Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Swallow us -- and your Empire dies."

The ruble is imploding, which is not a surprise to anyone who follows geopolitics seriously. In fact, the collapse was accurately predicted all the way back in February 2013 by Yuri Romanenko, who wrote this scintillating essay, The Steel Jaws of History. Historians will probably regard it as the manifesto of the Maidan -- the moment when Eurasia's anti-colonial nationalisms finally converged with its anti-neoliberal mobilizations. My own rough-and-ready translation of the essay (corrections are welcome in the comments):

The Steel Jaws of History
by Yuri Romanenko
February 2, 2013
Ukrainians, we are a great nation. We pulverize everyone who gets in our way.
That's not to say we have our own Napoleon or Alexander the Great.
They're not necessary.
We take the fortress through the side gate.
We act like a sweet poison – we're pleasant to drink, but then you slowly and painfully die.
We effortlessly gave birth to [Valentin] Glushko, [Natasha] Korolev, [Ivan] Paskevich and [Pavel] Rybalko.
Such a captivating empire.
They love our immense people.
But we're bait. Swallow us, and your empire dies. Sooner or later.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Austro-Hungary, the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union.
Our wake is everywhere.
If you're an expanding empire – don't touch Ukraine.
You'll die.
Inevitably. Inexorably. Instructively.
Ukraine – the pulverizer of meaning. The acid of history. The devourer of prospects.
The Edge of [Stephen King's] Langoliers. The Damned of Chernozem. The Anteroom of Chaos.
That's our unique position in the global arena. Note: not a bad position to have.
We only need to understand it. And take advantage.
It's time to understand the main contradiction of the Ukrainian character.
We have just enough: resources, crazy people.
The only thing we've lacked: an understanding of our own strength.
Really, we are the quintessential vitality of the people.
We know how to adapt.
Occupy niches.
We know how to win.
We don't attack by rushing ahead. This much, history taught us. We attack the flanks.
Bore from within.
When we realize we are powerful, then sooner or later we come to imperial forms of thinking.
Strength generates scale thinking.
We have the power, but not the scale.
The world is the scale. If you want to own the world – master its scale. No other way.
When we get things together at scale - we will have tremendous prospects.
We just need to get rid of whatever doesn't cut it worldwide.
We need less victimization, less sleaze, less meanness, less stupidity, less envy, less stubbornness.
More openness, more reciprocity, more trust, more perseverance, more persistence, more curiosity.
What is to become of Ukrainians?
If you want to become stronger, and to change things – you need to get others together.
It's time to change.
Those who can't change – have no future.

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