Today continuing my review of this piece from RIA Novosti. We saw the origins of the grandiose version of Ukrainian history, namely the “moderate nationalism” of ethnic ferment in the Austro-Hungarian Empire; and then encouraged in the multi-ethnic Soviet “Empire” as well. We also see, as my commenter Benjamin shrewdly pointed out, the endemic confusion between “histories of a place”, for example “the history of France”, and the various peoples who passed through it and formed various governmental entities; versus the history of a single people (ethnos, culture, language, DNA, etc.). Which is often a completely different thing, given that humans tend to move around so much. Especially in that part of central Europe. Heck, there could have been cities of Neanderthals living there at some point, for all we know. And it certainly doesn’t mean that anybody who ever dwelled in that swath of land was a Ukrainian! These things are so obvious, that even a child should see it.
Anyhow, the plot thickens, along with the nonsense, in 1991 when the Ukraine gains independence from the Soviet Union. Newly independent Ukrainian intelligentsia need to find a way to justify the existence of this new entity, not to mention themselves; and this is when people start to get really silly. For example, according to Lisitsyn, the Ukrainian writer Sergei Plachinda “discovered” that Christ’s Apostle Andrew had Ukrainian origins.
Well, actually, that’s an old claim that pertains to ancient Rus in general, and thus shared by Russians as well as Ukrainians. Just as the Irish have their St. Patrick, so Rus had its (alleged) St. Andrew, who allegedly preached in the Greek cities along the Black Sea coast, and allegedly made it as far as the hills above the Dnipr River which would later become Kiev, the Mother of all Russian cities. “Do you see these hills?”, Andrew allegedly said. “God’s Grace will shine on these hills, there will be a great city here and God will build many Churches.” According to the legend, Andrew blessed the hills, climbed them and installed a cross there. Yeah, it could have happened like that, although Biblical historians say, probably not. In my opinion, if Andrew had climbed those hills then, he, like Kilroy, would have carved his graffiti on them, like “Andrew was here!” And in any case, even if Andrew had passed through, that doesn’t make him Ukrainian. Heck, I once visited Montreal, but that doesn’t make me French. And I’m not even Jewish!
The Role of Philology In The Destruction Of Empires
Sergei Petrovich Plachinda, who died a few years back, in 2013, at the ripe age of 85, had been born in the Ukrainian village of Shevchenko, in 1928. This was a hard-working Soviet child: He went to school and also worked as a lathe-turner in the workshop of the sovkhoz where he grew up. When Sergei got older, he got a job writing for a local newspaper. In 1953, he graduated from the Philological Faculty of Kiev State University. A couple of points here: Kiev University was a major academic institution during Soviet times; to even get in, one would have to be very bright, especially a poor boy from the provinces. Secondly, we see that word “Philology” again, which happens to be one of my trigger words.
I have a joke, which I repeat far too often, namely: Philology is to Scientific Linguistics; as Alchemy is to Chemistry; as Numerology is to Mathematics… [you get the point]. Anyhow, Philology was a huge thing in Soviet times as well, it was the study of ethnic/national cultures, languages, poetry, folklore, history, etc. This was a way, in Soviet times, for talented intellectuals from the provinces to discover and advocate their own local cultures and develop “local heroes” for the masses to look up to and make them feel warm and fuzzy about their ethnic identity; while making a good living and gaining academic prestige for themselves. I’m not saying that all these studies were bogus; far from it. People do need to study culture and poetry and literature, and stuff like that. But, given everything that happened, one can see, in hindsight, how Philology contributed to the dissolution of the Soviet Union. By creating local elites whose emotional and intellectual loyalties lay with the peripheries, rather than the center, of the Empire.
Returning to Plachinda’s bio: After he graduated from Kiev University, Plachinda did his graduate work at the Shevchenko Institute of Literature under the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. His first scholarly monographs began to come out in 1947. And in 1959 (he would have been about 31 years old then), he published his first book: a compilation of stories and sketches called the “Stony Rainbow” (Каменная радуга). In 1960 Plachinda was inducted into the Union of Writers of Ukraine, which was also a huge honor, in Soviet times. It meant that he had worked his way right into the elite intelligentsia of the Soviet Ukraine. And he continued to write a torrent of literary works and biographies.
Making A Case For Jesus
Toward the end of the 1980’s, as the Soviet Union started to fall apart, Plachinda wrote a series of articles arguing against the Russification of the Ukraine. And after Ukraine became independent, Plachinda’s views became ever more nationalistic. He published a torrent of works, including “Myths and Legends of ancient Ukraine”. And Plachinda was the source of a lot of the nonsensical “ultra” assertions, like Apostle Andrew and even Jesus having some connection with the Ukraine.
This is also when Plachinda “discovered” that the Ukrainian language is very similar to Sanskrit. Well, if he had studied Scientific Linguistics instead of Philology, then he would know the real reason why – duh! (Hint: all Slavic languages share a remote common ancestor with Sanskrit; it’s called Indo-Aryan/Satem.)
Among Plachinda’s other fallacies is the claim that the “ancient Ukrainians” invented writing (No, they didn’t), and were the first people to domesticate horses. As to the latter claim, I saw this link which gives the credit to people living in the area now called Kazakhstan, around 6000 years ago, because those horses had to wear bits in their teeth. Well, who knows, it could have been older than that, and in any case, once again, just because these equestrians lived in Kazakhstan doesn’t make them Kazakhs, necessarily – they could have been Mongols, for example. They certainly were not Ukrainians, because Ukrainians didn’t exist back in those days! Once again, just empty boasting to claim that all meaningful achievements were accomplished by me me me me! Dudes, can’t you leave at least some glory to other people?
[to be continued]