On November 23, the Institute of European Studies, in cooperation with the Institute of Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies and the Bay-Area based organization Nova Ukraine, organized a presentation by Sviatoslav Vakarchuk entitled “How Can Ukraine Become a Prosperous Country in Europe?” Vakarchuk is a Ukrainian civic activist and famous musician who was given the mandate of the People’s Deputy of Ukraine for the parliamentary elections in 2005 and subsequently became a member of the Parliamentary Committee on Freedom of Expression and Information. He was also named one of the top 100 most influential people in Ukraine. Meanwhile, Vakarchuk has left politics but he continues to be engaged in building the post-Maidan Ukraine.
Vakarchuk started his talk by arguing that he does not know the exact answer to this complex issue of how to make Ukraine more prosperous; however, such a question should be addressed as a serious matter in today’s world. He stated that the key ideas regarding this question and the political momentum of Ukraine lie beyond criticizing the politicians of his nation. According to him, there are broader, more tangible, and more important things to talk about, most of them relating to the civil society and the steps the Ukrainian people should take in order to improve their country. Vakarchuk asked the audience a key question: “How do we make Ukraine a prosperous and happy nation?” Citing Plato and Aristotle’s philosophical views, he proposed the concept of the “ideal state” as a potential answer to this question. He claimed that the worldview of the older generation in Ukraine focuses too much on the past, thus allowing the political and social problems of past centuries to continue to influence the country’s present state. This suggests that society needs highly educated and enlightened citizens with the ability to devise newer, more innovative approaches to change Ukraine’s present-day situation.
How exactly can Ukraine be changed? According to Vakarchuk, there are few people with the revolutionary approaches and mindsets necessary to create a new momentum towards changing society. Vakarchuk also highlighted the negative effects of distrust on the development of a prosperous Ukraine. Instead, humans should be confident in themselves and others in order to establish a more trustful relationship between the people and the state. To conclude his talk, Vakarchuk argued that, in order to foster the growth of a more prosperous Ukraine, the people of Ukraine must stop thinking about the past and start looking ahead to the future.
In November 2015, the Ukrainian Jewish Encounter reported on the lecture by Ukrainian vocalist and civil activist Svyatoslav “Slava” Vakarchuk at IES. You can read more here.