By Gabrielė Stakaitytė
The situation in Crimea can be perfectly described by a good old Lithuanian proverb: “Pats muša, pats rėkia”, which roughly translates as “The aggressor is the one crying”.
There has been a lot of talk from people describing themselves as libertarians about the right of self-determination for the Crimean people. The ethnic Russians, mind you, not the Crimean Tartars or the ethnic Ukrainians. Mob rule is considered as “the will of the people”, the most collectivist of concepts. Furthermore, it seems incredible anyone would consider a referendum at the point of a gun legitimate.
Regardless, let us forget about the non-aggression principle for a moment, and have a look at the actual wording of that fair-and-free ballot. Naturally, there was no choice to vote to keep the status quo, only whether the Crimeans want to join Russia or to restore an earlier version of the Crimean constitution, which gave greater autonomy to the region. Basically, the question was: “Do you want to join Russia?” and the answer was either “Yes, I want to join Russia” or “No, I don’t want to be part of Ukraine”.
Another example of confused libertarians supporting Putin is calling the new Ukrainian government illegitimate, or even “fascist”, whatever that is supposed to mean. The Ukrainian government is no less legitimate than the first US government, having come to power after a popular revolution. The use of the word “fascist” is even more ridiculous. Putin calling someone fascist is like Jesse Jackson calling someone racist or a Twitter feminist calling someone sexist. It is utterly ridiculous, and just a tiny bit hypocritical. By the way, the majority of Ukrainian Jews support the new government, so there is that.
I utterly loathe the concept, but in this case, naive Western libertarians really do need to check their privilege, at least as far as their understanding of Eastern Europe is concerned. Most wouldn’t be able to tell Bulgaria from Latvia, and quite a few think Lithuania is in the Balkans. So it would be ridiculous to presume to understand the kind of cultural war Putin’s regime is waging in post-Soviet countries. From soap operas to ballet performances, the Russian government is doing everything to influence the cultural life of Eastern Europe, and to maintain a stranglehold on the mentality of the people. After all, according to Putin, the fall of the USSR was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century. I guess the Ukrainian famine pales in comparison.
Some anti-EU libertarians are blaming evil Brussels for this whole problem. What they do not understand is why the Ukrainian people would want to join this horrible, oppressive, nanny-über-state. I challenge those Euroskeptics to imagine how awful the alternative must be.
Lest anyone accuse me of anti-Russian sentiments, let me stress that the people suffering most under Putin’s regime are average Russians. They are the ones living under a tyrannical government, one that makes the unaccountability of the EU look benign and laissez-faire.
I am not advocating war or sanctions. I am just asking confused libertarians to stop forming their opinions about events in Eastern Europe from Russia Today.
Gabriele is the Saturday Page Editor for “The Libertarian”. She has no political affiliation, but is an avid supporter of the stateless society and anarcho-capitalism. Her interests lie in promoting science in the libertarian context, including private and charitable science funding and deregulating science policy. In the real world, she is a PhD student working on tumour viruses. You can find her on twitter at @GStakaityte.