammer and Sickle pins routinely harassed both my grandmother and grandfather until it caused them to flee their homeland in fear of their lives. My aunts and uncles were herded onto trains under the Soviet flag and shipped off to Siberia. And Stalin himself is held responsible for enacting pure terror on the Ukrainian people, including manufacturing a famine that killed millions.

And yet those who express outrage at the ultranationalists who parade around with pictures of Bandera are woefully silent when people to which they lend moral support fly the Hammer and Sickle, march with large pictures of Stalin, and decry the removal of statutes and monuments of Soviet and Russian historical figures. This cognitive dissonance is glaring, the hypocrisy ever so apparent.

There is no doubt that Ukraine during the 1930s and 1940s was a brutal, barbaric place where atrocities from all sides abounded. In a very sad way, this was not unexpected. When you have both Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin--the two most brutal and horrific men of modern times--fighting over the same patch of land, bloodshed and pure madness were pretty much an inevitable result. The bigger question today, however, is why people from all sides insist on glorifying such a horrible era of human history.

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Reply Cognitive Dissonance is Cognitivey: Ukraine Edition (Stalin, Bandera, Maidan and Russian separatism) (Original post)
Tommy_Carcetti May 2014 OP
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snagglepuss May 2014 #1
Igel May 2014 #2
Tommy_Carcetti May 2014 #3

Response to Tommy_Carcetti (Original post)

Mon May 12, 2014, 10:24 AM

1. .

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Response to Tommy_Carcetti (Original post)

Mon May 12, 2014, 12:32 PM

2. Nobody likes cognitive dissonance.

It causes one to either be confused and annoyed, or to revise one's beliefs and views.

novosti.dn.ua showed a very nice clip of a speaker on May 9, praising Russia and asking them to drink to Russia--drink to Stalin.

After all, Russia lost over 20 million in WWII. That's what they say.

They used to say the USSR lost 20 million. But then they sort of forgot that there was anybody else except Russia in the USSR.

Ukraine lost over 6 million. Of those, around 5 million were Slavs--Ukrainian citizens other than Jews. That leaves around 14 million lost by the rest of the USSR.

Russia was over 4 times larger than Ukraine. If all the other Soviet republics lost 0 people, then Russia, to keep up with Ukraine, would have lost 16 million.

Belorussia, however, also sustained heavy losses. Russia, for all its boasting of victimization, was #3 when you adjust for population. To maximize victimization, it's whitewashed Ukraine and Belorussia out of WWII history--Belorussia was where the Russian Red Army may have crossed, Ukraine had enemies and fascists everywhere, but only Russia was truly against fascism.

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Response to Igel (Reply #2)

Mon May 12, 2014, 01:40 PM

3. "Drink to Stalin." I couldn't believe that.


(Skip to the 2:25 mark)

The thing about Maidan was that there was a stage in the square. (Yes, believe it or not, Maidan wasn't just a bunch of Right Sector types throwing bricks. There was actual public discourse there.)

They had speaker after speaker up on the stage. None of them said anything that could be considered anti-Semitic or otherwise in line with neo-Nazi ideology. None of them glorified Hitler. Not a single one.

And you know if they had said something of the sort, the RT types would be all on here exploiting the shit out of it. Much like they turned the recent incident of two-sided mob violence in Odessa into a one-sided unilateral "massacre" of "anti-Fascists" by "neo-Nazis."

But there was nothing of the sort. It just goes to show how much blatant propaganda there is out there, and how many gullible people buy into it.

I don't know if you've had a chance to read Timothy Snyder's piece in the New Republic but it raises those same historical figures as you've noted. It's an excellent piece:


Meanwhile, Robert Parry could shit on a piece of paper and compare it to neo-Nazism, and people would insist it's the gospel truth.

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