Renaissance or feudalism: what to hope for Ukraine?

7 June, 07:54 PM
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Ukrainian flags (Photo:Karollyne Hubert/unsplash)

Ukrainian flags (Photo:Karollyne Hubert/unsplash)

Will the revival of Ukraine after the brutal war with Russia be what the Renaissance was for Europe?

I understand perfectly well that the war has not yet been won, and on the way to our final victory we can face many difficult challenges. But, at the same time, there is no doubt that we must now discuss the next steps after the enemy is thrown out of our land, because otherwise the victory will very easily be nullified, just as it happened with many achievements of the two Ukrainian revolutions.

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What will the Ukrainian Renaissance be like? Will the revival of the country after the brutal war with Russia be what the Renaissance was for Europe? Namely, a turning point that laid the foundations of a new European humanistic culture after "many years of decline during the Middle Ages and barbarism."

Is Ukraine able to create something modern, fair and humanistic after thirty years of feudal-oligarchic economy and post-Soviet social relations? This, according to mathematicians, requires the fulfillment of certain necessary and sufficient conditions.

Necessary conditions — the easiest thing.  There is no doubt that we will get everything we need to build a new country. The whole world will help, just as it is now helping to destroy the enemy with modern weapons. But how long would we last even with the most modern murder weapons if there were no talented military leaders and brave soldiers in Ukraine?

The same will happen with the economy and social revival - the West will meet the necessary condition - there will be plenty of money, but will we be able to cope with our part so that this money does not fly to the wind and other people's pockets, as it has happened every thirty years?

What does history teach? When we talk about the Renaissance, the first thing we mention - Italy and the geniuses of world culture and science: Michelangelo, Leonardo, Machiavelli, the list is long. But would Michelangelo have had a chance to create his immortal works if not for the support of the Medici family, the Florentine rulers who played a key role in the development of culture and science at the time?

There were outstanding people - they ruled Florence for several centuries, gave the world four Popes and two queens of France. But despite all their greatness, power and wealth, they understood perfectly well that one head is good, and several, especially smart ones, are even better. And not without reason they created the court of Plato's Academy, which played a significant role in the development of the then Florence.

The Academy did not take part in public affairs and the main topics for discussion at its meetings were issues of philosophy and aesthetics. But its founder, "Father of the Country" Cosimo di Medici, understood that the creation of a powerful intellectual center, and the Academy became such a center for the whole of Europe, on the basis of democracy, humanism, dignity and human freedom, will be crucial for the State.

And, by the way, both Cosimo and his grandson Lorenzo, prominent Florentine rulers who were present at almost every meeting of the Academy, took part in lively discussions and there is no doubt that the very spirit of intellectual discussion during academic meetings had a significant impact on their strategy and the principles of building the Florentine state.

How about us? Unfortunately, there is no association in Ukraine like Plato's Academy that our rulers have listened to. Instead of humanism, dignity and liberalism, the main values in Ukraine since Independence have been power, intrigue, ignorance and money - as in the Middle Ages. And, unfortunately, signs of at least some radical changes for the better are not yet visible.

In today's Ukraine, an analogue of Plato's Academy can probably be considered a cohort of "advisers" with high-profile titles and ranks, and close circle of the ruler, who received the right and resource to determine, at least in public, the direction of the state. And just as the Medici were inspired by the enlightenment ideas of the members of the Academy, the Ukrainian ruler cannot but share the tax, economic, legal and other ideas and views of his esteemed colleagues. But, unfortunately, the values of the two "academies" are radically different.

Over the last few years, we have seen many public scandals involving members of our own court academy - some stealing, some covering up crimes, some destroying the economy, but all attempts by the most active civil society to change something have called into question the professional competencies, views and morals of many presidential "academics" have ended in nothing.

Moreover, the better the Armed Forces fight and the further the war moves away from Kyiv, the more confident the "academics" feel.

And no wonder, because after the victory, when the generals-heroes, on which Ukraine now stands, will become unnecessary, they, the people close to the ruler, will get all the power and enjoy the fruits of victory. Of course, I may be wrong, but unfortunately, history gives us enough arguments to believe that this will be the case.

What would we wish for? The country is dying without reforms, and there are some hopes that the tragic events of the war will finally help start them. There will be no second or better chance. And the role of advisers in this process, or their absence, will be huge. For all the historical greatness of the Medici, even they could not build a state on their own. You can't do that now. 

So, if you want to know what fate awaits us after the victory, you need to closely monitor the "Platonic Academy" on the Pechersk Hills, and wait until its current composition is completely renewed. Because otherwise, it will not work, even if we capture Moscow.

 The principles and ideals of the Ukrainian post-war restoration will be determined by advisers who can lead the ruler and us towards the ideals of the Renaissance and may remain in medieval feudalism.

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