Humble Brag

Since it’s humanly impossible to lose at English Wordle, I started playing it in Spanish and Russian, too. Turns out, they are equally impossible to lose.

The Canadian Maidan

The trucker protest in Ottawa is slowly turning into a real Maidan. And the Maidan, as you might remember, won. It is the only form of 21st-century protest that has proven to be effective. Very, very effective.

And it’s also taking place in winter in a very cold country. This is important because the willingness to keep protesting in an inhospitable weather shows that the protesters are serious. When people come to a protest and then leave a couple of hours later, that’s a complete fail. That’s why the anti-Putin protests of 2012 in Russia failed. People went home, so there was no reason to take them seriously.

Another complete fail is a protest that has no specific, clear demands, no well-defined addressee, and no way to measure success. This was the problem with the Spanish Indignados and all the many #Occupy shindigs. “Cancel greed” is childish mewling, not a serious demand. Who is supposed to grant this request? God? Then go to church and pray.

The Spanish Indignados protests had superfun slogans but the problem was that these slogans described the existing reality. They never pointed to a future the protesters wanted to bring about. It’s not enough to name the problem. You need to suggest a solution. “This is not a crisis, this is a scam!” Yes, totally, but what do you propose? And to whom? Unfortunately, since there were no measures of success, many of the protesters haven’t figured out in all the time that passed since 2012 that their protest failed. They asked for nothing, they got nothing, so maybe it’s a win? (Not really, but who’s going to tell the difference?) They get quite pissy when you tell them that they wasted their time.

Beyond these practical matters, the Maidan is a specific feeling. It’s people saying “unity and togetherness” every 3 seconds. It’s dancing and singing. It’s spontaneously organized concerts, comedy routines, and kids’ activities. It’s people who have never participated in anything political in their lives making a pot of soup and lugging it to the protest because “it feels right.” It’s strangers embracing in the streets because they suddenly feel so close. That’s how it was in Ukraine in 2013, and now it seems to be happening in Canada in 2022. Fingers majorly crossed because a Maidan only succeeds if people make it absolutely clear they aren’t leaving until their demands are met.

From the Grave

I’m still reading Rafael Chirbes’s diaries, which aren’t diaries at all. They are more edited, planned, and organized than any regular novel. These diaries are a novel! Every fake entry is so strategically placed into the steel framework of a structure that this can only be a novel.

Every page is like, you bastard! This is a novel! You did it on purpose!

What an amazing writer Chirbes was to be able to do this to readers from the grave. I’m overcome with wonder at the indomitable nature of the human spirit.