Dennis Hackethal’s Blog
My blog about philosophy, coding, and anything else that interests me.
Don’t Be Fooled by Zelensky
“Freedom will win.” Those were Zelensky’s words yesterday as he addressed the UK parliament, probably trying to get more money and weapons.
Appeals to freedom may speak to us Westerners, but don’t be fooled. While I agree with the Deutschian moral imperative1 to stand up against bullies – in this case Russia – I don’t believe for a second that Zelensky is interested in freedom, for Ukrainians or anyone else.
One reason is that the billions of dollars he’s been getting from the West are tax money, ie money obtained from peaceful Western citizens at (usually implied but sometimes realized, physical) gunpoint. But that’s not even the most glaring reason, in this case – Zelensky has no control over that. No, it’s that he imposes conscription on male Ukrainians, and conscription is slavery. Borders are shut down for male citizens; many of them physically dragged by the feet to be sent to death in a war they do not want to fight. You cannot use conscription to fight for freedom the same way you cannot use reeducation camps (aka schools) to teach independent thinking. The means defeat the ends.
The Ukrainian government exercises control over the Ukrainian people. It is a parasite that syphons off resources mainly through taxation. Zelensky, being at the helm of this government as the biggest parasite of the country, does not want to lose that control to Russia. That’s what this is about. If Zelensky were interested in freedom, he would have long tried to reduce the control he and the Ukrainian government have over the Ukrainian people. He wants them to be free from Russia, sure, but he does not want them to be free.
If there were no such central power structure like the government already in place in Ukraine, there would be no point for Russia to invade in the first place. For, what exactly would they be invading? A collection of neighbors, all with their own guns and property, loose association and truly independent freedom? The reason a successful invasion is a promising goal for Russia, or any invader of any country ever, is that the ‘invadee’ already has an existing power structure that can be exploited by replacing its leader with the invader.
Decentralized, distributed systems that are ready to resist can be extraordinarily difficult to take over. I’m no expert on American history, but I understand that there was a promising time, maybe in the early to mid 1700s, when the American federal government hadn’t formed yet and even state governments were tiny. America back then was merely a loose collection not of governed serfs but of sovereign individuals, each living on their own terms, not answering to some centralized power. Imagine if this were still true today, only on a bigger geographical scale: that the vast patch of land between Canada and Mexico were no single country at all, but a zone of free people living their lives. Who exactly would invade? What would there be to invade? How would the invader even know they’re done invading? Usually it’s by hoisting one’s flag on the victim’s government building, but that doesn’t exist in this scenario. The invader would have to build a new centralized power structure from the ground up; that’s hard.
So, again, Zelensky is lying when he implies that he wants ‘freedom’ for Ukrainians. He wants control over them. Russia is threatening to take his role as main oppressor of the Ukrainians, and Western governments are eager to help him keep it – not because they care about Ukrainians either way, but because it’s a way to keep Russia, one of the main enemies of the West, in check.
See David Deutsch’s book The Beginning of Infinity, ch. 10, where Socrates says to Hermes: “It is our custom to defy anyone who seeks our submission.” And: “[Y]ou said that you honour Athenians […] for our defiance of bullies.” ↩
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- Post ‘Forced to Freedom’
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