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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Who is ruling over us?

5 December, 2006 - 00:00

“Man is by nature a political animal. And he who by nature and not by mere accident is without a state, is either a bad man or above humanity; he is like the “Tribeless, lawless, hearthless one,” whom Homer denounces-the natural outcast is forthwith a lover of war; he may be compared to an isolated piece at draughts” (Aristotle, 4 B.C.)

In his time, Aristotle, the erudite Greek from ancient Stagira and the teacher of Alexander the Great, described all possible forms of government (monarchy, tyranny, aristocracy, democracy, ochlocracy) defining each one’s advantages and disadvantages. Little has changed under the sun since then, perhaps because the essence of the Greek “kratos” (“power”) depends on unchangeable human nature, not on any external historical factors. This does not mean, of course, that the peculiarities of one form of government or another do not depend on an era, a state’s history, or the national traits of one nation or another.

Using Aristotle’s definitions, let us look closely at Ukraine’s form of government today (with no pretensions of being a specialist’s analysis). One does not need to be an expert to understand what type of power prevails in our country. It is ochlocracy, which was established from the very first day of the Ukrainian state’s existence.

“Ochlocracy” means “the power of the crowd” in Greek. However, this classical ruling scheme was violated in Ukraine — neither the people nor their prominent representatives, but literally a crowd of so-called “demagogues” (politicians that “earn” their popularity through false promises) seized power. They are using the state’s transition period for the sole purpose of becoming rich at any price, and this “great” aim governs all the actions of these “demagogues” independently of what is going on in the country.

Each of them is well-known in society — with the aid of devices that in ancient Greece were called “televisions.” Wherever and whenever you look, they are bustling about. Meanwhile, those people who form the collective intellect, conscience, and the country’s culture under better circumstances are shoved not only into the shadows but into impenetrable darkness.

How can one distinguish between an average ochlocrat and an ordinary person? One should consider certain stable characteristic features that totally give him away. Below is a list of specific features of a Ukrainian demagogue (and ochlocrat). Some of these traits coincide with those described by Aristotle, while others are of Ukrainian origin-the achievement of today’s civilization.

Disrespect for the values of the people among whom the ochlocrat lives: this is a key ideological attribute that a true ochlocrat can sacrifice for anything (except money — that’s sacred!) The larger the number of people or things that are valued by the people, the more passionately and consistently the ochlocrat seeks to defame, trample, and destroy them. There can be a variety of causes, such as an inferiority complex or a subconscious sense of danger or alienation.

Ignorance: when an ochlocrat defames a personality or talent praised by some people, in many cases he gets an amnesty, because as a rule he is “ignorant of what he is doing.” If someone has never listened to the choral concerto “Lord, Make Me to Know My End” or Ihor Borko’s singing, how can he praise Dmytro Bortniansky or the unparalleled and unique Ukrainian melodics, one of the finest achievements in the world? How can he appreciate the performance level of Requiem composed by Giuseppe Verdi at the National Opera Theater? To ochlocrats, this is just “shaking the air.” They have other criteria, other requirements of “muzon” (slang for “music”).

Sacrilege: this ochlocratic feature is particularly vividly demonstrated on Ukrainian television on days of national mourning. There is probably no other country in the world where television would show “dancing, singing, and hopping” all day long like on the days when our country is honoring the memory of its dead countrymen — in wars, the Chornobyl catastrophe, and Babyn Yar.

Has anyone ever considered what cruelty and cynicism are cultivated in children with these examples? But who cares about this? This means big advertising money for TV studios and money for clients, the ochlocrats. Everyone is happy!

Amnesia concerning their own declarations and promises: the ability of today’s demagogues to forget what they said or promised the day before needs to be thoroughly examined by both society and medical establishments, because maybe the problem here is that memory has been anesthetized. But most likely Ukrainian ochlocrats are convinced that the people do not have a memory, and this enables them to talk nonsense whenever they want, with self-confidence and self-respect. Meanwhile, one often deals with promises on which a person’s life depends.

Our ochlocrats’ indifference to a code of honor is connected to the previous symptom — amnesia. Here we have what my grandmother used to say: “Spit in his eye and he’ll say — God’s dew!” A person who is not involved in public political life can only spread his hands when he listens to “the exchange of ideas” between politicians of different parties. There were times when similar offences and accusations used to end in a duel; when people would commit a suicide because of shame, join a monastery, or flee abroad because of disgrace, etc. But our steadfast tin soldiers, our politicians, heartily swallow insults and criminal accusations! They spit at someone, get spat on themselves and dry themselves off, and with a victorious smile they go off to look for the next “intelligent interlocutor.”

No sense of humor: the only thing that can reconcile us with the above picture is a sense of humor, the ability to hide defeat with a joke or cold irony, and, most importantly, to “crush” one’s rival in a trenchant but polite way, like parliamentarians in other countries do. However, we have not reached this degree of sophistication and, judging from the mentality of today’s ochlocrats, will not reach it in the nearest future. But then there will be (will there?) completely different politicians and a different political life, and the form of government will not be called “an ochlocracy.”

By Klara GUDZYK, The Day