March 2, 2014

"Where there is freedom, there is happiness."

I've been surfing the web for information and background* on the unfolding crisis in Ukraine and I came across this video. The description from the video:

We spend the early 2014 together with the protesters in Kyiv on the Maidan barricades. During those emotional days we were shooting a film inspired by the „Happy" video by Pharrell Williams.
But can Ukraine say it‚"Happy" today?
What do Ukrainians need to feel happy?

I dug into the comments to get a feel for the spectrum of opinion. I was taken aback by the occasional charges of fascism, then I remembered that this is a civil war, a European/Eurasian civil war that is always formatted by the Fascist/Communist binary. The Western side of Ukraine is aligned with the EU, it is mostly farmland while the East side is industrial and mostly aligned with Russia (by my estimate of the moment is about 20%). The over and under of dislikes to likes on this YouTube video is 4%. These happy people are fascist?

The counter argument to the title of this post (taken from the video (T = 3:06) is that freedom can be scary as hell, the freedom to succeed and be happy is co-joined with the freedom to fail. It's the mediocrity of state sanctioned slavery that creeps me out. But on the whole, I take the prior sentiment to be true... or to sharpen the point, a rewrite: Where there is freedom, there is exhilaration. (Shadows the implicit corollary: Where there is slavery, there is mediocrity.)

One comment stood out to me:
Holodomor? I flip open Wikipedia to get a rundown on Holodomor:

The Holodomor (Ukrainian: Голодомор, "Extermination by hunger" or "Hunger-extermination"; derived from 'Морити голодом', "Killing by Starvation") was a man-made famine in the Ukrainian SSR in 1932 and 1933. During the famine, which is also known as the "Terror-Famine in Ukraine" and "Famine-Genocide in Ukraine", millions of citizens of Ukrainian SSR, the majority of whom were Ukrainians, died of starvation in a peacetime catastrophe unprecedented in the history of Ukraine. Since 2006, the Holodomor has been recognized by Ukraine and several other countries as a genocide of the Ukrainian people. [footnotes eliminated]

Further down into the Wikipedia entry, I came across Kasimir Malevich! I had read his biography before, but recent events have sharpened my desire to visit his bio again.

*UPDATE: HYPERALLERGIC has an excellent roundup of links in their Required Reading

UPDATE 2: This has been an informative briefing from a group I take to be associated with the Maiden movement.

UPDATE 3: More interesting material, a public opinion poll on Crimean perspectives, bracketing 2011-2013.

UPDATE 4: Check this out: the philosopher who is the key to Putin's thinking. Aleksandr Dugin. I found the video riveting. The Fourth Way. Proposed successor to Liberalism, Communism and Fascism. The concept of Dasein (via Hey Digger, aka Heidegger -a shout out to my once fellow architecture professor Stan Berteaud, our inside joke): "the awareness of presence before we are aware of the presence of others"... this is what Dugin would use as a foundation of his "Fourth Way".

In this video, he identifies the failures of Individualism (as found in Liberalism), Class (as found in Communism) and the State or Race (as found in variants of Fascism). Dugin says that in democracy, the majority has been overwhelmed by the minority, although in the video Dugin did not address the modification of democracy by the republic, he also says that Liberalism has been eroded by postmodernism, which demonizes reason as a totalitarian institution. He describes (at T=3:00) the disintegration of Liberalism by postmodernism as like organs of a body freed from control by the brain, a metaphor which is nearly identical by the way, with Leon Krier's critique of modern city planning (see here and here for earlier references to Krier's architectural and city planing ideas).

I've read other references to his theory described as a kind of Monarchic throwback and when Dugin says that all three ideologies (Liberalism, Communism and Fascism) are all rooted and sprung from Modernity and a belief in progress, I tend to suspect the presence of Feudalism and the crown that organized it.

He says as a preemptive defense (at T=4:02) that [the successor of Liberalism, i.e. the Fourth Way] "...are assumed to deliberately mystify the situation in order to attack their arch nemesis, Liberalism". But I wonder if he doth protests too much? As I research, I am wondering: is Dugin's Fourth Way actually is the Third way (Fascism) in sheep's clothing? To base a political theory on one of the most obscure and difficult philosophers, a phenomenologist no less, Martin Heidegger (Hey Digger), to ask the public to embrace the foamy and wispy idea of Dasein and build society with it, is this not redolent of mystification itself? Could this be a softer and subtle form of Fascism?

The suggestion that society should be modeled on the parti of living organisms smells faintly like fascism. Today, most everyone I know use the term Fascism as a general epithet, not understanding what it means. Reading elsewhere among the many definitions of Fascism (links now lost), I was intrigued by a description of Communism as the absorption and elimination of private industry by a government commanded by the working class. In contrast, with Fascism, private industry is conserved, marshaled and yoked to serve the working class... as an organism.. Communism is created with an internationalist intent with an abracadabra of organization and Fascism with a nationalist intent with a single pattern -the physical organization of sentient creatures, a command structure- lifted from the infinite complexity of nature. Both political systems by my eyes are forms of socialism.

UPDATE 5: Why all this concentration on Fascism beyond the breaking international news? The Guggenheim has an exhibition up at the moment (Italian Futurism, 1909-1944: Reconstructing the Universe) and Fascism winds all the way up Frank Lloyd Wright's spiral ramp to the top and down again. It's an interesting show. But the hard connection of an authoritarian and nationalistic right-wing system of government and social organization to art history and aesthetics is the kind of food for thought that's hard to digest.

Fascism is not merely a historical curiosity, it has been on the march recently and all freedom loving people should wake up to this fact and deal with it before it's too late.

Posted by Dennis at March 2, 2014 12:33 PM

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