George Will: Is Ukraine the Cold War’s Final Episode?

 (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

(Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

George Will writes:  One hundred years ago this coming Aug. 4, the day Britain declared war on Germanysocialists in the German Reichstag voted for credits to finance the war. Marxists — including Lenin, who that day was in what now is Poland — were scandalized. Marx had preached that the proletariat has no fatherland, only a transnational class loyalty to proletarians everywhere. “In 1918,” wrote Louis Fischer, Lenin’s best biographer, “patriotism and nationalism, born of the ‘subjectivism’ Lenin so disliked, were ideological crimes in Soviet Russia.”

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These are history-shaping virtues in Ukraine today. Because the nation-state is the necessary framework for durable political liberty, nationalism is a necessary, although insufficient, impulse sustaining liberty. Marx, whose prophesies were perversely predictive because they were almost invariably wrong, predicted the end of nationalism. Economic forces, he said, determine political, cultural and psychological realities. So capitalism, with its borders-leaping cosmopolitanism, would dilute to the point of disappearance all emotional attachments to nations. Ukraine’s ferment is an emphatic, albeit redundant, refutation of Marxism.ukraine-kiev-protests-clashes

The political elites who cobbled together the European Union hoped that the pooling of national sovereignties would extinguish the nationalism that, they think, ruined Europe’s 20th century. They considered the resulting “democracy deficit” — the transfer of national parliaments’ prerogatives to Brussels bureaucrats — a price well worth paying for tranquillity.

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Now comes turbulent Ukraine, incandescent with nationalism and eager to preserve its sovereignty by a closer relationship with the European Union.

Ukraine’s president, Viktor Yanukovych, is resisting the popular desire for constitutionally limited government and for a national existence more independent of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s presence. Yanukovych wants to trade Ukraine’s aspirations for Putin’s billions.

Russia is ruled by a little, strutting Mussolini — the Duce, like Putin, enjoyed being photographed with his chest bare and his biceps flexed. Putin is unreconciled to the “tragedy,” as he calls it, of the Soviet Union’s demise. It was within the Soviet apparatus of oppression that he honed the skills by which he governs — censorship, corruption, brutality, oppression, assassination.

Remember when President George W. Bush peered into Putin’s eyes and got “a sense of his soul” as someone “very straightforward and trustworthy”? Remember when Putin fed the world the fable about rushing naked from his burning dacha — the fire started when Putin was in a sauna — before the rescue of his cherished crucifix, which had belonged to his sainted mother? Ukrainians, whose hard history has immunized them against the folly of wishful thinking, see in Putin’s ferret face the cold eyes of a prison warden…

Read the rest…

The Washington Post

Read more from George F. Will’s archive or follow him on Facebook.


2 Comments on “George Will: Is Ukraine the Cold War’s Final Episode?”

  1. […] George Will: Is Ukraine the Cold War’s Final Episode? (punditfromanotherplanet.com) […]


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