The ideological bases of Ukrainian state system: the problem of choice

Автор: . 17 Бер 2016 в 20:55

Petro Ivanyshyn



The ideological bases of Ukrainian state system:

the problem of choice



The striking historical scale of the events of the last year put (and continues to put) before a serious person and the whole society a lot of questions and induces to the search of the answers, adequate to the requirements of time. One of the most important lies in the field of political philosophy. Thus natiocentric philosophy is meant. It is difficult to disagree with those analysts who observed that systematic people’s  protests during the postcolonial period, two large Maidans (in 2004 and 2013-14 years), permanent separatist processes, Ukrainophobia in the highest echelons of power, the annexation of the Crimea, the hybrid Russian- Ukrainian war in Donbas (started in 2014) confirmed the rightness of the nationalist political scientists of early 1990s: though Ukraine gained political independence from Russia, but it has not managed to create its own state[1].

Though post-communist, liberalist,  national democratic and other leaders try to convince the society that Ukrainians have “their own” statehood, which just “should be filled” with Ukrainian content, but the fact remains the fact and nothing can better show it as drenched with the blood of patriots and Moscow invaders Donetsk and Luhansk regions: the main political problem of  Ukrainians  with the declaration of independence in 1991 has not solved yet. This refers to the paradoxical existence in the declared “State Ukraine” of the problem  of  statelessness of the titled nation – the absence of  Ukrainian national state of their own, Ukrainian Ukraine .

Classic and paradigmatic for modern Ukrainian culture, literary interpretation of the type of state as the shelter for people gave Taras Shevchenko in his work “Epistle” (“Poslanie”) by the image of “his house” in which absolute being  – “its own truth, force and will” can be realized by the nation( meharodynoyu ). There are also dramatic images of the enslaved nation as the “childless widow” and the statelessness as  the “topless house”. Not by chance one of the most talented Shevchenko’s followers, Ivan Franko made the national state the principal concept of  his famous” national ideal”. The problem of statehood got the final completion in the philosophy of Ukrainian nationalism of the twentieth century by the notion of Ukrainian Independent State ( UIS). Ukrainian Independent State became one of the leading concepts and images in artistic works and essays of visnykivtsti  (writers – nationalists of the interwar period) such as: D.Dontsov, Ye.Malanyuk, L.Mosendz , Yu.Lypa, O. Olzhych, O.Teliha and others.

Notably, Ukrainian ruling elites and external geopolitical factors were not interested in the existence of such Ukrainian state, the state, as a political house of Ukrainian nation. And there are a lot of examples of this fact. But most notable seems that for more than 23 years of independence the authorities have not offered the society at least some clear ideology of the state, only internally contradictory neocolonial projects: political orientation to the West, then to Moscow, the creation of  unknown  cosmopolitan system of power, the high-handedness of  criminal- oligarchic clans within the “internal occupation regime ” ( V.Ivanyshyn ),the lack of justice of people, the processes of denationalization and russification of Ukrainian national minorities and others.

Therefore Ukrainian post-colonial society required qualitative political, state changes. Unfortunately, national- revolutionary processes of the late 1980s – the early 1990s, 2004 and of winters 2013-14th were not completed. In last case – because of the aggression of Russian Federation from February 2014. Therefore, the usual replacement of people of power in Ukraine has not ended by the change of the criminal system government. This means that Ukrainian society must prepare for active opposition not only on the external, anti-separatist and  anti-Russian front, but also on the internal: the completion of the national revolution, the qualitative changes in the power system and the construction of new Ukrainian state. It is in the spirit of guidelines of the prominent nationalistic philosopher and politician Stepan Bandera “Ukrainian national revolution ,but not only anti-regime resistance” [1 , p.130-171].

But what do these words of S.Bandera mean at present in the ideological , social and philosophical sense? In our view, they concern to many other spheres and ideological areas, first of all the sphere of state construction that’s why they foresee the awareness of two important points. Firstly, the state cannot be built blindly (and Ukrainian historical experience of XVII century is very significant), without  clear ideological vision of what, for whom and why to build. Secondly, we should remember that ideologies are different and depending on which ideological model is in the base of the political system various government structures appear.

To underline the outlined problem of choosing the state ideology let’s have a look at it, considering two conceptual and interconnected concepts: the nation and freedom. Because the question is about political ensuring of free and self-sufficient existence of Ukrainians as the national community. Also, just the concepts of the nation and freedom are often being abused and speculated, recklessly distorting their deeper meaning , forgetting that different interpretations of the basic notions provide the opportunity to learn and evaluate the internal and external realities of the person’s world. Therefore, the understanding of the nation and the freedom, in our view, should be based on the verified time fundamental sense, which offers us the existential and historical hermeneutic experience. The question is about the ontological – existential philosophy of the interpretation by M.Heidegger and his followers and about the national organic existential way of the interpretation, which represents classical Ukrainian literature ( T.Shevchenko, Ye.Malanyuk , L.Kostenko , V. Stus , etc.) and natiocentric philosophy ( Dontsov , Yu.Vassyyan , Bandera , etc.) [5].

Under the notion “nation” we understand the perceived unity of people of the effective social nature ( blood and ethnic ) and the conventional spiritual (cultural and historical) type, united around the idea of ​​freedom (free existence in their own country ) [2 , p.35-36]. And the notion “freedom” we consider as realia (or, in other terminology, modes) of the human existence, which appears as an opportunity to perform or not to perform necessary things, but first of all it appears as the essence of the truth (aletheia, undisguised existence) that is in possession of a person and makes him a historical person (rooted in the here-being of the nation) but doesn’t  make him an exploiter-master but an independent pastor of the reality.

According to this interpretation of the notions “nation” and “freedom” we distinguish two basic , fundamental types of social consciousness and ideology.

The thing is about imperialism (and its hidden version – cosmopolitanism) as an ideology of national captivity (predatory, nihilistic, devastating type of being, where dominates estimated anti- existent type of thinking, where a person is a slave of his pride and selfishness and at the same time he (a person) is a master of  everything what exists and a slave of other masters) and nationalism as an ideology of the national freedom (careful, being-protective type of  existence (being), where the existential and historical thinking is considered, where a person is a careful pastor of everything what exists).  It is important to consider that basic social conceptions of the world are not the creatures of Modern times, but they have existed since national communities and their collective self-consciousness appeared (the researchers, such as H.Kon or E.Smit, write about the nationalism of ancient Jews, Greeks and early Romans, the imperialism of Macedonians, Persians or late Romans).

If we appeal to occidental (primarily Euro- Atlantic) experience of modern times (from the XV century) and especially ХІХ and ХХ centuries, we can distinguish several invariant types of the imperial ideology and various forms of the antagonistic, nationalist conception of the world, that determine various ways of thinking , cultural and historical realia, and political factors of modern person’s existence. If we omit global, but quite contradictory and evolutionary ideology of conservatism, which requires individual interpretation, and also less extensive  ideological forms (anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, etc.), then quite distinctly three main modifications of the imperial ideology and its corresponding chauvinistic, discursive types are outlined: liberalism (demo-liberalism, neo-liberalism, liberal democracy), social democracy (communism, socialism, social democracy), pseudo-traditionalism (national socialism, national bolshevism, eurasianism and partially – fascism) and others. Involving other historical experience, we can distinguish other types of imperialism: explicit and hidden , national and internationalist, secular and religious, European and Asian , regional and global , partial and total , and others. But nationalist ideology opposes to all these ideologies, and it has its own peculiarities in each country but in general they remain unchanged.

Besides, though fundamental ideologies are directly correlated with the corresponding political ideologies, they should be distinguished as broader (generic) and narrower (specific) concept. Generally, the problem of coordination of fundamental (basic ) and narrow political philosophy (doctrine) and programs of the parties , their interactions and transformations require some researches. Firstly, we must admit that based on the ideological base of imperialism, even right conservative or nominally nationalist organizations are cosmopolitan or imperial . Quite good example is that the party is the political structure of modern West, where most parties, despite declaring, exist within liberalistic basic conception of the world. Within liberalistic paradigm occurs (happens) its structuring on the right (right – liberalist , with conservative elements in the programs ), centrist (just liberalist ) and left ( left- liberalist with social democracy program elements ). Conversely, in those countries where still exist significantly stronger natiocentric traditions of the state creation the majority of party and social structures are oriented on the national idea of the promotion and development of the national state, therefore they are nationalists at the base level of their consciousness (even not being members of nationalist parties or movements). As for example modern Japan , Saudi Arabia or Poland, where there are no anti-national organizations or political figures in power. And all the parties – right, centrist and left – offer different political ways of the development of their countries as the national states.

To underline the peculiarities of imperial (with cosmopolitan) and, accordingly, nationalist conceptions of the world and ways of thinking let’s consider them in the system of some basic antitheses.

Anti-traditionalism and pseudo – traditionalism (the objection of national cultural traditions or its distorted interpretation) form the basis of the imperial cosmopolitan consideration. However, the basis of the  nationalist thinking is traditionalism (constant actualization of the traditional values ​​of national culture and historical experience ).

For imperialism and cosmopolitanism are inherent the doctrinarism and utopianism often of the universalistic type,  “building  bloody castles in the air” or “Babylon towers”, however, for nationalism are inherent the existential implementation,  the existential realism (or, at least, idealistic – metaphysical direction which makes no objection to the basis of national existence ).

In the ideology of imperialism and cosmopolitanism dominate half-truths and political myths, which are the so-called semiotic system, the purposes of which are: to distort the truth with colonialist purpose through creation of false stereotypes in the public consciousness, to form the imperial type of a person. For example: the demo-liberal myth about the absolute freedom of a separate individual, the social-democratic myth about the class freedom and the pseudo-traditionalistic myth about the race freedom. There are also more partial myths : about the naturalness and inevitability of the globalization in the Western neo-liberalism, about the “Great Patriotic War” or “Soviet people” as “new historical community” in Russian communism, about the superiority of “Nordic race” in German National Socialism, about  global “Russian World” (“Rysskyi Mir”) in Russian Eurasianism XXI century etc. But nationalism is based on political ideals. The question is about semiotic systems, the aim of which is to actualize old and to model new objects for the national and spiritual identity, the formation of a national type of a person. This vision has the intuitively prophetic nature, because it is able to penetrate the essence of the reality based on known or intuitively felt regularities of the existence hidden behind the phenomena of life” [3 , p.12-13]. Examples include the artistic and political “dreams” of free national life in Shevchenko’s works, the national ideal in Franko’s works, the heroic vision in Dontsov’s works, the two-millennium faith in  stateless Jews’ Sion and others [4]. Sometimes the nationalist visions are called the “national myths”. The fallibility of the myths and the truth of visions are proved by the time.

The imperial conceptions of the world, especially liberalism and social democracy are based on materialism and pragmatism as priority forms of philosophizing. The priority type of philosophizing for nationalism is idealism (though not only it).

Imperialism is characterized by the nihilistic type of thinking (retailed, estimated, predatory, anti-existent), called to devastate God and the existence – nature, time, people, culture, nation and others. The category of “being” is led to the category of “having”. Nationalism evolves the existential and historical thinking (existential national, pastoral, “interpreted thinking” (Martin Heidegger)), the thinking, designed to protect and to develop different existential and transcendental forms. The question is about thinking in national or existential categories such as the defense, the development and the reproduction of the nation.

Imperialism is often based on humanism (selfishness) and its derivatives  such as: secularism, atheism, deism, agnosticism etc., which often passes into satanism. Sometimes imperialism can use quasi-religious forms (for example: neo paganism in German national socialism) or devalue traditional religions, making them colonialist policies’ instrument (for example: Russian imperialism systematically does these things with Moscow Orthodoxy). Concerning the Western world, Christian protestant philosopher and writer Francis Schaeffer wrote:  “Democracy and the Christian conception of the world are indissolubly bound. The freedom of humanists (not limited by Christian values) leads to the chaos and the slavery under the state press. Humanism every time ends by authoritarianism.” Nationalism, as a rule, is  closely related by one or another religious tradition, evolving the religiosity (theo- centrism) and humanity (kindness). There are notable examples of the religious support of the proper nationalist movements by: Polish Catholicism, Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, Islam, Greek Orthodoxy, and others. We can observe indissoluble link between religious and national ideas in the Muslim world.

The imperial strategy of the internal policy is  identified by the tendency to enslave their own people. The question is about the explicit or hidden inner imperialism, inner servitude or, according to the terminology of  V.Ivanyshyn, “internal occupation” in the forms of tyranny, dictatorship, totalitarianism or cosmopolitan democracy (permanent tyranny of  the so-called “people’s” government, censorship, persecution, genocide and ethnocide within its own nation etc.). The nationalist system of the power (authority) is first of all determined by national democracy in the republican or monarchical forms: the government controlled by the people or nobility, the democratic monarchy, a synthesis of democracy, the aristocracy and monarchy in one form of government, admitting of temporary dictatorship during wars or internal conflicts etc.

The imperial conception of the world is characterized by explicit or hidden (in the cosmopolitan type) tendency to global or even regional domination. The theory of world governments, globalization and various liberalist unions, the “new order” in Europe by A.Hitler, the “world revolution” and  the communist new world order and others come from these sources. Nationalism in return offers the creation of parity international relations’ system on the basis of the national states through the policy of the national interests’ agreement.

The peculiar features for the imperial and cosmopolitan societies are:  the clan system and corruption of the government, the domination of different, apart from the interests of the people, pseudo- elites such as: party, oligarchic (financial) criminal, bureaucratic and others. The nationalist communities gravitate towards natsiocratia and democracy, for which the nation controlled government is typical and also the formation of the national elites (clergy, nobility, intellectuals and others).

The imperial cosmopolitan communities are characterized by economic injustice and not self-sufficiency because of the permanent service of the ruling oligarchic groups and within liberalist societies -trans-national structures. The expression of these ideas become the ideas of communists’ excessive government regulations or liberals’ uncontrolled private initiative within the “free market”. However, within nationalist societies predominate the ideas of national economic self-sufficiency and fair distribution of national wealth and profits (hence, for example, high taxes on excess profits and wealth to avoid the exclusion of the class of oligarchs- milliardaire).

In the sphere of arts imperial and cosmopolitan conceptions of the world evolve the aesthetic nihilism (sometimes under the form of quasi-classical forms). This refers to the evolvement of anti-art principles which falsify the reality and discredit the recipient: socialist realism, avant-garde, postmodernism, kitsch and others. In the sphere of culture these ideologies produce the strategy of cultural imperialism (cultural dictates): impose their culture, their cultural heritage and values to other nations ​​(language, religion, art, economic doctrines, political forms, variety art etc.). For the nationalist ideology are immanent the aesthetic and artistic identity: the establishment of various national artistic forms as the expression of national truth of national life (existence), the spiritual development and evolvement  of the values ​​of the national culture. In general nationalism considers the culture as the system of the national-spiritual values ​​(Weber, P.Riker), that’s why it (nationalism) develops the strategies of cultural nationalism as spiritual expansion (friendly distribution) based on cultural dialogue. The question is about unobtrusive offering and promoting of their own cultural heritage to other nations.

After such sufficient argumentation, we can consider political state as creative potential of these antagonistic ideologies.  As imperialism and cosmopolitanism quite clearly object the role of the nations and nationalism as unnecessary, outdated or harmful realities, at the same time the nation state value is leveled. Their goal is the formation of empires, of colonies or neo- colonies. And their examples are: “People’s State” (“Nation State”) or the Third Reich of German National Socialists, “liberal”, “democratic” or “free” State of Western liberalists, “the Countries of National Democracy” of the postwar Communist countries with the relevant satellites. And on the basis of such political formations there are various state structures: the Soviet Union and the bloc of socialist states of the Warsaw Pact under the control of Communist Russia, NATO or the North American economic union (NAEU),which are subjected to the USA,  Commonwealth of Independent States and  Eurasian Economic Community, where Russian Federation dominates and others. Every time EU, controlled primarily by Germany and less by France manifests its imperial features.

For the ideology of nationalism the key features are the consolidation of the national identity as the core component of all human identities and also the consolidation of the theory of permanent nationalization (nation-creation, national revival) as perpetual rooting in Motherland. As a result, planning the state as a political house-shelter, any nationalism aims at the creation of national state as the basic and natural form of political life of the nation in their ethnic territory. Therefore the form of the government is of less importance and that’s why French and Italian nationalism of ХІХ century had monarch and republic trends.

The characteristic feature of the practical implementation of the basic conceptions of the world is the practical absence of pure imperial nationalist or public formations. As f or example, the consolidation takes place through the speculation of some nationalist ideas and structures: patriotism, forms of the national state, national liberation wars and revolutions, and others. As it happened in the late Roman Empire, during the formation of the USSR in the post-revolutionary France, in Germany (during A.Hitler ruling), in modern United States, China, Russia, European Union and others. That means that to exist and to be effective and attractive, the imperial political party or state-creative ideology must take roots at least partially, in the existential, historical, cultural, traditional realities of certain nation. Thus utopian communism becomes the means of preservation of Russian Empire and Russian chauvinistic spirit in the USSR; pan-European or Nordic white racism is merely the means of strengthening of German imperialism (and therefore leads to war with other Nordic nations, for example, Norwegians or English); utopian Masonic liberalism in European and American countries consolidates operating the achievements of the institution and the nation states (such as the creation of EU on their base).

On the other hand, we have the opposite process. When, for example, the national states, which created the European Union, under the influence of cosmopolitan ideology of neoliberalism (with its ideas of multiculturalism, globalization, secularism, etc.) and hidden imperial ambitions of Germany, France and the US, gradually lose their sovereignty and national identity. That’s why most modern countries in the world have hybrid nature, combining more or less imperial (and then they tend to empires, colonies or neo-colonies) or nationalistic (and then they respond to the type of national state) elements. The  examples of such countries where the national idea dominates are Switzerland, Finland, Japan, South Korea, the Scandinavian, Baltic, most Arab countries, Croatia, Slovenia, Iran, Turkmenistan and others.

There are bad examples of  some attempts to install the imperial doctrine in Ukrainian political history that led to the emergence of the eclectic theories and practices of the state creation: socialist internationalists period of Central Council (M.Hrushevsky, V.Vynnychenko), national-communists of the 1920s (e.g., E.Blakytnyy, M.Skrypnyk, M.Hvylovyy) and 1960s (e.g., I. Dzyuba), national democrats, in fact, national-liberals of the 1990s and 2000s (e.g., V.Chornovil or V.Yushchenko) and others. Hence we have the collapse of Ukrainian national state and the leveling of the national revolutionary processes. Of course, in the process of the nation creation there are possible the integration of the individual elements of the liberal (e.g., human rights), the Social Democratic (e.g., protection of social rights) or the pseudo-traditional (e.g., protection of human race) theories, but only on the basis of the national idea and within the national state. (It is possible on condition that they do not have natio-centric matches in some nationalist tradition). In this way the imperial elements are radically transformed and become the structural components of national consciousness.

Thus, the state Ukraine’s prospects in the XXI century depend on the choice of the basic, fundamental ideology of the state. And it is not an exceptional act of an individual nation. And all countries of the world make such choice. The famous geopolitician Samuel Huntington wrote in 2004 about this crucial choice for the US in his work “Who are we? The challenges to American national identity” [6]. Therefore Ukrainians, like any other nation, have three basic ways of the state creation.

The first way is imperial. Ukrainians should try to build new Ukrainian state empire like Kievan Rus, should try to change the world, taking into consideration  the path of the contemporary United States, China, Russia, European Union and other countries.

The second way is cosmopolitan. Ukrainians should continue to build Ukraine as a state-colony, exactly neo- colony becoming thus the world. In this case, turning into a segment of Russian or Western empires. This way is the way of small countries of EU, Latin American countries, most African countries etc.

The third way is nationalistic. Ukrainians should build their own national state, that Shevchenko’s “house”, Ukrainian Ukraine, Ukrainian nationalist Independent State. This way is the way of the original, free nation among other free nations of the world.

We are pressed for time with this making the right choice of the proper basic ideology of the state creation because of Russian aggression. And this choice is fundamentally strained and at the same time simple: the way of freedom that is nationalism, or the way of regular slavery that are imperialism and cosmopolitanism.


  1. Бандера С. Українська Національна Революція, а не тільки протирежимний резистанс // Бандера С. Перспективи Української Революції. – Дрогобич: ВФ “Відродження”, 1998. – С.130-171.
  2. Іванишин В. Нація. Державність. Націоналізм. – Дрогобич: ВФ “Відродження”, 1992. – 178 с.
  3. Іванишин В. Тезаурус до курсу “Теорія літератури”. – Дрогобич: ВФ “Відродження”, 2007. – 112 с.
  4. Іванишин П. Вульгарний “неоміфологізм”: від інтерпретації до фальсифікації Т.Шевченка. – Дрогобич: ВФ “Відродження”,2001. – 174 с.
  5. Іванишин П.В. Національний спосіб розуміння в поезії Т.Шевченка, Є.Маланюка, Л.Костенко: монографія. – К.: Академвидав, 2008. – 398 с.
  6. Хантингтон С. Кто мы?: Вызовы американсткой национальной идентичности / Пер. с англ. А.Башкирова. – М.: ООО «Издательство АСТ»: ООО «Транзиткнига», 2004. – 635 с.


[1] Детальніше див. у роботах В.Іванишина: “Нація. Державність. Націоналізм” (1992), “Українська ідея і перспективи націоналістичного руху” (2000), “Внутрішня окупація – війна на знищення” (2006) та ін. (прим. автора).



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