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Chapter 26

This webpage reproduces a chapter of


The Story of the Ukraine
by Clarence Manning

published by
Philosophical Library
New York,
1947

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!

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 p301  Chapter Twenty‑Seven

The Future of Ukraine

At the end of the First World War, Ukraine won a shortlived independence and then it was torn apart and divided among its neighbors. For a while it seemed to have reverted to the conditions in the seventeenth century when Russia and Poland struggled for its owner­ship. At the end of World War Two it was reunited within the Ukrainian Soviet Republic and found its place as such in the number of the United Nations. What does the future hold in store for it?

What is to be the future development of Ukraine? This depends on the future of the democratic ideals which have long been held by England, the United States and the whole of Western Christian civilization and which are now challenged by the new ideas of the Soviet Union.

Perhaps never in recorded human history has the future of the world been so uncertain. The ending of the greatest war in history has not brought a feeling of peace to mankind. The power of the atom bomb, the enormous advances in science and in methods of destruction, the annihilation of space by the improvement of transportation and the increased range of rockets and other weapons, all have brought humanity to realize that in the material sphere there must be an end of war and of conflict or civilization will be irretrievably destroyed.

On the other hand, the dissension in the ideals of man has reached a new high. Earlier wars between Christians and pagans, between Catholics and Protestants, have concerned a certain range of ideas but the opposing contestants have recognized many human qualities as common to  p302 both sides. For centuries there has been a slow but steady increase in recognition of the rights of the individual, of his innate right to choose his own place of residence, to think his own thoughts, to sing his own songs, and to rear his family as he would. The great despotisms and empires of the past ruthlessly eliminated large masses of the population, but they were content to demand only outer loyalty and not to interfere with the inner life of their subjects. Even the slaves could have an area of thought which they could call their own.

It has remained for the twentieth century to undertake the task of subjugating the inner life of man. We may smile at the crudities of the Japanese thought police who carefully interrogated the subjects of the Emperor to see if they had any dangerous thoughts, but in more subtle ways the whole power of the Soviet Union is devoted to the creation of a culture that shall be socialist in essence and only differ in the language. Around the area which it controls there has been drawn an iron veil of silence and of secrecy. Its admirers abroad willingly accept the same restrictions and when the word filters through from Moscow, they willingly change their position, perform a complete revolution in their mode of thinking and follow the new line without criticism or debate.

On the other hand, the United States and Western Europe are trying to maintain an appreciation of the old values. They are concerned with problems of liberty and human rights. They may fall short of their ideals and of their goals. There may be and often are actions which can only be condemned by all thinking men. Yet with it all there is the same hope and confidence that the human being can find his way to a better, happier and free future.

The struggle between these two conceptions of life is destined to form the essence of the history of the coming years. It is truly a battle for the human spirit that is coming to  p303 the foreground of the world stage at the end of the great struggle that has thrown the whole of Europe and large parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands into the abyss. To‑day it appears in the councils of the United Nations, for that body has been formed with the greatest care as to methods of organization, but with surprisingly little attention to the contents of the spirit of that organization. The founders did not venture to write into the spirit of the Four Freedoms and the Atlantic Charter, the ideals of self-determination of Woodrow Wilson, or the principles on which American and Western Christian life has been based since the days of ancient Judaism and Hellenism, lest the clash between the two ways of life be brought into the open and doom in advance the hopes of men for a peaceful world.

What is to be the outcome? The human mind is staggered at the potentialities for good and ill in the present situation. As we look at the human misery, the ruined cities, the scorched earth, and the destructive power of man, we can only wonder at what is going to happen, and perhaps soon.

Where does Ukraine stand in all this? The Ukrainian spirit has survived for over a thousand years. The Ukrainians on two occasions have lost their upper and more cultured classes, when these were Polonized and Russianized. The peasant life kept on, close to the soil and has sent forth new shoots as soon as conditions became ripe. Every great shift of the European balance, every great movement that has given a new outlet to the human spirit has sooner or later had its effect upon the people.

To‑day as never before the Ukrainian population is scattered. The Soviet government has worked unflinchingly to liquidate or break every leader who has refused to bow to its all‑embracing rule. The Ukrainian literature of the present is indistinguishable from the literature of the Russian Soviet Republic, of the Georgian Soviet Republic and  p304 of the Kazak Soviet Republic. Millions of Ukrainians have been torn from their native soil and scattered alone or with their families throughout the length and breadth of the Soviet Union. Their places have been taken by other similarly uprooted individuals, in the hope that there may be formed a conglomerate mass of rootless people attached to the traditions of the Communist Party.

Can such an ambitious plan succeed? There can be no doubt that under the rule of Stalin and his associates, the Soviet Union has grown into a power­ful force which is apparently able to retain the iron control that is necessary for its existence. There has been a terrible cost and this is shown by the refusal of the displaced persons to return. It is shown by the desperate struggle of the Ukrainians during the past decades to maintain their homes and their identity. How long can they endure? No one knows the ultimate power of resistance of the human spirit. No one knows how long devoted fathers and mothers will continue at the risk of their lives to nourish in their children those old traditions which can be handed down secretly and then spring to life with renewed vigor. No one knows how long the ruling group can maintain that iron unity which alone can enable it to continue its herculean task.

The world cannot continue half free and half Communist. Sooner or later there will be an open clash or the ideals of one side will penetrate and destroy the other. The final struggle may not take the form of armed hostilities in the sense of a clash between the nations representing the two ideals, but it will inevitably spread ruin and devastation within one or both of the groups. The lurid tales of deportations when the Red Army entered Western Ukraine will be but a portent, a token of what will ultimately happen if the regime falls or extends its power throughout the world.

It is chimerical to speak now of a relaxation of the methods  p305 of control in the Soviet Union. For a quarter of a century, the world has been waiting for a clear sign that this was already taking place and it has been disappointed. The power of the Communist Party is stronger than ever and it is able to profit immediately by all signs of weakness and of confusion among the free nations. It is able to reach out beyond its borders and it brooks no interference with its ideals or its desires.

It is no time for optimism or for pessimism. Neither is it the time for false and wishful thinking or for easy platitudes. The fundamental issue is clear and however it may be glossed over, it cannot be avoided.

The traditional Ukrainian culture can now flourish only outside the borders of Ukraine. The Ukrainian Soviet Republic, under the control of the Communist leaders, is becoming a part of the great and unified Soviet Union. Step by step the dreams of many sincere Ukrainian Communists that they could adapt Communism to the Ukrainian spirit have been blasted and those who held them have paid the price of their beliefs. The struggle now is to adapt the Ukrainian spirit to Communism by ruthless actions and by careful training. A democratic people is being remodelled to serve the purposes of a strictly regimented regime. Its past is being rewritten for it. Its present is being controlled. Its future is being planned.

It is idle to deny that it may succeed, but we can be sure of only one thing. It cannot succeed until the sway of Communism over the whole world has been made absolute. So long as there is a fortress of democracy anywhere in the world, there will remain a centre from which the ideas of freedom and of humanity will emanate and which will continually menace any system which denies them and their validity and existence.

The problem of Ukraine lies to‑day as one of the great problems of the world. Here is a nation of forty million  p306 people that is sealed off from its natural contacts and deprived of its natural rights and desires. The tragic events of the last half century have shown that alone it cannot throw off the yoke that is upon its neck. Yet that does not mean that it must forever suffer.

Once the free nations awake to the situation and bend their efforts to establish that freedom and dignity that is the right of every man, they will realize that they will have no more devoted friends and allies than the Ukrainians and then it will be possible to reestablish a free and independent Ukraine as one of the free nations of the world.


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