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Beyond Revolutionary Disillusion

PRAGUE - All revolutions, in the end, turn from euphoria to disillusion. In a revolutionary atmosphere of solidarity and self-sacrifice, people tend to think that when their victory is complete, paradise on Earth is inevitable. Of course, paradise never comes, and – naturally - disappointment follows. That seems to be the case in Ukraine today, as its people prepare to vote for a new parliament little more than a year after their successful Orange Revolution.

Post-revolutionary disillusion, especially after the revolutions against communism - and in Ukraine's case revolution against post-communism - is rooted in psychology. New circumstances imposed new challenges for most people. Formerly, the state decided everything, and many people, particularly in the middle and older generation, began to see freedom as a burden, because it entailed continuous decision-making.

I have sometimes compared this psychological ennui to my own post-prison situation: for years I yearned for freedom, but, when finally released, I had to make decisions all the time. Confronted suddenly with many options every day, one starts to feel a headache, and sometimes unconsciously wants to return to prison.

This depression is probably inevitable. But, on a societal scale, it is eventually overcome, as new generations grow up. Indeed, 15 years after the disintegration of Soviet Union, a new catharsis seems underway, and Ukraine’s Orange Revolution was part of that.