The Cossacks topic is extremely important in discussing the idea and concept of systemic changes for Ukraїna. As has been repeatedly pointed out in previous articles, Cossacks have traditionally been the leading stratum, the very backbone of Ukraїnian society. It is precisely in a role of the backbone of society that the Ukraїnian Cossacks are called to become the main driving force of systemic changes. Without Cossacks revival as the backbone of Ukraїnian society, a sovereign, independent and successful Ukraїna will not happen.
Ukrainization, raising the level of national consciousness and civic maturity of Ukraїnian society, the revival of national traditions and customs is simply impossible without the revival of Ukraїnian Cossacks as a backbone. This is explained by the fact that the Cossack dominant determines the Ukraїnian mentality. Even Tibetan sage lamas know this.
It is the Cossacks who are bound by such a phenomenon as Kharakternytstvo (Characterization), and the latter, in turn, determines such fundamental factors for Ukraїnian culture, Ukraїnian national traditions and customs, and therefore for the organization of society, the establishment of social order, governing and nation-building and state-building processes, known as Will, Spirit, Spirituality, Knighthood, Nobility and Aristocracy.
The Ukraїnian national idea, to formation of which Taras Shevchenko came closest (“In our home, there is our truth, and strength, and will”), is also associated with Cossacks. Implementation of this idea can only ensure the revival of Cossacks as the bearer of Ukraїnian national traditions and customs.
The sovereignty of Ukraїnian nation, its chosen social order, system of government, national security and defense depend to the greatest extent on Cossack traditions.
Ukraїnian “state-building” principles are primarily due to Cossack traditions. “Statelessness”, ie the original, unique way of organizing life and governing in Ukraїnian society, which our opponents consider a weakness, an inability to state building of Ukraїnian nation, has historically been, is, and therefore will be based only on Cossack traditions.
The Custom (capitalized) as the basic law of existence, as the constitution of Ukraїnian people, historically defined traditions, customs and rites, and the bearer of the Custom long before the emergence of historical Cossack statehood of XVI—XVIII centuries was Cossackhood. The historical Cossack statehood is very well described by Bronislav Fastivets, who wrote:
“All the most famous Ukraїnian Hetmans in written history were pupils of the Christian Church. Therefore, their views and beliefs formed by church education are feudal. This has always contradicted the age-old traditions of a free way of life and self-government of our native people. They used the electoral trust of Cossack society mainly for realization of their own ambitions. Only a part of their conscience was drawn by influences of upbringing in the traditional ethnocultural environment of their native people, and only in this part they can be authorities for Ukraїnian society national-liberation enlightenment”.
That is why B. Fastivets is right, emphasizing that “in principle we should rely only on the eternal traditionalism of the free way of life and self-government preserved in depths of National Cossack Faith and Customs, which we should extract from specific and therefore sacred traditions of our native people history”.
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In another text of his, B. Fastivets writes about the emergence of Ukraїnian Cossacks as a phenomenon in the period defined by historians as the feudalism era, which almost all the peoples of Eurasia went through:
“The Ukraїnian Cossacks phenomenon is a powerful attempt to revive the very old ancient pre-slavery Rus’ after collapse of the early feudal statehood of Varangian dynasty of Kyїvan princes in the worldwide feudal system circumstances.
An amazing picture is observed in world history at the turn of the early and middle Middle Ages: All over the world, seemingly inseparably, a brutal-violent feudal socio-political system prevails, the early feudal aggressive statehood of the mercenary traditional Varangian dynasty of Kyїv princes and the traditionalistic ancient Rus’-Ukraїna makes a powerful attempt to revive in dominant dense feudalism circumstances, already forgotten in the world, traditions of its specific, nonviolent in relation to indigenous peoples, pre-slavery state order and Vedic-Orthodox Varna-Tribal society of customary self-governing communities with customary-legal political consciousness and voluntary military stratum national defense, with sovereign native people rite to create their own specific socio-political order according to their own preferences. This is the phenomenon of Rus’ Cossacks and their unique statehood, known as Zaporozke Viysko (Zaporozhian Military)”.
Of course, the historical Middle Ages Ukraїnian Cossacks did not appear out of nowhere. It revealed itself to the world as a product of Rus’-Ukraїnians as an ethnic group, their traditions and customs, social order and our nation way of governing. It is no coincidence that this happened when states began to form in the current sense of state-building and state laws. And this was a very successful attempt of Rus’-Ukraїnians to resist state-building processes that in the late XVII and XVIII centuries led to complete state control over a citizen, an individual, and then led to emergence of authoritarian-totalitarian orders in the 20th century with dictatorial regimes.
The Cossacks emergence as an attempt to preserve traditions of society self-organization, of course, worried those states that were formed outside Cossack freedomary with its purely republican forms of legal relations, governing, security and defense. So, those who controlled or tried to control Ukraїna for centuries, first of all set themselves the goal of curbing and controlling Ukraїnian Cossacks.
Poland invented a phenomenon known as “registered Cossacks”. Similar approaches to the subjugation of Cossacks were demonstrated by Crimean Khanate as once a powerful political player in Black Sea region. Muscovy tried various ways to curb Ukraїnian Cossacks, which proved unsuccessful, and then it went to destruction of Cossackhood, the destruction of Cossack “places of power.”
Conquering Rus’-Ukraine, Muscovy first sought to find a common language with Ukraїnian Cossacks, then subdue them and eventually destroy them. This was successfully done during the second half of XVII—XVIII centuries, ie less than one and a half hundred years. The end of 18th and the whole of 19th century were spent for bribing Cossack officers by giving them noble titles and ranks, and thus a high status in Russian imperial society. Most ordinary Cossacks were bought to participate in special Cossack paramilitaries, which became part of the imperial armed forces.
As a result of such destruction, Muscovy managed not only to curb Cossacks, but also to use militancy of Cossack spirit to its advantage through creation of pseudo-Cossack formations, for which numerous descendants of Ukraїnian Cossacks were bought to serve Russian tsardom. Cossack regiments and divisions became part of the imperial military machine that conquered new territories for Moscow. Now Moscow is using this pseudo-Cossacks in its war against Ukraїne, on both sides of the front.
The revival of Ukraїnian Cossacks in independent Ukraїna did not go beyond what was allowed by Russian-Soviet imperial authorities. Ethnography has become a determining factor in many Cossack societies and organizations. Ukraїnian Cossacks military potential did not go beyond the mass fashion for emergence of countless “atamans”, “colonels”, “lieutenant generals”, “hetmans” with no actual Cossack army, regiments or hundreds. Of course, such “Cossacks”, once allowed by Russian empire and then by Communist Party-Soviet ideology, which found a nourishing ground in independent but still Soviet Ukraїna, a priori can not become the backbone of Ukraїnian society and a force capable to lead systemic changes in Ukraїna.
That is why we call for creation of a qualitatively new All-Ukraїnian Cossack Movement, which will aim to revive Ukraїnian Cossacks by cleansing them of “sharovarshchina” and “generalschina”, through the revival of Spirit, Faith and Customs and the eternal traditionalism of free life and self-government. reminds B. Fastivets, calling to master the legacy of Hryhoriy Skovoroda, Ivan Kotlyarevsky, Taras Shevchenko, Ivan Nechuy-Levytsky, Ivan Franko, Yuri Fedkovych, Lesya Ukraїnka and other leaders of Ukraїnian spiritual culture, including those of our contemporaries who dig into original sources .
Today, the biggest obstacle to successful Ukraїnian nation-building and state-building is the Soviet social way of life with its authoritarian-totalitarian order and administrative-command mode of governing, imposed on Ukraїna by Muscovy.
B. Fastivets rightly emphasizes that, unlike Russian Empire and other Western countries, “Rus’-Ukraїna has never had an authentic slave-owning, feudal, capitalist and totalitarian-communist order, except under the oppression of foreign enslavement”. He also reminds us which social order best meets the interests and aspirations of Ukraїnian people: “The specific customary socio-political order of Rus’-Ukraїna is a tribal-varna republic of customary self-governing communities with a common sense of justice and viche democracy under the political and armed protection of the voluntary national military”.
Hence Mr. Fastivets leads to the idea of what way of governing would best meet aspirations of freedom-loving Ukraїnian society: “The ancient Rus’ state really existed as a nonviolent against its own people, tribal-varna, Vedic-Orthodox, and in no way feudal-Christian, state of customary self-governing communities with a mainstream legal consciousness and viche democracy, politically and militarily protected by authentic knightwise volunteers. Hence, we are looking for answers to the question of what exactly should be the real hetman of Rus’-Ukraina”.
By the way, Professor Mykola Chubaty in his book “Review of Ukraїnian Law History” (Kyiv, 1994), analyzing the medieval sources and state laws of Rus’-Ukraїna, emphasizes the fundamental importance of customary law in social order of Ukraїnian people life.
Ukraїnian national revival, as it manifested itself during the 20th century, despite its mostly spontaneous nature, gives us several important phenomena:
Ukraїnian revolution of 1917–1921 had several attempts at state formation: the Ukraїnian People Republic (UNR) headed by Central Rada, Hetmanate of Pavlo Skoropadsky, Directory of Simon Petliura, and the anarchist republic of Nestor Makhno. Note that the republic of N. Makhno was formed in territories once controlled by Zaporozhian Sich, and lasted longer than any other attempt at Ukraїnian statehood. At the same time, the Republic of Makhno did not identify itself as a Cossack, but by its nature was a Cossack-like. Skoropadsky’s Hetmanate, formally declared a Cossack tradition, was in fact an attempt to establish a classical monarchy and dictatorship and essentially had nothing to do with Cossackhood.
World War II also opened a window of opportunity for manifestation of Cossack phenomenon. Of course, Cossack military formations as part of both Red Army and German Wehrmacht were traditional for Russian Empire. But traditions of the real Ukraїnian Cossacks were manifested in establishing of Polissya Sich under Taras Bulba (Borovets) leadership, who became the forerunner of Ukraїnian Insurgent Army (UPA). Poliska Sich controlled several administrative districts in Volyn for a long time. It just happened, however, that Cossack tradition was supplanted by Ukraїnocentric Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN), which was Ukraїnocentric in spirit but authoritarian-totalitarian in nature. This is not surprising: World War II was essentially a war between authoritarian-totalitarian regimes, and Ukraїnian ideology that opposed them could not be non-totalitarian. So, we can only state that the Cossack idea did not work.
The collapse of communist ideology in the late 20th century led to the loss of CPSU’s monopoly and thus to the collapse of USSR with its authoritarian-totalitarian Communist-Soviet regime. The adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty, and then proclamation of the Act of State Independence of Ukraїna created conditions for emergence of numerous Cossack societies and organizations, which produced many hetmans, lieutenant generals, colonels, atamans and other Cossack ranks, in their mass, by large count, have nothing to do with organizational traditions of real Ukraїnian Cossacks. At the same time, Cossackhood became more active as a entertainment business, which to some extent performs an educational function, reproduces ritual acts, but practically does not perform either nation-building or state-building mission, because Cossacks do not realize themselves as the backbone of modern Ukraїnian society.
Obviously, this situation can be corrected through a kind of census of descendants of Cossack families, through zeroing (re-establishment, re-registration, reformatting) of existing Cossack societies and organizations listed above and formation of a qualitatively new All-Ukrainian Cossack Movement. Let descendants of Ukraїnian Cossack officers and ordinary families come to this social movement first, who will show their interest in restoration and development of Cossack stratum in Ukraїnian society. When the initiative core of this Movement is formed, it will obviously make sense to create a kind of admission and revision commission, which will consider possibility of admitting to the Movement those current Cossack societies and organizations that will be cleansed of “sharovarshchina” and “generalschina” and ready to implement mission and tasks of Ukraїnian Cossackhood as the backbone of Ukraїnian society.
Possibly, it would be then that the idea of a regimentalless and hundredsless Cossack Colonel B. Fastivets, declared by him, realized:
“By this phenomenon, Rus’-Ukraїna people are effectively protesting and warning against global ideological fornication in the form of new authoritarian world religions and humanitarian socio-political perversion of human communities in favor of brutal political violence, while offering the world community of national fatherlands to create and proclaim their own ways continuing crisis-free development. This is one of the powerful real manifestations of the World Historical Mission of Rus’-Ukraїna people, and their national character. Should we look closely and listen to voice of national traditionalism of indigenous people of Rus’-Ukraїna with their eternal traditions of Vedic views, Faith-Customary and free way of life, artel management, production and non-chrematist economy and self-governing under political and armed protection of voluntary national military?”
This is the direction in which Ukraїnian intellectuals scholarly thought should develop, which so far is limited to collecting Cossack artifacts and stating historical facts, events and phenomena without updating historical experience and correcting the concepts of building a successful Ukraїna, and also the realm of Ukraїnian science, which will provide historical-theoretical, methodological and organizational-managerial Ukraїnian society preparation for systemic changes, for implementation of these changes through creation of a powerful social All-Ukrainian Cossack Movement. This Movement, together with the Movement for Ukrainization of Ukraine, the Ukraїnians Worldwide Movement and other qualitatively new public associations, will unite in the All-Ukrainian Front for Systemic Changes in the bowels of which will be born qualitatively new Ukraїocentric ideological political parties, capable of leading implementation of the idea of systemic changes through the preparation of the All-Ukrainian Constituent Assembly, the development of a new social order concept, a new Constitution of Ukraїna and a new way of governing.
July 31 — October 13, 2020