Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense Plagiarizes From Steve Jobs

In a Ukrainian university, the way to get a good grade is to find several sources, copy paragraphs or pages from them, and hand the entire thing in. The way to get a bad grade is to develop your own argument. “Nobody cares about your ideas! Can’t you find a few authorities and copy them, like all normal students do?” my professors in Ukraine kept exclaiming.

This is why I’m not surprised thatΒ Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense, Raisa Bogatyreva, plagiarized a speech that Steve Jobs gave to the students at Stanford in 2005.

For centuries, any original thought coming from a Ukrainian was punished first by the officials of the Russian Empire and then by their Soviet heirs. The result is that now it is commonly accepted that parroting somebody else’s ideas – hopefully, as close to the original text as possible – is the best way to proceed. In political terms, the main issue that Ukraine has been trying to resolve for a long time now is whether to imitate the Russians and allow them to guide the country or whether it’s best to follow the lead of the Western Europeans. The possibility of looking for one’s own way of doing things never even gets mentioned.

I am not excusing Bogatyreva’s plagiarism, of course. I’m simply explaining what the consequences of eradicating original thinking in a country are. The case of a bureaucrat plagiarizing Steve Jobs’s speech sounds funny at first. It is a lot lessΒ entertaining, though, if you see it in terms of what it says about the future of a country whose population is 1,5 times greater than that of Canada.

13 thoughts on “Ukrainian Secretary of National Security and Defense Plagiarizes From Steve Jobs

  1. Do not be too hard on Ukraine, it is a universal problem… Some dean in Alberta recently got caught plagiarizing somebody’s speech, some top German politicians (including minister of defense) have resigned recently after they were caught plagiarizing part of their PH. D. dissertations…


  2. Ok, I see your point. πŸ™‚
    My grandmother was a (retired) teacher of literature. So she had all those methodics books from which one could learn what the schoolchildren were expected to write in their essays…:) πŸ™‚ But once my literature teacher announced unexpectedly that we were going to write an essay right that moment… πŸ™‚ Did I ever tell you my Taras Bulba story? πŸ™‚


      1. “Of course, Pugachev wasn’t a nice person all of the time,” I wrote in my essay on Pushkin’s The Captain’s Daughter. “It’s true that he sometimes roasted people alive and did it slowly to let their fat trickle down out of their bodies. But he always had good intentions. For example, the fat he acquired in this way was used to cure the wounds of his soldiers. Would a bad person do something so kind?”

        The teacher took the essay completely seriously and read it aloud as an example of good instance of literary criticism.


  3. The Taras Bulba story then… πŸ™‚
    As mentioned in my previous post, I had to write an essay without warning, it happened to be on Taras Bulba, and I happened to read only the beginning of this story. So I wrote that Ostap was a bully and Andrij was a nice romantic guy. Just did not get to the point where Andrij betrays his Fatherland because of falling in love with a Polish princess. πŸ™‚ With his own father killing him for that. As you can imagine, my essay was utterly unpatriotic. πŸ™‚
    But the funny thing was – it did not occur to my teacher that I just did not finish the book. She decided it was a geek’s intelligent protest statement, and started to explain, almost apologizing, that although my essay was impeccable, she could not give me more than a B due to its ideological deficiency. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    P.S. Your Pugachev story reminded me of your sharks and squirrels story… πŸ™‚


    1. Funny story. πŸ™‚

      You are right, I was about the same age when I came up with sharks/ squirrels and the Pugachev essay. πŸ™‚ Maybe I should mention both things to my psychoanalyst. πŸ™‚


      1. Hmm… You think it these stories are relevant from psychoanalytic standpoint? πŸ™‚ What was a psychoanalytic meaning of a squirrel again? πŸ™‚


  4. About 10 years ago I hosted a wonderful Czech exchange student. I noticed that when he got stuck on a math problem, instead of working it out he just closed the book. I asked him and he said, “Oh, if I don’t understand something, I just turn the page.” I said, “Jakub, what happens when you have to take an exam? He said, “I cheat. I am very good at cheating. All Czechs are very good at cheating.” I think this is the result of growing up in an authoritarian system.


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