Direct democracy in Ukraine?




From a recent blog post by our colleague Adrian Ivakhiv, a professor of environmental studies at the University of Vermont. His blog on the ongoing events in Ukraine is called UKR-TAZ: A Ukrainian Temporary Autonomous Zone: Analyzing the Maidan & Its Aftermath:

[T]he Maidan [Arabic for a public square] movement has shown a tremendous degree of self-organization. Building organized networks — for self-defense, food, supplies, medical care, transportation, strategy development, military action (if needed), and so on — is laborious work, and it can be a formative experience for those who undertake it. It leaves an imprint that can make one feel that a different way of doing things just might be viable.

The difficulty with this third form of democracy [in contrast to liberal and authoritarian forms of ‘democracy’] is that it’s a democracy of people who, for all their recently gained insights, are people. And they may be untrained and unmolded by the system of checks and balances developed for political action by the other two forms of democracy. They have no commitment to that system. That can be scary.

Direct democracy comes from people whose faults are all too visible. They have memories like elephants. They harbor grudges. They respond with their guts. They identify with symbols and images that haven’t gone through the machinery by which such things get shaped into acceptable public discourse.

In Ukraine, some of these people — and notably many of the ones who put their lives on the line and placed themselves in the line of sniper fire a few days ago — have identified themselves with the political right. For the most part, this is not at all a right of laissez-faire economics, and it is only a right of social conservatism within fairly reasonable limits (for its cultural context). Except for one thing: nationalism.

Read the rest of this commentary here.