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Phenomenon of «Orange Revolution»: psychological reflections

»Break their nexus and hurl down the

gyves» Book of Psalms 2:3

Phenomenon of «Orange Revolution» in Ukraine has apparently become a key
event in modern history of the country: a unique and more importantly
peaceful shift of the purse-proud and contumelious authorities has
enabled the country to make a breakthrough from «independent to free
society» as President Yuschenko has recently said. Kaleidoscope of
revolutionary events has been widely discussed in the media and has not
yet escaped from the memory of the participants and spectators. However,
as the immediate emotions have passed by and without an attempt to
reconstruct the chronology of the events we will try to reevaluate the
issue of the Revolution through adding more psychological colors to the
socio-political canvas that has been already painted.

«Divided and United» — this popular title for the studies originally
dedicated to the Civil War in the US perfectly well describes the state
of affairs in pre and post-election Ukraine. «Divided nation» was the
first both domestic and foreign experts were starting from while
speaking about the Revolution (those who were glued to mass media during
these «17 instances of winter» apparently don’t need any other arguments
of issue’s vitality). The visitors of multiple web-sites, readers of
newspapers and magazines, yet, TV viewership must remember the
«orange-and-blue» map of Ukraine perfectly well. Millions of foreigners
who had been unaware of a geographical location of Ukraine prior to the
Revolution appeared now competent not only in the geography of the
country; moreover, they have learned where Kyiv, L’viv and Donet’sk are
located, made a deep insight into the history and culture of the nation
and the reasons of revolution! However, as the country is seemingly
«piecing up the quarrel» we will not dear to salt the wound and discuss
the problem of divided society (furthermore, these ideas have been paid
much attention in media before). And, so excuse me the former partisans
of the «blue camp» and «orangemen», the emphasis will be further made
rather on the nation united than divided!

Though the issue of «Orange Revolution» remains and obviously will
remain highly debated amidst domestic and foreign scholars, politicians
and common people for further decades, delighted attitudes and opinions
quite often dull «boring» scholar explanations of both the Revolution
and the reasons behind it. As a result, the implicit psychological
reasons often appear literally «behind the scene». In fact,
psychological aspects of «Orange Revolution» may be well exemplified
with the classic Shakespearian character of «the ghost of Hamlet’s
father»: also no one was questioning its importance the issue was paid
much less attention than it deserved.

Traditional problem of psychology (and the Revolution didn’t make an
exception here) is that it is more implicit and hidden from apprehension
comparing with more explicit and easy to cognize by common people
factors (e.g.: social, economic, political, etc.). For those who
remember former Soviet textbooks it may be furthermore memorable that
official propaganda used to put very socio-political and economic
reasons in the center of all public clamors. As a result, most
conventionally, «Orange Revolution» has been analyzed from social,
political, economic and other perspectives apparently lacking
psychological reflections and reevaluations.

However, psychological components resulted in the outburst of people’s
emotions, rejections of falsified elections, reprobation of disgusting
attempts to assume the reins of government were hardly less important
than social, economic or other more explicit factors of the revolt. One
of the fewest attempts targeted to reconsider the phenomenon
«psychologically» was a round table in the Institute of social and
political psychology of the Ukrainian Academy of Pedagogic Sciences held
in January. Let’s, hence, attempt to summarize the findings and trace
most important psychological reasons behind «Orange revolution»
separating, simultaneously, the «husk from the grain».

The first and probably the most important psychological aspect of the
revolution was that it appeared to be the first chorus of protests in
Ukraine that wasn’t not based on purely economic ground (i.e.:
aggravation of living standards, delinquency of payment, abolition of
exempts, etc.). Moreover, the economic situation in the country was
obviously as good as never before. This dramatically important sign well
shows the changes in public consciousness of the people, particularly
that it has already achieved a brand new state rapidly approaching the
standards of civil society when money start meaning less than civil
rights and freedoms. Artificially cornered in the measures of lumpen or
suburban mentality by previous authorities (multiple researches ordered
by former Ukrainian Government and Presidential administration were
targeted to prove the «cavemen» state of Ukrainian public consciousness,
incapacity of Ukrainian people, their inability to revolt and oppose the
powers, etc.) the nation obviously for the first time since the deep
democratic transformations in 1989-1991 has recognized its entity and
psychological unity. Regardless the visible hostility between westerners
and easterners millions of people remember «Donetsk, Donbas — join us».
Apparently, the revolution has indeed prompted development of new
Ukrainian society and helped making strong feeling of national identity
amidst Ukrainian people.

As mentioned before, unique concordance of common people with general
democratic values, struggle for inalienable civil rights for the first
time started meaning more than purely economic welfare. The slogans «my
house is on the fringe» or Chekhov’s example of «a man in cover» became
outdated with the present Ukrainian realities; the old saying «bread and
circuses» was as well working no more in a new Ukraine! Previous
passiveness, apathy and indifference of the people in politics were
shifted with a surge of emotions, anger, desire to act though allied
with traditional Ukrainian peacefulness and tolerance. This unique
combination has amazed the whole global community!

As heard from a number of participants on Maidan (the word that already
doesn’t need translation to other languages) as well as common people in
different cities, they were ready to reject from their wages and
welfares if only it would benefit the whole outcome of the Revolution.
Thousands of common Kyivvites as well as representatives of hundreds of
cities, towns and villages throughout Ukraine were eager to share
whatever they had to help the cause and rescue the nation. How different
are these ideas from what Mr. Kuchma believed about his Nation speaking
of the unformed Ukrainian nation and absence of civil society in his
«Ukraine is not Russia»!

«What’s the value of receiving the salary in the state governed by
criminals?», «Do you need this money if you will contemn yourself till
the end of days?», and «Do you want your voice to be purchased for the
«dirty money» you have been stolen before?» — These were the most common
responses of the people to what was happening throughout the whole

Forming of civil society in Ukraine was as well proven by a number of
other reasons. For the first time in Ukrainian history the nation didn’t
let authorities to deceive and split itself: neither comprehensive
support of foreign politicians and technologies nor dramatic
brainwashing of pubic consciousness has made people to betray their
ideals, their candidate, yet, their own country. As various mass media
monitoring manifest, the aggregate of positive information concerning
pro-governmental was exceeding the aggregate positive information of
opposition’s leader in hundreds times! Not to «swallow the bait» and not
yield to the redesigned idea «divide et impera» (divide and rule) was an
incredible psychological achievement of the wise nation. Being
brainwashed and propagated for the decades Ukrainians have eventually
developed the immunity against the harmful propaganda of the ever-worst
regime in their state!

Another important psychological aspect that is usually «rested behind
the political scene» is the question of national identity. Without
particularizing theoretical approaches to the problem of national
identity perfectly well discussed in Freudian psychoanalysis, Erickson’s
theory of identity and number of other paradigms, it is important to say
that identity is the key psychological phenomenon that makes nations and
people united. The «we» and «they» feelings (Oksana Zabuzhko has been
perfectly discussing them in the March issue of «Fulbrighter in
Ukraine») have helped consolidation people, strengthen new Ukrainian

If prior to the Revolution the idea of Ukrainian national identity was
rather diluted and percept differently in different regions of the
country, «Orange Revolution» has apparently prompted making of new
Ukrainian oneness, raised prestige of «Ukraineness» both in the country
and throughout the world. It was a dramatic experience, a kind of a
psychotherapy that helped people to understand that being Ukrainian is
prestigious and responsible simultaneously. Forgotten strophes of V.
Mayakovsky «Look and envy, I’m a Citizen…» have received their new
meaning in the new Ukraine. Due to the Revolution the issue of Ukrainian
identity has received its brand new sense shifting from displeasure of
being a citizen of corrupted and poor country (let’s be critical to own
drawbacks) to the delight of leaving in a new state and envy of
foreigners (even an observer from welfare Sweden on the so-called «3rd
tour of the elections» didn’t hide his admiration of people of the
country the national colors of which coincides with the ones on Swedish
flag, as he mentioned not without a pleasure!).>

For the first time in Ukrainian history people did not fight for
somebody’s rights. In fact, it was not the Revolution «for» Yuschenko
and «contra» Yanukovych, but rather the Revolution for own rights of
Ukrainian people, i.e.: the rights to vote, to have own point of view,
to criticize the authorities, yet, to participate in transparent and
democratic elections and not to be deceived so cynically through
imposing «one and only» candidate! For the first time it was not a
political revolution (a revolution supporting a certain political
power): it was the «Pro-People Revolution» (the revolution for people’s
rights). Reevaluating Abraham Maslow’s classic motivation theory,
«Orange Revolution» has become a greatest since Bogdan Khmelnitski
self-actualization of people. Reconsidering Sigmund Freud, it was
obviously a greatest catharsis of the nation.

To a great extent «Orange Revolution» was also a «psychological
revolution» — a revolution in people’s social and political mentality.
The revolution that helped people get rid of previous «inferiority
complex» of «little sister» and understand perfectly well that they are
Europeans, the members of all-European family. Illustrating this idea
one could say that current opinion polls in the European Union states
demonstrate that almost three quarter of their citizens, welcome
Ukraine’s accession to the EU.

It is also dramatically important, «Orange Revolution» appeared not the
issue of choice between two candidates, parties or political programs.
Instead, it was rather a choice of two different political regimes, two
antagonistic ways of further development of Ukraine: «mediocrity»
personified by Mr. Yanukovych and civil society embodied by Yuschenko.
Choosing «European and civilized» Ukraine means a great breakthrough, a
chance and change for the whole nation, whole continent, the whole

Dramatic kaleidoscope of the revolutionary events that has been keeping
the whole world in suspense for more than half a month and history’s
ever-longest peripeteia of electoral campaign has eventually received
almost a Hollywood happy-end where Ukrainian people obviously deserve an
Oscar for the best script and craftsmanship (Constantine Stanislavski
would probably finally say «I Believe» optimistically). Being one of the
most dramatic events we have eyewitnessed here in Ukraine the Revolution
was that kind of very necessary and important psychological trigger
necessary to wake-up an enchanted Sleeping Beauty — the new Ukrainian

Also the outcomes of «Orange Revolution» will remain the subjects for
discussions both for many contemporaries and coming generations, for me
personally they are enclosed in two following classic expressions: «No
hypocrisy lingers forever», Cicero has once said; «Each may believe in
what he wants. I mind just when people are forced to faith in one
ultimate truth», Isaac Asimov has added. For sure, further generations
of Ukrainians will know these sentences only from chrestomathies but not
from their own example.

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