The maidan bifurcation point

svoboda As I’m writing this, is showing musician and activist Sashko Polozhynsky, who on Sunday stopped provocateurs on Bankova street, try to analyze what really happened while commenting on the live broadcast from the Verkhovna Rada.

The Verkhovna Rada is adamant that there’s nobody on the streets and there hasn’t been all week. Nearly all my friends, perhaps some of the most intelligent people in this country, are watching the broadcast and commenting on Facebook. We’re also trying to work and go about our daily routine while attempting to fulfill our international duty. It’s not going very well, but we’re trying. Towards evening we’ll go back to the Maidan to be together, bring things, hand them out, sing. Then we’ll again share our impressions on Facebook – the main information channel of this revolution, and wake up several times during the night to check that everything’s ok, that they didn’t break up the Maidan, that everyone’s alive and there’s no state of emergency.

If the authorities are clever enough they won’t incite any new bloody provocations and continue to behave as if there’s nothing extraordinary happening in the country – thereby not giving any occasion for mobilization, while all of us tire from the standing-warming up-handing out-helping. Not because it’s meaningless, but because the goal and memory are gone. And at the moment of fatigue and switch to the daily routine, we will again forget why we out to this Maidan. Just as it seems to me we’re slowly forgetting why we first went out on November 21.

It’s been less than two weeks, but there isn’t a trace left of the EuroMaidan. What happened to the primacy of European values and geopolitical choice? Where is the “revolution of the creative class”? What happened to “snotnosed kids forever”? Where are the student strikes? Where is the struggle for social slogans? Where is the maidan without politics? Where are the artists and writers on the podium?

And it’s not even a question whether artists and students can change the country (although I believe that in the current state of political cynicism and impotence only they can), but whether the participants (and observers) of the first example in the country’s history of mass self-organization and building of civil society remember why we went out and how it all began? How is it that “Ukraine is Europe” unnoticeably became “Ukraine above all”? How did “It won’t be easy, but it’s worth it” become “Yanukovych go climb a Christmas tree”?

How is it that right before our eyes, with our own hands, the difficult struggle for democratic values – freedom, human rights, respect for minorities and a voice for everyone, responsible government and involved society – turn into a struggle for power? The struggle for a new type of social relations – uncontrolled fatigue, distrust, disrespect and aggression? How is a far-reaching strategy, or at least the attempt to create such a strategy, turning into a chaotic and populist tactic?

Polozhynsky said that in the crowd on Sunday on Bankova the distinction between “us” and “them” was made solely by appearance. In a crowd there’s no time or opportunity to think and ask one another about values and beliefs, especially when they’re beating you. But the opportunity exists beyond the crowd.

To be on Maidan, or outside the Verkhovna Rada or Cabinet of Ministers every day or when circumstances allow. But not in the crowd. Don’t allow yourself and people around you to be divided solely on looks. And never divide anyone into “us” and “them”. After all, those cherished democratic values that became the bifurcation point on November 21, when the country rose in response to one journalist’s call – mean a place and voice for everyone.

Being the memory of processes, the memory of society – is this not today the most important role of artists and intellectuals? Is it not to understand the critical need of news reports, investigations and fiery rhetoric from the tribune, and to understand, research, provide a vision of causes, origins and contexts, to see opportunities for movement, or, I’m afraid to say – a way out. To be the voice of those who don’t have enough strength or power to shout about themselves to the entire country. To have a warm heart but a cool head. To think. To speak. To write. To not give up.