Ukraine’s Mis-understanding of Lenin Helps Explain America’s Fight with Re-invented Historical Statues

Featured image: Vladimir Lenin (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

While the United States remains embroiled in a controversy relating to the presence of statues paying tribute to leaders of the former Confederate States of America, the Ukrainian regime has engaged in and approved of the destruction of numerous statues, busts and monuments to the Bolshevik leader V.I. Lenin. According to TASS, 2,389 Lenin statues and monuments have been destroyed on territory controlled by the Kiev regime.

This helps explain the bitter irony of the current crisis in the United States. Without Lenin and the Bolsheviks, a Ukrainian state would probably not have ever come into existence after 1991.

The current borders of Ukraine are largely the work of the Bolsheviks who re-wrote the internal Russian map which consisted of local units called губерния (governorates). The Bolsheviks keen to destroy a united Russian state in order to promulgate the notion of a fraternal brotherhood of nations, re-drew the map creating a series of Soviet Socialist Republics of which the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic was one.

The pre-1917 map of governorates in western Russia clearly shows that the borders of what is now Ukraine, is a series of governorates which in spite of their formal absence from official maps, broadly correspond to the real regional delineations which when aggregate form the geo-political and demographic mish-mash known as the Republic of Ukraine.

Map of governorates of the European part of the Russian Empire, pre-1917

The very fact that these lands were drawn back to Russia after years of rule by foreign powers, primarily the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth to the west and the Ottoman Empire to the east and south, is due to the following events which transpired under Tsarist Russia.

In 1667, the Treaty of Andrusovo affirmed Russian sovereignty over historic Russian lands that had been part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth since the 14th century. These areas were de-facto Russian ever since the Treaty of Pereyaslav, signed in 1654 as an alliance between local Cossacks and the government in Moscow.

The restoration of Russian lands was affirmed in the 1686 Treaty of Perpetual Peace.

These regions became known as Malorossiya (Little Russian) and formed the triumvirate of the Three Russias under a single sovereign (Great Russia, Little Russia and White Russia). The lands of Malorossiya on the left-bank of the river Dnieper were later incorporated into further territorial gains from Poland-Lithuania on the right-bank of the river Dnieper in 1793.

In 1764, former Ottoman regions around the Black Sea including the cities of Odessa and Donetsk, formed Novorossiya or New Russia. The former Ottoman Khanate of Crimea formally linked up with this region in 1783”.

In this sense, Lenin is both the cause of modern Ukraine’s existence and also the cause of the troubles which have befallen modern Ukraine.

Whether the pre-1917 governorates of the region remained in the Russian Federation after 1991 or formed independent units, they would in either case have more accurately corresponded to the actual linguistic, ethnic, religious and economic identity of the modern regions. The make-up of the regions has not changed drastically since 1917 with the exceptions of the post-1945 removal of European populations such as Poles from Galicia which was part of the Second Polish Republic after the First World War before being transferred to Soviet Ukraine after the Great Patriotic War. Similarly, Ukraine’s Jewish population has declined over the course of the 20th century while other European peoples such as Greeks, who once formed an important part of cities like Odessa, have also largely gone to the Hellenic Republic or elsewhere in the wider world.

Other than this, the make-up of the regions is mostly unchanged.

What has changed, is the interpretation of the identity of some of the regions. Prior to 1917, the word ‘Ukraine’ was rarely if ever used to define the area known commonly as Ukraine.

In the Russian vernacular Malorossiya (Little Russia) was common and for regions of modern Ukraine that were ruled by the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the region was called Ruthenia and its people Ruthenians.

The word Ukraine which literally means ‘borderland’ in Russian and related languages and dialects only came into prominence in the 20th century, primarily as a means of Ruthenians attempting to carve an identity beyond second class citizens of Austria or third class members of Polish regions.

The first world leader to assign full legitimacy to the term Ukraine was in fact Lenin. Prior to that, only the fledgling and widely unrecognised Ukrainian People’s Republic and the even more fledgling West Ukrainian People’s Republic used the name. Both of these states were short-lived rump regimes which briefly existed in a unilateral fashion during the period of the Polish-Ukrainian (1918-1919) and Soviet-Polish (1919-1921) wars.

History however has a way of reinventing the meaning of past leaders and Lenin is a prime example. For most Russians, Lenin is either an ideological communist hero or a murderous menace who destroyed an Orthodox Christian empire. However, for Russians outside of Russia, Lenin is often a hero of Russian patriotism and resistance against anti-Russian regimes. This is true even among non-communists. Inversely, among followers of anti-Russian regimes, Lenin represents Russian patriotism, even though Lenin decried the Russian national character as ‘chauvinistic’ and called Russia a ‘prison of nations’ (sometimes translated as a ‘prison of peoples’.

This can help one understand the political violence over old statues in the United States. The US isn’t currently re-running its 1860s Civil War. Instead, the statures commemorating that era have had their meaning re-assigned. Robert E. Lee is no longer the symbol of state’s rights, a slave based agrarian economy, low taxation and the freedom to export American agricultural products to Europe. He is now the symbol of: Donald Trump’s support base, opposition to immigration, opposition to homosexual politics, opposition to 20th century style radical black political movements and opposition to post-modern secularism.

Just as the people of Donbass see Lenin as a symbol of resistance and the Kiev regime sees Lenin as a symbol of ethno-linguistic and also political Russian patriotism, so too have both the American so-called alt-left and so-called alt-right bought into narratives that are deeply detached from the historical meaning of the statures over which they are agitated.

Of course, as a Communist, Lenin is a convenient target for a Kiev regime whose ideology is neo-fascist, but the fact that Lenin was in many ways the inventor of modern Ukraine, is an inconvenient fact that is being totally ignored as it would spoil the symbolism of a ‘good old fashion statue toppling’.

The issues plaguing both Ukraine and the US are distinct from statues of leaders falling during a genuine revolution. In the case of both Ukraine and the US, the statues which are causing consternation are of statues which represent leaders of long gone countries that have no possibility of coming back.

In order for statues of long dead individuals to fall, it is necessary to bring them back to life with a present day narrative which was authored around issues which transpired long after the figures who inspired the form of the statutes, literally decomposed.

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