Давно замыслили мы дело; Теперь оно кипит у нас. Благое время нам приспело; Борьбы великой близок час. Без милой вольности и славы Склоняли долго мы главы Под покровительством Варшавы, Под самовластием Москвы. Но независимой державой Украйне быть уже пора. [Mazepa explaining the sitrep to his wife, in Pushkin's poem Poltava]: We've been plotting this thing for a long time; And now it's finally brewing. It's the right time now; The hour of the great battle has arrived. Not possessing any sweet freedom or glory of our own, For a long time we were forced to bow our heads Before the protectorate of Poland, Or the autocratic rule of Moscow. But the time has finally arrived For Ukraine to be an independent state. [yalensis: Under Swedish protectorate? hahaha!]
I like to show that quote sometimes to Putinites who continue to mouth the silliness that Ukrainian Nationalism (or, in its milder form, ethnic self-awareness) is just something that Lenin and the Evil Bolsheviks invented, in order to re-gift lands which rightfully belonged to Mother Russia. My ideological point being: “Maybe, just maybe Lenin and even Stalin, and even Khrushchev, just maybe knew what they were doing sometimes, and by the way they weren’t the ones who got us into this colossal mess…”
Fact is, as the great poet Pushkin demonstrated, Ukrainian Nationalism was a thing, long before Lenin was born. It’s just that Lenin had a more clever way of dealing it than the current crop of Russian leaders. Lenin had the benefit of a correct geopolitical analysis: He understood that, behind every form of nationalism, there stand specific class forces. For example, behind Great Russian chauvinism stood the forces of the Russian landowner class and big industrial bourgeoisie, backed by the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church. Whereas the class basis of Ukrainian Nationalism was the Cossack Hetmans, like Mazepa, who sought to confiscate the lands of the Polish szlachta for the benefit of themselves. After which, becoming great landowners themselves, the Cossack hierarchy proceeded to brutalize the Ukrainian serfs no less ardently than the Poles had ever done.
Speaking of Marxist analysis, I had a professor once who explained to his class the true roots of the 1648 Cossack uprisings on the Left Bank of the Dniepr. (It’s way complicated, of course, this is just the nutshell version, going to root cause analysis.) While serfdom and feudalism were weakening in Western Europe and ordinary people were becoming freer, the exactly opposite was happening in Eastern Europe (like, Ukraine and Russia, for example). Why? There was a cause and effect relationship: The burgeoning population of Western Europe, the growth of urban centers, required the importation of grain to feed these happy newly free people. The serfs of Russia and Ukraine found themselves losing many of their hard-won rights, basically turned into slaves (this phenomenon was called “The Second Serfdom”), their only function being, as drones, to grow and harvest grain for export. By becoming the “Breadbasket of Europe”, these unhappy people thus became the slaves of happy Western Europe, in essence. Their misery was the precondition for the joie de vivre of their Western consumers.
The centuries march by, and little changes… For those people who don’t possess the tool of the Marxist analysis, well, they are doomed to swat at tangential realities, things which certainly do exist, but not at the scale of importance that are ascribed. Like seeing something out of the corner of your eye: It’s there, but you just don’t know whether it’s significant or not. It’s like when you are pawing through the blogosphere to find news of the war: Who is winning? And you see images of Azovites prancing like chimpanzees on a destroyed Russian tank. They destroyed a tank – yay! That means they are winning, right? But to see the true story, one needs to change one’s perspective, move way back, like an artist painting a distant panorama, you need to look at all the tanks in play, their numerical distribution…
Don’t Send Flowers, Send Flour
Before getting back to news of the Ukrainian harvest, here is a quickie report from a different part of the world: Gruzia. The reporter is Alexandra Yudina. It’s a bit curious and cryptic and, again, I’m not sure if there is a weighted significance to this report.
There is a man named Levan Silagava, who heads the Association of Wheat and Grain Manufacturers in Gruzia. Levan is very worried about the situation with wheat. Apparently, the Gruzian government is wont to import wheat from Russia; after which Levan and his friends grind it up in their mills: Levan: “Several months ago they started to very aggressively import a type of flour (мука) into our country, which was supposed to replace wheat (пшеница). Today we have gotten to that situation in which the stores of wheat which we had earlier, are practically gone. In just the last few days, the mills have stopped grinding.”
Silagava says that the Gruzian government lowered the import taxes on this flour to zero. However, the tariff on wheat continues to float and is currently around $120 dollars per ton. He adds that the United Nations recommends that all nations maintain a minimum of at least 2 months supply of wheat.
Annually, Gruzia consumes up to 650,000 tons of wheat. Of which it produces around 15% of its own needs. The rest is imported. Of which 90% comes from Russia. The article sort of peters off at that point, so it is left to guess why there is a problem with the wheat imports, although one can make an educated guess. War notwithstanding, both Russia and Ukraine had record wheat harvests just now, in the spring of 2022. Anyhow, the lede is that they have this mystery flour now, to replace the missing wheat, but the reporter doesn’t say where this wonderful flour comes from.
[to be continued]