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Ukraine, doomed

Posted By Obadiah Shoher On December 29, 2009 @ 9:40 am In Ukraine | 12 Comments

Ukraine lacks the advantage of weak police, which allowed the Lynch courts to cut down crime and corruption in the nineteenth century US. By enforcing a semblance of order, the police prevent discontented masses from exacting Lynch justice on corrupt officials. The masses might not be so much discontent, as they view corruption as a relatively unobtrusive means to make their way into the bureaucratic system.

There is not a chance that the police will start fighting corruption. That would require honest police, who do not exist at this stage in Ukraine. In the years since Ukraine won its independence several attempts to set up independent task forces on corruption have, and the progressing police corruption makes the establishment of another such task force increasingly unlikely. Such a force would have to be approved by parliament, which, being one hundred percent corrupt, does not want to set up an arm which could slap it. The judicial system, which is also thoroughly corrupt, would be loath to empower anti-corruption judges who might turn on their own. And the corrupt prosecution is similarly wary of fighting corruption.

A new generation of judges, police officers, and government officials all paid large bribes to get their jobs. A generation entered police, courts, tax administration, and other government offices for a single reason—to take bribes. And they are neither interested in nor capable of doing any other work, or working for any other reason.

The educational system is dead: for twenty years, universities have churned out unqualified graduates who got their diplomas by paying bribes to pass every exam. As Soviet-era professors have moved to Western universities for better pay, or left their posts because of their advanced age, there have been no replacements. The Russian kings, and Stalin after them, solved a similar problem by massively sending Russians abroad for education; upon their return, they taught others. Today this option is closed because foreign-educated Ukrainians have no reason to return to their country.

No change can come from the upper level. In Ukraine, leading presidential candidates spend one to two billion dollars for elections. Besides money, they need strong support from corrupt local businessmen and officials to forge election results and force private media to carry their ads and refuse their opponents’. Candidates thus have to pay back their sponsors, and sponsors will not align themselves with potentially honest candidates who might refuse to squander state resources for personal enrichment. Even if a decent person were to become the Ukrainian president, he could not possibly change the entrenched, corrupt, and inert system, certainly not by any liberal means. Peter the Great did not succeed against the Russian bureaucracy even by atrocious means.

Ukraine is currently embroiled in the same situation the Russians saw under Yeltsin: the oligarchy tears the country apart while a symbiotic alliance of criminal groups, unethical businessmen, and corrupt officials devours it from within. Unlike Russia, Ukraine cannot hope for a benevolent autocrat because its security services have been destroyed and its national mentality, unlike the Russian mentality, does not lend itself to orderly subjugation to authority. Ukraine lacks the natural resources that prop up the Russian economy, and only subsists by eating away Soviet-era industrial assets. Foreign companies will not invest significantly in Ukraine because of its corruption, criminality, and the utter unwillingness of its population to work hard. There is simply no reason to build factories in Ukraine rather than China, or—for the EU markets—Czech Republic.

Continued economic deterioration will spell the end of unified Ukraine because the relatively advanced East won’t have the money to bribe the pauperized and nationalistic West into accommodation. A nation of fifty million paupers is too big for Europe. Tensions will increase as southeastern Ukraine aligns itself with Russia. It is not unlikely that Poland and Romania might claim back their former territories that were annexed by Stalin’s empire, especially if the locals demand reunification. This is a possible scenario because Poland and Romania are EU members and offer better employment opportunities than western Ukraine.

In modern history, Ukrainian society has erupted about twice every century into brutal civil war. In a country which lacks political vents and means of adjustment to popular opinion, no other solution seems possible.


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