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Serhiy Datsyuk: Another war with russia is not the worst thing that awaits us 04/25/2023 14:46:00. Total views 1640. Views today — 3.

Is the unity of Ukrainian society during the war a stable phenomenon? A recent survey by Kyiv International Institute of Sociology showed that over a third of Ukrainians have a xenophobic attitude towards Ukrainian citizens who are of russian nationality. According to sociologists, the situation is worrying and could have a negative impact on the unity of Ukrainian society.

Ukrainian philosopher and publicist Serhiy Datsyuk, in an interview with OstroV, talked about what unity represents in Ukraine, about simple and complex decisions, and why a real civil war can happen in our country.

- I would like to start with one of the most discussed topics of recent months. This is the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the potential end of the war. In your opinion, does Ukrainian society have unity in considering Ukraine's victory in this war?

- We have an official point of view that victory in the war means reaching the borders of 1991. Is there unity in this or not - we can only guess about it. Usually, questions of unity and disunity are discussed on television. Various political forces meet there, which represent their vision of what victory is and what it is not, and achieve unity there. Can we say that today's national news TV marathon, without political talk shows, participation of politicians and the presentation of different points of view, forms unity? No. Therefore, the Constitution of Ukraine states that unity during the war is ensured by the authorities, the regular army, and the decisions of the commander-in-chief. This is unity.

In other words, the true unity of war is the unity between the supreme commander and the army he leads. Therefore, to talk about unity in society during wartime is meaningless. All will is directed towards what the supreme commander considers a victory. However, when we talk during the war about whether this will be a final victory, the answer is always possible: let's first achieve that. And that's the right answer.

From my point of view and the point of view of my colleagues, this will not be a final victory. But it will be a movement, the first step towards victory. Without regaining the borders of 1991, without demonstrating unity of will in this matter, we cannot think that we will achieve any victory. In this sense, any negotiations that imply a cessation of hostilities in the name of some dividing line (a demarcation line) will not be a victory. Neither from the point of view of Ukraine, nor from the point of view of russia. Victory is the establishment of a new reality, to which both sides either agree or which they cannot change. This is a very important moment.

- Can you explain?

- Agreement means that we do not want changes because everything suits us. Or we would like to, but we have too few resources to change anything. This applies to Ukraine, russia, Europe, the United States and China. This is a universal definition. That is the true unity - the unity of reality, to which you either agree or the one you cannot change. Such reality can exist for a significant amount of time.

- For how long?

- For a year, two, ten... That's already the second question. But the unity in demonstrating the will to win is characteristic of everyone within Ukraine, without exception. Even for those who don't consider themselves Ukrainian. Because living in a country that hasn't won is burdensome. Those who disagree with this have either already left our country or will inevitably leave. Everyone who stays and will stay accepts the reality that is upheld by the will of Ukrainians. That is where the unity lies.

- Is reaching the borders of 1991 the starting point? Or are there other options? After all, we have been living in the conditions of an occupied Crimea for almost eight years...

- A demarcation line is also possible. As for the occupied Crimea, there was no unity. That is not what we wanted. Even russia wanted more. Crimea was not enough for them, they needed a land corridor, water supply. Both sides found themselves in a situation where they were dissatisfied with the state of affairs. Therefore, the war was a matter of time.

Reaching some demarcation line and ceasing hostilities is not a victory. It is a ceasefire, a temporary thing that will lead to the heaviest consequences for both Ukraine and russia.

Few will want to return to a country that hasn't ended the war. A country that hasn't ended the war painfully experiences such an unfinished matter. Older people already understand that the war will last until the end of their lives, and they will have to make very unpopular decisions.

- Someone will give South Korea as an example, a country that has not officially ended the war but lives a peaceful life and develops.

- Are we giving good or bad examples?

- Interesting remark. I am talking about examples that exist.

- Do South Koreans like the situation that they are in? No. Do you know what they dislike the most? External control, for which they constantly pay. At any moment, the country that provides you with everything will demand payment in the harshest, most unpleasant and cynical way. And you will have nothing left to do but pay, because you have to constantly pay for someone to protect you. This is the most burdensome thing.

I think it's not difficult to draw a parallel with Ukraine. Because of the foolishness of some of our patriots, we will pay for it for decades, because they directed their energy in the wrong direction - towards radical Ukrainization, instead of creating air and missile defense systems, tanks, airplanes, drones, mortars, and so on. I don't dispute their goals, they are quite understandable, but I dispute how much energy they put into it.

A lot of social energy was spent on "bickering" instead of making us strong technologically, economically, and so on. A lot of social energy was not spent on allowing ourselves to tackle complex issues, to trust in the complexity, but on defending simplicity. That is the fundamental mistake I see some patriots making. I would even call it historical, epic.

- Do you think the conclusions have already been drawn?

- From where? Conclusions can be made when you think, when you are in a reflective state. But conclusions cannot be made if you only promote the simple and primitive things. If one had complex thinking, he would not promote the primitive. That's the problem.

- It seemed that at the beginning of the full-scale war, the Ukrainians united, didn't they?

- Unity happened to defend Kyiv. And then it came down to a simple question - is there any certainty that when we reach the borders of 1991, russia will not strike again? There is no such certainty. But we will still consider that there are no good russians, we will not work with russia, we will not deal with it and leave it alone. Then the war will last forever. In opposition to this logic, it can be said that there are good russians and we need to work with them, we should not banish the russian language because it is a way of working. But there is no unity in this. Now we are thinking only one step ahead: we will win and that's it. However, we need to think several steps ahead.

If you think three steps ahead, you understand that you cannot banish the russian language and culture, that you won’t get rid of it anyway, it is our way of survival. But this is already complex thinking.

- Who should produce such an agenda? The government?

- It doesn't matter who produces the idea. It's important that there is a place for it in society. A legitimate place. If you have a legitimate place, there will always be those who will produce ideas. Today, everyone who thinks complexly is automatically a traitor. If everyone who thinks complexly is a traitor, such a country is doomed.

- Could Volodymyr Zelensky become such a driving force?

- Complex thinking doesn't necessarily accompany power. Power is usually at odds with complex thinking, if not altogether separate. Legitimacy in civil society is what establishes this, not power. As long as some patriots cannot recognize that there is something more complex than patriotism, the country will move towards catastrophe. There must be a place where complex thinking is valued, and legitimacy depends on the entire society, not just those in power.

If complex thinking is legitimate in society, whoever comes to power will have to deal with it. If complex thinking is not legitimate in society, then those in power will mimic and downplay it. They will say what they think people want to hear. This is why we have a totalitarian structure in society and all the problems that arise from it.

- Do you feel that something is starting to change?

- Change only happens when you acknowledge it. Reforms and transformations are not changes, but conversions within a given simple scheme.

- Is war a chance for change?

- No. Nothing is a chance unless you're preparing the change. Human beings are designed to prefer death over change. We die as heroes because we die inside our own simple visions. In our world, everything is fine and our people won't forget us; they'll honor us as heroes. But we won't change because this is something else, this is not our world. In a sense, this is right, but it dooms an entire people to extinction. A people that does not change even when faced with challenges is doomed. They will still be changed, but from the outside. This is what's happening to us right now. For example, if we can't produce drones, tanks and ammunition, we become dependent. And the fact that this dependence won't be on the russians doesn't change much.

Do you think it's better to be dependent on Europeans or Americans? It's an illusion that they will allow us to be nationalists when we end up in the EU or NATO.

- I often hear the opinion that we should deal with such questions and challenges only after the war ends. What do you say to that?

- That's an excuse. Non-thinking people always have the same answer - "it’s not the right time for it now", let's do it after the elections, quarantine, and so on. But if you don't change, this "after" never comes. Once you believe that changes will come after, you close the possibilities for change.

- That sounds pessimistic.

- Pessimism is an internal measurement. We can change ourselves or we can be changed from the outside. Changing ourselves is optimism, being changed from the outside is pessimism. We're fixated on very narrow questions of our joint existence, which are important but don't exhaust the entire depth. Pessimism is the feeling of our own powerlessness, not some attitude towards external conditions. Bad conditions are always present. There's always something that's hindering. Always. Either you can overcome what's hindering you or you can't.

- We often talk about the de-occupation of Donetsk, Luhansk and Crimea in military terms. Are we ready to talk to the people living there?

- Have we ever prepared for it? No. The feeling of readiness as such arises from inner conviction or belief that we will do it someday. And if we're currently rejecting people who live in temporarily occupied territories at all levels, then what kind of readiness are we talking about? We're preparing to suppress those who are there, so there was never any talk of being ready to accept them. Our society is set at "suppressing the foreign", and we will continue to do the same with the de-occupied territories. We'll suppress what's foreign to us. That's what we're ready for.

Don't have illusions. The suppression of everything that doesn't match our perceptions on that territory is an inevitable stage. Hence the conflicts. How can we talk about readiness to accept and talk if we're ready for something fundamentally different?

Throughout the war, we have been eroding the russian language and culture. Now we are reclaiming territories where it was imposed at least during the entire occupation. And you ask if we are ready to do something different. But have we ever demonstrated such readiness? Where and when?

- What will happen then?

- Imposition and suppression. Perhaps, civil war.

- It sounds pessimistic again.

- I don't know where optimism will come from in this matter if we are not ready to negotiate. Where will it come from? Does anyone demonstrate it? No.

- Of course, after de-occupation, some people will leave for russia, some will accept Ukraine, and we will have to work with some people to break the influence of russian propaganda...

- Yes, but those people who live in the occupation remember pre-war Ukraine. They do not know the military Ukraine yet. Military Ukraine has become russophobic, and it is not a fact that they will accept it. Many people living now in the unoccupied territory of Ukraine do not accept all this russophobia. I do not accept it. Not because I love all things russian, but because I love diversity. Monotony is alien to my thinking, whatever it may be. During the war, we have become monotonous. We used to be diverse, and that was our advantage. And now we have followed the trend of monotony, which condemns us to very unpleasant, externally enforced transformations. We have driven ourselves into this.

- Is there a way out?

- Training is the way out. Why do you think it's bad? I don't see anything wrong with it, people just need to understand it.

- But we will bring back Ukrainians from the occupied territories, not russians...

- You can call it whatever you want. The question is whether Ukrainians are diverse or homogeneous. If Ukrainians are homogeneous, then we acknowledge that there are right and wrong Ukrainians, with right and wrong answers to questions. This creates fertile ground for a civil war. Another war with russia is not the worst thing that awaits us.

- What is the worst thing?

- A real civil war.

- Currently, all social polls show maximum unity among Ukrainians.

- Maximum unity during a war is achieved by the fact that all dissenters are silent. But that does not mean that they will remain silent after the war ends. During the war, we all agree with the commander-in-chief's will. If he gives us victory, he is right. As soon as he stops giving us victory, he will be wrong. Right now, we are united because we are invincible.

- Recently, the KIIS’s poll showed that 36% of Ukrainians have a xenophobic attitude towards citizens of Ukraine who are russian by nationality. Sociologists emphasize that this situation is worrying and can negatively affect the unity of Ukrainian society. What do you think about this?

- I completely agree with the results of this study. But what they call "concern" and "may negatively affect" I call a civil war.

- According to the same poll, the situation with refugees, russian-speaking citizens, and those who remain in the occupied territories does not worry sociologists, but about 14% of the population of Ukraine have a xenophobic attitude towards them. This is a significant number. And this is now, at a time of maximum unity among Ukrainians.

- It is traditionally believed that as long as we are united, we are invincible. But I turn this idea around: we are united as long as we are invincible. When there is no victory, unity disappears. And during a war, this reverse truth should be understood much better than the original. If in peacetime we are unbeatable as long as we are united, then in wartime we are united as long as we are unbeatable.

- Doesn't the government trap itself by talking about the upcoming counterattack and imminent victory?

- The government changes its rhetoric very quickly: today it says one thing, tomorrow - another. The point is that we have no space within which we can understand whether the government is speaking complex or simple (which is doomed). Attempting to oppose one simple thing that the government says to another simple thing that is not the government's is pointless. Simple against simple only leads to conflict. Genuine conflict resolution is possible only through complexity, where one simple thing and another simple thing have their place, but not the main one. And the main thing is at the level of strategic thinking. Then the conflict between "different" and "simple" can be resolved.

War stimulates all sides, both between countries and internally, to come to a more complex agreement than before the war. If this does not happen, the war will continue.

- It seems that the war can drag on for years...

- That's right. As long as we do not come to an understanding of a complex world, the war will continue. And it will not matter what territories we will get back. I connect the end of the war with the creation of a more complex world than before the war, rather than a better one from anyone's point of view, as British military historian Liddell Hart claimed.

Vladyslav Bulatchik, OstroV