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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ghosts of World War II in Ukraine


I have acquaintances who are Ukrainian, Russian, Russian Jews, and formerly Polish Jews. Some since childhood, including Shoah survivors. Poland was made "judenrein" when the Poles refused to allow most holocaust survivor Jews to return to their homes and a lot of them wound up living in displacement camps until they were allowed to emigrate to either the USA or Russia. Ukraine wasn't much better. During World War II the Ukrainians were rather infamously recruited as concentration camp guards because of their reputation as enthusiastic about the Shoah. I didn't know much about this as a kid. To me America was a melting pot where words like Irish, Jew, Ukrainian, Italian were kid fashions in skin or hair color not real ethnicities. When I was a kid I thought all Poles were Jews and wondered why Catholic poles could do such mean things to Jewish Poles. I had a teacher who was a Ukrainian and she was incredibly strict (and beautiful). It was a label that's all until I started reading the history. When you meet a Pole, Ukrainian or Russian - or for that matter a Jew or a German - it's often hard to tell them apart unless they tell you who they are. Many Europeans are full of nasty and often spun or exaggerated history. Our USA perspective counts too. None of those prejudices really mean much compared to those necessities of living together (and playing together). I wish more people would grow up with that attitude. But as we've seen with former Yugoslavia, or you learn talking to anyone about their family history -- the record of oppression, dispossession and murder puts wedges between people.

This behavior of Vladimir Putin's rankles me because of my playground perspective. It's the ancient Empire game that's been in play since before Daniel interpreted Nebuchadnessars dream to him. You get all these people trying to turn themselves into Stars and their countries into Empires, and playing God with their own people -- and you get these old revanchist one sided memories. My Grand-pa killed your grand-uncle. Your great-grand uncle killed my Great Grand Uncle... Ad infinitum. The Golden statues have clay feet.

To me Daniel's prophesy gets reinforced and reinterpreted by Christian and other Jewish prophets it is as much part of the Poem Ozzymandias as any of those prophets. The Golden Man has clay feet because ultimately no matter how great and terrible the nations that are said to form the vision, ultimately clay is not only beneath the feet but beneath the gold, silver, bronze and iron that define such civilization. Clay is humanity with all it's failings. And clay is resentment too. Humanity has clay feet and the day we wake up and realize that this is true and that we live in a tiny (from the Eternal's perspective) stone ball, the sooner we can dissolve all the insanity to dust. And this is true with Russia and the Ukraine. Ukrainian languages are similar to Russian Languages. And Ukrainian language is similar to Polish Language. The people are related from long ago. Their fight is more based on delusion than reality.

Russian Invasion

So the Russian speakers putting out a call for all Jews to register in the Ukraine probably reflects propaganda and incitement more than reality. There aren't many Jews in Ukraine anymore to register, but the call to register reflects undead zombie ideology that is suddenly coming to the top after years poorly buried in the ground.

The reason cited in the leaflets for the leaflets was allegations that Jews sided with Ukrainia at the end of WWII against Russia;

"Jewish community of Ukraine supported Bendery Junta, a reference to Stepan Bandera, the leader of the Ukrainian nationalist movement that fought for Ukrainian independence at the end of World War II, "and oppose the pro-Slavic People's Republic of Donetsk," a name adopted by the militant leadership."

A libel, but in a society where libel and myth frequently supplant any semblance of truth, something I guess one should expect. There aren't many Jews left in Ukrainia so those leaflets rightly upset the remainder. I've seen arguments from Russian loving friends that claimed that they had to fight the government of Ukraine because it was dominated by Nazis. And now we see the Russians claiming they have to expel disloyal Jews because they sided with the Ukraine Government at the end of World War II. Totally insane -- on all sides. The Ukrainians see the Russians as trying to carve up their country. It looks like they are right. But you can't tell pro-Russian westerners that.

If Putin manages to use the age old war between Ukrainians who are more Polish, more Ukrainian, or more Russian, to carve off more of Ukraine, he's fighting that old World Empire battle with the ancient divide and rule tactics. And I'm sure he feels aggrieved. And Nato isn't helping any with this. Everything Nato could do would probably make things worse. "Freedom Fighters?" will just encourage police state repression. Funding the Ukrainians, same. We can't move an army into the area without making a real war flare up. The best we can do right now is put sanctions on Russia and encourage common sense on all sides.

Ozymandias will fall. This ancient war of rival empires and wannabe emperors is built in failure. Tyranny; government for "private, separate advantage" [John Locke], and oligarchy; are disfunctional systems because they are abusively optimized and that creates bottlenecks and points of failure. The only reason the West isn't pushing back harder on Putin is that they get their oil and gas from him. Our only long run way to fight this insanity is with solar, wind, water and earth power. We all have the same problem. Russians thinking Ukraine is a bully to ethnic Russians in their state -- are being manipulated.

The enemy is Ozzymandias. The enemy is the notion that we need to make giant statues of our little men we make our officers. Like Putin. Like GW Bush. Ultimately like any of us when we get arrogant and start to suffer from hubris.

The world is one. When we realize that, we will win.

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