If Hitler Were a Sweetheart

Some of my readers take offence when I say that, from my point of view (which, I, by the way, just state, without imposing it on anybody), Lenin is a great (perhaps even the greatest) political strategist. Simply, in the years of his vigorous activity and a decade later, there was no term “political strategist”, therefore followers called him the great revolutionary and the leader of the proletariat. However, some people prefer to see the philosopher in Lenin (although I, frankly speaking, do not observe any fresh independent philosophical idea in his works). They for some reason think that a philosopher is more honourable than a political strategist. Although it is actually honorary to be a professional, and there is no bigger honour than being recognised as a unique professional (who cannot be replaced).

And so Lenin, as a great (even unique) political strategist, defining the signs of a revolutionary situation, pointed out the split of the elites as a vital sign. The unitary, united elite always, in any conditions, is capable of burying any revolution together with revolutionaries. Moreover, Lenin managed to use this knowledge not as a philosopher-theorist, namely as an expert political strategist, and on November 7th 1917, when the Russian elite, which had overthrown the Romanov monarchy, was overcoming the split (even Grand Dukes wore red ribbons), organised a Bolshevist revolution and managed to give it the character of a revolution.

He managed to slip even not through the window, not through the fortochka, but through the keyhole of opportunities. The phrase that “today is too early, and tomorrow is too late” quite precisely describes the situation that developed by the autumn of 1917. Even in the summer, euphoria from the overthrow of the thousand-year monarchy was too big, and the Provisional Government maintained fairly serious credibility. By the autumn, the elites had already agreed that the country needed a dictatorship in order to get out of the crisis. The dispute was only about the personality of the dictator. Kornilov seemed to fit, but he was deceived by Kerensky, who himself was aiming at dictators. Kerensky wanted to, and power, it seems, was in his hands, but he was unable to use this power. By the winter, the elites would have agreed, and the new-found dictator would have crushed any attempts to “deepen the revolution” with an iron hand.

The chance of a successful Bolshevik revolution remained within only a few weeks, if not days. It was during these critical days, despite the serious resistance of his own party members, that Lenin met the deadline. Moreover, after the coup he didn’t have any chance to retain power, and even more so to carry out the revolutionary transformation. But he managed to resolve this issue too, taking advantage of the unforced errors of his opponents.

In general, the events of late 1917-late 1920 brought to Russia and its people a set of problems, the consequences of which the country has not fully recovered from, but in school textbooks they should be studied as an example of purely technological organisation of events that, proceeding from the logic of historical process, not only should not have, but couldn’t have happened.

First of all, the level of development of information technologies hindered the achievement of success. Without computers, social networks, without the Internet, without the possibility of delivering information to hundreds of millions of users in real time, it was almost impossible to ensure the unity of tens of millions of people around ideas that are unclear and in general alien to them (both workers and peasants wanted an increase in the standard of living, and not at all a world revolution). But he managed it. And this should be studied.

At least because, unlike Lenin, who was forced to act in conditions of full uncertainty (no one described the stages of the construction of the Bolshevik state, especially in a country with unsolved tasks of the bourgeois revolution) and the incapability of a lightning-fast information response (due to the lack of development of information technologies), we, having all the possibilities to draw the right conclusions from our own experience, are still stubbornly stomping on the same rake.

Once, either at the end of 2014 or at the beginning of 2015, I talked to a colleague who was too radical in dividing Russian people into rams and goats according to their place of residence (even not of birth). Being under the impression of the war in Donbass, he said that “Ukrainians are all traitors and are in general not Russians”, but Belarusians are real Russian people. I responded by saying that according to my information, Lukashenko has been raising his nationalists for at least ten years (at that time), going along the path of Yanukovych, and that soon (as soon as his pro-Western bias will become obvious), Belarusians will also become “traitors” in the understanding of “patriots”. The motivation will be the same – “we chose him ourselves” and “why didn’t we overthrow him?”

By the way (in the form of lyrical digression), I want to draw the attention of the respected audience: the statement “Ukrainians (Belarusians), etc. are all traitors” requires the identification of these Ukrainians, Belarusians, etc. If to comply with ancestral nationality (which was written in the passport during the Soviet period quite arbitrarily), then millions of citizens of the Russian Federation living on its territory since their grandfather/great-grandfather (and some for centuries) should be infringed in their rights as “traitors” from their birth. I will not refer to the fact that it smells slightly of fascism (or if some prefer – Nazism), but it certainly will cause damage Russia’s security interests, because it will make a significant part of its loyal citizens socially inferior, which will cause natural resistance.

There is an option to determine people in non-Russians/foreigners by their birthplace. Again, I will not point to the mass of Russians whom (or whose parents) the state sent to federal republics, and, for example, Crimea, Novorossiya, and some other territories, in general were simply gifted with their Russian population. In the end, supporters of the theory of the “foreignness” of some Russians argue that the “true Russians” simply had to move to Russia at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. I don’t know, however, what would happen to Crimea if all the “true Russians” moved from there to Russia in 1992, but I am sure that if tens of millions of Russians from outside the Russian Federation decided to move to Russia at the same time (for 2-3 years) in the early 90’s, such a state would no longer exist – it would simply not withstand the social strain.

But besides the abstract problem of foreign Russians who “didn’t move in time”, there is a very specific problem of Russian politics. If it is taken for the truth that all Russians living outside the Russian Federation are foreigners who have never been Russian, then it turns out that Ukrainian and Belarusian nationalists are right when they say that their territories were occupied by Russia, and that their peoples fought for independence all their lives. After all, it is precisely on this – that Ukrainians and Belarusians are not Russian – that they base all their justifications for their “right” to independence and their “centuries–old infringement”. Therefore, if we consider that in the administrative borders of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic there were no Russians, but Ukrainians who had never even been Russians, then these Ukrainians are not traitors at all, but fighters for the bright future of their people and no complaints can be made against them. They simply cannot offend Russians, since there are no Russians outside the Russian Federation, and only Ukrainians live in Ukraine, even if they arrived from Arkhangelsk or Kaluga just yesterday, otherwise “why did they leave Russia?”

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By the foregoing, I seek to show that any point of view can have serious political consequences that are not always obvious to the person who expresses this point of view. It is no a coincidence that a Russian proverb explains how a fool can split his forehead by doing exclusively godly deeds. At the same time, it cannot be denied that in Ukraine, and in recent years in Belarus, there are quite a large number of people who have renounced their Russian name. Moreover, if some did it for tactical reasons and can return (for the same reason) to their Russianness, there are also others – a fairly large number of people who consider themselves to be Ukrainians (and now also Belarusians) completely sincerely. However, being Russian-speaking and culturally Russian, they are reversible too, although not without effort. Even among the Galicians who were torn away from Russia for 600 years and had long since become foreign-speaking, culturally foreign, and of other religion, people remained (albeit to a lesser extent) who had preserved their Russian identity. So, even in this case it’s impossible to put everyone in the same barrel.

The logical question (it is often asked, by the way) will be: how does it happen that Russian people so quickly, in a matter of years, became hostile to Russia and why do they not overthrow Russophobic regimes? I, of course, could remember how residents of Tver were longly at war with Muscovites, residents of Ryazan with residents of Vladimir, and all together against Novgorodians. Or about how a Ural Republic, Siberian Republic, and Pomor Republic were almost created in the 90s, and how some Cossack movements claimed to be a separate ethnic group. But the fact is that our patriots not less than liberals have learned to say “This is different!” Therefore, since we got the corpse of Ukraine, let’s dissect it. It’s more interesting to observe it from the side and it does not hurt their pride.

Since 2014 Ukraine has constantly been at the top of the news topics. Russians voluntarily forcibly are dedicated to the ups and downs of its domestic political life. Everyone remembers with what pomp a year ago Zelensky was elected. So-called “pro-Russian” Ukrainians thrashed in ecstasy, convincing everyone that in the next weeks or months this nice guy will change all of life for the better. The main assumed changes: the cessation of the persecution of the Orthodox Church, the termination of war in Donbass, a weakening (at least to late Yanukovych’s level) in the level of persecution of the Russian language and culture, as well as a general improvement in the socio-economic situation in the country. Many not non-pro-Russian Ukrainians voted for Zelensky too. Their expectations of changes were more modest: an end to the war (but not at any cost) and an increase in living standards, preferably with a parallel acceleration of the notorious “European integration”.

As we see, the most part of the wishes of Zelensky’s electorate coincided, and the others did not contradict each other too much. It would seem it is possible to reach a compromise and, having executed the most part of the wishes of voters, remain their idol.

We, however, warned our starry-eyed companions that Zelensky will not keep any promises. Poroshenko himself was a bandit oligarch, and Zelensky was a protege of the even more dangerous bandit oligarch Kolomoisky. And he had to solve Kolomoisky’s problems. Our distinguished colleagues rightly pointed out that within the Ukrainian political tradition, he can safely betray Kolomoisky after the elections. This is true, but why did they decide that Zelensky will go from Kolomoisky to them, and not to other oligarchs?

After the coming to power of Zelensky, it became slightly easier to breathe for the Ukrainian Orthodox Church (Moscow Patriarchate), but why? Unless Zelensky abandoned state interference in church affairs and declared Poroshenko’s Tomos campaign an unconstitutional undertaking? No. He, being in principle a non-religious person, withdrew himself from church issues. Since the seizure of churches and harassment of priests of the UOC (MP) took place under the severe exertion of pressure by the Presidential Administration, as soon as the pressure stopped, the local authorities (who are often themselves parishioners of the UOC [MP]) stopped being active. In the same regions and districts where the local authorities strongly support Poroshenko’s pseudo-church construction, the pressure has not decreased, and the capture of churches continues.

In other cases Zelensky also did not start to intervene in anything. But there are too many people on the political Olympus of Kiev who are interested in total Ukrainisation and the continuation of the war in Donbass, so that only because of the President’s passivity, the problem resolves itself. Even the church one was not resolved. Therefore no progress was made. I would like to emphasise that Zelensky did not initiate either war, Ukrainisation, or church schism. He just did not start to change anything.

But it was Kravchuk, not Poroshenko, who invented the church schism; it was Turchynov, not Poroshenko, started the war; it was Kuchma, although Yushchenko gave it additional acceleration (in the church sphere, Yushchenko also tried, regularly sending delegations to Constantinople with a request for Tomos), not Poroshenko, who launched Ukrainisation. As you can see, Zelensky’s predecessor didn’t invent anything either, he simply didn’t change anything.

The question is why? Why under did two such different persons as Poroshenko and Zelensky, making similar promises during their electoral campaign and having received the unconditional support of voters with these promises, has nothing started to change? Very simply put, they knew that the main demand of voters was an increase in the standard of living. It is possible to stop war, it is possible to weaken Ukrainiation, but at the same time both “pro-Russian” and “pro-Ukrainian” voters will be dissatisfied. For some the changes will be too radical, and for others they will be insufficiently radical. Real support can be maintained only if the standard of living begins to grow, albeit slowly, but significantly. In this case, failure to fulfil other promises will be forgiven. But neither Poroshenko, nor Zelensky could ensure a growth in the standard of living. Ukraine has long not had the necessary resources for this purpose. So why bother with minor issues when you can’t meet the demands of the voters concerning the main issues anyway?

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The orange electorate after the first Maidan turned away from Yushchenko in the same way. Yushchenko completely implemented the program of nationalists with which he came to Maidan. He gave additional acceleration to Ukrainisation. Being creeping and not advertised before him, it became the basis of the state’s cultural and educational policy under his governance. He made Russophobia the cornerstone of foreign policy, and Holodomor the cornerstone of domestic policy. He glorified UPA, made Bandera and Shukhevych heroes of Ukraine, started to promote the poppy as a symbol of victory, during which he started to openly glorify the members of the SS “Galicia” Division, which used to be a non comme il faut. But the voter turned away from him, because this external tinsel interested a narrow circle of nationalists. A big part of Yushchenko’s supporters voted for him because he promised to integrate Ukraine into the EU in the first year of the presidency and to raise the standing of living to the level of Germany.

And in Belarus they vote for Lukashenko not only because at the beginning of his political career he was an opponent of the collapse of the USSR, but because he provided his people with a certain level of “well-fed poverty”, which in the 90s seemed like the ultimate dream. This is why he is still instilling in people that Belarus lives richer than its neighbours. Fortunately, Ukraine has been confirming this thesis for the past six years.

People not just want to live, they want to live today better than yesterday. Lenin in 1917 promised not military communism, not kolkhoz, not Trotsky’s labour army, but “factories for the workers, land for the peasants, peace for the people”. By the way, he was ready to immediately change his mind about “peace for the people”, saying that after the seizure of power “we are all defenders”, but the army fled to share the land, there was no one to fight.

German workers were very positive about Hitler until 1941. He liquidated unemployment, raised salaries, sent workers on cruises, and improved Germany’s food supply. A few, of course, were at war. But until 1941, before the attack on the USSR, and everyone received their share of the plunder of the conquered. Hitler, however, persecuted the Jews. But in Europe and the United States at that time, anti-Semitism was very common. Let me remind you that the Jews expelled by Hitler from Germany were in many cases sent back by Western “democracies”, not wanting to accept them, even though they knew perfectly well that they were at least threatened with concentration camps, forced relocation to the ghetto, and loss of their rights. A big part of the German people were not at all interested in what happened to their Jewish neighbours. After all, the property remained and went not only to high-ranking Nazis, but also to ordinary stormtroopers and simply to those who managed to be in time to make the “ownerless” their own. In general, if Hitler continued in the same vein, the German people would continue to adore him, because with him they were well fed and there was order.

A similar mercantile approach can be traced at a lower level. For example, not only the “Russophiles” remaining in Kharkov, but also the Kharkov residents who emigrated – participants in the Russian Spring – vied with each other to tell what kind of sweetheart Kharkov mayor Gennady Adolfovich Kernes is. He, of course, is a gangster, but he painted benches in the city, he improved several parks and squares, and opened the zoo.

Kharkov citizens love Kernes so much that even those who personally suffered from his treachery in 2014 claim that it is not Kernes who betrayed, it’s Putin who didn’t help. If Putin had sent tanks, then the bandit Kernes would be a pro-Russian mayor, while in actual situation he would have no choice but to lie under the junta in order to further rob the city further, but also to paint benches.

And this is not unique to Kharkov. Odessa is full of supporters of the mayor Trukhanov, who represents the interests of local smugglers (the same bandits, just different names). Among his “merits”: in the interests of local bandits he expelled from the city the Georgian bandit Saakashvili appointed by Poroshenko, which was managed with those who is necessary to agree in Kiev on the correct distribution of revenues from customs, from the port and from numerous markets completely clogged with smuggling. Well, he also paints benches, how otherwise can do without it.

In Dnepropetrovsk they love the mayor Filatov. He is a lawyer with bandit tendencies, a friend of the bandit Korban and also the bandit Yarosh and many other bandits from volunteer battalions, and the former closest employee of the bandit Kolomoisky. He is known for the recommendation to “later hang them” and also the fact that he, along with Korban, openly recognised that they in the spring of 2014 “saved Dnepropetrovsk from Russian aggression” by writing out hundreds of “one-way tickets” for supporters of the Russian spring. There are very few emigrants from Dnepropetrovsk outside of Ukraine, but it is said that many anti-Maidan activists are buried in plantations near the city. But Filatov paints the benches regularly and even deals with the urban economy. In general, he’s also a good mayor, he takes care of the city.

The people of Kiev elected Klitschko for the second time. A total fool, who cannot connect two words together, but he paints benches, builds bridges, and periodically cares for parks. He’s a good mayor. True, he was one of the leaders of the putsch that led the country to collapse and civil war, but the flowerbeds are in place and the people of Kiev love him.

And how they loved Akhmetov in Donetsk. What a stadium he constructed! What a football club he created! Big benefactor! Now, however, they do not like it so much, they say that he betrayed the DPR, defected to the junta and in general is a bandit. But I think the problem is not that he’s a bandit, but that he is no longer involved in Donetsk stadiums, shops, and football clubs, and if he was still involved, he’d still be a favourite of the public.

It is possible to go on and on like this indefinitely. In each region, in each district, in each city of Ukraine there is a “good bandit”. Many even “were against the junta”, it’s just that “Putin did not send tanks”. So, now they are also obliged to be bandits on an equal footing with the junta, otherwise they could’ve been completely pro-Russian bandits.

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If the city government can satisfy the population by painting benches and opening stadiums and zoos, then the state population demands regular improvement of living standards from the government. Any nation is ready to reconcile with the leader’s views and even with absence of any, it’s a material evidence of his concern for people which is needed, but not many are interested whether he prepares lamp shades from Jews in concentration camps or prefers to drink the blood of Christian babies at night.

Yes, in any country there are always those who are dissatisfied with the government. As Lenin convincingly proved, they can be organised and, even if the number of conscious ideological opponents of the regime is vanishingly small, they can lead people. But, as the same Lenin wrote, in order for the revolution to succeed, there is need to split the elites.

In Belarus today the split of the elites is not visible, while the Lukashenko vertical shows a monolithic unity. Contradictions that exist in any system are resolved within the elite, they are not brought to the public’s judgment, and parts of the elite do not appeal to society and do not involve the people as an arbiter in their confrontation. Any public (and especially non-public) discontent of Belarusian citizens with the Western slant in Lukashenko’s policies will be elementarily crushed in such conditions. Millions of unorganised people do not take to the streets in a single rush, and the isolated actions of individuals and small groups are easily suppressed.

In Ukraine there is a split in the elite. Different elite groups even try to enlist public support to strengthen their positions, creating the illusion of a bright social and political life. But what is the nature of this split? It does not concern the basic foundations of the system. The idea of “European integration” is sacred and inviolable. Maidan is “great”, and its purposes are worthy enough that even civil war is not too high a price for their implementation. The “pro-European” elite crushed all Russian political movements of Ukraine under Kuchma, and definitively crushed them under Yanukovych. One can support any politician, but they all the same have to be a “euro-integrator”. As a result, the political activity of the Russian Ukraine develops into support for “their bandits”, who are better than “strangers”. It occurs at the state, regional, and local level. Even the media in Ukraine can be in opposition to anyone, but not in relation to “European integration”.

In fact, the remnants of Russian Ukraine serve as cannon fodder in the fight between the “heroes of Maidan”and “heroes of Maidan”. Because of the absence of a political leader, people try to join the “leaders” of the economy – the same “good bandits” who at least share part of the stolen goods.

And it will not be any different, because for all property disputes the elite is ideologically monolithic. Perhaps the most cultured and enlightened in Europe, the German people supported the “adored Fuhrer”, until the end “not noticing” the concentration camps, where not only Jews, Communists and social Democrats, but also representatives of the Catholic party of the center and even extreme right-wing monarchists were sent. Doubts about the correctness of the course started to arise only when soldiers at the frontline started to die in their millions, and in the rear the standard of living sharply decreased. But there were no speeches and there could not be, because there was no one to organise those who were dissatisfied. The Nazi leadership in the last months of the Reich fought with each other in a fierce struggle for survival (everyone lost). You could support anyone. But in any case, if one of them managed to defeat their intra-elite opponents, a Nazi would have won, which means that a significant correction of the regime would not have occurred.

If the people are deprived by own elite of an opportunity to choose between various ideological directions, it is necessary to choose only between satiety and hunger. In this case, Hitler becomes a sweetheart until he starts to suffer defeat. People do not see the inevitability of the imminent death of the Reich in the fire of the same unleashed war. The common man is unable to calculate the potential of the forces that entered the war and realise that the Reich lost the war before it had begun.

Similarly, ordinary Ukrainian supporters of anti-Maidan (“pro-Russian” Ukrainians, or rather – ordinary Russian people) do not see, do not understand, and do not want to understand that by voting for the politicians proposed to them and supporting them with information, they only legitimise a criminal regime that destroys their own well-being and the future of their children. They do not wish to abandon participation in senseless elections and all hope that the next candidate proposed to them for the small local Fuhrers will still turn out to be a sweetheart and will take care of them. Meanwhile, it is precisely the mass rejection of elections (rather than voting for a clown “to spite everyone”) that demonstrates to the elite that there is a demand for alternative policies and forces them to look for ways to approach “non-traditional voters”.

This is precisely how the ideological split of the elite can be stimulated. Votes give power, and power gives an advantage in the fight for a resource that is no longer sufficient enough for everyone. As long as foreign Russians are ready to vote for local Nazis, citing the fact that there is no one else to vote for, and if they do not go to their polls, then their votes that they are ready to cast for small local Goebbels will be stolen by small local Bormann (which for some reason they do not like more), the elite does not make sense to strain themselves and offer them a Russian party. But if it becomes clear that a considerable percentage (even if not 50%, then at least 30%) are ready to vote for a Russian party and nobody else, then some of their favourite bandits will become registered Russophiles and no tanks will be needed – everything that’s needed will be in place.

In the end, the regionals were able to completely crush Russian political activity in Ukraine not because they were so talented (in contrary, they were just extremely stupid, because they lost power to the characters from the panopticon). They crushed Russian political forces because the people voted for them to be “their bandits”, who build stadiums and pay salaries.

By the way, in Hitler’s Germany the salaries were higher and there were more stadiums than in Yanukovych’s Ukraine. Well, isn’t he a sweetheart?

Rostislav Ishchenko

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