Hope vs Change

Mikhail Krieger, a pro-Ukrainian activist in Russia is singing a patriotic Ukrainian song during a trial in Moscow where he faces 9 years in jail for an anti-Putin post on Facebook:

Based on his last name, I’m guessing he is probably Jewish, like 99,9% of anti-Putin activists in Russia.

Be that as it may, I find it significant that protesters in Russia are switching to the Ukrainian language and are adopting Ukrainian patriotic imagery. People need patriotism. They need to feel invested into a nation. Russian people never had that, so when they discover the possibility of feeling all this towards Ukraine, they are like Soviet people in an American supermarket in 1990.

I’m seeing this in N. If you think I’m invested in Ukraine, you should see him. The Ukrainian flags on our house and in my office – he bought them. He has 20 shirts with Ukraine symbols while I have two. He checks if I have a Ukrainian badge on whenever I go out to an event. He reads, listens and watches three times what I do about Ukraine.

Of course, people will assume he’s doing it to please me. But he never developed an interest in neoliberalism or the anti-COVID stuff. He doesn’t read Spanish literature to please me. He never watched Tucker Carlson or Matt Walsh. He has no idea who Brett Kavanaugh is, even though the Kavanaugh affair was the turning point in my political beliefs. This isn’t about me. It’s about discovering a powerful source of feeling he had no idea existed.

The war in Ukraine revealed something crucial to us all. We now know the great weakness of the post-national model. It doesn’t evoke good feelings in people. It can scare, it can create anxiety, it can pitch identity groups against each other. But it can’t inspire or bring joy. It can’t make you feel stronger or more resilient. It doesn’t know how to give hope. Hope and change don’t really go together. Fluidity crushes hope because it overwhelms our capacity to stay grounded in reality. In the midst of constant change, you simply don’t know what to hope for other than for the change to stop happening. Bordeless, amorphous neoliberalism is being crushed on the battlefield, in people’s minds, in art, everywhere. It’s failing, and that’s where real hope lies.

What the activist from Russia is singing in his cage is really, “we want country, we want nation, we want patriotism. We want what is normal for human beings to want.” And that’s good.


4 thoughts on “Hope vs Change

  1. “a powerful source of feeling he had no idea existed”

    In online encounters with russia they have no idea how to answer questions like: “How would Ukraine run by russia be better than Ukraine run by Ukrainians?” or even “What is it in russian culture that you like?” and they can’t answer and then get sulky and then resort to verbal abuse…

    Unprompted they start spouting nonsense “russians are fanatics about finding the truth!” or “russians all like each other” or “russians are great at integrating people” and then get sulky when asked about contradictions and then start making threats….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I did not show my kids this video, but I love this guy so much– that whole southern revival-preacher thing is an indelible part of my childhood, and watching someone deploy it this way is just wonderful 🙂

    Someone with that kind of stage presence… would be unstoppable in a presidential race, no matter what their platform.

    Liked by 1 person

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