‘The Republicans‘goal – Ukraine in the Top-20 most developed countries in the world (since we have already been there). To discuss this goal Studerespublika organized Civic Lyceum I in Kyiv. Its topic was ‘Progressive Agenda for Humanity and Ukrainian Subjectivity’.
Respublicans are concerned with the progress and modernization of Ukraine, Europe and the world. Civic LyceumI focused on International Relations of Ukraine. It gathered concerned citizens and prominent intellectuals, including Oleh Belokolos, Yuriy Buzduhan, Vitaliy Kulyk, Mykhaylo Minakov (viaSkype), Denys Pilash, Andrey Yermolaiev. The discussion took place on 26 October 2019 at the The Maksymovych Scientific Library of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University. A brief summary follows.
The difficult period that Ukraine is currently experiencing makes it important to engage in civic enlightenment – systematic in-depth dialogues on universal civic values, a worthy place for our country in the global context, etc.
Civil Lyceum — it is a space of freedom without censorship and hate speech, where every thought is respected and where there are no right or wrong positions.
The format of the events included position papers and expert reports followed by discussion.
Since Ukraine occupies a humble place in the periphery (not even the semi-periphery) too many decisions about the fate of our country are made elsewhere, without us and often against us. In order to become masters in our own country and to gain respect abroad, to raise the living standards to the level of the Top-20 most developed countries and to stop being the scene of most shameful scandals – it is necessary to understand our country’s subjectivity.
Opening the Civic Lyceum I, the leader of the Republicans Pavlo Viknуanskyy emphasized that intellectual discourse is not born in TV shows or social networks (as some try to convince us) but in academic circles of professional thinkers resulting in collective intellectual creativity. The first challenge for the Republican movement is to raise the bar, to tackle difficult topics, some as complicated as international politics, argued Viknуanskyy.
Director of the publishing house ‘Summit Book’ Ivan Stepurin, friend and partner of Studrepublika, welcomed the participants. He expressed his admiration and respect for the active and creative intellectuals gathered at the Lyceum. He was convinced that if such people could enter politics Ukraine would change for the better.
Constituents of Ukrainian Subjectivity: Values, Alliances, Pragmatism, Hard and Soft Power
Europe’s political elites cannot rethink the foundations of European civilization in the new conditions when the focus is shifted to the Asia-Pacific region — the triangle of the USA—China-Russia, where a serious confrontation between the United States and China is brewing.
Belokolos noticed that a binary vision of foreign policy is promoted in Ukraine: either the European Union or the United States, while other options remain mute. Consequently, issues like Russia’s long-term goals in Ukraine and coherent strategy of relations with China are hardly discussed.
What should Ukrainian subjectivity stand for, according to a specialist?
Euromaidan fought for the foreign policy not to be in the interests of the elitists, but for the majority of the population. If values are incorporated, understood, open – it will make our foreign policy understandable to the environment, to our friends, enemies, partners, allies, predictable and ultimately effective in terms of protection of national interests of Ukraine.
Today, in the international legal context, we have no allies, that is, mutual assistance agreements in case of war. We could look for them among the mid-size countries that want to keep a distance from the ‘triangle states’. But we don’t have an understanding of “follow the rules” yet.
If young people do not see their future in the country, such country has no future. Foreign policy must work to create the conditions for sensible investment attraction, for the creation of new businesses, and for job creation.
Hard power. Nowadays only countries whose armed forces, either alone or in collaboration with other countries, can repel any aggressor are subjects of world politics.
Soft power. Infopolitics should be commensurate with the Russian Federation, multilingual, actively use the tools of state-public partnership.
‘I want this discussion to be a trigger for a broad professional discussion and it is important that there should be a document titled ‘Foreign Policy of Ukraine’, […] there should be guidelines. We must act promptly, because we have no time, the opportunities for Ukraine will not always be open. […] It is necessary to look for the Ukrainian vector!’
The Way out of the Crisis is Refoundation of Ukraine
The next was political scientist Vitaliy Kulyk with the topic ‘Is International Subjectivity Possible in the Post-Political World’. In the interpretation of the intellectual, postpolitics is when the words ‘conflict’, ‘enemies’ are removed from political discourse, and therefore the main political meanings (state, parties, etc.) are blurred, politics boils down, according to Bourdieu, ‘secrets of ministries’, technologies (procedures), imitations, competitions not between ideas, but between budgets, visuals, and targeting.
Popular sovereignty was forgotten – and equality ceased to be relevant, class contradictions were hiding, and major conflicts in the world became private (family, ethnic, household, gender, etc.). Politics have lost connection with reality, and the appeal to active use social networks says nothing because they have their own internal logic.
The run-in with postpolitics is taking place in Ukraine, as evidenced by Zelensky’s triumph. Unfortunately, the subjective maneuvering field in the country of the experiment is very narrow (as in Rojava). The way out is to actualize our public interest.
The Ukrainian conflict is unique, specific (because with superstate) and requires an appropriate approach to resolve it, but it is impossible to resolve it on foreign models, such as Croatian, Jordanian, Kashmir, Ulster, Northern Cyprus or Sierra Leone. Russian intervention is not an easy thing in terms of international law, because it is based on the concept of ‘the right, the duty to humanitarian intervention’ (as it was in Biafra, as NATO has practiced more than once), tried by Russia during the ‘08.08.08 War’, and then the came turn of Ukraine. In principle, sovereignty has become a rather conditional thing. Global players are also interested in gesheft from Ukraine.
‘We need to focus on solving domestic, humanitarian problems and teaching society to live in war’, – Kulyk says.
Today the way out is to refoundate the country, the most inclusive constitutional process, the Constituent, but in the post-political conditions, it is not possible, because… memes, scandals (‘Veryovka Choir’, etc.). Conflicts, contradictions need to be returned to politics to solve non-bureaucratic institutions (networks, non-profit economic projects, various horizontal formats – as they are now during the Hong Kong Maidan).
The Myth about the Middle Class Sublimated to the Myth of a New Generation
He emphasized that the topic (myth) of the mass middle class is becoming the main one in the global framework, but in Ukraine it is already sublimated in the myth of the savior, about the chosenrepresentatives of the new generation of the middle class, in which like everything will work out. And this new myth will work for a long time.
However, the ‘new’, instead of innovation, rehabilitates the trophy economy of wild capitalism. There are currently 2 lines of conflict: horizontal – between corporations and the middle class and vertical – between the state (and the new elite) and regional power. The first line is that now the non-public negotiations between the state and the ‘old’ corporations (‘heavy’ assets) have already begun – this conflict is either converted into dialogue (and hence the reconfiguration of power), or it will become irreconcilable. The second line of confrontation can lead to more serious conflict than at present in the Donbas, there is a possibility of macro-regional separatism – economically, culturally and ideologically motivated, no longer connected with external instances and a large diplomatic game.
It is important to understand that the regional structure reflects the system of balance of social and national capital, both industrial and social. In Ukraine, through the imbalance of the «state-region-population», we ourselves create the ground for torn citizenship. Among the necessary actions is the rehabilitation of the School of Economic Geography. ‘If we do nothing, do not raise our asses, then we lose again to the major part of the new generation’, – summed up Yermolaiev.
We Need a Common Goal
The format of Civic Lyceum provides discussion about everything, except that devalues people, sows hatred. Excursion into the ambiguous but now very popular geopolitical approach with the presentation of ‘4 Unique ‘Geopolitical Resources’ of Ukraine. 4 Factors of Power’ was made by a publicist, Member of Parliament of Ukraine II c. Yuriy Buzduhan. He appealed to the youth, urging her to connect her life’s ways ’not with startups, not with small businesses, but with age-old tasks’. He also reminded that according to geopolitical theory, Ukraine has 4 ‘natural resources of power’: natural borders, geopolitical axis, civilization engine, are part of Heartland – at the same time as the USA, Germany and Russia have only 1-2 such factors.
Finally, he noted that we, all the people, need a common goal – to create a leading civilization with the social standards of the countries of the ‘golden billion’.
With regard to the United States, there is such a situation that the next generation knows that it will live worse than the past. Because of this, leftist, socialist ideas are extremely popular there with millennials, young people, and now in the mainstream is such interesting, unusual for modern Washington phenomena as the Green New Deal – a concept of ‘new course’ aimed at rebuilding the economy on ‘green’ rails and according to the Keynesian model, and the phenomenon of such highly rated politicians as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. With regard to the forthcoming presidential election in America, Pilash said that a radical break with politics – the one set by the United States in the outside world – will not even happen if a sufficiently left-wing politician like Sanders is elected.
According to the speaker, the task of all people of progress is to reinvent the progressive agenda for humanity, taking into account all the pros and cons of leftist theory and practice. In particular, large grassroots movements are required that can be pressed, both electorally and by direct action methods. After all, we must always fight for progress, and not always in the world has it happened peacefully. Moreover, when now the new Ukrainian authorities are actually acting as ‘useful idiots’ for transnational capital.
‘The Main Hope for Today is Republican Construction and Peace’
World-famous Ukrainian philosopher Mykhaylo Minakov concluded the program with the report ‘Social Progress and Ukraine’ via Skype. He spoke about the birth and development of the idea and practice of progress.
Modern social theory understands progress in terms of:
or human development: increasing and complicating individual choices; wealth as a maximum and poverty as a minimum of choice;
or social progress: it is the ability of society to meet basic needs of the population, opportunities for persons with disabilities and communities to improve the quality of life, and enable individuals to reach their full potential as much as possible.
Now human development is an increase of freedoms and opportunities of people, improvement of their well-being. Modern human development is a natural process when ordinary people decide for themselves who to be, what to do and how to live.
The progress is the entire human property that has its measured materiality. Accordingly, there is a special Social Progress Index, which takes into account: 1) basic needs: nutrition, basic medical services, frequent water and environment, housing, personal safety; 2) the basics of well-being: access to basic knowledge, information and communication, health and grassroots sports, a sustainable ecosystem; 3) opportunities: personal rights, personal choice, tolerance and inclusivity, access to education.
Some countries have significantly increased their average (for example, Nepal, Myanmar, The Gambia, Eswatini, Ethiopia), but Ukraine is slowing recovery – but faster than the average speed in the world. Main disadvantages: war and personal safety; education (poor quality and exclusivity); habitat and reduction of quality water and air; hidden poverty and migration.
The key risks of progress include the danger of a conservative revolution in Ukraine and the danger of repeating revolutionary cycles. And ‘the main hope for today is the Republican construction and peace. […] The Republic, the Studrepublika, and the discussions that take place in this community are very important for Ukraine; they give us all a chance to make progress together’.
After all the reports, the organizers and the speakers of the Civic Lyceum I, ‘Progressive Agenda for Humanity and Ukrainian Subjectivity’, summarized the meaningful results. Pavlo Viknуanskyy observed that Ukraine’s place is at the top of the pyramid of progress, but this is possible only when we cease to be a peripherycountry and become subjects in globalized humanity.
The unity of domestic and foreign politicians poses particular challenges to those who have devoted their lives to the task of modernizing Ukraine. The point is not only to explain the causes and patterns, but also to look intently into the future, constructing it.
Later we will publish transcripts and videos of presentations, and Studrespublika will continue to work on further development of civil society and the conversion of Ukraine on the path of progress.
Partners: The Maksymovych Scientific Library of the Taras Shevchenko Kyiv National University,The newspaper The ‘New Republic’, edition Summit Book, Telegram-channel ‘Mozhlyvosti’.