Friday, December 6, 2013

Reinventing student leadership

Is Euromaidan a kind of Solidarnosc? Looking for historical models is a dangerous job. Especially for Euromaidan. Now the rhetorics of revolution is becoming part of the Euromaidan discours. Should Euromaidan be a kind of Paris 1789? Petersburg 1917? Dresden 1989? Cairo 2012? The language of revolution has its advantages. It's full of dynamics and energy. It's objective is seizing state power en transforming the state. It looks for the historical moment of sudden change. And it creates its avant garde leadership: the Robespierres and Lenins who become the heroes and claim absolute obedience. We know what this has brought us.

In this sense Euromaidan is definitely not a revolution. When looking for a historical predecessor Solidarnosc in Poland is a much better candidate. It could especially be helpful considering a special feature of Euromaidan: it's lack of leaders. To be sure, this absence of leadership is absolutely positive when it destroys the illusion of the good peasant king (or queen), who will liberate Ukraine. In that sense Euromaidan shares something essential with Solidarnosc: its anti-politics and the aim of making the civil society the domain of political consiousness. 'No Flags' is this anti-political version of Euromaidan.

But in the Ukrainian context it causes its own problems. One is "the opposition". Today I saw Klytchko, Yatsenjuk and Tjahnybok at the huge screen on Euromaidan. They looked intimidated, confused, almost quilty. How could it be otherwise? They are part of the politcal elite and look more like adversaries than alies and leaders of the anti-politics of Euromaidan. The other is the obvious lack of leadership, especially student leadership, in Euromaidan as the anti-political movement itself. If I may stay with Solidarnosc. It had its young intellectual and political leaders. Jacec Kuroń, Adam Michnick, Seweryn Blumsztajn and Jan Lytińky. Untill today I see no star rising of a Jacek, Adam, Seweryn and Jan of Euromaidan. Someone explained to me today that possible candidates are reluctant to profile themselves, because they are affraid of being accused of hijacking Euromaidan. And then we are back in Ukraine as a low trust state.

Still, I'm convinced that some leadership is essential for Euromaidan. Not as a new peasant king, but as a bunch of young students who put themselves in the service of everyone who is Euromaidan. Helping Euromaidan finding its intellectual, political and strategic direction. It is clear that this means reinventing leadership in Ukraine and overcomming low trust. But wouldn't that be enormously helpful? So please Taras, Kateryna, Andriy, Orysysya, Mariska: wherever you are. If you think you can do it? If you want to serve? Give it a try!

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