The role of geopolitics and the interests of powerful nations and groups — especially where they coincide or enter into a kind of equilibrium — are constantly underestimated in self-determination, nationalistic, and other political struggles.
The Kurds, for example, despite an overwhelming need and just cause for their own state, and the apparent divisions of their neighbours, are going to find it extremely difficult to achieve statehood as long as the three dominant groups surrounding them — Turkey, the Arabs, and Iran (along with their superpower backers) — stand to lose equally by this process.
We see something similar in the Ukraine. Despite all the leadership posturing by those involved, it is clear that we are heading to a new consensus, in which (1) the new borders – i.e. Crimea as part of Russia – are tacitly accepted, (2) the Russians hold back the more threatening breakaway movements in Eastern and Southern Ukraine, (3) the West favours liberals and moderates in Kiev at the expense of the Ukrainian nationalists, and (4) the gas continues to flow.
This is a pity as 2014 has the potential to see a European version of an “Arab Spring.” But then, neither the Russians, the EU (which essentially means the dominant EU countries), nor, of course, the US wants this.
The Ukrainian revolution was important for three main reasons:
(1) Its passion
(2) Its proximity to Europe
(3) Its rejection of false democracy or “post-democracy”
- The passion: There are those who claim that the whole thing was stoked up by foreign money and behind-the-scenes string-pulling by CIA operatives, etc. This simply does not square with the empirical evidence. Although the U.S. supported the revolution, there can be little doubt that this was a mass movement with broad-based support, especially in Kiev and the Western parts of the country. Live with it!
- The proximity to Europe: Ukraine is close to central Europe in a number of ways; geographically, culturally, and in racial/ethnic terms (perhaps more so than many parts of Western Europe now thanks to multiculturalism and the other excesses of modernity like bad architecture). In short, for the couch potatoes in the West tuning into CNN and Fox News, this was clearly and demonstrably an uprising by White people like themselves pursuing their perceived interests.
- The rejection of an elected president: Although the masses still seem to have a naive belief in the ritual every few years of pushing a piece of paper with a cross on it into the darkness of a ballot box, they also increasingly realize at a gut level that we live in a post-democratic world, where the ritualistic forms of democracy are manipulated by politicians, crooks, and the media to exert oligarchic control over the state for the interests of the few. Yes, Yanukovych was duly elected, but so what!? So was Obama and David Cameron. This is something that the humble Asians with their “people power” movements in places like the Philippines and Thailand have long since realized but, then, they tend to have fewer illusions about politics than your average muddle-headed idealistic White.
These factors mean that what happened in the Ukraine has the potential to spread to other European countries, where we see corruption and sidelining of majority interests on a scale far grander than the Yanukovych government. In many senses it is worse, as the Ukraine has not been subjected to the horrors of Third World colonization as much of Western Europe has been.
There are a number of prime European countries that stand on the brink. They have the ingredients of their own Maidans: massive indebtedness, austerity, ethnic tensions, political disenchantment, and youth unemployment.
Youth unemployment is high almost everywhere. In 2012 the youth unemployment rate (those aged 15–24) varied from 8.1 % (Germany) to 55.3 % (Greece). Monthly figures in 2013 show a worsening situation in the majority of countries, with rates ranging from 7.7% (Germany) to 59.1% (Greece). Given the way that capitalism works, this also means that few actual jobs will be well-paid or satisfying.
The rise of the EU and the way this supranational body is used as a means of overriding the popular will in individual countries — with the cooperation of national governments — has strengthened the perception across the continent that the political class is a self-serving elite out of touch with the common people. This is why a number of traditionally smaller parties, like UKIP and the Front National, are surging at the moment.
Ukraine is important because it is an actual working model of a potential “European Spring.” But the main problem is that such a phenomenon does not serve the interests of powerful nations and groups, as was the case in Ukraine where the U.S. provided substantial support and where the opponents of the Yanukovych government included wealthy oligarchs as well as a large percentage of the inhabitants of Western Ukraine. And, after all the excitement of Yanukovych’s flight and the Russian seizure of Crimea, powerful interests are now starting to coincide and again enter into the kind of equilibrium based on the consensus detailed above.
While a successful “European Spring” has the potential to overturn the existing European order and even drive American power from Europe, the Russians would likely be wary of supporting it, first because of the established enmity between them and the Western Ukrainians who now dominate Ukraine, and secondly because they may fear the likelihood that such a scenario might spread to anti-Putin feeling in Russia.
Following the Arab Spring, the idea became established in Russian foreign policy circles that the US was applying “Chaos Theory” to its foreign policy. According to thinkers like Igor Shishkin, this was founded on a rejection of “linear deterministic process,” a view of the world as “a complex dynamic system, consisting of nations, states, religions, etc., which, in turn, are also complex dynamic systems,” and the realization that “dynamic systems never reach equilibrium” and small changes can lead to cataclysmic consequences.
If Shishkin is right, the Russian fear is that chaos suits America more than it suits Russia, something that also ties in with Alexander Dugin’s Eurasianism, which identifies chaos as an aspect or element of the thalassocratic (sea-based) power in contrast to the stability and equilibrium characteristic of the telluric (land-based) power. This is despite the fact that the US as the hegemonic power benefits most from the status quo!
Given this analytical underpinning, the Russians fear chaos in the EU-zone just as much as EU and US leaders, even though it offers the best hope of overturning the US-dominated NATO order.
Nevertheless, looked at objectively, the collapse of the EU, the overthrowing of several key European governments, and the breakaway and independence of various regions and historical nations on a tide of decentralist nationalism would not only undermine the power of supranational bodies like NATO and the EU but also disrupt the synergy that clearly exists between these two bodies. In such a scenario Russia would be in a position to use its political and economic power to roll back the gains made against it during its own period of internal chaos and weakness in the 1990s.
Indeed, Russia, despite its hostility to Ukrainian nationalists for obvious reasons, has been developing close relations with several European nationalist parties, including the France’s Front National, Hungary’s Jobbik, and Greece’s Golden Dawn, with the likely aim of making an alliance with forces opposed to the EU.
The National Front wishes to replace the EU and NATO with a pan-European partnership of independent nations, which, incidentally, includes Russia and would be driven by a trilateral Paris-Berlin-Moscow alliance. [Marine] Le Pen’s spokesman, Ludovic De Danne, recently recognized the results of the Crimea referendum and stated in an interview with Voice of Russia radio that, “historically, Crimea is part of Mother Russia.” In the same interview, he mentioned that he had visited Crimea several times in the past year. Marine Le Pen also visited Crimea in June 2013.
This is an excellent example of what one might term cooperative nationalisms. (For Jobbik, the “Crimea referendum is exemplary.”) Rather than the present Western program of isolation and aggression against Russia, it would assume its natural role as a European nation. The real enemy for Russia and all the nationalist movements of Europe is the EU and its program of obliterating all national identities while swamping Europe with millions of unassimilable aliens with no sympathy with the traditional peoples and cultures of Europe.
From an ethnic nationalist point of view, the EU and the USA are the real enemy. Russia must do more to take the battle to them, even if this means supporting a European Spring that draws inspiration from Kiev.