This is was not going to be another post about the war, I just wanted to start a regular review with a few thoughts on that topic. It turned out long enough for a separate piece 😉
First and foremost, remember that the war goes on. Civilians still need help, many volunteer units still lack protective equipment and things like infra-vision. Please help, however you can. It’s best to support local Ukrainian organizations, as they know best what’s needed. One NGO with long history and thus credibility, and wide range of activities is Prytula Foundation. If you want to buy something to show your support (t-shirts, mugs, flags etc.), Saint Javelin has a great selection and can be trusted to use their profits wisely. I own their HIMARS t-shirt and it’s very cool 🙂
You might have heard about NAFO… North Atlantic Fellas Organization, an online alliance that has nothing to do with CIA, as there is no CIA. You can see their Shiba Inu avatars all over the internet, debunking propaganda, trolling Russian diplomats and collecting money for the cause. There are more serious organizations out there, like EU vs Disinfo, but the collective enthusiasm of all the fellas and the flexibility their lack of formal status gave them makes them quite effective. Them, or shall I say, us? I hope so, I’m waiting for my NAFO avatar & will update the post when I finally get it 🙂
Eastern Europe is often seen through Russian lenses, even by well-meaning Westerners. It’s only one side of the picture and a very distorted one. Even “liberal” Russian can’t be trusted to support Ukrainian independence. They might agree war isn’t good, but many still support the continuation of Russian colonial empire. Look at the maps, compare XVI-century Muscovy to current Russia, it is the biggest colonial empire left standing. But do not treat this part of the world solely as defined by its relation to Russia, as many ignorant people do…
Poland is largely immune, as we’re quite a big country that managed to get noticed several times in history. Baltic States are often misunderstood and put under the former Soviet Union tag without their pre-Soviet history being acknowledged, or the simple fact Soviets brutally occupied them and, when leaving, left significant numbers of colonists behind to cause trouble. Ukraine was in an even worse situation, for a variety of reasons. One of them – for an untrained ear both languages sound similar. Remember, your ignorance, even if justified (no one has time to learn all the languages, I know, I myself barely know two), is not a proof there is no actual difference.
I wonder why, for some people, it’s often so difficult to understand what Russia does. They are able to see the ugly effects of British or American colonialism, but are just blind to the wider consequences of the Russian one. And they go beyond the obvious atrocities of military conquest. Russian subjugated entire cultures, and russified large populations of conquered lands. Use of the Ukrainian language was sometimes discouraged, sometimes banned, children taught to ridicule their own culture and see Russia’s as something better. Please, apply your critical thinking here as well.
Soviet Union collapsed 30 years ago, now I hope we see the beginning of the collapse of the Russian Empire. No clear signs of serious dissent within the Russian Federation, but see how Central Asia is distancing itself from Russia (Kazakhstan!), how Russia is powerless to stop Azerbaijan from going beyond agreements in Nagorno-Karabakh… I wonder what will be left of Russia when its empire is gone. They will have to re-invent themselves, as Germans and Japanese did.
Back in February I decided to concentrate on Ukrainian voices. We listened to Russians long enough. That’s why my biggest recommendation today is for you to listen to Ukrainian Spaces, a great podcast by Ukrainians fluent in English and in modern culture. They can explain it to you, don’t rely on old Sovietologists-turned-Russiologists that have never seen Eastern Europe beyond Moscow…
In the words of podcast’s authors:
We see millions of Ukrainians with perfect English sharing their stories across all social media platforms. Yet, the conversations about Ukraine are still dominated by foreign, mostly white, and mostly male, folks. Not only it continuously robs Ukrainians of their agency, but it also perpetuates outdated, misleading, and false narratives about Ukraine and Ukrainians.
That’s why we launched this live broadcast event and a podcast to foster a relaxed, safe, and chill space for Ukrainian voices to express themselves without the need of fitting foreign boxes. The rest can use it to educate themselves and decolonize their views of Ukraine.
This is a 100% volunteer effort by two Ukrainians in times of war. We have been doing this work on top of our daily jobs and we need your help. To carry on. To turbo-charge #UkrainianSpaces to a much better production level.
Join our Patreon community to make sure Ukrainian voices are amplified and elevated globally.
For all addition information and links click here.
Val & Maksym”
Here you can find episode list.
Much shorter reading can be found here. Ukrainian film-maker Oleksiy Radynski talks to Polish writer and sociologist Kinga Dunin about the war and, among other topics, Russian writers (so Bookstooge should definitely read this part ;)! ). He’s not proposing a boycott, but a rethinking of how we see the existing pantheon, especially our veneration of Tolstoyevsky – we should check, Radynski argues, Tolstoy’s privilege, and see how madly right-wing Dostoyevsky is. But there are also some recommendations! Myself, I think I’m going to read Vladimir Sorokin’s Telluria.
Radynski is also quite angry at Germany, something he shares with most Eastern Europeans. If anyone can point me to a nice analysis showing what Scholz is really thinking, please do it in the comments 😉 I was willing to give him a large credit of trust, but it’s mostly exhausted. Right now, most people in my part of the world are of the opinion that Germany gives zero Fuchs. I wouldn’t go that far myself, but I think it would be so easy for the strongest economy of Europe to do more. Russia can’t get any more angry, so why not commit yourselves fully to get it done faster? Ukrainians will do all the fighting themselves anyway, we should concentrate on providing maximum support. USA seem to be doing just that, providing long-term sustained support.
On the frontlines, there are great things going on at the moment. Great things. Two offensives, the northern one quite brilliant, more than I dared to hope for – but we need to wait a couple of days, make sure Ukrainian Army will be able to hold what they regained. I’m keeping my fingers crossed! I have a pretty comprehensive Twitter list where I follow 75 accounts, OSINT, news, analysis… feel free to take a look and point me towards something interesting I’m missing there…
Ok, enough about war, Ola is crazy busy these days, but I promise there will be a regular review from me some time soon 🙂
September 20 update
Oh, some time ago I finally got my Fella, a dog with a golden pistol, straight from Bond 😉
8 thoughts on “The war goes on…”
I’ll leave a real comment in a couple of hours so I don’t come into this in combat mode.
Good to see you posting n glad to reminded this is still going on. Our mainstream media has pretty dropped this topic.
LikeLiked by 1 person
When you do come back, you can concentrate on how I’m attacking the hypocrisy of the left 😉 We had a discussion yesterday, with Ola and some friends, and we wondered if all the anti-colonialism isn’t just self-hate of some of the progressives, who only attack America or NATO regardless of the local context. “US supports Ukraine therefore Ukraine is bad”… Jeremy Corbyn, Pope Francis, Noam Chomsky, they all share some ugly attitudes here. And Roger Waters, his recent ‘letter’ to Ukraine’s First Lady was the ugliest, dumbest thing I’ve read in a long time…
LikeLiked by 3 people
Sorry about that long delay.
I am not emotionally invested in this issue, but I definitely react to your emotional reaction, for good or bad, so it’s wicked complicated to navigate this issue.
I guess in regards to Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, I’d say OF COURSE they wrote from a place of privilege. Who else had the time or resources otherwise? Of course, the unspoken assumption in most uses of the word “privilege” is that it is completely unearned and undeserved and thus should be treated as something bad and horrible. It ignores the idea of generational good being passed on. Damned straight I should be privileged if my grands and parents lived right and gave me an inheritance. And if I do the same, I can pass that on to another generation.
It would be like me saying that Dickens doesn’t deserve to be read anymore because he wrote from privilege AND was a damned socialist. And my country is currently being overrun by damned socialists and we can’t even kill them.
Rambling there. But how you react to russian authors, while understandable emotionally, rubs me the wrong way because you keep trying to cover that dislike in a moral cloak. At least, that’s how it is coming across to me.
This is why I try to not get involved with issues like this online. I might agree with 75% of what you write but the 25% we disagree on seems to overshadow everything else. That’s as much, if not more so, on me than on you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thanks for writing this, I appreciate you took your time to elaborate. I hope I can close a gap between our stances a bit 🙂
Tolstoy’s privilege went far beyond inter generational accumulation of goods as we understand it. He was nobility, born into a family of hereditary slave owners (serfdom in Russia was not much different from slavery until 1861 and the reforms of 1861 gave serfs no true equality and pretty grim chances of pursuing happiness). I believe US was build to abolish this kind of privilege, and I fully applaud that endeavour. Dostoyevsky was a great writer who had some very strange ideas and hated my people, so I’m not a huge fan, but that’s not my point when I’m talking about Ukraine. Dostoyevsky believed strongly in Russian exceptionalism, and while Tolstoy tried in many ways to be a good human being, Radynski in the text I’m linking argues there were limits there.
I’m not as set on boycotting Russian classics as I was in February/March. I’m just still more interested in Ukrainian authors, and their perspective, and I’m certainly going to judge the living Russian authors by their attitude towards the war, but that’s all. Although… when reading older Russian writers, I’ll always watch out for signs of imperialism. I don’t just want “good Russians”, I want Russians willing to f*k off & let other peoples live their way in freedom.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Thanks for this, Piotrek, so important to redress balances in reporting, and thanks for the links which I’ll chase up.
LikeLiked by 2 people
A very commendable post to show support to Ukrainian creators while inviting us to reflect on what we know about Russia and our veneration for their own creators. Thanks for sharing!
LikeLiked by 2 people
You’re welcome! There are so many Russia experts that never visited Kyiv who still feel competent enough to speak about the war, I try to promote local voices. Russia proved to be way less competent militarily than was believed, but is still a cultural and political superpower – at least in comparison to Ukraine. Lets change that!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Pingback: Re-Enchanted 2022 – Re-enchantment Of The World