The Ukraine — a Failed “Stress Test” for our Movement

Dimitrios Papageorgiou

In banking jargon, a stress test is an analysis conducted under unfavorable economic scenarios, which is designed to determine whether a bank has enough capital to withstand the impact of adverse developments.

Stress tests focus on a few key risks to banks’ financial health in crisis situations – such as credit risk, market risk, and liquidity risk. The results of stress tests depend on the assumptions made in various economic scenarios, which are described by the International Monetary Fund as “unlikely but plausible.” Bank stress tests attracted a great deal of attention in 2009, as the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression left many banks and financial institutions severely under-capitalized.

Many in our movement (however they decide to call it) detest banks. Anyway this is not a piece about banks, but about the way this movement failed its own first “stress test” in the Ukrainian crisis. This was the first serious problem that our movement faced that had to do with a real world situation, rather than the usual problems of old-style nationalism. The situation in the Ukraine was not a bickering between philosophical approaches. It was not personal stuff being turned into political. It was not colliding dreams. Instead it was a real problem in the real world, which called for us not to take sides but to choose wisely.

It was also something that should have been foreseen. After all, it was bound to happen, as nationalist/traditionalist/anti-liberal movements are quickly gaining in the real world. Whether we are responsible for it or not, our movement is actually the fastest growing in the real world. Nationalist parties all over Europe are making the headlines. They are gaining in popularity, and some of them are already occupying formal positions in the political scene. Be it Golden Dawn in Greece, Front National in France, Jobbik and the rest of the political parties, or organisations like the Right Sector, Casa Pound and Generation Identity, or even people like Alexandr Dugin in Russia.

Being on the verge of political success, though, does not mean success. Golden Dawn in Greece is facing a lot of problems that, up to a point, stem from it’s incapability of escaping it’s own image. Front National could be facing problems if, for example, some of its members fail miserably in the posts to which they have now been elected. Both parties are populist and, as such, can rise and fall very fast. It really depends on the personal quality of those involved, but also on the true dynamics behind the electoral results.

The same applies not just to the election-oriented parties but anything that has to do with politics in a broader sense. And that leads us to the question of the Ukrainian crisis. The polarisation in the movement between pro-Russian and pro-Ukrainian sides and the rivalry between the two sides was the worst thing that could happen.

Watching certain reactions sure made me wonder what would happen if the people who expressed them were to achieve actual positions of power. Would they be able to cope? The confrontation between the Russian anti-liberal government and Ukrainian nationalists turned people into “fans” of either one side or the other. Anti-Sovietism against a non-Soviet Russia, libels against Right Sector, and so on proved that there were not many people that could actually sit down and reflect on what is really happening, with some notable exceptions of course.

In my opinion both ways can work. The first path, Right Sector’s path of people replacing their own governments and thus replacing the whole power system in European countries is an option. The Russian “way” of a Bismarckian Russia (in De Benoist’s words) that can influence the existing governments and set a different paradigm can also work.

The worst thing that we could actually see is those two ways countering each other. Because that is what is happening so far. From appeals to Chechens (real or fake) from one side to anti-fascist rhetoric on the other side. And if the Ukraine and Russia are involved in a territorial crisis and decide to use every means possible — as WW2 Germany did when it recruited Africans and whoever else they could get — there is no reason for non-Russians and non-Ukrainians not to do the same.

Since I am Greek I will cite the example of Golden Dawm. It’s pro-Russian stance is completely understandable due to various reasons. For example, the Greek-Russian orthodox relationship, but also the fact that it’s being “criminalised” by the Greek government, which was certainly heavily pressured by EU governments to do this. In Putin and Russia they naturally see the possibility of an alternate power source to whom they might be able to turn for help, since they are facing the collected wrath of every western power node.

On the other side, by attacking Right Sector viciously, and calling them various things from “puppets” to “Zionists,” Golden Dawn is actually prescribing one of the very few ways they could propel themselves to a power position in Greece.

On the other hand, Putin whom they so much admire seems to be in a working relationship with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom they righteously despise, and who also can be blamed for the oppression of German non-conformist movements.

The Dangers of Each Path

I said before that each path can work. But each path can also be destructive as well in certain ways. Considering the nationalist approach of Right Sector, the coming to power of nationalist groups in European countries might mean the restart of intra-European strife. One of the first laws of the old government that the interim government in Kiev retracted was the one guaranteeing local minorities the right to use their mother-language when dealing with the state in parts of the Ukraine.

It was not only Russians that were affected, but, as far as I know, Poles, Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Greeks. It is highly improbable that Greece would harbor any enmity or border disputes with the Ukraine, or that small minority of 90,000-120,000 Greek-speaking people would have any kind of “autonomist” tendencies. Probably the same could be said about the Bulgarians or the other nationalities.

The Greek minority there has survived for over a thousand years with or without state recognition, and I’m not trying to defend them here, but rather trying to highlight the danger of nation-state nationalism plunging our continent, which is already bleeding, into yet more internal strife. Especially in eastern countries.

Fortunately, ex-east-bloc countries, are not swamped with Third World immigrants. But that makes it more difficult for them to realise their European identity as contrasted to “the other.” And, as we know, it is only in the face of “the other” that you can understand how minor the differences between European nations are, when compared to the huge gap with non-Europeans. So, there is a gap in how “nationalism” is meant on each side. This can only be bridged if ex-east-bloc countries begin facing “western” problems, or if there is a strong enough intellectual movement that can moderate micro-nationalism and emphasise the greater picture.

On the other hand the “Russian” way of forming an anti-NWO bloc could also fail miserably. It could fail, for example, with a change of leadership. Authoritarian systems, even traditionalist ones, are not de facto good for the European cause. It is the ethos of its leader that sets the tone. A change of leadership in the Russian Federation could mean many things. But even worse, if Russia acts solely as a world power challenging the geopolitical hegemony of the United States, this probably means that they would deal with the existing regimes of European countries not on the basis of wider European concerns but rather on narrow Russian state interests.

One could spend a lot of time, and a lot of words searching further into the pros and cons of each path. The problem with reality and politics, as opposed to writing and journalism, is that you need to take decisions fast. I recognize this, and so I don’t criticize anyone taking a stance, be it in favor of either side. What we need to avoid though, is the polarisation that I noticed during the Ukrainian crisis. A certain amount of strife is always good, as it prepares you and hones your “combat” abilities. A lot of strife, though, as countless nations already dead can attest, is destructive.