Ukraine's election: Behind the looking glass
In 2001, the Austrian economist Hans-Hermann Hoppe wrote a book titled ‘Democracy: The God that Failed’, in which he – among other things – compared the process of voting to a religious ritual. Just as the ancient religious rituals served to confirm the divine right of ancient kings, the ballot box is used today to bestow the same kind of blessing on the secular rulers of modernity. In his study, Hoppe actually demonstrated that the supposedly oppressive monarchies actually safeguarded peoples' lives and liberty far more than democracy has – before making a case for outright anarchy. Agree with him or not, his comparison of modern democracy to ancient religious ritual strikes close to home.
Western leaders routinely speak of ‘democracy’ as a virtue unto itself, even using religious phrasing such as “rooted in the sanctity of the individual” (BH Obama in Talinn, September 2014). In actuality, democracy is simply a decision-making process in which the majority gets its way.
The way it is practiced by the West in the countries they ‘liberate’, however, democracy means whatever the ‘liberators’ say it means. Thus an overwhelming vote in favor of independence in Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk is not ‘democratic’ – because the High Priesthood in the West says so – while the violent coup in Kiev is the pinnacle of democracy, because it was “midwifed” by Washington (per V Nuland's famous phone call).
Until it could get itself blessed by a proper ritual, though, the junta that came to power in Kiev in February, following a coup against President Yanukovich, had a legitimacy problem. Its prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, was essentially appointed by the Americans (“Yats is our guy,” to quote Nuland again). Following the separation of Crimea, the junta called for an early presidential vote in May. By the time it was held, Donetsk and Lugansk had already held independence referenda and declared their separation. Even so, the junta's Western backers proclaimed Petro Poroshenko – elected on May 25 – as the legitimate leader of Ukraine. Quite unlike the “aggressor and invader” it was accused of being, Moscow was willing to accept that, even after Poroshenko launched an all-out war against the two eastern regions.
That war was lost. Though the Ukrainian Army has resorted to lobbing ballistic missiles at cities, while volunteer Nazi battalions such as ‘Azov’ have terrorized any civilians they came across, all attempts to crush the rebellion in the East have failed. Hence all the crying about ‘Russian invasion’ to the Western press, but also the coming general election. That way, the Kiev junta can try and show their Western sponsors (George Soros being the most recent, outspoken fan) that they are ‘democratic’, and thus worth backing.
More so than anything that has happened in Ukraine over the past nine months, this weekend's vote will showcase the absurdity of ‘democracy’ as practiced by the genuinely undemocratic. What was the Maidan, if not the rejection of democratic procedures in favor of outright mob rule? With dissidents beaten up, imprisoned, shot or burned alive (as in Odessa), the scope of acceptable political positions in Ukraine today is the triangle between the Nationalist-Socialist Oleg Tyagnybok, Right Sector boss Dmitry Yarosh and Radical nationalist Oleg Lyashko. And with every torchlight parade and fresh honor given to these Nazis – not the ‘neo’ variety, but the actual, unrepentant WWII kind – that triangle keeps getting smaller.
Recent polls - by the Western-funded Democratic Initiatives Foundation and published by the Kyiv Post – suggest a significant lead for President Poroshenko's party, followed by Lyashko's Radicals and Yatsenyuk's People's Front. Meanwhile, the formerly-ruling Party of Regions and the Communists – intimidated, brutalized and all-but-banned – are polling in single digits. However, some 32 percent of respondents have said they were “undecided”, which suggests they are either afraid to reveal their preferences, or haven't yet decided on the lesser of evils.
Residents of those parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions still under Kiev's control will have a choice to vote for the flavor of their occupiers; 13 out of 21 electoral districts in the Donetsk Region and five out of 11 in the Lugansk Region are to be open for business. But the ‘liberators’ themselves won't get to vote; for whatever reason, the junta's legislature failed to pass a law providing for voting by soldiers at the front.
Meanwhile, the ‘civil society’ organizations funded for years by the West (for example, National Endowment for Democracy lists OPORA as one of its aid recipients in 2009) to create fertile ground for the Maidan rebellion are reporting widespread violations of campaign rules. Per the Kyiv Post, OPORA has already reported over “527 violations, including at least 80 cases of alleged voter bribery.” They either haven't got the memo about how this election should be a showcase of ‘democratic’ Ukraine versus the ‘authoritarian’ Russia, or they did get the memo, and are significantly under-reporting voter intimidation and manipulation.
For their part, the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics are refusing to go along with the vote, scheduling their own elections for November 7. They may not have a chance to hold them. There isn't much left of the September ceasefire, if constant reports of artillery and ballistic missile attacks are anything to go by. A renewed Ukrainian offensive as winter approaches may be a stupid idea, but the junta's generals have certainly demonstrated greater stupidity over the course of the campaign.
When Croatia separated from Yugoslavia, in June 1991, several Serb-majority areas refused to accept Zagreb's rule. The Croatian government, backed by Germany, initially failed to conquer these areas, and accepted a UN-guaranteed armistice (Vance Plan). Four years later, backed by the US, Zagreb launched an all-out assault and ‘reintegrated’ the territories by force, expelling some 200,000 Serbs that lived there. Poroshenko's adviser Yury Lutsenko openly stated back in September that Kiev ought to follow Croatia's example in regard to the Donbass.
The ‘democratic’ West said nothing. After all, what Croatia did was a ‘democracy’ too. Because in the eyes of Western governments, the word means whatever they say it means, nothing more and nothing less. To borrow from Lewis Carrol's description of logic in ‘Behind the Looking Glass’, “The question is merely which is to be master – that's all.”
Nebojsa Malic for RT
Nebojsa Malic is a foreign policy analyst and blogger, working in Washington, DC. A columnist for Antiwar.com and Strategic Culture Foundation, he occasionally appears on RT.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.