Tuesday, May 6, 2014


Abandoned Odessa.
The invasion of Ukraine continues to be more like an exvasion, since the troops were mostly already there before it started, as they have been since many decades before Lenin decided there ought to be a country there, in 1921. The name Ukrayina/Україна isn't even a noun, you know, but a prepositional phrase, "on the border" between the Russian and Austrian empires, that started to be used in the 1840s when the [jump]
Cossacks and "Little Russians" (Malorossiyskye) on one side and the Ruthenians on the other began to realize that they were sort of the same people speaking the same not exactly Russian language. Though by no means the only people in a territory also filled with Germans and Slovaks, Hungarians and Russians, Armenians and Circassians, Vlachs, Gypsies, extremely many Jews (so many as to lend credence to the theory that the Ashkenazi Jews originated here as a multiethnic host of converts to the state religion in the medieval kingdom of the Khazars, though this is now pretty conclusively falsified by DNA evidence), and Tatars, to name just a few representative groups. The Russian empire finished occupying it with the conquest of the Crimean Khanate from its native Tatars only in 1792, and Crimea, of course, is where they put their famous naval base of Sevastopol (pronounced correctly, I learn, with the stress on the penultimate), from which the Russian soldiers came out as their operations began.

While I yield to no one in my contempt for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Samoderzhok of all the Russias (that's not a real word, Dr. Google and I made it up with the intention it should mean "nasty little Autocrat"), I am still not really confident that Ukraine exists, and mindful of the fact that those Svoboda fascists of whom Russia Today and the dudebros keep reminding us do in fact exist,. It's striking me, since the horror in Odessa (which is to my imagination the Cockaigne of city Jews and violinists, the dreamy, magical capital of eastern Yiddishkeit) that the Russian plan must be to create these people as the Enemy, somewhat the way Assad did with the Sunni terrorists of Syria, calling them into existence by endlessly talking about them. And since they're the ones who are stupid and brutal enough to fight properly—e.g. by burning down a locked building with the people inside it—they will end up being the Russians' only opponents, while the only people in Ukraine I give a damn about—the Maidan students and the Crimean Tatars and the masses of ordinary folk who get no attention at all—are certain to lose no matter what.

Oh, there are pro-Russian Nazis too. Did Vladimir Vladimirovich tell you how the Westernizing Ukrainians are anti-Semitic? Here's the kind of vomit the Eurasianists put out when they were still in power in Kiyiv and the Westernizers were just hippies. No link, sorry, you'll have to look for it if you want it.
The Tatars are already being accused, of course, of terrorism (that's modern Russian, Novorossiysk, for "peaceful protest"), and I feel sure the Kremlin wants them to turn suicide bombers just so they can crack down as with the Chechens or the (CIA-Saudi trained) Afghan Mujahedin before them. Such a lovely world when you can convince people to behave according to your stereotype of them and "exterminate the brutes". Ask the Israeli politicians about the lease on life the creation of the Hamas party has given them; it's added decades to their ability to refuse to make peace, almost as if they'd done it on purpose (which I think they didn't, actually; they just meant to weaken the Marxist, atheist Palestinians that used to run things back in the day).

My hope is actually, as I've been saying, in capitalism, as I think Obama's must be as well (he's no pacifist, but keeps picking the pacifist option the way FDR chose the socialist option, because it's the smartest): that Putin's ability to rule will eventually be destroyed by his assumption that he doesn't need to worry about economics. Indeed Russia is now in recession and the ruble continues to fall in spite of emergency measures from the central bank, and it's his fault, him and the imperial policy. A lot more nice people, though, are likely to get hurt before the samoderzhok ends up dangling by his ankles at some crossroad being spat on by angry villagers.
Two Boots Pioneer Theater (Brooklyn) production of Odessa!... Odessa!

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