Copyright © 2024

The work of Euromaidan Press is supported by the International Renaissance Foundation

When referencing our materials, please include an active hyperlink to the Euromaidan Press material and a maximum 500-character extract of the story. To reprint anything longer, written permission must be acquired from [email protected].

Privacy and Cookie Policies.

Its civil society has made Ukraine stronger today than it was a year ago

Ukrainians on the Maidan protesting the criminal and oppressive regime of Yanukovich, 2014
Ukrainians on the Maidan protesting the criminal and oppressive regime of Yanukovich, 2014
Its civil society has made Ukraine stronger today than it was a year ago
Edited by: A. N.

Ukraine does not have the time for modernization of the kind Western societies went through or the kind of strong state that modernized some Eastern ones, Valery Pekar says. Instead, it has had to rely on its dynamic civil society, which with its “do it yourself” attitude has brought Ukraine back from the brink of being a failed state.

In the article called “A ‘Do-It-Yourself’ Country” in Novoye Vremya, an instructor at Kyiv Mohyla Business School observes that not long ago “Ukraine looked like a typical failed state: its government machine was in ruins, there was no army, no judicial system, no national idea, nor any national project. Such countries typically don’t stand up to a military attack and fall into pieces.”

That is what Ukraine’s enemies counted on. But it didn’t happen. Why not? “Why is our strength today greater than it was a year ago?” According to Pekar, there is an obvious answer: “thanks to volunteers and thanks to a strong civil society,” which made up for the shortcomings of the state at a time when rapid change was needed.

“Located on the edge of a continent between the two gigantic geopolitical plates of Europe and Asia, divided over the course of centuries between empires and having weak national elites and long breaks in its own statehood,” he writes, “Ukraine was in the club of late modernizers.” And it had to figure out how to escape.

Neither of the usual recipes was available, Pekar says.

The European path, based on the gradual appearance of new values and social practices, was impossible because Ukraine simply has not had the time to wait for these things to happen, Pekar says. And the Asian path, based on the imposition of these values by a strong state, was precluded because Ukraine lacks that kind of state mechanism.

As a result, Ukrainians had to look elsewhere, and “our instrument of modernization, the moving force of change” has been civil society, something “politicians do not understand and fear” and whose members do not trust the authorities and “without waiting for commands from above are creating new precedents and practices and in the future new social institutions.”

The country “which is arising as a result,” he says, can be justifiably called “a Do-It-Yourself Country.” That is “a completely new model one that does not correspondent to either the traditions of slow European growth from below not with the practice of rapid Asiatic imposition from above.

Importantly, Pekar says, this “third path” was not so much chosen as the result of something spontaneous “when a critical mass of people with new values had already taken shape.” That makes Ukraine particularly interesting among the inevitably interesting category of “late modernizers.”

According to the Kyiv professor and entrepreneur, the success of Ukraine’s modernization depends on advances across “a broad front,” including economic modernization and the appearance of a middle class, spiritual modernization with dialogue among religious confessions, cultural modernization with the appearance of new heroes, identity modernization with the creation of a political nation, and intellectual modernization with the increase in the status of higher education.

Obviously, he acknowledges, a great deal of work still needs to be done in each of these areas, but there is already enough progress to declare that Ukraine’s achievement over the last year has had less to do with either bottom-up or top-down modernization than with the emergence of Ukrainians prepared to “do it themselves.”

Edited by: A. N.
You could close this page. Or you could join our community and help us produce more materials like this.  We keep our reporting open and accessible to everyone because we believe in the power of free information. This is why our small, cost-effective team depends on the support of readers like you to bring deliver timely news, quality analysis, and on-the-ground reports about Russia's war against Ukraine and Ukraine's struggle to build a democratic society. A little bit goes a long way: for as little as the cost of one cup of coffee a month, you can help build bridges between Ukraine and the rest of the world, plus become a co-creator and vote for topics we should cover next. Become a patron or see other ways to support. Become a Patron!

To suggest a correction or clarification, write to us here

You can also highlight the text and press Ctrl + Enter

Please leave your suggestions or corrections here

    Euromaidan Press

    We are an independent media outlet that relies solely on advertising revenue to sustain itself. We do not endorse or promote any products or services for financial gain. Therefore, we kindly ask for your support by disabling your ad blocker. Your assistance helps us continue providing quality content. Thank you!