In early 2014, sparked by an assault by their government on peaceful students, Ukrainians rose up against a deeply corrupt, Moscow-backed regime. Initially demonstrating under the banner of EU integration, the Maidan protesters proclaimed their right to a dignified existence; they learned to organize, to act collectively, to become a civil society. Most prominently, they established a new Ukrainian identity: territorial, inclusive, and present-focused with powerful mobilizing symbols.
Driven by an urban “bourgeoisie” that rejected the hierarchies of industrial society in favor of a post-modern heterarchy, a previously passive post-Soviet country experienced a profound social revolution that generated new senses: “Dignity” and “fairness” became rallying cries for millions. Europe as the symbolic target of political aspiration gradually faded, but the impact (including on Europe) of Ukraine’s revolution remained. When Russia invaded—illegally annexing Crimea and then feeding continuous military conflict in the Donbas—, Ukrainians responded with a massive volunteer effort and touching patriotism. In the process, they transformed their country, the region, and indeed the world.
This book provides a chronicle of Ukraine’s Maidan and Russia’s ongoing war, and puts forth an analysis of the Revolution of Dignity from the perspective of a participant observer.