Friday, November 26, 2004

Bourgeois Liberalism*

The usual liberal sites with socialist pretensions are getting very excited about that whole business in the Ukraine. The struggle between Yanukovych and Yushchenko can be represented in terms of a struggle between corruption and free democracy, authoritarianism and liberty, old and new. For the liberals, the stuggle of the Ukrainian people who support the Opposition is to be supported whole heartedly, as much as good is to be backed over evil.

Now, it's pretty clear that Yushchenko's opposition party won the election, that Yanukovych is a crook, a cheat, an authoritarian and possibly an (attempted) assassin. It's clear that Yushchenko has the democratic and moral right to govern the country and I hope that he prevails over Yanukovych in the legal and wider civil struggles that are taking place right now.

However, I wonder at the schoolboy eagerness of the UK 'left' liberal bloggers who seem to be falling over themselves to dress up in orange and jump on the Ukrainian freedom and democracy bandwagon. While the opposition are to be preferred over the old governing party, I don't think that people claiming some place on the left should be quite so awfully, awfully keen (dewy eyes staring into the middle distance - in the general direction of Ukraine - bottom lip wobbling) to treat the whole thing as a clear cut fight between freedom and authoritarianism.

Firstly, the opposition party is, as far as I can see a monetarist, free-market, Thatcherite kind of party. Pro-Western parties in the former Eastern bloc generally are. Secondly, the great interest Western governments have taken in this issue does not just reflect some benevolent desire on the part of European and the US governments to see freedom and democracy prevail across the globe. Clearly, Putin wants the old governing party to stay in power because he regards the Ukraine as an important country within Russia's political and economic sphere of influence. The West are no different in this regard - we're so awfully keen on the opposition because it would be nice to bring the Ukraine into the West's political and economic sphere of influence.

To repeat, the opposition are the rightful winners of the election and should now be governing the country. I support the opposition in their struggles at the moment. However, I don't see why this support should be quite so keen as that in evidence amongst the liberal left blogs. I don't support Yushchenko any more than I support any other centre-right neo-liberal free marketeer. If a centre-right party wins an election in another country then I regard that party as the legitimate governing party and if the democratic process is impeded then I regard that as entirely wrong - but I don't jump up and down in favour of Thatcherites, singing their praises. He won and he should be backed over Yanukovych but I don't particularly like his economics/politics. The naivety of the liberal left continues to astound me.

Still they like their moral high horses and crusades for freedom and democracy, don't they. Ahhh, the agreeable world of the liberal left.

Oh, and one more thing: according to Claire Short, Yushchenko says he'll withdraw Ukrainian troops from Iraq. Has anyone told Harry's Place yet - perhaps that'll dampen their enthusiasm. Actually, perhaps it might blow their brains - 'Yushchenko's for freedom and democracy, but he's objectively pro-fascist because he's a stopper.... does not compute.... does not compu....' BOOM.

* Yes, I know this is a slightly tautologous term - I just like it.

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