Timothy Snyder: Ukraine, the War, and the Plurality of Values | Thinking in Dark Times, #1 | Ep. 144

September 26, 2022

In this podcast episode, we talk with world-famous historian Timothy Snyder, touching on such topics as Ukraine, Eastern Europe, dissidents, climate change, tyranny, freedom and the plurality of values.

The host is Volodymyr Yermolenko, a UkraineWorld’s chief editor and Ukrainian philosopher.

Here are Timothy Snyder's key points in this conversation:

  • The Russian invasion of Ukraine proves that ideas matter in the world. It matters that Putin believes there's no Ukraine and no Ukrainian people. And that bad idea is the result of other bad ideas. Like that the world is flawed and it can be healed by violence carried out by a particular nation -- Russia.
  • When I think of Ukraine today, some of the values that were seen, have deep historical roots. The notion of freedom, as being able to choose your own leader, goes back, at least, to Cossack times. The idea of collective resistance is also quite ancient in Ukraine.
  • Everyone is Ukrainian because they become Ukrainian, no one is Ukrainian at the age of 6 months. In the war, people are taking risks together, taking stands together, making value commitments together, and in that sense, Ukrainian identity is formed or altered as people become Ukrainian by way of what they do together.
  • Ukraine can help us with the future because there's a future deficit everywhere in the West.
  • In the practical Ukrainian future there's going to be a victory, but that victory has to be intimately and organically connected with reconstruction. The very idea of victory has to be intertwined with the idea of reconstruction.
  • It's very striking, given the immense pressure that's been placed on Ukraine, not just now but since 2014, how little of the kind of idiotic extreme right nationalism there is. There's much more in America, and it's not clear why, in Germany or Poland. Whereas in Ukraine, which is a country at war, and which has been a country at war since 2014, there's much less of it.
  • You should have many values and life should be more about making intelligent choices among those values. And that in making the choices among values you're building up the kind of person you want to be. This goes back to the earlier questions about Ukraine and identity because what I would argue is that Ukrainian identity isn't something that is fixed or even determined by one major decision. Your identity has constantly been generated by choices you're making about values.

This is the first episode of a new podcast series by UkraineWorld called Thinking in Dark Times. This series seeks to make Ukraine and the current Russian war against Ukraine a focal point of our joint reflection on the world's present, past, and future. We try to see the light through and despite the current darkness.

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