The Devourer of Dreams — a requiem for Ukrainian aspirations

I stand in utter, horrified, awe at the density, enormity, and sheer stupidity of Ukraine’s bureaucracy. It is a hell of futility and waste — an amorphous, brutish, rank, smothering blob of contradicting rules, locked offices, and stamped documents.

Yes, I know. In western countries bureaucracy is also evil, but you can at least discern a purpose. You understand your enemy’s logic. It is there to control you. It is there to enrich politicians, their friends, or the bureaucrats themselves, to kill competition or efficiently extract money, perhaps. But this miserable place . . . . dear Lord. So pointless, so ponderous.

Perhaps Western bureaucracies have arisen like tumors atop wealth accumulated during freer times. Ukraine was never free. The Soviet Union was not reality but “a monstrous caricature of reality.” Upon this caricature, in the hope of imitating the West’s wealth, Ukraine’s aspiring elite readily built shoddy imitations of the tumors growing atop it. They’ve combined the lingering institutions and habits of socialism with the parasitic institutions of the West.

What has arisen is hideous altar to some sadistic god, festooned with politicians’ smiling faces and patriotic appeals. It looms terrifyingly, incomprehensibly, casting a fetid shadow over all facets of life. It is the alter upon which Ukrainians sacrifice their dreams, ambitions, and what little time God has given them on the Earth.

However, it is not the altar itself which perplexes me most, but the masses who kneel before it, come to worship its many heads. Yes, native born Ukrainians will be the first to point out its difficulties, to condemn it, insult it with blazing intensity, but what they’ll cling to to the last bit of strength in their cracked, laborer’s hands is the idea that such an altar is necessary. It is just a matter of swapping this face for that one, this political appeal (victory over the Nazis, seventy years later, still the enemy of enemies) with that one (preserving the Ukrainian language).

The thought of conducting peaceful, mutually beneficial commerce with your fellow man without an array of permissions and constant inspections? Unthinkable! The idea that marriage should not be the government’s business? Radical! The thought of not being REQUIRED to register yourself at some address? Impossible! How could such a society function? Let us not even speak of the right to defend oneself.

No. The problem with Ukraine, they say, is that people do not follow the rules. There are rules, and if only more people followed them, things would be as they should be. Things would be orderly and proper. (I wonder how many more rules are required for society to finally achieve perfection.)

It is as if 46 million innocent people have been wrongly convicted and imprisoned, their hopes and dreams sentenced to death. And when one of them finds a loose brick in the prison, digs under a wall with his bare, bloody hands, files away a bar on his cage after many years of dedicated effort, rather than rejoicing, Ukrainians condemn their fellow prisoner. He’s not following the rules! They’ll grab his ankles to drag him back into his cage. They criticize the guard for not being more watchful, for aiding the aspiring renegade (as the guards here are known do), because he was breaking the rules, conducting commerce without the full and proper array of permissions, and only bad people break rules.

So this is it: a portrait of demographic suicide in Ukraine. Suicide by bureaucracy.

I’ll return, as I often do, to Hans Hermann Hoppe, not because I hold much hope of being heard, but because we should all blaspheme at unholy altars: Who owns your body? And if you own your body, who owns your labor? And if you own your labor, who owns the fruit of that labor?