Year XIII, Issue 9–10 (143–144)

Year XIII, Issue 9–10 (143–144)UA Читати українською

October 2009
Ivan Kolomiets. Scorched Morality
Halya Kojnash. A Critique of Cynical Unreason
Ralf Dahrendorf. After the Crisis: A Return to the Protestant Ethic?
Timothy D. Snyder. Holocaust. The Ignored Reality
Discussion: Oleksandr Burakovskii. Real, but not Wished for
Andrii Portnov. An Enlightened Guide for Reconstituting Russia
Leonid Zashkilniak. Native and Foreign History
Letters to the Editor: Steven Velychenko, Vasyl Yaremenko, Ivan Koropeckyj
Viktor Dudko. Ukrainian Publishing: No Comment
Oksana Yurkova. Plagiary with Abracadabra
Viktor Kubaichuk. Whatever
Timothy Garton Ash. With the passing of the last wartime Europeans, history’s time has come
Oleksandr Boichenko. An Appologia for Sysyphus



The September-October issue opens with several articles that deal with the interconnection of the political and the ethical, and especially the issue of public morality in a democratic society and the moral factor in national and international politics. In “Scorched Morality” Ivan Kolomiets of the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy analyses the recent attempts by right-wing radicals in Lviv and Kyiv to disrupt book presentations of a translation of queer literature published by Krytyka as well as the torching of a Kyiv art gallery where just earlier (again with Krytyka’s participation) there had occurred a public discussion of homophobia and tolerance in Ukrainian society. The author considers the likelihood of a “right-wing consensus” in Ukraine and the prospects of a neo-Nazi agenda as well as the nature of that discourse in Ukraine, particularly its crypto-biological nature.

In “A Critique of Cynical Unreason” Halya Kojnash, a human rights activist working in Poland, examines the various attempts to secure the “moral health of society” and to support “traditional values” by mechanisms that run counter to the spirit of a democratic society. A recent case in point in Ukraine is the law “On the Defense of Public Morality” and the activities of a National Commission on Public Morality which utilizes moralistic rhetoric and plays to the fundamentalist attitudes in society, particularly Soviet-era desires for “social cleansing” and a “strong hand.”

In “Metaphors of Betrayal” the Kyiv critic Mykola Riabchuk examines European Realpolitik and the way it appears to accept the ever more aggressive behavior of Russia with respect to those post-communist nations, particularly Ukraine, who have not entered NATO or the EU and emphasizes the ominous continuity between this and such relatively recent historical events as Munich, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Yalta.

The recently deceased British-German philosopher Ralf Dahrendorf (1929-2009) focuses his “After the Crisis: A Return to the Protestant Ethic?” on the world economic crisis and anticipates new social pressures for a more “responsible capitalism” and some linking of economic and ethical values.

In “Holocaust. The Ignored Reality,” which appeared earlier in the New York Review of Books, Yale Professor Timothy D. Snyder proposes a new understanding of the Holocaust and other genocides in Europe in the first half of the 20th century by focusing his attention on those areas where the greatest loss of life occurred—not Auschwitz, but Treblinka, Bergen-Belsen, Sobibor, the mass executions and the destruction of the ghettos in Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania which caused the virtual annihilation of East European Jewry. At the same time he reminds the reader that along with Nazi genocide there was also the Soviet version, beginning with the “collectivization” famines of the early 1930s and the Great Terror of 1937-1938. In all, between the early 1930s and 1944 there were nearly 12 million victims of Nazi and Soviet mass murder in Eastern Europe, and Ukraine and Belarus were the “heart of darkness” of the “dark continent” that was the Europe under Stalin and Hitler.

In the Discussion section in “Real, but not Wished for” Oleksandr Burakovskii responds to Oleksandr Maiboroda’s review of two of his books in the last issue of Krytyka and charges him with underestimating the degree of anti-Semitism in Ukraine and especially the lost opportunities for greater Ukrainian-Jewish understanding since Independence.

Andrii Portnov reviews in his “An Enlightened Guide for Reconstituting Russia” the collection of essays “Imperial Legacy and Russia’s Future” which appeared last year in Moscow under the editorship of Alexei Miller, a well-known historian of Ukraine and Eastern Europe and a leading Russian proponent of the “new imperialism” which seeks to apply Western academic approaches in order to rehabilitate Russia’s imperial past—and its future (also imperial).

In “Native and Foreign History” Leonid Zashkilniak considers Polish-Ukrainian relations in light of history textbooks published recently in both countries. On the basis of nine such textbooks published in Ukraine, he comes to the conclusion that while there is some progress (less of the total distortion and blind spots of the Soviet era), fundamental methodological shifts have not taken place: an ethnocentric, collectivistic, and basically mythological approach to Ukraine and things Ukrainian is still the rule.

A discussion of academic standards is the focus of the next several articles. Viktor Dudko examines in his “Ukrainian Publishing: No Comment” the state of commentaries to recent publications of archival sources and notes the overall dismal state of affairs: the frequent absence of any commentary even in academic editions, futile attempts to replace this with accompanying articles or “decorative” commentaries, lack of attention or acknowledgement to the work of predecessors, ignorance of the context and so on. Oles Fedoruk’s report on a Seminar on “Text—Context— Edition” that took place last June at the Institute of Literature of the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences with the participation of several Institute of Krytyka members (Viktor Dudko, Oles Fedoruk, George G. Grabowicz, Stepan Zakharkin and others) amplifies this discussion.

In “Plagiary with Abracadabra” Oksana Yurkova reviews a recent internet publication, “Kateryna Hrushevs’ka as editor of Early Society” (eds. Olesia Tserkoviak -Horodetska and Natalia Malynska), and notes the exceedingly low technical and editorial quality of the publication coupled with blatant plagiarism from Iryna Matiash’s “Kateryna Hrushevs’ka: Life, Bibliography, Archives.” In “Whatever” Viktor Kubaichuk reviews an entry from the third volume of “The Encyclopedia of the History of Ukraine” as an example of its standards.

Timothy Garton Ash’s “With the passing of the last wartime Europeans, history’s time has come,” provides an obituary for Bronislaw Gieremek, Leszek Koіakowski and Ralf Dahrendorf, all of whom died this year. In “An Appologia for Sysyphus” Oleksandr Boichenko writes on Koіakowski’s poetics of philosophy.

In letters to the Editor Steven Velychenko addresses the problem of historical memory, Vasyl Yaremenko finds fault with the editing of the letters of Mykhailo Kotsiubynskyi (published by Krytyka) and Ivan Koropeckyj comments on topography and national identity.

The issue concludes with a report on “Ukrainian Poetry Evenings in New York” where various Ukrainian writers (Alexander Motyl, Vasyl Makhno, Dzvina Orlowska, Askold Melnychuk, Marko Robert Stech and others participated in readings in the Cornelia Street Cafe and the Bowery Poetry Club. A discussion between Vasyl Makhno and Alexander Motyl follows.

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