For the first time in 30 years: What Ukrainians think about the future of Ukraine
Ukrainian society has changed so significantly that I would say: it has changed more in these three months than the 30 years prior. This is evidenced not only by my observations, but also by sociological research.
If we evaluate the results of this research, we can say, first of all, that Ukraine has fundamentally changed its attitude towards its state. That is, Ukrainians have finally accepted their state. Moreover, they have accepted it not only in an abstract vision, but specifically as an institution that, in its current state, deserves respect, acceptance, and high appreciation. Ukrainians have seen the neighbors they have next door, how fundamentally different the Ukrainian state is from what is happening there, and what those neighbors bring to Ukraine.
Even before the war, in November 2021, the Institute of Sociology of Ukraine, using methodology developed by the Institute’s Deputy Director Serhiy Dembitsky, conducted a study on Ukrainians' assessment of their government. This was repeated in mid-May 2022 by the Rating sociological group. Here is what has fundamentally changed.
In November 2021, respondents were posed the following question: “What, in your opinion, are the living conditions in Ukraine for the majority of the population?” 53% of the respondents answered that the conditions were generally poor, while 38% said that the conditions were generally satisfactory or good. By mid-May 2022, the number who considered living conditions in Ukraine to be generally poor was 28%, while 62% of respondents answered that living conditions were generally satisfactory or good.
It can be seen how the situation is fundamentally changing and how much less common it is for people to see living conditions in the country as poor: if in 2021 these people constituted an absolute majority, now they constitute less than a third.
The fact is that, despite everything that is happening, Ukrainians understand what they have and what they stand to lose.
There has been a realization that even in these terrible conditions in which we now find ourselves — the country gives Ukrainians something resembling satisfactory conditions for life. Perhaps this is a psychological phenomenon, but it is a very important realization by Ukrainians of the great value of their state.
There is another interesting question: “What do you think about the future of Ukraine?” The fact is that estimates are estimates, but a person's idea of the future determines whether they connect their future with the future of the country. After all, we can assume that if a government has no future, its future will thus be indifferent. A person will think that it is bad and will thus not associate their future with this country, and therefore not protect it.
However, look how the results have changed. In 2021, the survey results were as follows: 35% believed most likely the country’s situation would worsen, 38% believed it would not worsen but was unlikely to improve, and 13% believed it was likely to improve. That is, only 13% of Ukrainians were confident optimists in November 2021. But here are the results from: 7% believed the county’s situation would most likely worsen, 13% believed it would not worsen but was unlikely to improve, and 76% believed that the situation would improve.
Consequently, in this terrible situation in which the country is now, 76%, or more than ¾ of Ukrainians, believe that the situation in Ukraine will improve. And this indicator is decisive. This means that Ukrainians today have finally accepted their nation and, most importantly, that there are no contradictions between the regions. If earlier, depending on the region, we had fundamental differences in how Ukrainians assessed their country’s future, general condition, culture, achievements, etc., now this difference is no longer there.
This clearly shows that the war has done what Ukraine could not do in 30 years of its independent existence. It has united the regions in the belief that Ukraine will live better than now. Ukrainians believe in their state in all regions, and that is why they resist the aggressor so strongly.
On Ukrainians’ strengths
Modern political science has a concept of national stability. This demonstrates the ability of the citizens of a given country to withstand the problems, hardships, and conflicts that can occur in that country. Accordingly, there can be a high level of national stability, and there could also be a low level.
I studied this issue even before the war and, using a set of different indicators, demonstrated that the level of national stability of Ukrainians is quite high, even though they have had negative assessments of many phenomena. In other words, Ukrainians, despite being very skeptical about their country’s current situation and prospects, have maintained a high level of stability and adaptability.
If the war drags on, it will be precisely this factor that determines whether we can withstand the enormous tension and significant shortcomings of our situation during the war, and whether we can fight for victory. All things considered, I think that Ukraine can resist for a long time and serve as a model for the West on how to fight for one’s country and values.
On Ukrainians’ weaknesses
I don't know, from the point of view of humanism and civilization, whether this is a weak side, but Ukrainians are not capable of organized violence. In this respect we are weaker than Russians, so it is more difficult for us. In other words, if they are working as a team, Russians will commit organized violence, regardless of any moral, humanistic or other concerns.
Ukrainians don't know how to do this. We have the need to stand against only the Russian army, whereas the Russians may fight everyone including the civilian population, which we have already seen in the occupied territories. Of course, this is an imperial people who have inherited the traditions of the Golden Horde with their cruelty, absolute indifference to questions of humanity, and the ability to organize violence at any scale. Ukrainians have not learned this because they were outside the Horde. And here we will have a problem, because we may not have enough cruelty for the war.
"Indifferent" is a strange word to describe the future.
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