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

A flashmob of ideas

Iryna Kliuchkovska on James Mace’s living heritage
22 February, 2016 - 17:39
Photo from The Day’s archives

February 18 is the birthday of James Mace, a Native American by origin, who dedicated his scholastic career to the quest for truth about the Ukrainian Holodomor and diagnosed our society with the post-genocidal syndrome.

Mace, an outstanding scholar and publicist, worked on The Day’s staff for seven years as a consultant and columnist, as well as the editor of The Day’s English-speaking digest. Mace used to call the English version of Den his own “child” and was proud of this cooperation. The editorial staff, on their part, are doing their best to keep the memory about the researcher alive: Mace’s key articles are published in Den’s Library, and editor-in-chief Larysa Ivshyna initiated the James Mace prize for the civic stand in journalism, which has already been awarded eight times.

We are talking about the urgency of Mace’s heritage with Iryna KLIUCHKOVSKA, director at the International Institute for Education, Culture, and Contacts with the Diaspora at the Lviv Polytechnic National University, in the run-up to the important Mace commemoration events, prepared by the Institute.


“I believe James Mace was specially sent by God to Ukraine,” says Kliuchkovska. “How else could a visitor from the American continent fathom our problems so deep? And not only the Holodomor issues, which constituted the core of his research. I was impressed how, back then, he understood the importance of the reforms we are supposed to be implementing nowadays. Mace wrote: ‘Reforms are only possible when the bulk of the impoverished population begins to understand what is going on, and realizes the urgency of changing the entire system.’ He was speaking about the key problem of the Ukrainian language, the overcoming of our inferiority complex in this context: it is a matter of will and effort, not of time. Actually, the quotation I came across once, as I was reading Den, prompted me to make Ukrainian as a foreign language one of the key policies of our Institute. It has always amazed me that Mace understood the state in which Ukraine found itself. He would say that a Ukrainian Ukraine (like a Polish Poland, for example) did not yet exist, and that everything depended on the political will of the people who must fulfill the tasks set by the nation and by state itself. Mace’s prescience comes true today. In particular, his words about Russia which, regardless of the political circles’ orientation, takes the very existence of Ukraine as mortal insult. He wrote that when Russia had a free hand, books would burn, and aggression would burst out. This is happening now. So, Mace is a figure of epic proportions.”


To bring Mace’s ideas and personality closer to the broad public (including the Polytechnic students, engineering students in general, students from other universities, school teachers, civil organizations, researchers, etc.), on February 24 the Lviv Polytechnic will hold a meeting with the writer Natalia Dziubenko-Mace. The leitmotif of the meeting are the words said by Dziubenko-Mace: “Today our dead are choosing each of us.”

“The idea of such a meeting was prompted by an incident which happened past November at a Holodomor commemoration event, when Dziubenko-Mace was not allowed inside, to be present at the commemoration,” says Kliuchkovska. “It hurt me very bad, and I thought that this is the problem of our memory and our ignorance. I immediately contacted Natalia Dziubenko-Mace, and we decided to hold this event to mark James Mace’s birthday anniversary. Mrs. Mace’s quote, which became the motto of the event, carries a concept of the memory, which must become our guiding light. Everyone should apply this motto to himself. Everyone must do what he can, in his own place. This meeting, which exceeds the boundaries of our professional activity, is our civic calling and obliges us to take certain actions. This is why, aware that someone must do it in Lviv, we are going to petition the city council to name one of the streets after James Mace. Moreover, we want to make it publicly. We hope that people from the city hall will attend our event and understand the importance of this request. I am convinced that when Lviv has done it (and Brovary was the first to break the trail), the entire country will follow suit.”

There is going to be another important moment during the event. Says Andrii Yatsiv, humanitarian project coordinator at the International Institute for Education, Culture, and Contacts with the Diaspora: “We asked the Lviv Polytechnic students to pick out topical dictums by James and Natalia Mace and read them out at the meeting. It will be a kind of flashmob, a living exhibition of ideas for the Lviv public.”


Kliuchkovska shared also some personal memories. “It was James Mace who acquainted me with Den. Back in 1992, the 60th anniversary of the Holodomor, the very first public commemoration of the Holodomor victims was held by the Lviv Polytechnic. Later I followed the lead and read everything that Den published, as soon as the newspaper became available. I am deeply grateful to Den, and not only for the cooperation with this unique man, who made more for us than entire institutions, but also for a purposeful, long-lived educational campaign concerning him and his heritage. Moreover, Den is the only newspaper to have established the James Mace Award. Indeed, the importance of this step, initiated by Larysa Ivshyna, can only be appreciated with time. This is a concrete record of the achievements which Ukraine failed to appreciate (sad as it is, we may not pass it over in silence).

“Starting with 1992, the Lviv Polytechnic holds regular Holodomor commemoration events, which has become a tradition. We owe this to Den, our good partner,” adds Kliuchkovska. “By the way, we plan to hold a series of meetings together with the Teachers’ House, and one of them will be dedicated to Den and its historical publications.”