Who Ukrainians are and why they are resisting

Volodymyr Yermolenko

I will describe here who Ukrainians are and why they are resisting. This resistance has very deep historical roots, and are based upon a specific Ukrainian political culture. A thread 0/8

Ukrainian political culture is bottom-up and very decentralized. It starts from a community, which Ukrainians call “hromada”. Hromada – a key word for Ukrainian political philosophy since at least 19th century, f.e. philosophy of Mykhaylo Drahomanov 1/8

Drahomanov, trained as historian of Ancient Greece and Rome, made his philosophy of hromada based upon Greek (Aristotelian) philosophy of a city/polis. For him, politics starts from a local community, state emerges as integration of these communities, “hromada of hromadas”. 2/8

This is a sharp difference to Russian political culture which is centralized, and top-down. Unity of Russian politics is possible only around a tsar, a tyrant. In Ukraine, people are always opposed to a tsar. Zelensky is an anti-tsar: too close to the people, “one of us" 3/8

Why Ukrainian army is successful now? Because this decentralized spirit coincides with the Western techniques of military organization that Ukraine has adopted in its cooperation with NATO. Ukrainian mid-level commanders have much more freedom to act than Russian commanders. 4/8

Self-governance reform implemented since 2014 gave more powers to mayors. Mayors showed themselves positively now, organizing defense of cities. Interestingly this brings Ukraine closer to a medieval “princely” times of Kyivan Rus’, decentralized community of city-states 5/8

A leitmotiv of Ukrainian literature, historiography, philosophy is opposition to the centralized idea of state and universe. Skovoroda, Shevchenko, Kostomarov, Drahomanov, Ukrainian socialists of early 20th century. The key idea was a) anti-autocracy, b) self-organization 6/8

Also look at the spirit of freedom and emancipation of Ukrainian female writers, from Marko Vovchok to Lesia Ukrainka – female emancipation and anti-patriarchal trend was very early, in 19th century 7/8

to conclude: this freedom-loving, decentralized, anti-tyrannical spirit was in Ukraine for centuries. This is very different from Russia. Naturally, Ukrainians understand that defending this modus vivendi is an existential fight 8/8