Archive | March 2014

The cultural infrastructure of a political technology: wannabe fascists in the Lviv area, Ukraine, c. 2010-12

I haven’t seen an explanation, but the new Ukrainian government of Th, 27Feb, included no-one from boxer Klichko’s party, one of the three that signed the agreement with the prez, Yanukovich, the previous Friday. More importantly, the gov & key agencies include, to my knowledge, eight xenophobic nationalists: one of the three vice-prime ministers; four ministers (Defence; Education; Farming & Food; Ecology & Natural Resources); the chief prosecutor; head of the National Security & Defence Council; & his deputy.

The Education Minister. Sergei Kvit. “S. Kvit, an open nazi and former officer of nazi organization ‘Trizub [Trident] of Stepan Bandera’ has got the Ministry for Public Education. While being the head of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy he was righteously met with hatred by all progressive students.” (no date; 27Feb in Ukrainian)

As the Education Minister has won his spurs, & now tasked with forming minds & motivating the youff on a national scale, what can he try to build on? Courtesy of Per Rudling’s 2013 article, here’s part of the current mission statement of the National Lviv Ivan Franko University, founded 1661 by the Jesuits:

“[the university declares its commitment to install] national consciousness, the forming of Ukrainian national self-consciousness and national dignity, love for the native soil and Ukrainian traditions, the training of a conscious intelligentsia, and safeguarding the intellectual gene pool of the nation [zberezhennia intellektual’noho heno-fondu natsii]. It trains [its students] in love for the native land, her history, the renewal and retention of historical memory; the cultivation of the best character traits of Ukrainian mentality (love of labor, individual freedom, deep connection with nature, and so on). . . . spiritual and physical tempering.” (author’s interpolations; those below are mine)

And politically what sort of place is Lviv, the former Hapsburg & Polish city in NW Ukraine, obviously with a proud & long-standing cultural history? Well, here’s a scene from a recent home match of the local soccer team:

[​IMG]‘Bandera – Our Hero’, portrait of the Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists (Bandera) leader displayed by fans, the Banderstadt Ultras, during a game between Karpaty Lviv & Shakhtar Donetsk, spring 2010; the portrait’s red background, above the black of SB’s jacket, constitute the OUN(b) colours. (And in case you were asking, yes, shirt number 88 is currently worn, but by a Georgian international, Murtaz Daushvili –

And where might these fans go after the excitement of the match – & any afters?

Well, here of course:

“The OUN-UPA theme restaurant Kryivka (Hideout or Lurking Hole) in Lviv . . . Its guests have a choice of dishes like ‘Cold boiled pork “Hände Hoch” [hands up!]’, ‘Kosher Haidamaky-style salo’ (pork ‘lard’), and ‘Combat serenade salo’. Kryivka’s dining room walls are decorated with larger-than-life portraits of Bandera, the toilet with Russian and Jewish anecdotes. The same Lviv entrepreneur also runs the Jewish theme restaurant Pid Zolotoiu Rozoiu (Beneath the Golden Rose), where guests are offered black hats of the sort worn by Hasidim, along with payot. The menu lists no prices for the dishes; instead, one is required to haggle over highly inflated prices ‘in the Jewish fashion’. Behind these restaurants stands Iurii Nazaruk, a Lviv entrepreneur and a graduate of the Ivan Franko University.”

Yes, you read that correctly: the uni with the folksy mission statement. Bringing business to the people, giving the people what they want, satisfying their demands & appetites.

And when you get tired of Lviv there’s always the chance to meet up with old friends in the capital & dance the night away at an ethnoparty!

[​IMG]Territory Banderstadt club night, a xenophobic nationalist event for the youff, co-sponsored by the OUN(b) front organisation, the Centre for the Study of the Liberation Movement, and by the OUN(b)-affiliated Ukrainian Youth Movement, Kyiv, Dec 2011

As Rudling informs us, “A nationalist salute was required by the door, the dress code stipulated ‘folk costumes and UPA uniforms’, and the party featured anti-immigrant activities, OUN-UPA reenactments and games and the presentation of [. . . a] calendar ‘UPA: People and Weapons'”. A party gift! Welcoming in the new year, & structuring it the ethno way!

(Wonder if those Israeli soldiers in Maidan, taking orders from Svoboda & saying no-one had been disparaging Jewish-Ukrainians, would stay all pally & have a communal victory meal with their new comrades at one of those themed restaurants? – re-published the same day by Haaretz)…xt_London_and_New_York_Routledge_2013_228-255
(written late summer, 2012; in Oct Svoboda made their electoral breakthrough, 2.1m votes, from 0 to 37 of the 450 People’s Deputies of the single chamber Supreme Council, the Verkhovna Rada)

As German social democracy, Lenin, & Gramsci said aeons ago, you need to build a cultural infrastructure for successful political mobilisation: spontaneity is very, very limited. Politics is hard, hard work, you can’t leave it to ‘it’ll be alright on the night’. A technology is both a means & a way of proceeding, its exercise is a force. Maidan showed that their political technology was appropriate & worked reasonably well, & ours didn’t. The cost of our technological failure continues to escalate.

Added: Borotba deem Sergei Kvit “an open nazi”, but Volodymyr Ishchenko, who works at the uni Kvit is president of, disagrees: “He is not an open Nazi, it would be a very strong exaggeration to say this, although he is definitely a nationalist and wrote a sympathetic book on Dmytro Dontsov, one of the ideologues of Ukrainian integral nationalism”. (thread comment, 5Mar)


Almost certainly a note to myself. Creating a common place

I’m probably posting this on a whim. I’ve been intending to post here, in chronological order, comments I’ve made on the net in recent times, not coz I think anyone would read it but simply to have them all together, in a common place, for my own convenience. As no-one other than me is ever likely to read this offering the fact I’m only starting it now is of no significance.

It was reflecting on something I posted this morning that convinced me I should make a start, but rather than do the above job it makes more sense to post that piece, an observation on recent daily life in western Ukraine.

I’ll post it separately, here I just want to remark on the idea of creating a common place, not least as it’s to do with something new I’ve learned in the last week or so, & it also concerns etymology, a persistent interest of mine, not least coz it helps me remember words, their spelling, & it’s also fun.

In English it seems the concept of a common place book arose during the European Renaissance. Essayists would copy interesting text, pen their own thoughts, keeping them all together in a common place, in a single book. Commonplacing was quite the rage in certain circles. All quite different from the current meaning.

By chance I came across this when trying to find some Amazon Warehouse bargains. I saw something entitled A Little Common Place Book, misreading it as ‘Common Prayer’, then pausing & searched, finding this:

A Little Common Place Book

The 2010 book, US publisher & made in South Korea, is mostly blank pages – it is a common place book – but reproduces pages from a 1797 exemplar: its title-page, the publisher’s advert (Hamilton & Co.), & an introduction explaining an indexing method applied more than a hundred years before by John Locke to his own common place books.

The publisher’s site also has a lengthy audio clip of a discussion,, involving a Harvard prof, Ann Blair, who wrote Too Much to Know: Managing Scholarly Information before the Modern Age, 2010, the Yale UP cover reproducing an interesting painting (or just a detail) I hadn’t seen before. Anyone know its creator, & title? Dutch Old Master I guess. Too chaotic for a Vermeer but evocative of a typical composition of his.

And the book only cost me just over a guinea.

Finally, let me say, I’ll also make time to improve the aesthetic of this digital common place book, get away from the greyness.