It is an interesting and much under researched fact that all nations have ‘national myths’. In times of war these become particularly important: they become almost ‘rocks of unity’ around which all set aside previous disputes and make them a single people determined to resist.
Of National Myths
By ‘myths’ in this sense I do not mean legends of knights slaying dragons, or Princesses escaping evil relatives on flying carpets but something more analagous to one Carl Jungs archetypal (neo Platonic) forms. A national myth may be or include a martydom of a person, a battle, a religion, a war or even a work of literature or a type of cuisine. They become ‘national archetypes’ in a psuedo Jungian sense; “heroes who we must live up to” in some cases, the words of poetry or music with which we associate ourselves to our ‘motherland’ recognised by all the nation, particlularly in time of war, that have maybe lain dormant for years but now identify us with our neighbours and even with the lowest stranger in need as one nation.
To better illustrate my meaning let me take some examples: From England/UK the Magna Carta, the defeat of the Armada, Shakespeare, the Civil War that started about ship tax; Cromwell’s Commonwealth could still be said to define the British political system, there is lots more obviously; Nelson and Waterloo, Blenheim, Crecy, Agincourt to El Alamein and the Falklands, Churchill’s famous speeches and defiance when the Island Nation stood alone.
In Poland the myth is different: Catholicism plays a large part but the Piasts, the Jagiellon Commomwealth, Sobieski’s famous victory over the Ottomans at Vienna, the great works of literature, the fine Universities that gave rise to Copernicus, the Black Madonna, the tombs in Wawel, the many revolts, the ‘Christ of Europe’, Piłsudski’s famous victory against the Soviets in 1920 etc etc..
Each nation has it’s own myths, from Joan of Arc to De Gaulle who used the Cross of Lorraine as a symbol in France to Paul Revere’s ride in the US and all have great literately works, national ‘heros’, famous battles etc etc that add to the myth. It could be argued that in many ways the role of language in keeping a subjected nation alive is as a means of keeping these myths alive. The language conveys the myth in some cases, for if the word ‘holodomor’ were ever banned in Ukraine and the history books burned those who understood the word would remember and perhaps aspire again to a free Ukraine. Similarly one could imagine that had Nazi Germany succeeded in invading and subjugating Great Britain in 1940 Shakepeare’s Henry V must have been proscribed for to read it is incitement to English sovereignty in itself. But banning books is small fry for the criminal regime that holds power in Moscow, internet memes, deaths of those on ‘special operations’ during peacetime – although ‘special operations’ are undefined and why would they be needed in ‘peacetime’ is not explained, but Bill Browders book banned, Sasha Litvininko (the polonium poisoned one) book banned but for any who want a great extract. Remember Sasha Litvinenko was a senior officer to Putin when Putin was illegally, by FSB rules, made Director in 1998. Litvinenko was a Colonel and Putin had wangled his way into the Directors post as a Major and was busy doing dubious politically orientated operations such as Ryazan.
Distortions of Myth
So what are Ukrainians – the inheritors of the original Kyivan Rus lands – to make of it when a so called ‘Russian’ President from St Petersburg, a city founded on land that was formerly Swedish, says that Crimea is for Moscovy their “our Temple Mount“, likening it to the Jewish reverence on the remains of the Temple in Jerusalem. Well a complex historical and genealogical case could be made on heirs of Rurik, the legendary Varangian who founded the first Viking settlements in the east of whom Vladimir, Prince of Kyivan Rus was an ancestor and was the first of his family Baptised into the Greek faith. A later descendent of Rurik later became the Prince of Moscow in 1283 (family tree here) neither by old Salic nor Greek law would such a rule apply since the Rurikids of Muscovy were replaced by the Romanovs and only in 1783 did Ukraine first become subject to Muscovy. If the case is base on conversion then the Ukrainian Patriarch is second only to the Greek and the Muscovite Church a late comer. Vladimir, Prince of Kyivan Rus, never visited Moscow, almost certainly never heard of it as it was a backwater when Princes of Anglo Saxon England such Edward the Exile, son of Edmund Ironside who fought Cnut, visited Kyiv and were given hospitality. Kyiv and Kyivan Rus was indeed deep in European engagement Yaroslav ‘the Wise’ had a grand daughter, Eupraxia married to the Holy Roman Emperor Henry lll and married other relatives to the Kings of kings of Poland, France, Hungary and Norway. Kyivan Rus was a cosmopolitan and connected entity until the Mongols came. The first Prince of Moscow to call himself ‘Grand Prince of all the Rus’ was Ivan lll it was not until 1783, after the first partition of partition of Poland in 1772 and the destruction of the Zaporozhian Cossacks in 1775 that the Imperial Muscovite tide crept to the Crimean peninsular. Having ‘ethnically cleansed’ many hundreds of thousands of Tartars during deportation when they were purposely starved Muscovite Russian speaking ‘colonists’ took over the houses and farms of the deportee’s – many of whom would never need them again of course. Crimea was never Muscovite before then but now has a ruler who was born in Moldova and was called “Goblin” in his criminal gang ‘Salem”. It has been supposed that Putin sees himself as some new ‘Vladimir’ and God forgive them but there is even a sect who almost worship him but this is stealing history. If a descendant of Rurik remains even he could not claim Ukraine nor Crimea by right of his ancestor being the ‘first convert’. Putin’s claim is therefore akin to a French President claiming Syria as ‘holy for France’ because St Paul had a vision on the road to Damascus and he is an inheritor of the Roman Emperors who learned Christianity from St Paul…
It remains that Vladimir was a Prince of Kyivan Rus – long before Muscovy was heard of – and that his history and conversion is part of the history of the land now known as Ukraine; you cannot steal the history from the land where it happened. Others may share that history but having accepted Baptism in Chersonesos (from which todays city named Kherson derives) Prince Valdamarr Sveinaldsson returned to Kyiv, not Moscow. By making this claim – that the first Kyivan Prince to convert to Christianity is a Muscovite icon he is stealing someone elses history. Muscovy and the other successor states were ever at war until by intrigue or interfeuding they fell into Muscovite power. The Tartars in Crimea were the last of the free peoples to fall and so have been treated worst though the Holodomor was much the same brought to Ukraine. He entirely neglects the real and still existing reality of the Tartars existence almost – it is ‘Holy land’ – forget the real history of the real people who’s land it was. Stealing Tartar history of course most neglect but we new Ukrainians cannot forget our nations parts and roots – for it’s survival depends on its myth. When Putin says that “the Russian and Ukrainian peoples are practically one people” he is saying the same thing. “You don’t have a history!” But this of course is untrue – from Kyivan Rus of old to Debaltseve and Maryinka today Ukrainians prove they are not subjects of the Muscovite Mafia. Worse still it encourages the misguided thinking of today’s Lord Lothian’s who when Hitler reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936 said “”after all they, [the Germans] are only going into their own back garden”, for if Ukrainians and Muscovites are the ‘same people’ then of course Ukraine is Putin’s ‘back garden’. It is of a course a manipulation intended to fool but the very fact that Ukrainians are resisting his ‘hybrid army’ daily should lead him to suspect his historical analysis is mistaken were it truly a historical claim rather than the cynical aggression it is the real motivation being to intended to cower others to obey as well as cover up his deeply misguided gamble last year from his own oppressed populace.
Of course ‘labeling’ is another way to steal a persons real truth; “Ukrainians are all fascists” completely ignores the real reasons why Sasha, Andrey, Anika or the many thousands of others were ever on Maidan right? Because they were all ‘fascists’ is the short answer. Well of course life is not like that – all went for different reasons and many to watch. This labeling also denies the fact that the Ukrainian people have a strong and deep desire for truth within them and thus more than anything else want reform. It forgets entirely the January 16th ‘Dictatorship Laws’, the corruption of the Yanukovych ‘family’; Yanukovych who himself had been a small time crook in Donbass, his son who just “happened to be very good at business” as if his father being President was mere coincidence this was unbelievable, much as Putin’s lies are today. But by perpertrating these lies they are stealing the truth – the true motives of the countless Sasha’s, Andrey’s and innumerable others who’s story must be heard.
In a similar manner; “It was a CIA/Jewish banker/alien etc etc plot to overthrow the democratically elected President of Ukraine (Yanukovych)” is a myth in itself and seeks to steal the truth of the people who played a part in his departure – ironically from Putin himself who gave him orders to leave for Donbass on Feb 21st. But it also steals the story of the ‘Heavenly Hundred’ the countless numbers who people provided food, or bandages or the old ladies who dug up cobblestones and formed chains to pass them on as well as the countless other acts, people standing in front of trains – what was their motivation – in Ivano Frankivsk for that on Feb 18? or why did people seize the administration buildings almost spontaneously after January 16 through most of west and central Ukraine? Nor is every day the same – people come and go and moods change and motivations which might once have been mere aspirations may become determined objectives once the Berkut has beaten you. You cannot ascribe a single source or motivation to all these people but by describing them as ‘fascists’ or saying “it was the CIA etc” you are attempting to steal the real stories of the people who took part and who alone know why they took part or why many are now serving in the Ukrainian army. Of course had not the Putin regime decided to invade Ukraine on Feb 20th last year and continued since I am sure many parents, Wives and children would have their loved ones home by now. Some will never return and have payed the greatest cost that any can pay. Yet these too had a true story that we can never permit to be stolen and in some ways they serve on. They become part of the myth. Who can ever forget the ‘Cyborgs’ singing the National Anthem if once it is seen? This staunchness, in defiance and in adversity becomes part of the real and living myth from which a nation derives it’s inspiration in future times of need. Nadiya Savechenko is another case – who can doubt her loyalty or courage? But these thousands if not hundreds of thousands all have slightly different versions for each person: Sasha A is married to Nina in Rivna and misses her and their three sons while Captain Andrey has a girlfriend called Anna in Dniepro and is happy with the football etc etc You cannot ‘steal’ a persons reality anymore than you can steal the history from the land on which it happened but the attempt is still continuing. It belongs intrinsically to the people who today are making their own history in defiance of all odds.
These are the real histories – all different and complicated and doubtless not all saintly or guiltless – of those who defend not just Ukraine but Europe, because any who still believe this is just about Ukraine then they need to visit the front and see for themselves that nearly all Ukrainian soldiers are Russian speakers, some being Russian citizens, but it is their history, their motivation for a better Ukraine – and they may disagree about what ‘better’ means but it does not include domination from Moscow – it is they, Ukraine’s ‘New Heroes’ who are creating the new Ukrainian national myth. The politicians will be forgotten but the myths and legends of the ‘Cyborgs’, of Nadiya on hunger strike, of the comrade who saved Sasha A or the artillery commander who arrived in time. The countless volunteers who collect food, clothing and everything else and take it to the forces, those that collect money outside Ukraine or send money, those who write as well and try to publicise the topics. There is a truth for each of us from Sasha A now on the front to those collecting money in Canada down to those who said a prayer for a Ukraine. More though we share a truth; we recognise Ukrainian sovereignty, whole and free and everyday however we serve Ukraine we are creating the new Ukraine; it is our work not some Putin label or distortion of history. But this history and reality cannot be allowed to be stolen by a label or a lie. That is why the stories of all matter.
The New Ukrainian Myth
Our new heroes are no doubt not without faults and we can recognise them as people like us – from the Heavenly Hundred to Nadiya Savchenko and the Cyborgs and the men still on the front now. One does not need to be a Saint to be a hero; standing up for what is right against the odds and knowing the righteousness of your cause ennobles. These are the odds that make myths and nations from them. The Ukrainian people every day embellish and add further glory to their long history. The new Myth is being made at the front and in Government reform – although slower than some might wish – but each much live up to the new ‘heroes’ in their own way and consensus is needed also. It is necessary that these true stories of today’s Ukrainian heroes, reforming the Government, arresting corrupt officials and most importantly standing in the front line for all of Europe, the thousands of stories of volunteers, the pictures the children draw be one day, when victory is achieved and Ukraine whole and free, others may tell the story and mention their names to their Grand children, the Tartars who have been martyred, the Chechens who serve with the Ukrainian forces – all stories must be remembered and form a part of the new Ukrainian myth and identity. Everyday the heroic Ukrainians create this new history. May it never end!
It is said the “History is written by the winner” and often this is true – the History of the people who lived in Carthage and spawned Hannibal we only know of from Roman sources. Yet Ukrainian history has lived on from 1775 to it’s brief re-emergences in the 20th Centuries to stand tall today. The roots are remembered by some but most just want a better future and cannot equate that with the Muscovite system which has oppressed our nation with such malice and suffering that it compares only to the Mongols, who’s real successor the Muscovite Empire or what today they call the ‘Russian Federation’ is but Putin is no Temüjin, still less a Subutai. He already has a throne and what concerns him most is staying on it. Now he leads the people under his misguided rule back into the past; every week or month new announcements of repression – as if the media were not 99% controlled already. ‘Foreign funded’ Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) because people outside his rule might care about those within and donate money to organisations for orphans or the homeless… Accept the donation and you are a ‘fifth column organisation’ accepting foreign gifts to betray the State. Then any “undesirable organisation” which being a loose term could involve anything from a football club to a prayer club but the meaning is clear; if we do not like you – or more often if you have something I want – I will take you and it out. Recently we had the decree passed forbidding news of deaths of Putin’s troops when on ‘special operations in peacetime’. Well if it’s ‘peace time’ why are ‘special operations’ underway? But now it is a crime for the mothers of those who he sends to die in Ukraine to ask about the deaths of their sons who have been doing their service in the military in ‘peace time’. Really a comedian could get a crowd laughing at this and it would be funny if people did not suffer because of this evil mafiosi regime. But backwards he hurtles his now captive populace – they will not be permitted to leave soon – to an oblivion of despair and any that oppose him… the list is too long and Vladimir Kara – Murza almost certainly the latest but it seems he at least may survive for now.
Should we oppose this when it comes to Ukraine? It’s precisely the opposite of what the ‘Revolution of Dignity’ was about: for reformed corruption free, transparent government and more opportunity for all. But this is why the New Ukrainian myth and identity will live longer also. As Putin hurtles back to the Checkist state, Ukraine reforms – albeit slowly. Ukraine is making progress toward prosperity and opportunity for all whereas Putin is closing his subjugated people down and threatening them. You do not have to be a genius to see the directions diverging and work out the ends. This war was won long ago in truth, only Putin refuses to see it, as he was mistaken last year and cannot be seen to have been wrong. He doesn’t need Ukraine for security or any of the rest of it – it’s hardly as if Ukraine is about to attack Moscow and getting the reforms done and EU trade going would be a profit to the Muscovite economy; Ukraine get’s richer – it’s people can buy more etc.. make more also. Long term time is only on Ukraine’s side and victory is assured.
But once victory over the Muscovite aggression is achieved it is important that the truth be collected and written – that Maidan was NOT a CIA/Jewish or even alien lizard people ‘coup’, that citizens of the Russian Federation fight today for Ukraine because this is not a war between the Ukrainian and Muscovite peoples, but a war waged against the Ukrainian people by a deeply criminal Muscovite regime. I long for the day when the statue of Prometheus is erected in Kyiv and the names of all the heroes, from the Heavenly Hundred to the heroic troops who have payed the ultimate price to the old babushka hit by misguided shellfire, inscribed beneath; indeed it could be said that Prometheus himself has spoken to Ukraine; “I gave them hope, and so turned away their eyes from death.” (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound). Then the new Ukrainian myth and the truth will coincide and Ukraine be at peace.